Thursday, August 15, 2019

New certification, new collecting craze

Well, summer's almost over and the biggest thing I can say I've accomplished over the past few months is earning my Paraeducator certification. Since retiring from the military, I got bored and began working within our local school district as a Special Education Associate. Last year I was hired full-time at a nearby elementary school to work with a 2nd grader with behavioral issues.

I really enjoyed it. When my student was doing well, I had other kids in his classroom ask me questions about the assignments, and how they were to be done. So, I decided to go all the way and become certified. With this certification, I can now help teach and work with the teacher and students in the classroom.

It's kind of ironic. When I first graduated from high school, I wanted to teach English and Journalism, and coach football and track. Instead, I joined the military. Over the course of my service, I had the opportunity to teach classes to my Soldiers, and also was able to coach at the Youth Activities Center on base.

And now I've come full circle. How many people can say they have the opportunity to do something they truly loved and wanted to do since they were young? Teachers are pretty amazing, and I have to admit I was also inspired by blogger Marcus Pond and Fuji, over at the Chronicles of Fuji blog page.

As for my collecting interests, they've also branched out a bit, lately. I'm still collecting my beloved San Diego Padres cards, but I'm now amassing Track and Field Cards, as well.

I'm a certified USA Track & Field official, specializing in the throws (Shot put, Discus, Hammer, Weights, and Javelin). I've worked the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Championships, numerous Drake Relays, the USATF National Masters Outdoor Championship, and more college and high school track meets than I can count.

So, I guess its only natural that I begin extending my collection madness into track and field.

It didn't take me long to find a few cards. I recently, picked up this 12-card track and field lot from E-Bay.

These are from the 1930's Nestle Sports Series Stamp Set #42. My research says they came out about 1936 or 1937. They were offered as premiums in chocolate bars and products from Nestle, Peter, Cailler, and Kohler Chocolates. They are paper-thin and measure approximately 1.5 inches by 2.25 inches. The backs are a bit fadey, but still fairly legible. They were actually made to be put into Nestle scrapbooks and many collectors did just that. 

I also picked up this 2016 Goodwin Champions Memorabilia Joe Kovacs card from a friend. Kovacs recently finished second in the USATF Outdoor Championships here in Des Moines, with a throw of 73 feet, 2-1/2 inches. Besides being his best throw of the season, it also earned him a trip to the 2019 Doha World Track and Field Championships.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The bitter-sweet, mixed emotions of retirement

Plank-owner, shell-back, radioman, public affairs specialist, Citizen-Soldier, mentor, first sergeant.

Now, I can finally add retiree to the list.

After 36 years of military duty, five deployments, and trips to more than 26 foreign countries, 1st Sgt. Duff McFadden has finally retired from the Iowa Army National Guard following ceremonies at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center in Johnston, Iowa.

After stints in the U.S. Navy, Naval Reserve, Active Army, and the Iowa National Guard, I've now laced up my combat boots for the final time. I began my military career with the Navy in 1976 and was stationed in San Diego, before entering the Naval Reserve. I joined the U.S. Army as a journalist in 1987, where I was stationed at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, and then Fort Lewis, Wash., after serving in the Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I left the Active Duty Army in 1992.

I actually joined the Navy because I wanted a steady income for the first four years of marriage to my blushing bride, Janet (we recently celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary)  and we wanted to get away from our families and start our life out together on our own two feet. Both of our sons were born while we were in the Navy.

However, if you'd have told me I would go on to retire from the military as a senior enlisted member, I would have laughed in your face.

My retirement ceremony proved to be a bitter-sweet one, especially since I've been serving in the Iowa National Guard since 1992, and working full-time in Public Affairs here since 2004. It always amazes me the number of lives you touch, whether you realize it or not, which was heartily evident by the number of family, friends and peers, who turned out for the ceremony.

Besides the usual retirement goodies - coins, cards, gag gifts - there were two very nice presents from my boss that particularly stood out and meant a lot to me.

I'm always talking up San Diego in my office, almost to the point where they were getting sick of it, although they were also more than willing to scratch that "San Diego itch." When my wife and I returned to America's Finest City for a visit during our anniversary in 2008, my coworkers  provided a gift certificate for one our favorite restaurants there - The Red Sails Inn (which unfortunately, is now gone). After I complained about El Paso naming the Padres' newest AAA affiliate the Chihuahuas - you guessed it - they made sure to buy me a t-shirt with the new team logo on it.

By the same token, if anyone in the Guard wanted to take a trip to San Diego, they came to me for the lowdown on the best places to eat, places to see, things to do, what military discounts they can find, etc.

The first gift from Col. Greg Hapgood, my friend and boss, was a letter from the San Diego Padres extending their "sincere congratulations" upon my retirement from the military, wishing me "the best of luck as you embark on the next phase of your life." It was signed by Rear Admiral (Ret.) J.J. Quinn as part of the Padres' military program.

The second gift, was even more special and needless to say, even more impressive. Not content with just a letter from the Padres, Hapgood then called the City of San Diego to see if he could get another such  letter from the mayor's office. The mayor's  aide laughed and said they could do one better, and this City of San Diego "Duff McFadden Day" proclamation was the result. And yes, it was actually signed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and affixed with the seal of The City of San Diego.

Like I said earlier, retirement was a bitter-sweet experience. But with the well wishes of friends and co-workers like this, it was all worthwhile. 

Here's to our next stage in life.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Resurrection of "Bleedin' Brown and Gold"

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, consider this the resurrection of "Bleedin' Brown and Gold."

I don't know what to say, other than a lot of life has happened in the past year.

1) I've retired following 37 years of military service as an Army 1st Sergeant..

2) We've reached the realization that we really like living in Johnston, Iowa (a suburb of Des Moines). When I retired, I had applications all over the country (and a few foreign ones to boot), so we moved into an apartment to us mobile and ready to move, just in case...

3) However, after living in that 850-square foot, cramped apartment for nearly three years, we decided to pull the trigger and have since moved into a 16,000 square foot townhome. I now have plenty of room for my cards, and I don't have to do the weekly fandango  with my wife, as to how many boxes of cards I actually have stashed in our office.

4) I also got horrendously bored and took on a part-time job as a Substitute Special Education Associate for the Johnston School District. Perhaps Marcus (All the Way to the Backstop) and  Fuji (The Chronicles of Fuji), both teachers, helped influence me into this decision. Needless to say, it's a very rewarding job, plus I can work as many (or as few) hours as I like.

Also, I can't end this post without something with Padres cards in it, so I'm posting my favorite Tony Gwynn card, as well as his first baseball card - his 1982 TMCA Hawaii Islanders (#10)

Well, that, in a nutshell, is what's been happening over the course of the past year or so. Here's to getting back on the shtick and continuing "Bleedin' Brown and Gold."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Latest Gwynn additions

Between recent COMC pick-ups, the monthly Urbandale Card Show, and the generosity of other card collectors, I've managed to steadily increase my Tony Gwynn collection, little by little. However, with more than 10,000 Gwynn cards out on the market (some of those being way out of my price range) I've only made a miniscule dent in collecting Mr. Padre.
Of course, it's a never-ending battle. Even though he retired in 2001, every year there's more and more Tony Gwynn cards inserted into every set. For example, in 2017 alone (at least to date), another 51 Gwynn cards have been released into the market.  
However, I'm happy enough to start out with these 2003 Diamond Kings DK Evolution (#DK21); 2001 Upper Deck Vintage Glory Days (#G5), 2012 Panini Cooperstown Crystal Collection (#110), S/N 119/299; 1994 Pinnacle Run Creators (#RC35); 2000 Revolution On Deck (#17); and a 2000 Upper Deck HoloGrFx Future Fame (#FF4).
2015 Topps Museum Collection Copper (#70); 2013 Panini Cooperstown Colgan's Chips (#58); 2005 Leather and Lumber Lumber/Leather (#31); 2000 Stadium Club Capture the Action (#CA19); 1999 Upper Deck Ovation Curtain Calls #(R16); and a 2001 Donruss Class of 2001 Dominators (#DM24).

There's certain Tony Gwynn cards you figure you already have in your collection, such as most of the food issues, or Topps. However, believer it or not, these cards were missing from my collection until now - a 1989 Topps Cap'n Crunch (#5); 1993 Upper Deck Diamond Gallery (#17); 2005 Diamond Kings Heritage Collection (#HC25); 1994 Donruss Special Edition (#10); 1988 Topps Tiffany (#360); and a 1993 Topps Tiffany AS (#403). Of course, Tiffany cards fit into a whole different category, but I was more than happy to fit this pair into my Gwynn collection.

1996 Team Out (#36); 1996 Classic 7/11 Phone Cards (#12): 2013 Hometown Heroes City Hall Black (#12); 2013 Hometown Heroes City Hall Gold (#12); 2014 Topps Triple Threads Emerald (#97); and a 2014 Topps Triple Threads Amethyst (#97). I've always felt phone cards were interesting collectibles and this 7/11-Classic one was a card I couldn't pass up, as were the two Triple Thread cards.

And let's not forget this 1994 Sucker Saver (#10). While it was produced by MSA, nowhere on the card does it say, "Sucker Saver." It actually has an Innovative Confections logo on the front and back It's one of those many Gwynn cards you're not even aware are out there.

So, there you have the latest additions to my ever-growing Gwynn collection, which has now grown to 882 cards.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Padres Camo Memorabilia

I love watching Padres home games on Sunday afternoons. Proudly calling themselves the "Team of the Military," San Diego was one of the first teams to actively celebrate the military, actually inviting service members of the Marine Corps (a given, with the Recruit Depot just up the Pacific Coast Highway), as well as the Navy and Coast Guard to these games.
In 2000, the Padres began wearing Vietnam-era "Jungle" camouflage uniforms as part of Military Appreciation Day, and eventually, as part of thise Sunday home games celebrating the military. In 2006, they switched over to the "Desert Camouflage Uniform," and from 2011-2017, they began wearing "Marine Digital" uniforms sporting the camouflage pattern of the Marine Corps combat uniforms.
This year, it was the Navy's turn for recognition, as they switched over to that service's blue camo pattern. However, it seems its only worn on the Sundays they host Navy personnel at the game.
A few years back, my wife (God Bless her) got me a San Diego Padres Marine Corps camo jersey with my nickname ("McDuff") and number "36" on it. She also had the Tony Gwynn memorial black patch sewn onto it, following his death, in 2014. This year, she got me the Navy blue jersey, which is now part of the half dozen Padres jerseys in my closet.
While I haven't seen any memorabilia cards with the Navy blue jerseys yet, I have managed to find a few pieces of cardboard with nice-sized Marine Corps camo swatches on them.
For its 2016 release, Topps Triple Threads made a well-appreciated run with Padres military camo swatches. Recent COMC purchases have included this Wil Myers Topps Triple Threads Unity Jumbo Relics (#UJRMWR) (S/N 21/36) and Tyson Ross Topps Triple Threads Unity Jumbo Relics Emerald (#UJRTYR) (S/N 05/18).

Myers also rocks a smaller version of the camo in my collection, with this 2017 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relics (CCRWM) card.  One of the earliest Marine Corps camo cards I've been able to find is this 2014 Jesse Hahn Panini National Treasures (163) (S/N 96/99).
The biggest swatch of all, comes from the 2016 Travis Jankowski Immaculate Collection Immaculate Jumbo Materials (#42) (S/N 20/99). Jankowski has recently come off the Disabled List and is ready to begin a rehab stint in the minors. I hope we'll see him soon in a Padres unfiorm again, but I'm not sure where the center fielder would fit in the outfield right now.
I have another 2016 James Shield Topps Triple Threads Unity Auto Jumbo Relics - Silver card I've purchased (but not yet shipped), along with a couple of others on my COMC watch list, as well. I've also been occasionally checking E-Bay, but so far, this is as good as it gets.

Monday, July 31, 2017

So I won a Nascar tire. Now What?

Two years ago, during the Iowa Wild hockey season, I signed up for a drawing from Freedom Tire at one of the games. Actually, I thought I was signing up for the opportunity to win a set of four new tires, which I actually could have used for my RAV-4.
As the 2nd period intermission ended, they announced my name as the winner of the Freedom Tire drawing. With a big smile on my face, I ran back up to the concourse for what I thought would be a gift certificate for a new set of rubber.
In reality, what I actually won was a NASCAR tire from an actual NASCAR race.
According to the Freedom Tires rep, the tire belonged to Regan Smith, who drove the #78 Furniture Row Racing/Farm American Chevrolet at the 12th Annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Geico 400, held Sept. 16, 2012 at Chicagoland Speedway. While Smith started 7th, he finished 34th, completing 176 laps before blowing his engine.

The tire markings show this tire belonged to team R78 (right-side tire, Car #78) and was supposed to go onto the right rear as part of his sixth tire change (RR-6), but it wasn't used due to the blown engine. Although it's a "slick," or smooth tire, it even has divots molded into it, which are used to measure tread depth
So, it's a brand-new tire, which was to have been used during the 2012 Geico race. The guy from Freedom Tire was pretty excited that an actual servicemember won the tire, especially since it had the "Support our Troops" logo on it. Apparently, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, honored and supported the U.S. Armed Forces that year with the launch of its “Goodyear Gives Back” campaign,  designed to generate support for the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
Race fans could visit the Goodyear Gives Back website and bid on authentic, race-used Goodyear NASCAR and NHRA tires autographed by drivers who used them in races, as well as other unique items including authentic motorsports experiences and memorabilia, with all proceeds going directly to Support Our Troops.
Needless to say, I had some interesting looks from fellow Wild fans as I left the game with this tire tucked under my arm.
Now comes the tricky part - What does one do with a full-sized NASCAR tire?
I could probably make a table out of it, maybe two, if I cut it in half. It's too big to use as a tire swing, and it's too nice (not to mention, big) to waste for a planter. I suppose I could put it on my Rav-4, but I'd need at least three more to go all the way around.
Since wining it, it's been sitting in my garage collecting dust. If anyone can come up with a good idea on what to do with it, please let me know.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A COMC autograph collection

As many of you know, I've been getting a plethora of free cards from the COMC website by helping with their daily Inventory Challenge. You get 100 points for every 50 cards you identify correctly and every 1,000 points earned is worth $1 of store credit.
Its taken me quite a while, but I've now accumulated 906,480 points, good for 37th place on the Overall Leaderboard. My goal is to hit the million mark and get the red "C" Badge. According to my Dashboard stats, I've now purchased a total of 764 cards from this fun site.
For my July shipment, I opted for a mixture of on-card and sticker signatures of my beloved San Diego Padres, as well as a few colorful and different cards for my Friar collection.
I'll begin with these autographs - a 2004 Bowman's Best Tim Stauffer Autograph RC (#TJS); 2009 Sweet Spot Autograph RC, S/N 477/699 (#109); 2000 Crown Royale Sweet Spot Signatures Ben Davis (#23); 2015 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Cory Spangenberg (#ARCS); 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractors Autograph James Darnell, S/N 475/500 (#PCP115B); and a 2017 Bowman Prospect Autographs Dinelson Lamet (#PADL).
Lamet's an interesting 25-year old Dominican international free agent RHP, After starting the season at El Paso, he's now 4-4, with a 5.02 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 20 walks and unfortunately, given up 11 home runs. He did, however, beat the NY Mets in his MLB debut on May 25, with 8 Ks, 2 BB, and an earned run in 5 innings pitch. He was 12-10 with a 3.00 ERA at El Paso last season.

2005 Skybox Autographics Future Signs Autograph Blue Akinori Otsuka (Print Run of 639) (#AO); 2007 Bowman Heritage Signs of Greatness Mike Thompson (#MT); 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars Autograph RC (#181); 2001 Bowman's Best Autographs Sean Burroughs (#BBASB); 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects Autograph Jared Wells (#BC230); and a 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs Edwin Moreno (#BCAPEM).
Otsuka, who's one of my favorite Padres players, was hired this year as the bullpen coach for AAA El Paso. His son, Tora, a 5-9, 175 pound OF/2B, recently committed to the University of San Diego Toreros. He's a 2017 graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego.
I'll continue with these 2012 SP Signature Kyle Blanks (#SD6); 2011 ITG Heroes and Prospects heroes Jerseys Silver Dave Winfield (Print run to 150) (#17); 2016 Panini National Treasures Alex Dickerson Jersey Autograph RC, S/N 39/99 (#157); 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Donavan Tate Autograph, S/N 172/999 (#52); and a pair of 2011 Playoff Contenders Draft Ticket Autographs, one of Burch Smith (#DT4), the other Kevin Quackenbush (#DT85).

I just had to pick up some old School Padres, as well, including these 1999 Topps Traded Autographs Junior Herndon (#T42); 1997 Donruss Signature Autographs Rafael Medina (Print Run to 3,900), S/N (#71); 1998 Donruss Signature Autographs Millennium, S/N 209/900 (#26); 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs Andy Ashby (Print Run of 3,500) (#10); 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs Scott Sanders Silver (Print Run of 1,000) (#202); and a 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs Mark Newfield (Print Run of 3,500) (#168).

You know I couldn't have a COMC shipment without at least one Tony Gwynn card. This 1990 All-American Baseball Team (#14) perfectly fills that need. Here's a 2011 Topps Attax Foil Swinging Friar (#228); 2017 Topps Heritage Ryan Schimpf RC (#24); 2015 Panini Prizm Prizms Tie Dyed Cory Spangenberg, S/N 49/50 (#187); 2015 Topps Heritage Wil Myers Foil, S/N112/999 (#621); and a 2013 Topps Mini Pink Cameron Maybin, S/N 23/25 (#324).
You have to love that Swinging Friar. Schimpf is another one of those interesting players. At 29 years of age, he's getting to be a bit long in the tooth. Originally drafted out of LSU (where he was a 2009 College World Series Champion) in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by Toronto, he was picked up by the Padres in 2015 as a free agent. he made the Padres' 2017 opening day roster as a third baseman, However, with Schimpf, it's either feast or famine - he hit three homers in consecutive games last April, but was also in top 10 in strikeout rate, walk rate and fly-ball rate. He was sent back down to El Paso in early June..
If you like bright colors, you can't go wrong with these 2014 Bowman Yellow Cards of Ian Kennedy, S/N 59/99 (#7); Andrew Cashner, S/N 06/99 (#182); Chase Headley, S/N 72/99 (#54); 2014 Topps Yellow Will Venable (#64); 2015 Topps Chrome Pink Refractors (#132); and a 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects Series 2 Pink Wave Refractors Jose Urena, S/N 59/65 (#BCP45).

How about a few Dave Winfield cards? Winfield, drafted by the Padres in 1973, was one of five players to be drafted by three different professional sports (In Winfield's case, it was four - the Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Utah Stars (ABA), and Minnesota Vikings (NFL), after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1973.

Here's his 2002 American Pie Sluggers Gold (#11) and Blue (#11); 2015 Topps Triple Threads Amethyst, S/N 198/354 (#42); a pair of 2005 Upper Deck Fame, one green, S/N 164/200 (#15), the other a base card, S/N 352/560 (#15). I also grabbed a 2016 Bowman Chrome Draft MLB Draft History Ozzie Smith (#MLBDOS).