Sunday, April 19, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder: Remembering April 19, 1995


For those who took time to read, and those who may have missed my original post, please join me in remembering the victims and survivors of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Twenty-five years ago on a mild spring morning, an explosion rocked downtown Oklahoma City. I worked the night shift at the time, less than a mile from the Alfred P. Murrah Building.  I’d only been outside a moment when the bomb shattered windows for blocks, shaking the ground under my feet. To say the sound was deafening is an understatement. The front half of the nine-story building collapsed, top-to-bottom. One hundred sixty-eight lives ended abruptly at 9:02 am that Wednesday. 

For those who lost family and friends, the absence of their loved ones surely remains constant. Survivors carry scars and painful memories. First Responders can recall every detail of that day and the countless hours spent searching for survivors. Hours turned into days as rescue became recovery. Their bravery is not forgotten.

Kim Clark was a friend of mine. While we weren’t extremely close, we shared a common interest. She was engaged to my ex-boyfriend. They were only weeks from their wedding date. I hadn’t seen her since we shared Thanksgiving together at a mutual friends’ home. She worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the eighth floor of the building.  I try not to think about what that moment was like for her. My hope has been that her death was immediate. Kim was 39 years old.

While I rarely discuss that day, I never forget.  Every time  I see a Ryder truck, I remember.  When I’m in Oklahoma, the memorial is always part of my visit. I sit on steps by the reflecting pool and watch the sun set.  If the weather is cold, I bundle up and walk around for a while.  I’ll stop at the 8th row chair reserved in Kim’s honor.  It’s surreal to walk on the grass among the 168 empty chairs and realize this is ‘ground zero’; this was death.  It’s hard to fathom the destruction and loss. The park is  a peaceful place to pause and appreciate life.

This year the OKC Thunder is remembering with all Oklahomans. Since 2008, team ownership has required new staff and players tour the Memorial to experience and understand what is now known as “The Oklahoma Standard” (service,  honor and kindness;  a resilient spirit wrapped in goodwill and compassion.)  The Thunder has partnered with the OKC National Memorial and Museum to underwrite a new exhibit highlighting this standard. The team will cover admission costs on the 25th of every month of 2020.  They’ve created a special uniform scheduled to be worn several times this year, and displayed in the exhibit.

The uniforms are black with Oklahoma City in gold letting on the front. There are gold bars running top-to-bottom on the sides representing the ‘gates of time’.  The times 9:01 and 9:03 appear on the vent portion of the shorts. The ‘survivor tree’ is found on the belt of the shorts. A blue ribbon can be found inside the jersey with the words “We Remember Those Who Were Changed Forever, April 19, 1995.”

Now living in Michigan, I won’t have the opportunity to participate in any special giveaways that might be a part of the current basketball season.  I have no friends in OKC who attend the games.  I don’t collect basketball cards so am asking for your help. I won’t have basketball to trade in return.  Please, keep me in mind should you find any Thunder cards specifically honoring the victims, or memorial.  I’m not collecting regular Thunder basketball as I don’t follow the sport.  I’m reaching out to you for assistance. This is more than a ‘wantlist’ request. It is deeply personal to me.

courtesy of Google Images

I’m seeking any Thunder memorabilia from the current season (2019-2020) specific to the Memorial, or trading cards which clearly feature the special Thunder jersey being worn this year. I realize these cards likely won’t make their appearance until much later this year, or early next.  Should they be available, I’d like to add relics featuring the Survivor Tree, Blue Ribbon and/or the Time portion of the shorts. As these are larger pieces, I fear they'll be too expensive for my budget. 

If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please take a few hours to explore the museum and walk along the reflecting pool. I try to time my visit to the Memorial with sunset. The chairs are illuminated from dusk to dawn. It's an especially moving tribute those who perished, as the memory of each soul burns forever brightly in the hearts and minds of their loved ones. 

Would you please take a few moments to review the links throughout this post? 
Thank you for reading.

*all photos are my own except uniform as noted above

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Valentines, Spring Flowers and a Broken Heart

How's that for a girly title? Come on guys, don't be afraid to show your softer side. It's healthy. There are many ways to win a woman's heart. Candy and flowers are sweet things but flowers die and candy meets its own end, sometimes quickly. Some ladies like a big spender. Me? I'm a simple gal. I like a thoughtful card and lots of 'em!

I opened my mailbox on February 14th to find yet another package from Johnny. He filled a fat little mailer with a hundred or so cards. Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like pink O-Pee-Chees!
A Whitman's Sampler of the contents:

Take a peek at their backsides. Blush. You'll learn why Mark was 'the Bird' and Parrish, 'The Bodyguard'.  Hint: not Whitney Houston. 

The position of 'receveur' is easily understood to mean catcher, one who receives the ball. 'Voltigeur' is translated a bit differently: as sharpshooter or light infantry in the French army or 'tumbler, leaper, vaulter' for which outfielders have a tendency. 

Another receveur, numbered of 25, a rainbow foil Stadium Club:

Here's a gem I'd waited months to get my hands on! I wouldn't mind having a couple more copies of this one. Look closely and you'll see 13 lost souls waiting for the gates to open. Most likely a special giveaway day. These have been known to draw the larger crowds. 

I'll take this opportunity to show a close-up of the cat prowling along the stadium roof line, upper left on the card. These photos were taken in 2018:

Not three weeks later, a bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots arrived, again from John. Filled with more cards, it was hard to choose a few to share. I went with another receveur, Mickey Tettleton. Mickey was named for THE Mick, both good ole' Oklahoma boys. 

Featuring 93 Stadium Club and 93 Fun Pack, top row; 95 Topps and 95 Stadium Club, bottom:

I'm still a fan of Fun Pack, another of my sets longing for completion. All the wild colors that came at the end of the 80s, wrapped right into the early 90s and onto these cards.  If I have any memories of those days, they are at least colorful. The bottom cards though, are some of what I've come to love most in my collection: those moments between innings, or at bats. Some shots are reflective, quiet; revealing the stillness of the game when players are 'in the moment.' The photographer certainly was. I find these images soothing.

What else could John possibly send my way? By now, I should know better than to ask.  Johnny runs a little game on the side. Every Friday night, five contestants have a chance to choose a number or steal cards previously revealed. Player one usually loses their little prize. I went third. Normally, I pop-in to encourage other players to thievery. It's just the peace loving soul I am. I figured karma would show her face during my round but no one stole my 75 minis! John sent these along with a crisp 1976 Kelloggs! Sweet!

John is always looking for players. He currently needs two more for the fourth Friday this month. He asks only that you be available to play on your chosen Friday night.  John wants to begin and end the game within 2-3 hours. If you are up for it, run over there and comment to let him know.  

John, thank you as always! You're full of surprises!!

Much has been written this week about the passing of Al Kaline, our Mr. Tiger.  In my quest to meet all living Tigers from the 68 World Series team, Kaline eluded me. I was once only twenty feet from him but during the Q&A session, no autographs were allowed. My next opportunity was last year at a signing in a local mall but Little League took precedence. My then ten year old friend was playing an afternoon game and I rarely get an opportunity to support him. Now Kaline is gone. The 68 team is slowly moving towards permanent residence in our hearts and memories. 

I nabbed his rookie card last year.  An additional few of my favorites which to my knowledge, haven't been shared this week. Two of my favorite Topps designs, 58 and 72:

2019 Topps SSP from the 68 World Series:

and two from 1983 The Al Kaline Story:

Farewell Mr. Tiger.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Hey Nineteen!

How is everyone doing? Michigan Covid-19 numbers are climbing the charts. I've been going into the office every day, even after our Governor signed the executive 'stay-at-home' order for non-essential employees.  It's taken my employer awhile but he found a way to keep us home. I was laid off this week, for at least the month of April.

2018-19 MVP

I've never drawn unemployment in my life but had no choice. Becoming unemployed actually took a bit of stress off me. One of my coworkers thinks it's ok to shop at Walmart, Target and Meijer because she is bored at home. I can't help but find that selfish, not only to her coworkers but to the grocery workers.  She's inviting trouble. Roulette anyone?

Pick Pockets have not been mailed but I hope to do so in a week or two.  I can't imagine being a window clerk at the post office right now. I'll do my part ordering stamps online. If I pay a little too much to mail these envelopes, so be it. The post office needs the revenue right now. 

My vivacious and outgoing personality aside, staying home will be easy for me. Music, reading, cards - all will be good company. I'm blessed with lots of outdoor space. The weather is warming up nicely. Perhaps I can actually get some sunshine on my shoulders, and a little work done.  I plan to do a lot of mini-set sorting too.  Many  of the cards I need will be added to the Send Help tab on this blog.

2018-2019 UD 
In addition to the PP page - so juvenile, like me -  I'll be adding a new trade tab, title to be named later. You'll find cards here specific to trading for cards on the Send Help tab. Each card will note how many of your cards are needed in order to trade for it. After sorting out my little sets, I'll list the missing cards. There should be much to choose from as my needs are numerous. Let's see if I can get this done in April. Any of you want to place bets on my success?

Sooner Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings /99

Sooner Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Perhaps. Perhaps I'll even manage a little extra blog time! My trade folder scans are quickly accumulating!  The cards featured today were received in February courtesy of  Sportscards from the Dollar Store.   Doug tucked in a couple of Sooners along with the Blackhawks shown. All are quite nice.

2018-19 Synergy  /749

My favorites in the batch though are these 2019-20 Artifacts. The etching in the foil corners is quite elegant:

 Good-looking cards here!  Thank you Doug, for thinking of me!

I hope all of you continue to be well, and remain safe from the virus. It must be a struggle for those accustomed to the hustle and bustle of life but there are positive aspects to be found in this trying time.  If you are able, try to focus on the good that can be done for others; either by staying home, or random acts of kindness when you find yourself in the midst of others. Even if it's letting someone go ahead of you in the line, or a kind word to the clerk at the store, these moments are appreciated.

We can't dance together, we can't talk at all - who knew?????  Steely Dan.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy Birthday, Knucksie!

Today is knuckleball pitcher Phil's Niekro's 81st birthday. I wonder if every year, someone thinks it's funny to put those stupid candles on his cake that won't blow out.  Do they sing "April Fools Day to you"?

I'm usually late to the Fool's party, sometimes I don't show up. This is my first opportunity to post on what is one of my favorite days of the year. Only the Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mardis Gras, my birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Opening Day, President's Day, National Pie Day, Boxing Day, sick days and payday rank higher. There are a few others I like more but I want you to take me seriously.  Seriously, don't take me seriously. I always manage to make every post about me. Back to Knucksie...

Phil's 1988 Score shows full career stats - a sunset card:

From the days of overproduction, the card back is quite simple, with a nice little photo of his good side.  He began his MLB career the year I was born. Me. Me. Me.  When I graduated high school in 82, he was still a Brave. Not to brag but my senior grade point average was slightly higher than his 3.41 ERA.  Knucksie Phil pitched for almost 25 years.  I read somewhere his right arm was about one inch and three quarters longer than his left. He retired as a Brave at age 48.  I was 48 just a few short years ago.  The Braves retired his number 35 in 1984. I was 35 when I attended my first Braves' game at Turner Field!!  Knucksie and I have so much in common! It's creepy in a Lincoln/Kennedy kind of way!

I was never a fan of early Score, or any Score. This front side does have orange borders, perfect for a "Sunset" card. I am a big fan of sunsets in general, yet another coincidence?

So the truth is, I don't own this card. As  you may know, many of my posts are built around stolen internet images. Kleptomania at its virtual finest. Burgled by browser. Whatever you may call it, I lack any notoriety.  Phil's nickname "Knucksie" on the other hand, is a crossword puzzle clue. Answer: NIEKRO.

Have a great day everyone - and be well!