Grand Opening – Sports Zone Toys & Comics

Sports Zone Toys & Comics is a card shop that’s been around for over ten years.  The shop recently moved into a new location – 359 Market St., Sunbury, PA.

I attended it’s grand opening this weekend.  Let me tell you something.  This is how every single brick-and-mortar store should look.  Its easy to get into, lots of space to move around, and very well organized.  Every collector should have this type of shop in their backyard.

Glass cases full of singles, sealed boxes, packs, OYO minifigures, bobbleheads, and new/used wrestling figures just cover some of the items you’ll find.  There are even some tables you can sit down at and rip open a box.  I highly suggest stopping in if you’re around the area.

To commemorate the grand opening, special OYO minifigures were made with the Sports Zone Toys & Comics name on them.  Along with the minifigure came a coupon.  These coupons ranged from $10 off of a $100 purchase, free bobblehead, free Fathead, etc…  Very cool!

I left with a new Nick Foles Super Bowl LII MVP bobblehead, and a Phillies TeenyMates Big Sip water bottle.  Next month I’ll be heading back as that’s when the Gritty bobbleheads are due out.

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2018 Little League World Series Pin Pickups

All eyes are on Williamsport, PA for the next week as the Little League World Series takes place.  Baseball fans from all over the world have made their way to Williamsport.  Hotels are booked.  Restaurants are packed.  Parking lots are full.  And pins have become the next best thing to currency.  Pins are all over the place.  They’ve got commemorative pins made for everything.

While the Little League World Series is going on, I usually pick a day to go up and look around their campus.  There is always a lot happening.  I’m a big pin collector.  I’ve got lanyards full of them.  Over the last few years I’ve found it a bit more difficult to score free pins from the corporate sponsors.  This is mainly due to you having to register with an electronic bracelet, and use all types of cell phone apps.  Perhaps that stuff is all great for the kids, but for an older pin collector like myself I find it to be an inconvenience.  Luckily, I take a handful of my Sports Card Info pins with me and use them to barter with these sponsors in order to get around all of that.  In some cases it works, and others not.

Dunkin’ Donuts was my first stop.  Little League came next.  Following that was 4th Street downtown, Penn College, The Thomas T. Taber Museum, and then some more businesses on Williamsport’s Golden Strip.  Pins just popup everywhere.  I was able to get a lot more pins from the corporate sponsors setup at Little League than originally thought.  My Sports Card Info pins really helped out.

Pin collecting at Little League is like opening a pack of cards.  You don’t know what might happen.  A man walked over and randomly handed me a pin.  I didn’t catch his name, but I believe it was Troy Lare.  He had what looked like a Little League World Series ring on.  Judging by the pin, he is an umpire from Maine.  Very cool find, and not something you can just pickup anywhere.  I have very few umpire pins.

At the end of the day, I ended up with (24) new pins that filled up (3) lanyards.

The Phillies lost to the Mets 8-2 in this year’s MLB Little League Classic.  Next year’s MLB Little League Classic takes place on 8/18/19 between the Pirates and Cubs.

I’d really like to see Topps have a corporate booth at Little League.  It seems like a perfect fit.  Hopefully someday they can work something out.  Topps could have pins, special cards, make your own baseball card, and perhaps bring in a big league player to sign autographs.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Chick-fil-A

Spikes vs. Black Bears – Ki-Jana Carter Bobblehead Night & Autograph Signing

Last Sunday, the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention came to an end.  But I’m still going.  This show must go on!!!

On Friday night I attended my fourth and final minor league game of the summer.  The game took place in State College, PA between the Spikes and the West Virginia Black Bears.  The Spikes went on to lose 3-2.  A local Shikellamy High School graduate, Nick Dunn, was recently drafted by the Cardinals and plays for the Spikes right now.  I got to see him score.  I suspect he’ll get his first cards in Bowman Draft later this year.

There were two reasons why I wanted to attend this game.  The main objective was to be one of the first 1,000 fans through the gate so I could obtain my Ki-Jana Carter bobblehead.  The former Penn State running back and 1994 All-American was also in attendance.  Before the game started he was down on the field giving interviews, throwing out the first pitch, and handing out additional bobbleheads to fans.  Shortly after the game began, the Spikes had a table setup for him down the first base line.  Once he started signing, the line moved fairly quickly.  I got him to autograph my Rawlings black/gold Penn State football.  Everyone was allowed (1) autograph and (1) photo.  This was the first time I had ever participated in an autograph signing during a baseball game.  It went very smoothly.

Ki-Jana Carter was the Round #1 Pick #1 in the 1995 NFL Draft.  He went on to play for the Bengals, Redskins, Packers, and Saints.  For the price of a ticket, I got a bobblehead, autograph, and photo.  Not too bad.

Penn State running back and 1994 All-American Ki-Jana Carter

Nookie Monster!

State College Spikes second baseman Nick Dunn

Harrisburg Senators vs. Altoona Curve – 5/26/18 – Strasburg Life Size Bobblehead Unveiling

Twenty-one years ago I attended my first professional baseball game on City Island to watch the Harrisburg Senators take on the New Haven Ravens.  Its a game I’ll never forget because one of the Ravens players gave me a free bat while walking by my section.  I still have that bat hanging on my wall.  I have no clue as to who the player was, but I like to imagine it was Todd Helton.

This summer I’m set to attend one minor league game per month.  All bobblehead giveaways.  My first game this summer took me back to City Island where it all began.  The Harrisburg Senators (AA of the Nationals) were taking on the Altoona Curve (AA of the Pirates).  Two Washington Nationals players, Brian Goodwin and Daniel Murphy, were down with the Senators doing some rehab work.  On Saturday night the Senators inducted Stephen Strasburg into their Life Size Bobblehead Hall of Fame.  The first 1,500 fans through the gates received a replica bobblehead.  Altoona went on to beat the Senators 10-6.

For awhile, the ballpark food at FNB Field seemed fairly normal.  Last year however, I discovered the River City Grille which is located around the backside of the stadium.  Their burgers and fries are superb.  Its become a “must-have” now when I go.  The Hershey’s ice cream next door is good too.

The Harrisburg Senators will have a card featured in 2018 Topps Pro Debut.  It will be part of the Fragments of the Farm set featuring a piece of base from FNB Field.

New video screen above the main gates

Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Floyd, Bryce Harper, Matt Stairs, Brandon Phillips, Stephen Strasburg

Will Craig of the Altoona Curve

Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy

Record Pin Haul During The 2017 Little League World Series

40.  That’s how many new pins I obtained for my collection this year.  I believe that is a new record.  Some of them I got for free, others I bought, and I even took a handful of my Sports Card Info pins to use for trading.  It really helps to have your own line of pins when it comes to trading.  Most collectors have never seen them before.

Every year more and more businesses in the surrounding area make pins.  I live about an hour away from Williamsport and a few businesses in my town like Budget Bakery and Murray Motors Chevrolet has pins.  As they should, considering not everyone visiting the Little League World Series can stay in Williamsport.

Over the past few years, Little League and many of it’s corporate sponsors have become heavily reliant on these electronic wristbands.  These are used for various activities and assist in getting you eligible for giveaways.  From my point of view and for what I’m there for, I find them to be intrusive.  But for the kids and the things they use them for I can see a reason for having them.  Their activities can keep them busy all day long.  And I think that’s the point.  Personally, I’m there for pins.

After spending a few hours on the Little League campus scoring as many free pins as possible and making some trades with other collectors and ushers, it was time to head downtown.  I hit up the Chamber of Commerce, The Clothier, Bullfrog Brewery, and Genetti Hotel.  All of them have pins.  Williamsport’s Golden Strip is loaded with businesses that I’ve never had pins from before.  KFC, Dolly’s Diner, Olive Garden, Aquarius Pools, Kriger Fence, The Taber Museum, and Bimbo Bakeries are all new places I got pins from.  You could easily spend all ten days of the Little League World Series hunting for pins.

Merchandise for the 2017 MLB Little League Classic featuring the Pirates and Cardinals is available over at Little League.  I got a new t-shirt and a few pins.  I’ve been to Historic Bowman Field many times.  For the most part, that game was for Little League players and their families.  A local lottery was held for Lycoming County residents so some fans from the general public could attend.  I hope they make this game an annual event.

One day it would be great to see Topps have a corporate booth setup at Little League.

I’ll do anything for a free pin.

On Location: Inside The Penn State All-Sports Museum

Located inside Beaver Stadium is the Penn State All-Sports Museum.  Shortly after it opened in 2002, I remember taking a tour through it.  That was long before Sports Card Info existed, and I’ve always wanted to go back.  That’s exactly what I did over the weekend.

This museum is a mecca for Penn State fans.  Between the two floors it covers major moments from every sport they’re involved in.  Penn State memorabilia galore.  Given that the school was founded in 1855, it has a lot of history.  Football probably gets the most coverage, but all sports get their good share of recognition.  You don’t need to be a Penn State fan to appreciate all of the historical artifacts on display here.  Just being a sports fan is enough.

Once you’re finished visiting the museum, a guide will take you into the stadium.  Getting to see the field without anyone else around is really cool.  Usually the place is packed with 100,000 fans.

Before leaving, I stopped by the gift shop and found a new pin for my collection.  I was looking for a bobblehead, but didn’t find any.  The closest I got to a bobblehead was a Penn State-themed nutcracker.

I didn’t realize that John Montgomery Ward attended Penn State.  He assisted in helping them start their baseball program, and played one season for them in 1875.  Then he got kicked out for stealing some chickens.  Ward eventually went on to have a very successful professional baseball career.  The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted him in 1964.  You can find cards of him in the 19th century Allen & Ginter and Old Judge sets.

If you’re passing through State College, PA I highly suggest stopping.  They don’t charge for admission, but donations are appreciated.

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The 1886 College Nine.  Standing: Halter, Jackson, Rose, Mock, Quigley, Mitchell.  Seated: McLean, Gibson, McClaren, Lencz.  Robert Gibson actually made it to the pros.

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Vintage Penn State baseball memorabilia.  Two game baseballs from 1905 and one from 1906.

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John Cappelletti’s Heisman trophy

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1986 National Championship trophy

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1969 Orange Bowl trophy

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Early 1900s basketball jersey.  Game ball from 1921.

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The Gene Wettstone Most Valuable Gymnast Award

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The Nittany Lion mascot is based on the eastern mountain lion which went extinct during the late 1800s.  This one was shot in 1856.  Considering the techniques for stuffing an animal back then are nothing like they are today, its in great condition.  Its probably one of the finest examples of a taxidermied eastern mountain lion.

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Sears sponsored fencing trophies.  When was the last time Sears could sponsor anything?

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2016 Little League World Series Pin Finds

The Little League World Series is a mecca when it comes to pins.  You can find them literally everywhere.  Over on the Little League grounds you’ll find corporate sponsors handing out pins all the time.  Certain sponsors hand out a specific amount of pins at different times throughout the day.  Others require you to register and wear some type of bracelet and/or complete a carnival-like game.  I’m not a fan of the whole bracelet registration idea.  It seems to be universal this year and covers multiple corporate booths.  I know these organizations like to collect information about people, but sometimes it can be a little annoying.  You shouldn’t have to sign your life away.  Sometimes marketing “experts” can take things over the top.  Luckily many of the employees representing these companies understand if you didn’t register and get a bracelet.  For the most part they’ll give you a pin anyway.  Based on my experience this year, Honda was very understanding about this.  Kellogg’s not so much.  Its been getting more and more like this over the last few years.  Fully anticipating that I would run into this situation, I took a handful of my Sports Card Info pins with me to use as trade bait.  That was a good idea, because I ended up using all of them.  To each his own.  I’m sure many people think the bracelet thing is a great idea.

Before the corporate booths opened up, I took a look around the gift shop that is located on the concourse.  The gift shop will get full as the day goes on.  That’s why its best to visit it early.  Little League now sells a 4-card set that contains actual infield dirt from Volunteer and Lamade Stadium.  The three Lamade Stadium cards are individually numbered out of (300), while the Volunteer Stadium one is the rarest with only (100).  All four cards are made by Choice Marketing SportsCards.  Choice is known for making minor league team sets, but I’ve never seen them make relic cards.  I pulled the trigger on the Volunteer Stadium relic.

Pins are not limited to just being found around Little League.  Many businesses throughout Williamsport make pins each year.  Some give them away, and others you can purchase.  Dunkin’ Donuts, Genetti Hotel, and Dairy Queen have become regular stops.  Dairy Queen ran out of pins after three days.  Not every business advertises that they have pins.  The Clothier gave me a redemption coupon to get a free 2016 Grand Slam Parade pin at the Chamber of Commerce, and referred me to Kinley Jewelers.  Kinley Jewelers referred me to the Bullfrog Brewery.  4th Street in Williamsport ended up being a gold mine.  Tons of businesses have pins.  The possibilities are endless.  I ended up coming home with (24) pins.  About half of them were free.  I’ve never had pins from Kinley Jewelers or the Bullfrog Brewery before.

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Casey At The Bat statue

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2016 Choice Little League World Series Volunteer Stadium Authentic Game-Used Infield Dirt Relic #’ed/100

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Honda

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Dunkin’ Donuts

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Bomb Pop

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Bullfrog Brewery

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Kinley Jewelers

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The Clothier

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Canon

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Little League District OH-5 blue helmet gator batter

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2016 Grand Slam Parade