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Sunday, Apr 26, 2015

The Sports Bookie

A sports blog by Bob D'Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia.

Collect call: 2015 Topps Museum Collection baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

When you are paying for high-end cards, you want a nice design and cool hits.

The 2015 Topps Museum Collection baseball set is definitely high end, with a hobby box ranging in the $180 to $210 range. With four one-pack mini-boxes in each hobby box, a collector is shelling out nearly $50 per pack. Is it worth it?

Well, it depends on what you are looking for. Topps Museum collection has 100 base cards, but the collector attracted to this set is more than likely not interested in base — nor should he (or she) be. Relics, memorabilia, name plates, and booklets? Now we’re talking.

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Winston signs autograph deal with Topps

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

If the Bucs happen to draft Jameis Winston with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft later this month, his Topps football cards will draw quite a bit of interest in the Tampa Bay area.

But no matter where Winston lands, his cards will be a big draw. And Topps is taking advantage of that.

Topps announced Monday that it reached an autograph deal with the former Florida State quarterback. The 2103 Heisman Trophy winner will be feature throughout all of Topps 2015 products, including its flagship football set.

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A fresh, fascinating look at baseball’s flawed genius

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

There was never a middle ground for Billy Martin. Fans and players either loved him, hated him — or, in several well-documented cases, fought him.

Martin managed the New York Yankees five different times from 1975 to 1988 and was hired — and fired — by four other teams. He had a brilliant baseball mind and a temper to match.

Twenty-five years after his death in a Christmas Day accident in his pickup truck near his upstate New York home in 1989, Martin remains almost a cartoonish figure. He was the manager who kicked dirt on umpires, or got into a fight with a marshmallow salesman. He was involved in soap opera episodes with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner that bordered on Shakespearian tragedies, feuded with slugger Reggie Jackson, and lampooned himself in some hysterically funny Miller Lite beer commercials (“I didn’t punch that doggie”).

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Remembering NASCAR’s founding father

Published:   |   Updated: April 15, 2015 at 08:26 AM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

There are stories that should be told in a relaxed, comfortable setting. Lean forward and spin another tale, and everybody chuckles in appreciation.

So it’s appropriate that H.A. “Herb” Branham’s biography of Bill France Sr. kicks off with a 1986 encounter between NASCAR’s founder and the author, at the time a Tampa Tribune sportswriter covering an IMSA event at Daytona International Speedway. Branham was mixing cocktails in the hospitality suite when France walked in, took a look and asked the startled writer to make him a drink.

“Bill France Sr. thought I worked for him,” Branham writes.

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Collect call: 2015 Topps Opening Day baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps Opening Day baseball is a product that appeals to young collectors and set builders. While it is almost a mirror image of Topps’ flagship Series One baseball, the base set is smaller and the price is very affordable.

And while relic and autograph cards are rarer than in other Topps sets, there are still some inserts that are entertaining.

A hobby box contains 36 packs, with seven cards to a pack. Prices for a hobby box average around $30, although I did see one online for $27.95.

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Collect call: 2015 Topps Major League Soccer

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps loads its hobby box for 2015 Major League Soccer with autographs and relic cards — there are five big hits promised in each — and in a low-end product, that’s pretty good.

More on that soon. First, the basics.

There are 24 packs in a hobby box, with 10 cards to a pack.

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Kaat shoots straight about experience with Yankees

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Former pitcher David Cone calls Jim Kaat “John Wayne with a curveball.”

It’s almost accurate. Kaat, who won 283 major-league games in 25 seasons, has always been a straight-shooter.

“If you know anything about me, you know that’s what I do,” Kaat writes in a new book along with freelance writer Greg Jennings. “I tell you what I think. I always have.”

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The rivalry that defined women’s basketball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It was the rivalry that made women’s college basketball relevant.

UConn and Tennessee. Geno and Pat. Twelve seasons of breathtaking basketball — sometimes contentious, but always intriguing.

Connecticut chases its third straight national title and 10th overall this weekend at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. Tennessee lost to Maryland last Monday, preventing the renewal of a rivalry that burned white-hot from 1995 to 2007.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Supreme football

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By BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It can be a gamble when buying a hobby box of cards that contains one pack and is in the $70 to $90 range. A collector might hit it big with an autograph of a big star or hot rookie, or perhaps pull a card of a middle-of-the-road guy.

That’s what a collector faces when buying a hobby box of 2014 Topps Supreme football. There are some nice autographs and patch cards, along with book cards and dual relic book cards. It’s a high-end product that can be very rewarding.

Veteran autograph cards, numbered to 50 or less, include greats from the past, such as John Elway, Ronnie Lott, Dan Marino, Deion Sanders, Jerome Bettis, Bo Jackson and Mike Singletary. Current stars like Tom Brady, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Vincent Jackson also have autograph cards. Rookie autos include names that should be familiar to collectors by now — Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Odell Beckham Jr., Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel. Those cards are numbered to 125 or less.

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Legendary UF star from 1940s gets his biggest reception

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

It’s been more than 70 years since he caught his last pass, but Fergie got his biggest reception Monday night.

Forest K. Ferguson Jr. — the second football All-American in University of Florida history, a fearsome high school football star on Florida’s east coast, and a war hero who distinguished himself on D-Day, was honored by his hometown Monday night. Stuart city commissioners unanimously approved a motion to dedicate a gazebo and memorial plaque on Memorial Day in Ferguson’s name. The Forest K. “Fergie” Ferguson Jr. Bandstand will be located, appropriately enough, in Bandstand Park near downtown, a medium-length pass from the old football field where Ferguson led Stuart High School to its first conference championship in 1937.

And make no mistake, Ferguson could catch a pass. And rush the quarterback. He was a two-way end, a giant for his time at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. As a senior for the Gators in 1941, he caught a 74-yard reception in a victory against the University of Miami — a school record that stood for a dozen years, set in an era when the forward pass was rare. In that game, he also made 12 tackles and intercepted a pass. He also excelled in games the Gators played against the University of Tampa from 1939 to 1941.

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