Monday, May 27, 2013

Worcester Tornadoes & Chris Colabello

When I was much younger, 20youk and I would go to Worcester Tornadoes games together. As of last year, not much had changed. We'd find time in the summer to go a ballpark that was rarely filled to 1/4 of its capacity just to watch the hometown boys play. As of this year, the Worcester Tornadoes don't exist. In one off-season filled with the total uprooting of the franchise, Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field is now without a semi-pro baseball team. I give immense credit to the ownership and baseball executives, because for a while they fielded a team that was very well rounded and had a fair amount of talent. In their first season in the league, they won the Can-Am league championship.

The memories of attending Tornadoes games will always be vivid for me...but that's all I have now- memories. Believe me, some of those memories are nothing short of spectacular. Last year, on opening day, we saw the Tornadoes field a team headlined by the presence of former MLB slugger Jose Canseco. That stint was brief, and filled with a lot of disappointment for everyone involved. One game, we saw the now-defunct Brockton Rox franchise trot to the mound a submarine throwing RHP by the name of Joshua Papelbon, brother and polar opposite of Jonathan. That was a unique experience. Perhaps my favorite memory, however, was watching Chris Colabello play 1B the Tornadoes. The pride of Worcester and a graduate of Assumption College, Chris would do so much for the Tornadoes franchise. Today, he is a member of the Minnesota Twins; He now has a hit to his name at the major league level.

He blossomed for seven seasons in the Can-Am league before anyone gave him a legitimate chance, besides a brief 22 day spring training stint with Detroit in 2006. In 2010, the Minnesota twins gave him a spring training invitation. Here, he would prove that he belonged with the organization by surprising everyone and making the AA New Britain Rock Cats where he would go on to hit .284 with 19 HRs and 98 RBIs. This season, he earned a spot at AAA Rochester, where he was absolutely tearing up AAA pitching by hitting .358 with 12 HRs and 39 RBIs. Well, the Twins took notice. After placing OF Trevor Plouffe on the DL, they called up Colabello. After going 0-4 in his first game, he would notch his first MLB hit a few days later. I have to many of Chris' autographs to count. I've even held conversations with him. From what I remember, he was a great guy.

I honestly could not be more happy for Colabello. I'm so happy that he achieved his ambition, an ambition and a dream that he never gave up on. I most certainly can't wait to pick up his first official RC, which would end up being his first baseball card other than the team-issued Worcester Tornadoes cards (I've got a few). If and when Topps produces a few of his other cards, I definitely anticipate them. They say memories keep alive great moments in your life, and growing up watching Chris Colabello become a star from the brink of irrelevancy is a memory I'll forever cherish.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Love When Patches Fit Together!

Jumbo patches are awesome.  A giant chunk of patch is one of my favorite relics, because with the bigger size you can start to see where the patch came from.  I really love when the patches fit together.  For example, I am collecting the 2011 Topps Update Kevin Youkilis All Star Jumbo Patches.  I currently have 5 out of the 6, and all 5 of them fit together.

Here they are together.  Now, here they are assembled to create letters.

As you can see, they spell out RICAN from AMERICAN.  I'm geussing that the one patch I am missing is the top of the RI.  These aren't the only patches I have that fit together.  Check out my 2009 Topps Triple Threads All Star Patches, again of Kevin Youkilis.

These patches are the MER from AMERICAN on his 2008 All Star Game Jersey at Yankee Stadium.  Now, these cards would all be nice on their own, but they are much cooler together and tell a better story.

Do you have patches that fit together?  If you do, please comment below with some pictures.  We would love to see what you have!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Congratulations to Chris Colabello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris Colabello's story is the definition of perseverance.  A local hero from central Massachusetts, Colabello played from 2005 to 2011 for the Independent CanAm League Worcester Tornadoes.  He was a fan favorite being the best player on the team and the only player to return every year.  He was very freindly and willing to sign anything for the fans.


Last year, the Minnesota Twins gave Colabello a try out during spring training.  Chris was good enough to get a roster spot on the AA New Britain Rock Cats, where he had a great season hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 98 RBIs.  This season was followed up by excellent numbers in winter ball.  After playing for team Italy in the World Baseball Classic where he also hit very well, Chris earned a promotion to the AAA Rochester Red Wings.  On the season, he has hit .358 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs.


Last Wednesday, Chris Colabello received his fisrt call-up to the Minnesota Twins with Trevor Plouffe being placed on the DL.  In his MLB debut, Chris was 0-4.  He is still yet to have his first MLB hit seeing only one at bat since.


The fact is, doing well doesn't matter because he has finally made it.  He kept with baseball this long after everybody told him he wasn't good enough and he has proved them wrong.  This may be one of the most inpirational tales of MLB.  So, I would like  congratulate Chris Colabello on making it to the Major Leagues and I hope he will stay in the lineup for years to come.  He is a hero for young boys throughout the Worcester area.

EDIT- Congratulations to Chris on his first MLB hit.  Colabello singled to center in the top of the sixth during today's 4:00 game.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

2011 Prime Cuts Box Break HUGE MOJO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many of you have probably realized that I don't open many boxes.  Well, I got to pick out my own birthday cards this year and decided to treat myself to a hobby box.  Like I already posted, I got a box of 2011 Prime Cuts with some packs of 2013 Gypsy Queen.  I've already posted the Gypsy Queen, so now its time for Prime Cuts.

If you are familiar with 2011 Prime Cuts, you will know that that there are 5 cards per pack with at least 2 autographs.  However, there are usually 3 autos and most of them are prospects.  Two out of five boxes have three prospect autos while three out of five have two prospect autos and a veteran or hall of famer auto.

The way Panini packaged the product, you can tell right away if you've got a box with all prospect autos.  These boxes have a a base card on top.  Granted there are some nice relic cards in this product, three prospect autos are never a good sign.

So now on to my break.  Being a higher end product I go with the slide reveal approach, and I see a relic card on the top!  This means only 2 prospects.  The relic is a Matt Kemp bat peice.  The next card is a relic too, but I will skip over it for now because quiet frankly I would take a relic over a crappy prospect auto any day.

My two prospect autos were Michael Kelly and Chad Comer.  Blah.  Although, they were both short printed out of 99 instead of the usual 299.

At this point I have looked at the second relic, but I'm going to skip it again, and I'm sure you'll see why.  That leaves the veteran or hall of fame auto.  Crap.  Its a redemtion.

I'm already excited becuse it is a notable nicknames auto.  That means it is an on card auto inscribed with the players nickname, and the checklist is pretty strong.  Well, its triple crown winner and MVP Miguel Cabrera.  I would have been thrilled with just this, but it isn't even the best card in the pack.

Remember that memorabilia card I skipped earlier?  Well yeah,

Satchel Paige game worn two color patch numbered 6/10.  This is amazing!  I did a little research on Beckett and found that Satchel Paige only appears on 22 patch cards.  Thats pretty rare.  Safe to say that this is my best box break since 2010 when I pulled my Mystery Cut out of 2009 SP Legendary Cuts.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Sentimental Side of My Collection: My Favorite Cards (Pt. 1)

Today, I felt compelled to share with the the readers some of my cards which mean a great deal to me for varying reasons. Each reason brings with it an interesting story as to why I hold the card to be so sentimentally valuable to me. I plan on showcasing more in the very near future, but for today I picked three which mean a great deal to me. Without further ado...

The first card I chose to display is my 1994 Classic 4 Sport Nomar Garciaparra Rookie Card. Growing up, Nomar Garciaparra was my favorite baseball player by far. I had posters on my wall, jerseys, name it. I remember how emotionally spent I was when he got traded in 2004 at the deadline. I was only 7 or 8, but to me it felt like my heart had been broken. The ironic thing was I was wearing a Nomar shirt at the time, so I went upstairs when I found out (we were staying at a relatives house) and tried to rip my shirt in half, and couldn't so I tossed it into the empty trash bucket (I later picked it up and washed it, and still have the shirt today). Regardless, one Christmas my dad bought me a photobox that is generally used for storing pictures...but he converted it into a cardbox and replaced the picture windows on the lid with images from the Boston Globe issued on the day I was born. This was the best Christmas gift I had ever gotten, and with it I recieved a plastic case of various assorted baseball cards. And, lo and behold, one of the cards was this Nomar. I will always love this card for so many reasons. I continued to follow Nomar after he was traded, but eventually fell out of my line of sight due to me having new favorite players. But Nomar was never really gone. I had always held a special place in my heart for him. So, when he signed a one-day contract to retire with the Red Sox at the end of his career in 2010, I could not help but smile. I now have plenty of Nomar cards in my Red Sox binder, and I hope to eventually start a PC of my childhood favorite. So, here's to you Nomahhh!

1994 Classic 4 Sport Nomar Garciaparra RC
The next card I chose to showcase is this 2004 Upper Deck First Pitch Pedro Martinez. The card itself is so unassuming, and it's not necessarily the card but the photography which provides me the joy of sentimental collector's value. I've probably had this card for a long time, but believe it or not I just found it in my assorted card boxes a few weeks ago and slipped it into my binder. The picture, to me, captures one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of baseball pointing to God and thanking Him for his blessings as he always did after leaving the game. My faith and God is the most important thing in my life to me, without a doubt. I've always been fascinated by the connection between faith and sports, and I've always admired athletes who talk about their faith and how they play for a greater cause, but do so humbly. I always enjoyed watching Pedro pitch growing up, and next to Nomar he surpassed every other player in terms of being my favorite. I feel so blessed by God to be able to do all I do in my life, and be able to get a good education and enjoy the life he gave me. Little things like this make me happy to know that I'm part of a larger plan and that other people all over the world share the same Faith.
2004 Upper Deck First Pitch Pedro Martinez
The last card I chose to talk about is this 2004 Fleer Tradition Manny Ramirez card. This card denotes his winning of the 2004 World Series MVP, and as I recently just found out it is actually short printed. Shortly after the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, I was at an Olympia Sports at a mall near my house. While there, I was looking at the various baseball cards near the checkout counter with my mom, when a younger employee noticed I was doing so. He asked me if I liked baseball cards, which I said I did, and he and I started talking about cards and collecting. Being only 8 at the time, I was pretty early on in my collecting career. So, he told me he had something for me and that he'd be right back, and when he returned from the back room, he told me that he had in his hand some cards from his personal card collection. He insisted on giving them to me, and the card he specifically pointed out was this card. He noted that the gold wreath around the Fleer logo meant that the card was truly special. I was overjoyed, and I've kept this card ever since. I never got the employee's name, but he knows he mad a kid truly happy. I had watched the 2004 World Series with my Dad, and it was one of the better experiences of my life. The only game I fully stayed up for until the last out was Game 4, and I've never been as excited as I ever was when Keith Foulke underhanded a chopper back to the mound to Doug Menkevich for the final out.We had watched Manny Ramirez tear it up that series, and deservedly receive the World Series MVP award for his play. This card always brings back those memories upon simply looking at it, which is one of the reasons why it's truly one of my favorite cards.
2004 Fleer Tradition Manny Ramirez WS MVP SP

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 Gypsy Queen 6 Pack Break

This year for my birthday, I got some cash so that I could pick out my own cards.  Normally I try to stick to singles for my Youk PC, but I decided to treat myself and buy some wax.  So, I placed my order from dacardworld for a box of 2011 Prime Cuts.  Since I was just a little ways away from free shipping, I bought some packs of Gypsy Queen.  I also got 8 free packs of 2010 Upper Deck Baseball, but those didn't yeild anything worth mentioning other than a Youkilis base card.

On to the Gypsy Queen, I did manage to pull 2 on card autographs and 2 serial numbered minis.  For the Gypsy Queen conspiracy theorists, yes, the numbered minis were in the packs with the autographs.

Anthony Gose and Brock Holt

Nothing extraordinary, but 2 on card autos from 6 packs is a win in my book.  Not to mention that Brock Holt, pictured in a Pirates uniform, now plays for the Red Sox.  I don't have scans of the minis, but they were a green /99 of Jaime Garcia, and a black /199 of David Murphy.  I also pulled a Troy Tulowitzki short print and a Manny Machado rookie.

By this point, you are probably thinking didn't he say something about a box of Prime Cuts?  Well, yes I did.  And, I will share my Prime Cuts break with you... tommorow.  Trust me, it is worth it.  I got not 1, but 2 big mojo hits.  Make sure you check back for those, and I promise you won't be dissapointed!