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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

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: 2014 Topps Heritage Minor League baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

What’s fun about opening a box of Topps Heritage Minor League baseball is the idea that somebody in this set could become a major-league star someday.

Following the trend of the Heritage set for major-league players, Topps used the 1965 design for this set, which consists of 200 base cards and 25 short prints. A hobby box contains 24 packs, with nine cards to a pack. Topps promises two autograph cards and one memorabilia card in every hobby box.

And while this set emphasizes prospects and up-and-coming stars, it’s interesting to pull a minor-league card of longtime slugger Manny Ramirez, now 42, who spent three months as a player-instructor for the Iowa Cubs before an injury ended his season. It’s also fun to pull a card of a local player like Valrico’s Tyler Danish (card No. 148), who starred at Durant High and led the Cougars to the Class 8A state championship game in 2013.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Stadium Club baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps Stadium Club was a big hit when it made its debut in 1991 as a 600-card set that contained two series of 300 cards apiece. Topps made use of full-bleed photography and high gloss to produce one of the nicer sets of the 1990s.

The product ran through the 2003 season and took a five-year hiatus before re-emerging in 2008. And now, after another six-year stint on the sidelines, Stadium Club returns in 2014.

A hobby box contains three mini-boxes. There are five packs per mini-box, with five cards to a pack. Topps promises one on-card autograph in every mini-box. The base set has 200 cards, and there are an additional 69 autograph cards. The hobby box I opened yielded 78 base cards and three signature cards.

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Kahn’s final literary at-bat is the final word on the integration of baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

If “Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball” (Rodale; hardback; $25.99; 292 pages) is Roger Kahn’s literary coda, then it is a fitting end to a writing career that has included one of baseball’s most beloved books.

In his latest book, Kahn, who turns 87 on Oct. 31, returns to the era that spawned his 1972 work, “The Boys of Summer,” sharpening his focus, alternating between a wistful memoir and a score-settling, almost pugnacious set-the-record-straight project. As if he was emptying his notebook for one last time, Kahn offers more nuanced portraits of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, along with the players, coaches, baseball officials and newspapermen that surrounded them.

Kahn also drops a few bombshells, the second one almost as a casual afterthought in the book’s afterword, but certainly explosive.

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Baseball, blogs, and now a book for N.J. teen

Published:   |   Updated: October 9, 2014 at 06:03 PM
By bob d’angeloTribune staff

“Hey baseball fans!”

With that exuberant opening — a deliberate nod to New York Yankees broadcasting icon Mel Allen — New Jersey teenager Matt Nadel dives into his baseball history blog, a fresh look at the game’s past that combines statistics, trivia and youthful enthusiasm.

Nadel, 15, is a 10-grader at Golda Och Academy, but already owns an impressive résumé. Since his April 2, 2012, debut post for “Baseball With Matt” (http://baseballwithmatt.mlblogs.com/) as a 13-year-old on Google Blogger, Nadel has published 300 entries. He shifted to MLB Pro Blog after his 80th post, and celebrated No. 300 on Oct. 5. An admitted YouTube fan, Nadel marked his milestone by appearing in a video he posted on — you guessed it — YouTube:

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Collect call: 2014 Bowman Chrome baseball

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

The 2014 version of Bowman Chrome baseball remains a late-season staple for collectors who love shiny cards, prospects and autographs.

As usual, a hobby box contains 18 packs, with four cards to a pack. And for the first time, Topps is promising two autographs per hobby box. They remain as on-card signatures, and that’s a plus. What’s also new are some different-looking inserts, which spices up the product somewhat.

The base set contains 220 cards, split up into 170 veterans and 50 prospects and rookies

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Baseball, fishing, and other passions

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Sometimes, we have a defining moment in life, where everything becomes clear. Nick Grimes, a 45-year-old pitcher for a local league, is chatting with his catcher, a younger guy who really doesn’t love baseball and wonders about his future.

“I guess it comes down to finding your passion,” Grimes says.

Once “a baseball-playing fool,” Grimes took a circuitous route, but he finally found his passion and what mattered most in life. He’s the central character in Mike Reuther’s latest book, “Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic: One Man’s Trip Through This Crazy Thing Called Life.”

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Bowden writes passionately about faith, wisdom

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Even at age 84, Bobby Bowden’s wit remains folksy and sharp.

“When you get old, you’re supposed to write a book,” the former Florida State football coach laughed. “You know, tell people what you’ve learned.”

For all that Bowden has achieved in college football, including a pair of national championships as Seminoles coach — he believes that his faith is much more important.

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Topps releasing Supreme football in March

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps released information and images for its Topps Supreme football product, which hit hobby shops in March 2015. This high end product will have some interesting high end hits.

Autograph patches will contain signatures written over gold foil and will be low-numbered cards. The autographs will include key stars and top rookies. Parallels? Of course, in blue, violet and red.

In addition, there will be jumbo patch relic cards. What’s new about this insert is a 1/1, red multi-patch card.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps Finest football

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps trots out its 2014 Finest football set with the same formula that has been so successful in recent years. Rookie autographs and shiny cards, including refractors, are the big draws.

A hobby box is actually two mini-boxes, with six packs per mini and five cards per pack. A base set includes 100 veteran cards and 50 rookies. The mini-box I opened contained nine rookie cards, including former Plant High and Georgia star Aaron Murray, Sammy Watkins, Michael Sam and Jimmy Garoppolo. The card design for the base set is vertical, which I love, and team colors are prevalent on the sides and bottoms of the card fronts.

Topps promises an auto patch card or a jumbo auto relic in each mini-box. The card I received was a rookie autograph patch card of Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill, numbered to 50. The design is horizontal, and the autograph comes on a sticker.

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Collect call: 2014 Topps UFC Champions

Published:   |   Updated: September 27, 2014 at 07:33 PM
BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

For collectors who enjoy mixed martial arts, it’s a fun time. Topps’ latest effort, UFC Champions, is perfect for set builders and offers enough hot cards to please collectors looking for nice hits.

A hobby box contains 20 packs, with 10 cards to a pack. There is a 200-card base set, with parallels in silver, black, blue, red and a 1/1 platinum.

The hobby box I opened contained 160 base cards. For set builders, that’s a nice percentage. There also were 12 parallels; six were black ones numbered to 188, there were five blues numbered to 88, and a red parallel of Mike Easton numbered to 8.

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