One of my favorite childhood memories was riding my bike to the ballpark, to friends house or the two or three mile trek to a 7-11 store to buy my baseball cards. There were other stores that carried wax packs (and I frequented each of them) but this one particular convenience store was clear across town and riding there gave me a sense of freedom. And of course the ride back created a greater anticipation of ripping those things open and seeing which star (or, more likely, common) I would pull.
I still own a bike but I no longer need to ride it down to the store to get my fix. I'm older, have a drivers license and this thing called an automobile allow me to drive seven miles to Target. Or, I can just stay in my office or living room- or, heck, thanks to mobile devices, just about anywhere- and make a purchase on my computer, phone or tablet. Which is exactly what I did recently.
As much as I enjoy oddballs, one particular type has never really appealed to me. What kind, you might ask? Well if you must know, it's the playing cards which feature ball players. Now, I did pick up an inaugural Colorado Rockies deck from 1993 strictly for the two Dale Murphy cards but that had been the extent of my interest, until I discovered an early Chipper Jones card in the Bicycle Sports 1994 Atlanta Braves team
Along with the 52 cards in the deck that feature players, the set also included an NL logo card, team logo card, checklist with featured players and a 1994 home schedule. Fronts of the playing cards are blue with red vertical stripes on the sides, team logo and a baseball that says '1994' above the logo. Also included are the MLB 125th Anniversary logo, MLBPA logo and the Bicycle Sports logo.
Team checklist includes the standard stars of the team at the time along with many of the young studs (Klesko, Lopez, Jones, Tarasco, Kelly) but also contains cards for a few players whose Braves catalog is very limited: Milt Hill, Dave Gallagher, and the only Braves card for former farmhand Michael Potts- whose only other MLB cards were in 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs and the 1996 Brewers Police team set.
Besides the obligatory Chipper card, there are four other cards that I must share:
Michael Potts spent six seasons in the Braves organization (1990-1995) before being waved by the team in January of 1996. Milwaukee picked the left handed reliever up off the waiver wire and took him north with the team to start the season. Potts made his MLB debut on April 6 in Seattle and went on to appear in 24 games for the Brewers that season before finishing the year in AAA New Orleans. Michael retired following that season, but eventually returned to the city he called home for a year while in the Braves system, Durham, North Carolina. While in Durham, Potts served as a deputy in the Durham County Sheriff's Department for three years before becoming a state trooper. Two years ago, Trooper Potts was shot in the face, shoulder, hands and fingers while making a routine traffic stop. The assailant, Mikel Brady, was a fugitive from Vermont and was eventually convicted of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and assault on a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to a maximum of 24 years in January of 2014 for his role in the shooting and then another 40 for possession of a firearm by a felon. Potts, whose father was an officer in Atlanta, Georgia and had also been shot in the line of duty, received the Purple Heart award in May of 2014 for the injuries he had received in the shooting. I know it's cliched, but we often think of athletes as our 'heroes,' when guys like Trooper Potts are the real heroes.
As far as the other three cards- no interesting backstory, just photos that are '60s/'70s worthy airbrush jobs:
Get on your Bike and ride!