Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Wax Pack Wonder of a PWE

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff of Wax Pack Wonders contacted me to verify my address. He wanted to send me some cards, and he sent me some good ones. Included in his PWE was a note telling me that he had been going through bloggers' wantlists and clearing out some of his trade boxes. I'm happy to be one of his recipients.

Jeff focused his efforts on adding to my All-Star Game MVP collection. He almost single-handedly doubled my Don Sutton cards. I didn't have any Sutton Brewer cards prior to this, but I definitely do now.

I also didn't have any Bobby Bonds as a Ranger or Angel, so these were definitely new to me, too.

And who doesn't love Ken Griffey, Jr.? I like the photos on all three of these cards: a pair of warm-ups and a smooth slide. They may be junk wax, but they are junk wax I didn't have of a all-time great!

Thanks a ton, Jeff! All of these cards are welcome additions to my collection. If you aren't familiar with his blog, go check it out. Thanks for stopping by today.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Blog Bat Around: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

A couple of months ago, Matt suggested the Blog Bat Around idea of providing a virtual vacation of our respective corners of the country through our blogs. I thought it was a great idea, but I never acted on it. Until now. I was waiting for an opportune time, and now that we are back in school and doing all of our normal "Back-to-School" things, I wanted to provide my virtual tour of Utah in the traditional "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay mold.

My photo essay of my travels covers more than my little area. I'm including many of the sights I saw this summer from our various trips, but at no time did I leave the state. As the only card blogger from Utah (I think), I feel comfortable claiming the entire state as my area, though Utah does contain three very distinct geographic regions within its borders. With any luck, that will just make this all the more interesting.

Let's start close to home and move outward.

This is the view from my front yard.

And from the back window. From the front you see a cornfield; in the back is alfalfa.

And everywhere else in our part of town is orchards. Cherries and apples. None of the farms are ours, though; they just surround us.

This scene was filmed about 2 miles from my house:
We live just on the edge of the city limits, though. The town looks more like this:

Main Street, Payson.
My daily drive to work takes me past a local landmark.
Y Mountain | Local News | heraldextra.com
Photo Credit: heraldextra.com

BYU's Y Mountain. I know a lot of places paint their water towers for the local school. Well, in these parts we don't have water towers. So we paint the mountains. On my drive to work, I pass the "P" for Payson High, the "G" for Pleasant Grove High, and the largest of all, the "Y." I don't know how many other places do it, but it's definitely common practice in Utah.

Matt asked us to share local cuisine. Well, I think you all understand Mexican food. Seriously, excluding fast food and pizza joints, about 85% of the restaurants--and two of the three food trucks--are Mexican places. That may not be the best indicator, though, since my town is so small. By driving just a few miles, you can probably find just about any kind of food you want. I don't know of any typical "Utah" cuisine. Google will tell you that the most popular dish in Utah is Jell-o, but that is a flat-out lie. That's just some weird stereotype that somehow lives on.

There is this, though. I've talked to people from out-of-state, and I've learned that this type of establishment is a uniquely Utah one. It's a soda shop where you can get your Dr. Pepper or Coke or whatever "dirty": with syrups or other add-ins. There are dozens of these in my county, and most places have multiple options in town. My theory is that since members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don't drink coffee, they simply pick something else to drink constantly. I'm not a fan of these places because I don't drink a lot of fizzy drinks. And when I do, I don't want to spend twice as much so I can get coconut syrup and raspberry puree in it.

And if you can read the marquee, it says, "Try Utah's favorite pink cookie." A staple of the drink store is a cookie menu, particularly pink sugar cookies.

Swig Cookies – Swig
Photo Credit: swignsweets.com
They all have cookies. And while we're on the topic of pink, fry sauce is another Utah favorite.

Fry sauce - Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Fry sauce is a mixture of ketchup and mayo (and other things, like dill relish, worchestershire, or hot sauce). According to Wikipedia, it appears in cookbooks as early as 1900, but it was popularized in the 1950s by the Utah fast food chain Arctic Circle. You can get fry sauce anywhere in Utah. (I never take any pictures of my food, and I never order cookies at drink stops, so these pictures aren't mine.)

Now that you've seen the local flavors, come with me on a few road trips around the state.

This is Santaquin Canyon, about 5 miles south of my house. This is our favorite picnic spot and we have family gatherings up here a couple of times a year. It has been an even better place lately, since there was a major wildfire in the canyon three years ago and part of the road was destroyed. Now automobile traffic is blocked, and we just park and walk along the road for about 2 miles to get to our spot. It's extra quiet now that nobody can drive on the road.

We made a trip to the old mining town 15 miles west of where I grew up. This is Eureka, Utah, and it was once a bustling mining town, rich with both silver and gold. Now it's barely hanging on as a ghost town. Actually, I wrote my senior thesis in college on the Tintic Mining District out here. We took my history professor buddy because it was one of the few historical sites in Utah he'd never visited.

Speaking of historical sites, we visited Promontory Point, location of Golden Spike National Monument. This is where the final spike was driven to connect the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, completing the transcontinental railroad and connecting the East and West Coasts for the first time.

Traveling farther from home, we head south to Capitol Reef National Park in central Utah. It's a small park--and fairly isolated--so it's a nice place to visit and not be overrun with crowds.

One thing that makes Utah so cool is that three distinct geographical regions intersect here: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau. Where I live, we have the Rockies to the east and the Great Basin to the west. You could see those elements in the pictures near my house. As you head south, though, you see lots of mesas and amazing red rock formations in the Colorado Plateau. I may live in the Wasatch Mountains, but southern Utah is my favorite part of the state.

Like Bryce Canyon National Park, about an hour's drive south of Capitol Reef. The contrast between the red hoodoos and the green pines is breathtaking from the rim.

But it's pretty incredible from the canyon floor, too.

We also traveled east of our home, from the Wasatch to the Uinta chains in the Rocky Mountains, and visited Dinosaur National Monument. Yes, those are exposed dinosaur bones in the rock face. There are literally hundreds of bones you can see in the wall; they just built the museum around it. 

And that about wraps up the sights I saw with my family this summer. We didn't go north, which is where all the people live. If you were to visit and say, land at the Salt Lake airport, I would recommend a couple of cool locations.

Salt Lake City ~ Utah ~ Salt Lake City Temple ~ Temple Squ… | Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr

First, Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Here you can see the most famous of the 17 LDS temples in Utah. The domed building behind it is the Tabernacle, home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

This Is The Place Heritage Park
Photo Credit: thisistheplace.org

The second place I'd visit in Salt Lake is This Is the Place Heritage Park. It's a monument that marks where the first Mormon pioneers entered the valley and Brigham Young said, "This is the place," and they decided to settle here. There is a cool state park here where kids can experience different aspects of pioneer life, including making wagon wheels or watching a blacksmith at work. 

So there you have it: a virtual tour of my home state and some of the things I've seen. This is how I spent my summer vacation. How about you? I'm looking forward to more people taking up Matt's Blog Bat Around and letting all of us experience your corner of the country.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Card Kindness Comes to Life!

Last month, Bo shot me an email telling me to be on the lookout for some cards he was sending to me. A few days later, a PWE arrived in my mailbox. There was some great stuff inside.

Much of it was vintage football from the 70s. Not just commons, either. Here we have several Hall of Famers, a couple of big-time return specialists for my All-Decade collection, and former BYU receiver Golden Richards. Willie Lanier was named part of the NFL's All-Time Team, and this miscut 1974 will represent him in that project for me.

There was some Green & Gold, too, ranging from the mid-70s to the early 00's. This Terdell Middleton is my first card of him. He led the team in rushing twice, even going for over 1,000 yards and making a Pro Bowl in 1978, but his career fizzled out and he doesn't have much cardboard representation.

A big thanks goes out to Bo for this spontaneous mailer. And he deserves some kudos for checking out my lists and finding that I needed a Lanier for the All-Time team and that Golden Richards played for BYU. I appreciate the thoughtfulness, Bo!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

El Mago Desaparece

I've been spending my week posting my collection of cards featuring players traded by the Cubs before this year's deadline. I have one more to show. Over the past four or five seasons, Javy Baez has become my favorite player currently playing. Whether it is his dazzling glovework,

 brilliant baserunning tactics,

or sensational slides,

El Mago always puts on a show. He's just out there having fun and it's easy to have fun along with him. (Unless you're a Pirates fan watching a rookie first baseman get hoodwinked into a head-scratching rundown. That probably wasn't a lot of fun.) Of the players who were traded, I honestly thought Baez had the best chance to stick around, but it wasn't to be. So, as a farewell, here is my Javier Baez collection.

2019 Topps has quintessential Javy after an apparent diving tag.

Stadium Club is nice, but I think my favorite here is the GQ.

I just noticed the corners of this page are both Holiday edition. I like the 2018 photo, turning two over Mookie Betts.

Big League is fun here, mimicking the throw behind Bryant.

Now we're getting into the non-base cards, which make up a good portion of my collection. I like the chromed GQ box topper here.

Great page with a couple of Ernie Banks cameos. My favorites are National Baseball Card Day and the "El Mago" nickname.

A pair of Gold Labels are the highlight to me on this page.

I like the red parallel of last year's Update.

The Heritage you see is a Chromified Refractor version of Javy's shared rookie card with Jorge Soler. I like the GQ mini, which is serial-numbered to 250.

The last page is highlighted by a serial-numbered Topps Tribute parallel.

Even though he is no longer in the Windy City, I'll still be watching Javier Baez play baseball. Until some new Cub shows he can be as exciting as El Mago, he'll be hard to displace as my favorite player in the game. The fireworks have already started in New York, as Baez homered in his first game as a Met. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant did it, too, by the way--for the Yankees and Giants, respectively. Because that just fits the current situation as a Cubs fan perfectly.

Monday, August 2, 2021


This past week, my wife and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. As I was preparing something for her that involved the number 17, I started thinking about what else 17 signifies for me. On another personal relationship note, 17 is the age that both of us were when we first started dating. (Though not when we first met. We had become acquainted in sophomore English class about a year and a half before.) Extending beyond the personal, my thoughts turned to the #17 on the baseball field, and the player who would almost surely be traded away from the North Side of Chicago, Kris Bryant.

All the rumors of the roster tear-down began with everyone pegging Bryant as the most likely trade candidate in the MLB before the season even began. Of the Big Three who were traded away from Chicago, KB has been the most frustrating to me. The guy bursts onto the scene in 2015 to win Rookie of the Year. The next year, he has already reached the pinnacle, taking home MVP honors while recording the final out (along with favorite partner in crime, Anthony Rizzo) in Game 7 of the World Series. After that, his game dropped off a little. Some even questioned whether he was still a superstar. Brian at Collecting Cutch wrote a piece last week about Bryce Harper, presenting his career and asking if he was overrated or under-appreciated. Not surprisingly, the comments left on the post represented both sides. The same debate could be had for Bryant, as well. It appears injuries played a little bit more of a role in KB's downturn, however, as he has begun to tick up over the past year. He was arguably playing the best baseball in Wrigley at the time he was traded.

As I did with Anthony Rizzo, I will show off my Kris Bryant cards in tribute. However, since he will have a Rookie of the Year Spotlight post, I'll spare you my entire collection. Here are just a few pages of KB17.

I love the Gold Label here, though Bunt and Stadium Club are pretty great, too.

I like the Bunt Lightforce insert on this page. The 1989 Upper Deck you see is a Baseball Breakdown custom courtesy of Gavin.

I like the row of Fire parallels here. The orange and the green are serial-numbered.

Wow, I like all of these, but the winner has to be the Beckett cover promo. The reverse side of the card features Kyle Schwarber, in case you were curious.

For a moment, I started to think that maybe Bryant was going to stick around after all. The cutoff time of the deadline approached without him being moved. The deal was announced with just minutes to spare. All good things come to an end. They already had years ago when my favorite #17 ever said goodbye to Chicago. Mark Grace has always been my favorite player, so I have to give him some love here too.

The Rookie Page.

I think my favorite is 1996 Stadium Club. He's smacking one of his decade-leading 1,754 hits.

1991 Topps is an iconic card from my own childhood.

1993 Studio is the best here.

This may be the best page of Graces. I can't choose a favorite. Diving on Sports Illustrated? Gold Label(s)? E-X(s)? Finest? Or the slide on 2000 Topps?

Another great page with a lot of baserunning this time. But Gold Label is my favorite.

1995 SP Championship is my selection here.

Another 1989 rookie pops up here, but my favorite is the dugout shot on the Sports Illustrated card.

I'll take the attempted pick-off tag on 1994 Pinnacle.

Man, I love 90s cards. It's hard to hard to pass on the EX-2000, but 1997 Leaf, 1996 SP, and 1996 Finest just might do it.


Note the crease across the 1991 Fleer autographed card. I got this card signed TTM when I was a kid, and I was so disappointed that my favorite player had signed, but the card had been damaged in the mail.

Some great oddballs here, including a few magazine cut-out cards. 1990 Post were the first baseball cards I got, and the first two were Gracie and Ryno, sparking a Cubs fandom in my little mind.

Like Bryant this weekend, Grace eventually left the Cubs. He joined the D-Backs and won a World Series just four months after I graduated from high school. By that time, my wife and I were dating steadily, on a path that would lead us here, still together after 17 years of marriage.