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Saturday, Apr 18, 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.

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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Total recall: Topps addresses 2015 Tribute baseball issues

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

Topps is in total recall mode.

The company issued a statement on Friday regarding damaged autographs that have appeared in packs of 2015 Topps Tribute baseball, which hit the shelves of hobby shops on Wednesday.

Several collectors voiced complaints about autographs that were scratched or appeared to be bubbled up on the card. Since Tribute is selling in the neighborhood of $50 per pack (with an autograph or relic card in each pack), it’s certainly a big deal for a collector who received a card that appears to be damaged.

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A secret game that changed America

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BY BOB D’ANGELOTribune staff

While searching for the history of basketball, author/historian Scott Ellsworth found something more relevant.

“I found the history of my country,” he writes in the introduction of “The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph” (Little, Brown and Company; hardback; $27; 388 pages).

What Ellsworth discovered — and writes about so vividly — is a story rooted in sports, but with implications that were much more important. On a Sunday morning in the spring of 1944, in a locked gymnasium in Durham, North Carolina, a basketball game involving blacks and whites took place.

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Hodges biography sheds more light on a humble man

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BY BOB D’ANGELO Tribune staff

On his website, author Mort Zachter refers to “anivut,” the Hebrew word for humility.

While writing his biography of Gil Hodges, Zachter encountered a large dose of humility when he telephoned the widow of the beloved first baseman and manager in 2006.

“You’re the first person who ever called me to talk about Gil that I’m not speaking with,” Joan Hodges said.

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