02 July 2018

Contested Shots 33: Big Fun Game Cards from John Miller

I've been away from my blog for a while. My June output of 3 posts was the fewest in a month ever on this blog. I went to a Weird Al Yankovic concert in Spokane with my wife at the end of May. It was a pretty good show once Al and his band came out. The opening act was a set by comedian Emo Phillips, and it just didn't resonate with me. He had some funny jokes, but a lot of his set was (in my opinion) unfunny or kind of mean-spirited. As he went on, I started to regret spending the money it took to get tickets, hotel, and transportation to the venue. Luckily, Weird Al put on a great show and I felt much better about things when it was all over. Here is a link to the setlist from the concert, for anyone who wants to see what songs he did.

During the first couple of weeks in June, my friend/coworker who was fighting Stage IV Melanoma started visiting the hospital for headaches and other complications. He had a scan done, and the doctor told him that the cancer had spread into his brain, and they were pretty much out of treatment options. On the 15th, he went into the hospital again, and on the 16th he was alive but largely unresponsive. He would wake up from time to time over the weekend, but most of his friends and family visited to say goodbye to him. On the night of the 17th he woke up and felt a lot better, so they got him set up with hospice care and he went home on the 18th. On the 19th he went back into being unresponsive, and the nurses said it looked like his organs were starting to shut down. On the morning of the 22nd he died.

I spent a lot of time at the hospital and his house during that period, trying to help out and be supportive of him and his family. My wife was out of town, so I had taken leave from work for the week to take care of my kids, and so I had a lot of open time to devote to being there. I had been in the in the same military unit as my friend for quite a while, starting in 2003, and from 2008 on, we worked in the same building at our day jobs. A couple of his brothers were also coworkers of mine at different times, and a couple of years ago he helped me get into my current job. Our work group grew pretty close over those two years, and it is a pretty big blow to have him gone. He'd been fighting cancer for a while, but we hoped he would be around a little longer. He just went downhill really fast there at the end.

I had a ticket to the WWE Live show in Boise the evening of the 22nd, and I decided to go ahead and go to the show. It was good to get away from things for a few hours, and the wrestling was pretty entertaining. There weren't quite as many of my favorites on the card as there have been at previous shows I've attended, but it was still good.

Last week was pretty much taken up by my friend's wake, his funeral, and the military memorial ceremony they held for him at the base I work on. This weekend my kids took turns being sick, and I am trying to fit in some comp time at work to make up for all the time I missed over the last half of June.

I've still been collecting cards, but I haven't had much motivation to blog about them lately. I'm at the point where I am so far behind that it feels like too much work to get caught up. Hopefully I can get back into a rhythm in my life that includes posting with more frequency.

I got a package in the mail from John Miller of the Johnny's Trading Spot blog the other day. He recently put on a Big Fun Game, which is a contest where participants pick a random number to reveal a prize package. There are options to steal prizes or exchange them, My original selection was a lot of rookie cards, but it was stolen, so my next selection wound up being a bunch of vintage cardboard, mostly from the 70's. That's a fun year in cardboard history, so I was pretty happy to win it.

I mentioned that most of the cards were from the 70's, but this Carl Yastrzemski / Chuck Schilling Sox Sockers card comes from 1964 Topps, which makes it 2 years younger than my parents!

I like these team photo cards, although in many of them you can't really tell who is who. The manager cards are kind of neat as well. Imagine how small the checklists of today might be if rookies still had to share one card between three or four of them, instead of getting a couple cards each in a set!

Here is a fun quartet of cards from the 1976 checklist, with some nice classic baseball card poses on display.

Next we move into 1977, with some really eye-catching (or eye-searing, depending on the taste of the viewer) uniforms on display. I love those colorful Astros uniforms, and that red Cleveland look is pretty cool.

I am not as enamored of these 1978 cards, but there are some gems here still. I like that pose and the uniform on the Adrian Devine card in the upper left, and the evidence of a large plug of tobacco in the cheek of Jeff Byrd.

I close out the vintage cards with some more 1978 cards and a lone 1979. I like how close the Jim Clancy and Mark Littell poses are to each other. Ben Oglivie, John Scott, and Sal Bando all look like they mean business with those bats in their hands. Good stuff here.

The final card in the package was a 2006 Topps Mickey Mantle Home Run History insert card. I wasn't in the hobby in 2006, so I wasn't familiar with this insert set. Apparently Topps made a big cross-brand set with cards for each one of Mantle's career home runs. Card #HR1 was available in 2006 Topps Series 1, and later cards in the set were inserted in other products during 2006 and 2007. It must have been a nightmare to complete the set.

Thanks for the contest and the prize, John Miller! It was fun to participate, and this was a fun batch of cards to sort through!


  1. That's a busy month of June. Sorry to hear about your friend.

    1. Thank you. He was a good guy, and things are definitely harder without him around.

  2. Condolences on the loss of your friend.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, I have never had a friend who passed away, so I can't really relate to it all that much. I've read of people who have abandoned friends that were terminally ill, because they supposedly couldn't deal with it, so it's nice to hear that you were around and trying to be as supportive as possible.

    It makes me happy to know that Weird Al is still around and still touring. It's too bad about that opening act though, especially since I am not a fan of mean-spirited comedy either. I'd be curious to know though, how that guy's routine went over with the rest of the crowd?

    And I absolutely love that Sox Sockers card!

    1. I felt like it would be two-faced of me to disappear during the hardest part of his fight. It was tough, but things are easier when you have support.

      Some of Emo's jokes were funny and went over well, but some of it seemed to fall flat with the crowd. Much of his routine reminded me of an English teacher I had in high school who considered herself intellectually superior to other people and would build herself up by putting down people with different beliefs.

      That Sox Sockers card seems to be pretty popular.

  4. Man, I am really sorry to hear about your friend. Hopefully you can find some escape by blogging and connecting on here. We always enjoy reading your posts for sure.

    1. I am happy to have a community of bloggers to connect with. I am not the sort of person who has a large network of real-life friends, so it's good to have a group of people online that I consider to be friends.