No way did we get this much stuff when we were kids!
Don’t get me wrong. Santa hooked me up every year and we never went wanting, but I remember getting a WWF Wrestling Buddy, a 1987 Topps factory set and a Rickey Henderson autograph and I literally thought Santa went broke just on our Christmas presents every year!!!.
PS: the single greatest XMAS present ever given to any child:
If baseball is America’s national pastime, then collecting baseball cards is a close second. People everywhere are searching every nook and cranny of their childhood home for those boxes and binders of cards! Could there be a Frank Thomas NNOF, or a mint Ken Griffey, Jr ’89 Upper Deck? Closets, crawl spaces, and attics across the country are full of cards from every era. Years ago, the Mantles, Ruths, Williams and others from the prewar days were stuck in bike spokes or lost forever as children grew out of the hobby.
Baseball card values depend on many factors, like age, condition, scarcity, and the collectible market trends at the time. Mantle’s Topps RC card recently set an auction record and sold for $5.2 million, people everywhere claim they have an original 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card. Every year there is a new card that sets the market on fire, a Mike Trout Gem Mint 10, an Ohtani Gold Foil, or a 1993 Jeter SP. There is always something new. Either way, few things for collectors elicit the adrenaline rush of finding a legend’s rookie card.
Obviosly, pulling a rookie card out of a pack of an up and coming superstars or finding a rare and expensive legend are especially coveted. Jackie Robinson first appeared on 1948-49 Leaf and Hank Aaron’s rookie card is in the 1954 Topps set. Roberto Clemente’s first baseball card is a 1955 Topps card and maybe the most famous baseball card, besides Wagner, is the Mantle rookie either his 1951 Bowman (which I prefer), or the aforementioned 1952 Topps.
Baseball card collectors have always had their own reasons for collecting. Some collect their favorite team, or player, but in recent years, a large push in the card industry has been the intentional investment in the rookie cards of unproven players, hoping they will become stars one day and that their card will skyrocket in value. Everyone is buying out the minor league top draft picks; Juan Soto and Robert Acuña are proving those collectors who invested early to be correct (and rich). They were the focus of the “new” collectors recently. That was until the newest and hottest card in decades was released.
On August 23, 2021 the hobby was turned upside down. A card was released that not only shows what some in the hobby say is the most handsome player to ever don a baseball jersey, but also say it could become the first $10 million baseball card.Introducing the most sought after card in the industry right now… Oliver’s 2021 Rookie Card:
Get it now folks… order on eBay, wait in line at Target, or take your chances in a razz. Either way get this kid now, before it’s too late.
Spring or summer baseball wasn’t a thing for little leaguers and major leaguers alike. But fall provides everyone with cool, crisp air, the new beginnings of a new school year and for Jax and his friends it provides the opportunity to get back on the baseball diamond.
Thursday night practices and early Sunday morning games await the team (and parents). No bleachers, no picked dugouts and masks where applicable also await all of the little leaguers just as they did for the major leaguers who have set the example for Jax and his teammates.
Now if we can just get this switch hitting power bat to stop rolling around in the outfield with Miller instead of paying attention we will be all set!!!
We keep coming back to baseball. For some reason it’s like the glue that holds this blog together. It’s the glue that has helped bond my family together from Pop to Oliver. Through this Covid-19 pandemic all we have wanted was sports to get our nation back to cheering for something and unite most of us in hating the Red Sox.
Up until today Major League Baseball wasn’t a thing. It started and stopped and started again (and stopped again in the top of the 6th inning… not because of Covid, but because of baseball’s arch memos is: RAIN. BUT, that did not stop us from celebrating opening day… in… July! Opening day is more than just games starting, it (usually signals that warmer weather is near and fathers and sons can start playing catch again.
To that point, giving your son his first baseball glove is something that needs to be celebrated.
The history of baseball is passed on from generation to generation. My grandfather passed it on to me and I’ll pass it on to my sons. I was Phil Rizzuto turning double plays and Rickey Henderson robbing homeruns over Pop’s Boxwood Hedges.
Getting your first glove is a rite of passage. I still have the glove Pop bought me. I remember going to the store to buy it with him. I remember breaking it in and the smell of the leather. I blogged about buying Jax his first glove a couple of years ago and now it is Oliver’s turn.
While Jax is devolving into a pretty decent switch hitter who throws lefty, Oliver is just learning the basics, but seems to have the right handed swing and also throws righty like his dad. Playing catch is beginning to actually “happen” now. Both Jax and Oliver enjoy it and Oliver now, with his very own glove is definitely more interested, even it means he’s purposely throwing a ball in the woods, laughing about it and then spending 10 minutes trying to find it… over and over and over again!
Being able to now be out there with both my sons, all with our baseball gloves on… there’s just something magical about it. The ball going back and forth between us… no words need to be spoken, although neither of my children usually go more than thirty seconds without talking… again just like dad). But, just the popping of the glove…. like an invisible string connecting us. That’s what makes it magic. In the end that’s what baseball does, it connects us with our past, with each other… and right now it’s connected Oliver to his big brother and dad!
First there was the Commerce Comet, then came the Millville Meteor… and now-wearing number 7 for his local fall-ball team is the Bristol Bullet.
I was psyched when Coach Dave hooked up our switch hitting slugger with Mickey Mantle’s number. I always wore 24 for my favorite player Rickey Henderson, but I was a right handed hitting speedster who liked to steal bases and slide head first. Jax is shaping up to be a pretty damn good hitter from both sides of the plate!
If there are two guys you want your son to be similar to on the baseball field you could do a lot worse than Mantle and Trout. Growing up in 2019 (although we are Yankees fans, Mike Trout is a player who you enjoy watching and rooting for. While we bleed blue for the Yankees, I’m glad Jax will have Mike Trout, a fantastic baseball player and even more importantly a fantastic human being, to look up to as a role model.
Want to promote reading? Kids don’t always have to read a book to be reading. While traditionaly we ask children to chose a “book at their level,” mixing that in and promoting “reading for information” outside of a “book” is real world, rigorous & engaging for kids. (IE: The back of a baseball card!) Then, hook your children with a book that connects to their interests
I love that Jax wants to “do baseball cards.” In a time where screens (iPads, iPhones) dominate the world, it’s refreshing to unplug once and a while. I’m not going to get on my high horse and say that my kids do not have time on YouTube or what not… but I do try to make sure there is a happy medium. The best part is that both boys are great at regulating themselves. Baseball cards have always been a huge part of my life and they seem to be seem becoming a bonding time for Jax and I (Oliver just throws them all over the place).
Get your old baseball cards out now, comic books… look through them, heck read the back of a cereal box… inspire your kids to be a reader by being a reader yourself!
Baseball continues to play such an important part of my father/son(s) interactions. Especially now that Oliver is more than a sack of potatoes with eyes, and being that he can engage in activities for longer than twelve seconds now it was finally time to take him to his first baseball game.
I’ve written about how growing up baseball was so important to me and how it shaped me as a young man. I’ve discussed how it shaped my relationship with my grandfather (Pop) and now how it’s shaping my relationships with my sons. Then again… it’s America’s Past Time and a father/son rite of passage… so how surprising is it that my first game with Oliver was such a big deal.
No it wasn’t at the Cathedral that is Yankee Stadium we didn’t get to see Derek Jeter’s last home game, but we did get to witness one of baseballs top prospects, Brendan Rodgers, in one of MiLB most amazing parks, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats. Not to mention they have the dopest logo and mascot in all of sports. Needless to say it was baseball, it was live and it was amazing.
We sat in the right field stands for a night game (which is not recommended for a 15 month old, let alone a four year old). The view was amazing and the stadium dogs, chicken fingers, pretzels, ice-cream, french fries and waters were tasty (by the way: that was just for the kids). We watched the Yard Goats win 11-1. They played as the Los Chivos de Hartford and rocked sick alternate jerseys for the game. Highlights included Brendan Rodgers going 3-4 and Peter Lambert pitching a complete game four-hitter.
Now listen I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that bringing two children to a ballpark is easy, or that it isn’t without its difficulties (and choice words muttered under my breath from time to time)… but it is quite amazing to be with both my boys, especially with Oliver for the first time, at a baseball game.
It was great to experience everything as a family, to be with my wife and two boys. But of course being a dad and taking my son to his first game is extra special. I enjoyed every second of exposing Oliver to how the game works… and he enjoyed clapping when I clapped. He smiled and seemed to be enamored by the green grass and beautiful sunset over the first base side seats. He enjoyed the food and the fans, but I’m pretty confident in saying I enjoyed being there with him and his brother more than either of them will ever know (that is until they have sons of their own). Then again if you read this blog often… you already knew that, besides it’s America’s Past time and a father/son rite of passage… and everybody knows that.
Lets start out with the negative… on the drive to Jackson’s first baseball game… In the course of a seven minute ride to the field he asked, “are there yet,” 27 times. I was sure as sure as soon as we get there he’d want to go home.
There were, however, a lot of positives in his first game. Lots of great points to build off of. At such a young age players haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits, so establishing proper technique and having the time to work on skills no matter the child’s age is always a plus.
Which brings us to Jackson’s first “official” T-Ball game. Jax showed incredible speed, a quick first step and the ability to cover all positions as evident from his first time playing the field. About 12 seconds in he took off into the outfield, crossed over two other fields, went down a massive hill and literally into the parking lot of the next school before anyone could even get within shouting distance.
Later that inning… he took off for a second time. He was found in the woods a few minutes later.
Although he seems to show above average skills as a fielder and the speed to be a plus base runner, it was at the plate where Jax showed off his major league ready skills.
Batting three times in three innings he went 3-3 with three runs scored. (Mind you everyone went 3-3 with three runs scored. However not one other child hit from both sides of the plate. I’m not sure if he’s going to stay a switch hitter, and it’s clear he doesn’t have the sweet swing of Will “the thrill” Clark just yet, but I’ll pretty impressed with a barely four year old hitting righty and lefty in his first game.
I had fun… he had fun… and he looked damn cute doing it! The only thing better then playing the game yourself, is watching your son play it.
A few years ago Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post wrote, “Baseball has lived for the better part of a century on its unchanging character, its role as a bond between generations, its identity as a quintessentially American game that features a one-on-one face-off of individual skills tucked inside a team sport.” For almost 120 years baseball has been dubbed the “national pastime.”
Children still take to Little League fields every spring, some on pace for the college scholarships and others are content to stand in right field picking dandelions and looking at airplanes fly overhead. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still as well known as any on the radio and writers and directors have used baseball to tell amazing stories like, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly,Shoeless Joe (the basis of Field of Dreams) and The Sandlot.
This is a game that has stood the test of time. A game that to this day has not succumbed to the fast paced mentality that other sports thrive upon (at least not totally). Baseball is and will always be a game handed down through the generations. From father to son and son to grandson, baseball will always in and of itself stand for family and transition. In an ever changing society there has always been one constant in life… baseball
Baseball belongs to me. It belongs to my grandfather and to my sons. The memories can never and will never fade. The thought of my grandfather standing across from me on the other side of a sprawling, beautiful manicured lawn plays over and over in my head like an old silent movie. It’s as vivid as is it were yesterday. Shopping for my first “real” baseball glove. Watching him intently as he showed me how to break it in. Oil it, tuck a ball inside just right and wrap it up with twine. I still have that glove. It smells like days past, like Charles Place, like a younger version of my grandfather when he was still able to move without pain to show me how to field a ground ball like the Scooter… it smells like baseball.
Baseball is a form of communication in and of itself and I don’t mean the language of the game or the intricacies of how someone might describe the perfect swing of Teddy Ballgame or Junior. It’s a silent language that doesn’t need to be spoken because it’s the silence of the game that speaks volumes. I sat at my grandfather’s feet as he relaxed in his chair. We barely spoke during innings. We watched, and he inserted stories of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It was like I was there. Most people my age never saw Gehrig or Berra play… but I did. Through my grandfather’s words I saw Murder’s Row torment pitchers and watched Maris and Mantle chase Ruth.
No one can ever take that from me. No one can ever tell me those things didn’t happen. They are history, they are symbolic to me. The sound of a baseball snapping as it hits your glove. Feeling the vibrations that ring through your hands and arms as your bat makes connection with your favorite pitch (low and inside- something I could pull).
Practicing robbing home runs in front of Pop’s shrubs led me to firmly believe I would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees when I grew up… (damn you Derek Jeter).
Regardless of whatever happened to my dreams of becoming an all-star infielder, I’ll never really know… but what I do know is that soon the name Fragola will again be running out of a dugout and taking his rightful place on a baseball diamond. Jackson starting t-ball is about the single most exciting thing I have been looking forward to as a parent!
Buying his first baseball glove and then a father and son’s first time ever playing catch. (Yes I cried a little in the sporting good store).
Playing catch with my son is more than father – son bonding time. It is a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. One that I look forward to sharing with boys of my sons. It’s also an an opportunity for me to share my passion for the game and share stories of players like Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr as my grandfather did for me with the best players of his time. And I look forward to being able to tell my sons about the old days when packs of baseball cards were only a few dollars and rookie cards were all the rage.
Super proud dad moment. The first time your son wants to go through his baseball cards on his own… thanks @Topps for keeping the family tradition alive. #BaseballCards #Topps
Soon I’ll just be a dad in the stands or maybe one day even a coach in the dugout. But for now I’m content passing on the love for the game to both my sons, one of whom has finally begun his amazing story as a baseball player.
PS: ThrowBack to ’86: I wasn’t much of a power hitter in case you couldn’t tell from those scrawny arms… but man could I lay down a perfect bunt.