8-Card Set Highlights The National’s Early Years

I love the National Sports Collectors Convention.  Its the show of all shows.  They don’t come any bigger and/or better.  I know its only February, but its never a bad time to talk about the National.

The 40th National Sports Collectors Convention will take place in Chicago this year 7/31-8/4.  I regret to inform you that I won’t be attending.  As much as I’d like to cover the show, see all of the cool stuff, and catch up with the awesome people, I don’t think its going to happen.  I’m from central PA, and its a good 12-hour drive to Chicago.  Flying is out of the question.  I want nothing to do with airports.  Atlantic City in 2020 seems like a better opportunity for me to get there.  If it was up to me, I’d have it in Cleveland every year.  That’s my all-time favorite location.

One of the most popular activities collectors like to participate in is going after promotional cards.  Every major manufacturer has something happening during the National.  Collectors (myself included) have been known to wait hours in line for those precious exclusive packs.

Today these promotional programs are all over the place.  That certainly hasn’t always been the case.  One of the earliest, if not the first promotional card set to be made for the National arrived in 1984.  The National got it’s start in 1980, and was held in the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel.  By 1984, the show had grown and took place at the Aspen Hotel in Parsippany, NJ.  Only (8) cards are in this exclusive set.  They are Joe Collins, Willard Marshall, Larry Doby, Ed Lopat, Tom Gorman, Bud Harrelson, Bobby Thomson, and Gene Hermanski.  On the back of each card it states “5th Annual National Aug. 9-12, 1984” inside a black apple.  Beneath that it says “Sports Collectors Convention Aspen Hotel, Parsippany, NJ”.

I have a strong feeling those eight guys were the autograph signers for the National that year.  Back then that might have seemed like a lot.  Nowadays they’ll have eight signers all going at once, with a hundred more on the way.  “WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING ALL ACCESS VIP PLATINUM BADGES FOR RICKEY HENDERSON.”

Like a lot of cards from this point in time, they aren’t worth a lot.  You can easily find them for sale on the secondary market.  A complete set can be found for $10.  Its a neat snapshot of the National’s early years.

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Nationals ’18 Topps Museum Collection Patch Contest Winner Announced

Congrats to Doug G on being the lucky winner of the Max Scherzer/Stephen Strasburg 2018 Topps Museum Collection Meaningful Material Dual Patch #’ed/50.  Once Doug G sends me his mailing address, I will ship this card ASAP.  Thanks!

Nationals ’08 Upper Deck SPx Auto Contest Winner Announced

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Congrats to D.Marion on being the lucky winner of the Matt Chico 2008 Upper Deck SPx Young Star Signatures.  Once D.Marion sends me their mailing address, I will ship this card ASAP.  Thanks!

Nationals ’16 Topps Auto Contest Winner Announced

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Congrats to Chris Collins on being the lucky winner of the Doug Fister 2016 Topps Series 1 Scouting Report Auto.  Once Chris Collins sends me his mailing address, I will ship this card ASAP.  Thanks!

“Pin-Up” of the Week: Washington Nationals Teddy Roosevelt Stadium Giveaway Pin

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Its pretty clear that the Washington Nationals shouldn’t have shut down Stephen Strasburg early this year.  It was poor managing.  The unstoppable Nationals didn’t even make it past the first round of the post season.  If you’re a Nationals fan I guess you can be glad that at least won the division.  I think they should have paced Strasburg throughout the regular season and then let him play longer into games once they reached the playoffs.  Could have Strasburg completely blown it in the playoffs?  Sure.  But it couldn’t have hurt to have him available.

Teddy Roosevelt finally won a race this year.  This pin was given to fans on 10/3/12.

Interview With Washington Nationals Pitching Prospect Ryan Tatusko

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Ryan Tatusko is a RHP in the Washington Nationals organization.  Collectors can find his first baseball cards in 2011 Bowman Chrome, and he will have autographed cards in some of Panini’s new MLBPA licensed products.
Ryan was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions for Sports Card Info.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his blog – Welcome to the Backfields.  Enjoy!
  • Which current MLB player would you like to pitch against the most?

The current pitcher that I would love to pitch against right now would have to be Justin Verlander. The kind of pitching repertoire that he has I think is unmatched in Major League Baseball.  Anytime a pitcher can win the Most Valuable Player award obviously is someone that is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the mound.  I think going against Verlander right now would be an honor, but obviously just being in the big leagues and being able to pitch against any pitcher at that level would be an incredible experience for me.

  • What is your most memorable on-field experience since becoming a professional ball player?

The most memorable on-field experience since becoming a professional baseball player would have to be the no-hitter that I took into the ninth inning against the Modesto Nuts at their home field in the California League.  I was very fortunate and had an amazing defense by me that night and I carried a no-hitter with one out into the ninth inning where I proceeded to give up a base it right up the middle on a 2-1 fastball. That game still resonates very loud in my mind and I still look back on that as probably the most fun pitching experience that I’ve had in professional baseball.  What made that experience even more special was after the no-hitter was broken up the away crowd gave me a standing ovation for a couple minutes for taking the no-hitter into the ninth.

  • What lessons have you learned on the field that you can apply to off the field?

Things that I have learned off the field that I carry on the field are hard work, patience, and humility.  I think those are the three key qualities that you have to have in order to become a good professional baseball player, especially one that spends some time in the minor leagues.  The hard work being one of the most important qualities because there’s so many people that are competing for the same job at every position, that you have to do whatever you can to be ready at any moment to give your best.  Patience is key because you keep working in knowing that you have to know when you capitalize when it is your time, not getting too eager or anxious and wondering about what the next levels are like.  You got to live in your own moment at the level you are at, and try to do the best that you can.

  • Batters can sometimes do annoying things at the plate.  Is there anything batters do that annoy you?

Even though sometimes batters do annoying things at the plate, pitchers also do annoying things on the mound.  Things like stepping trying to disrupt the hitters timing, taking your time on the mound, or taking a long walk around the mound or playing with the rosin bags.  We also do things like calling the catcher to the mound.  You try not to notice the annoying things at the plate because they’re just trying to break you out of your time and disrupt your rhythms.  The first time you notice that the batters are doing something that’s incredibly annoying, then you know he has done his job by taking you out of your rhythm.

  • What is your favorite and least favorite pitch to throw?

My fastball is my favorite, especially when I am feeling incredibly good with it.  I love throwing it because I can get to cut a little nit, and also make it run.  I dislike throwing anything that isn’t working that day.  Sometimes you have a fastball curveball that’s working for you that day, and sometimes a fastball changeup, and you know that when you’re curveball is not working and the catcher calls that pitch in a critical count you have to somehow find the confidence to make it a strike and throw it with confidence.

  • What expectations to you have for yourself in the 2012 season?

Expectations that I have for myself in 2012 are to continue what I was building on in 2011.  I was very fortunate to go to winter ball down to Venezuela and work on my mechanics.  I think that was probably some the most invaluable experience that I could have received.  Not only did I get to work on mechanics with pitching coaches who have never seen me before, and may have a few different tweaks and suggestions that maybe other pitching coaches might not have found, but I got to use those tweaks in a game setting.  I started to really get my motion and my rhythm in AAA towards the end of the year in 2011 and pitching coach Greg Booker had a lot to do with that.   He continued to work with me in the bullpen and help me out, and provided me mental and physical tweaks.  I think that he helped me immensely so I’m really looking forward to getting to work with him this year and hopefully just building on what I was doing in 2011 because I really feel like I was starting to head on the right path.

  • What are some of the highlights of your personal collection?  What would you like to add?

I’ve been blessed to have multiple highlights in professional baseball one being that I talked about before; taking the no-hitter into the ninth inning, being able to go down to Venezuela and play winter ball was an extreme highlight of my professional career, and I had an absolute blast touring the country and seeing the culture. The fans were first class and the players and coaching staff were just all incredible.  I would absolutely love to be able to do it again.  I was also traded in my career and that was a memory that will forever be ingrained in my mind.  I got to learn a different organization and work with new coaches which were able to make me a better baseball player.  I’ve played in the American and National League organizations, and I’ve been able to take a few at-bats in the long relief appearances I’ve had.  Getting my first professional hit while in AA in Harrisburg was a big memory for me as well.  I look forward to creating new memories as I continue to play baseball and hopefully these memories will include some really great highlights in the major leagues.

PHOTOS: Harrisburg Senators vs. Portland Sea Dogs

Last night I took a trip down to Harrisburg to see the Senators take on the Portland Sea Dogs.  The Senators are the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals and the Sea Dogs are affiliated with the Red Sox.  This was the first time I had been to Metro Bank Park.  I attended a few Senators games many years ago, but that was well before they built this new stadium.  Parking was a little weird, and the food could have been better.  I really liked my seat because foul balls were coming my way all the time.  In the end, Harrisburg won 10-0.

I picked up three different team sets:

  • Eastern Division 2010 All-Star Set
  • Western Division 2010 All-Star Set
  • Harrisburg Senators 2010 Team Set – this one has Strasburg in it

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Jordan Zimmerman is in Harrisburg doing his rehab

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As you can see, SpongeBob was at the game.  He should have pitched.  I hear he has a nasty “sinker” 🙂