I've played golf my whole life. When my baseball playing dreams died on the final day of tryouts during my freshman year, it was golf that was there waiting for me as I figured out what kind of student athlete I would be. In high school, that is. I also played football to complete my bizarre, full year, 2-sport cycle - but my fall semester adventures on the gridiron are for another time.
I retired from football after that final game in '96 against Hillsborough HS in central Florida. I remember it vividly. Mostly proud, a little sad and yes - relieved, too. Since we weren't State Champions.....it was a loss. You learn and move on but I never played again. I didn't, however, stop playing golf after my my final match the following spring, though. My passion for the game, as a player, continues today. I love the game and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm already introducing it to my daughter. Heck, my toddler son even has a plush putter and little 'mock' golf hole to get that part of his sports brain active early. What can I say? The dream is a family golf outing one day......I hope we'll get there. But even if we don't and my clan goes the route of soccer or swimming or violins or clay sculpting......golf will always be there for us all.
This year has been a great year of golf for me. My old junior golf circuit nemesis, Bubba Watson, claimed a Green Jacket at Augusta. This was THE pinnacle of my vicarious professional golf career. What might have been, you know?! I wasn't able to snag tickets this year, but possibilities for 2013 are looking great - and you can bet that I'll be looking for that spot in the trees and pine needles on #10. The shot......awesome.
I've also had some once-in-a-lifetime chances to play at some extraordinary private courses. Through various wonderful circumstances and good fortune, I had the opportunity play at Sage Valley (Graniteville, SC) and Palmetto Golf Club (Aiken, SC) earlier this spring. Leading up to these two rounds (which I played on back-to-back days), I could barely contain myself. I turned into a woman, needing new clothes and equipment for the huge occasion(s). I needed new irons as I had been desperately clinging to the illusion that I was better than I truly am at this point in my life......I had been playing Hogan blades since about 2003. Sure, they provide a beautiful sensation when you hit them flush. But it was becoming more of a rarity for me. Chalk it up to old(er) age or a lack of time to keep my game up (family). A dose of reality but two very unavoidable and GOOD reasons. SO, it was time to embrace modern technology and go shopping. I had utilized the Bay of E for many cardboard needs over the past year - why not peruse for some new irons?
They were Taylor Made Burner 2.0 (steel, stiff flex) irons, for those of you keeping score at home. Taylor Made hasn't produced a lucrative offer for sponsorship yet - but I haven't given up hope :) I didn't play my best during my two epic rounds, but the fault didn't rest with my irons and I GREATLY enjoyed two fantastic rounds of golf on two beautiful courses. Awe struck = me.
So what does this have to do with baseball or baseball cards or ANYTHING related to Ryan's Pitch? I'm glad you asked and I'll move quickly to the point - that little incentive called "Ebay Bucks", of course! My new set of irons was definitely the most expensive item that I had ever purchased through the site and, therefore, produced the LARGEST lump sum of Ebay Bucks that I could have ever dreamed of.....................like $9. Jackpot! I couldn't find myself a new putter for $9 but I could certainly wrestle up some cardboard.
So what did $9 and some change bring me? Less than half the price of a blaster..........this is what I ended up with:
|Cecil Cooper! And Carlton Fisk, too.|
I know. Red Sox. Bleh! But Pudge was one of the finest competitors the game ever saw and I have a soft-spot for vintage cards, nay - ROOKIE cards of Hall of Famers. At $6, I couldn't turn this one down and am stoked to add it to my collection. The 1972 design is so bizarre and colorful! I am building all Topps sets from my birth through the end of my first collecting period ~ 1994. I'm about 60% right now (you can check it out under my Sets Needs tab to the right). Once I finish these, I'll work my way backwards for newer older (see what I did there?) set-building challenges. And I seriously hope that I make it back to '72. Just to do some more exploring of this set!
This Fisk is completely crease-free and while the centering is contentious, I am pretty pleased that I can still see at least some of the white border around the entire card. I saw many for sale where this wasn't the case - and were more expensive. YES! The corners are the roughest aspect of this Fisk Rookie Card, but that's okay. It cost the same thing as lunch at Subway (less, actually). I love it.
Here's the second card I picked up:
|Way to finish strong, Harvey!|
I'm not a Cardinals fan or a Harvey Haddix super-collector.....but I love vintage cards and I especially LOVE the 1956 Topps set. This set is routinely a favorite amongst collectors and I can easily say that this design is in my personal Top 5. The full color action & mug-shot combo is terrific alongside the neat and symmetrical boxes of name/position/team. Topps even threw in Harvey's signature for good measure - BONUS! 1956 is also one of the issues that came with those GREAT, colorful comic strips on the back. Haryvey's card has a baseball-playing cat. It doesn't get any sweeter.
Since I wasn't a Harvey Haddix expert, I did my usual research. Not too shabby! Mr. Haddix was a 3-time All Star and 3-time Gold Glove winner. He won a World Series ring with the Pirates in 1960. Hmmm, I wonder if he had anything to do with that whole "Mazeroski" incident? Why yes. Yes he did. After winning Game 5, he came in for relief in Game 7 and got the W upon Mazeroski's ball clearing the fence in the 9th inning. Dammit. But that's awesome.
One more great fact about Harvey - he is often remembered for his near perfect game against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959. I say "near" because Harvey finally relinquished a hit in the 13th inning.
UH......yeah. The 13th inning.
Harvey Haddix pitched 12 innings of perfection until Joe Adcock made a hit (that was eventually ruled a double) that scored one of the two base runners on base at the time. So close. Harvey's fraternity at Texas A&M was nice enough to send a congratulatory letter that read:
"Dear Harvey, Tough Shit."
You can laugh. I did - and I am pretty sure that Harvey eventually did, too. Haddix also appeared as a major league player, for the last time, on my birthday. FACT. So there you go - a random piece of '56 Topps goodness for 99 cents. Love it - and the card is in really good condition, too. The centering is a little high, but just like the Pudge - I can still see the white border all the way around. There are no creases and, most importantly to me, there is no paper loss. If I snag a piece of history like this, I want to be able to read it! Great pick up that came with a great story!
One more card to go! It's another Red Sox (Boo!) but it's another great ballplayer. And it's his Rookie Card. And it's from another 'groovy' design year from Topps. take it away, Mr. Lynn:
This is the worst conditioned card from the trio. Creases and rounded corners galore. This one was 59 cents. Mr. Lynn was a 9-time All Star and 4-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was even the AL MVP AND Rookie of the Year in '75. Freddy!?! That's amazing. Imagine if Mr. Trout were to pull that off this year? Think it's possible?
So yes - it's a Red Sox rookie card, but Fred Lynn is no slouch. The card is in pretty bad condition, but I couldn't even buy a coke out of the machine for the price-tag on this great '75 card. Very excited to add it to my collection.
So - there you go. These three cards for about $9. Three completely random cards - but I am really digging them. How do you think I did?
Thanks for reading - and don't forget to watch Bubba go for another Major this weekend at Kiawah!