Category Archives: family



We left Boise to view the eclipse in Cascade. It was our first camping trip as a family. It went pretty well. Lots of kids to play with. A beautiful location with a lake nearby for swimming. And we were only camping for one night so it was a nice new adventure. The only problem is now the boys want to go camping again so they can see another eclipse.





Our home base for eclipse viewing. We spent a few days on either side of the event just hanging out. Went out for a wander one day and saw the capitol. Checked out a few parks. Had ice cream—and a real ice cream soda—at a working soda fountain. It was a wonderful way to end our summer.


Bonneville Dam


After Medford and Crater Lake we continued north to Portland. Actually we blew through—or whatever the equivalent of that is which reflects getting stuck in traffic between 2:30 and 4:30—and went to Vancouver for another couple of nights. Based on the traffic experience we decided against heading back into Portland.

Instead we took a daytrip out to Bonneville Dam. It was wonderful to see the Columbia River Gorge—especially in light of the recent fires—and the dam itself is pretty interesting. First, tons of Ospreys hovering around is pretty spectacular to watch. Also, the displays about all the flood control, hydroelectric, and shipping channel improvements on the river are pretty interesting. I’m used to dams being for drinking water supply and storage purposes but these are different. I had to go and pull up some Carleton Watkins photos later so I could see what the river looked like back when it was all rapids.

And there’s a fish ladder with viewing windows which, in addition to allowing the rangers to count the fish going upstream, was also a lot of fun for the boys to watch while they filled out another junior ranger activity guide.



One of the baseball card tweeps who I talk with a lot is @junkwaxtwins. He’s a Minnesota fan living in Texas who’s especially interested in miscuts and printing errors. I sent him a small package of miscuts and Minnesota oddballs a while ago and I just received a small package from him as part of his celebration about hitting the 2000 followers mark on Twitter.

This package consisted of two parts. Part one was for me.

Highlights here are the wonderful combination of a Donruss Elite card with a Sportflics card. And also Bo Jackson as an Angel. My brain can’t grok that at all.

Donruss Elite was one of the first major chase cards in the hobby. Yes we had things like the Griffey Jr Upper Deck Rookie or the Billy Ripken error, but the idea of inserting a special, super-hard-to-find card was somewhat novel. We’d had the 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson signatures the previous year but that was in packs that most of us kids couldn’t really afford. 1991 Donruss though? Totally affordable.

Still, I’ve never seen an Elite card before. Given what the hobby would turn into this is a wonderfully plain and simple card. No fancy card stock, just foil stamping and number out of 10,000.* It’s a very fun reminder of a simpler time.

*With the focus on 1:1 to 1:250 on chase cards to day this is a laughably huge run.

The Giants cards are all fun too. Always enjoyable to get a Lincecum. The Brandon Crawford rookie is great. The Jonathan Sanchez confuses me immensely since it’s so thick. As someone who puts cards into binders I still don’t know what to do with these thick cards.

Part two however was for my sons.

They were excited to see the pack and couldn’t wait for me to open it. I dutifully explained to them that it was a wax pack made of paper that had been stuck together and opened it slowly so they could see how it all worked.

The first thing we had to do was carefully unstick the gum from one of the cards. No damage. They were intrigued by the gum but did not try. I did. It turns to dust and never becomes chewable. I had to rinse my mouth out.

The cards though are pretty cool. Both boys love the Christopher Reeve Superman films and while they prefer the first one, they appreciate that I prefer the second. Of the twelve in the pack I like the one of the villains escaping the Phantom Zone and the one of Clark Kent getting his revenge on the asshole in the diner.

In a bit of a minor miracle the boys managed to split these into two piles of six without fighting. More predictably they promptly badgered me for binder pages so they could properly sort them.

It’s funny. Once I started collecting baseball cards I never considered any other sports—let alone non-sport cards like these. I never saw the point. I get it more now although I daresay that it only works when the movie cards are of something from pop culture which has achieved staying power. In the same way that it’s been fun to introduce my kids to Superman the Motion Picture, seeing and having these cards is another aspect of pop culture we can bond over.

Now I need to figure out what to do with the blank card the I’m supposed to “decorate” and sign and return. It’s a little small for my kids to draw on* but we’ll figure something out.

*My eldest did make a special 1:1 custom for Peter as a result of being on the receiving end of a large mailing of Giants cards.

Bach, Beethoven, Bob Brenly

Bach, Beethoven, Bob Brenly

My mom thought this would be a fun tshirt. So she made all the drawings and letrasetted the text and got a handful of them printed. And she sent one to Bob Brenly. Brenly was one of those players who Giants fans loved despite a somewhat mediocre career. Yes, we all loved Will Clark too, but Giants fans have always seemed to have favorites which the rest of the country doesn’t understand.

When my mom made this shirt Brenly had retired and was a broadcaster for the Cubs. This was his first go-round as a broadcaster before he came back as a Giants coach. So I’m guessing she mailed the shirt to either the Cubs of WGN. Anyway, like a month or so after she mailed the package, she got a random phone call. Turns out it was Bob Brenly calling to personally thank her for the shirt. She said we’d swing by the broadcaster’s elevator at Candlestick the next time the Cubs were in town.

Bob Brenly 1985 Topps

So we did. I brought my favorite Bob Brenly card. It’s pretty beat up but I only had maybe a couple dozen 1985 Topps cards. He was confused until he saw our shirts (we had to unzip our jackets what with Candlestick being Candlestick). That reveal was pretty fun and he signed my card despite having a ton of stuff in his arms. The signature is kind of wonky because I had to hold the card for him.

Steve Stone 1981 Donruss

Since this was the Cubs broadcasting team I also combed through my albums looking for a Steve Stone card. I actually had a couple but went with the 1981 Donruss Cy Young Award one because I figured the award reminder was a nice touch. It’s definitely not the nicest card on purely esthetic terms (it’s actually in the mix for the worst card I’ve gotten autographed) but there’s something charming about it.

I also didn’t ask for the personalization. I’m not sure if Stone does this all the time but it was the first time I’d gotten a personalized autograph. I have mixed feelings. It’s not like I was going to sell this so it’s cool that this is clearly an in-person signature with a story behind it. At the same time, my name is covering his face and that’s kind of annoying.

And yes, I could’ve tried to get Harry Caray’s autograph as well but I wasn’t into autographs from non-players at the time.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

And another summer, another trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. A full full day this time where the boys played on the beach for a few hours before closing out the Boardwalk at 11pm. This was also a special trip since the older kids were tall enough to go on the Giant Dipper for the first time. Also, because we’re off the little kid rides I get to actually ride things again. This is a lot of fun but does cut into my photography time.



This disclaimer is also on my permanent collecting page but in addition to writing about cards I plan to also blog about autographs. For me they’re as tied up with my memories as card collecting is and the two hobbies fed off of each other a lot when I was little. I’d get cards for autograph reasons and I’d be inspired by cards to go get autographs.

While I don’t remember enough specifics about my baseball card collecting beginnings*—aside from going to my first game in 1986, receiving a Hygrade Baseball Card Collecting Kit as a gift**, and then the following spring being into cards and buying rack packs of 1987 Topps—I do remember my first few faltering steps of autograph hunting.

*I’ve kind of touched on it here.

**I’m assuming Christmas.

Those first couple of cards are both personal treasures and a source of embarrassment. I’m thankful I had the opportunity for these baby steps into the hobby and I’m glad that the players weren’t anyone too important or big name to either discourage my future quests or to result in any regrets about not doing things the “correct” way. I’m also a bit embarrassed now at how excited I was to both acquire and then own all of these. And also at how quickly I wanted more more more.

And as a father who may very soon be finding himself watching his sons embark on similar quests, it’s good for me to have these stories written and available or them to read and realize that I was once in their shoes.

Atlee Hammaker 1987 Topps

I’m pretty sure that Atlee Hammaker was the first autograph I ever got. This must’ve been in 1988. There was an event at the Sunnyvale Community Center where he was scheduled to make an appearance and sign autographs. I remember being at the Giants game that afternoon, having it go into extra innings, and rushing back home to make it to the event on time. Little did it occur to me that, because of the game, Hammaker would also be late.

Boy was he late. We kept watching the same highlights and I feel kind of sorry for the Giants Community Representative* who had to vamp the entire time. But Hammaker eventually arrived and I got my first signature and I was very very happy.

*Who might’ve been Mike Sadek.

Given what I’ve learned since about Hammaker since I’m kind of glad and find it somewhat appropriate that he was my first autograph.

With 1987 Topps being my first complete set as well as the first cards I really purchased or collected in earnest, I’m pretty sure this was my only Atlee Hammaker card at the time. It’s a nice, albeit a bit a generic, headshot. But he’s actually smiling and the lighting is good.

Rick Reuschel 1986 Topps Rick Reuschel 1988 Score

Rick Reuschel was our ace pitcher in 1989. I never think of him as a proper ace but I have to recognize and respect that he did start the All-Star game that year.* Anyway he was scheduled to make an appearance at the Giants Dugout Store in San José so of course I went. As did my mom and my sister. I’m pretty sure that this was yet another baseball thing that we dragged my sister to and she patiently put up with waiting in line for what must’ve felt like forever.

*What is it with Giants pitchers in All Star games and monster home runs?

I had brought two cards with me. The 1986 Topps was one of my oldest cards at the time and 1988 Score was one which I just loved the look of. We were only allowed one autograph each. I think my mom took one card and I took the other.

Since I did not trust my sister not to “keep” the card if I gave it to her—it’s not like she collected autographs it’s just one of those sibling things. So my mom purchased one of those souvenir Giants-branded baseballs for her. For a while it just had Reuschel’s signature on it but we eventually filled it up* and she eventually decided that she didn’t want it.

*This deserves, and will get, a post of its own.

Mike Aldrete 1987 Topps

The Stanford Alumni Game used to be the first weekend of the baseball season and officially marked when baseball began in general. That this was usually in the end of January ended up spoiling me tremendously in terms of when I could expect to go to a game. Many Stanford players in the pros would return to campus and play an exhibition against that year’s Stanford team. And there would often be an old timer’s game as well.

While I eventually ended up treating this as a major autograph extravaganza, the first time I went I only brought one card. I only knew of one Stanford Alumnus and it’s only because he played for the Giants. So, as with Atlee Hammaker I brought the only card I had, a 1987 Topps.

No one had told me about Sharpies yet so I just borrowed a pen from my dad. Whoops. It’s held up okay and there’s a certain charm about it which makes it looks like an autographed card from a much earlier age. And while I eventually got another copy signed I could never bear to part with this one. It’s the first autograph I got where I had to approach a player and ask for him to sign all on my own. And that’s a milestone of its own which is worth remembering.