“I’ll trade you one Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and this guy, I don’t know who he is but the card looks cool, for your Nolan Ryan’s.” I had these conversations countless times with my friends in their rooms, on front porches, or wherever else we could find to sprawl out our massive allotment of baseball cards each weekend. My allowance, much like every other kid in America was spent on baseball cards. I would look forward to the weekend because that’s when I knew I would be able to go with my dad to a baseball card convention. We would spend all day, just him and I, passing through countless hundreds of vendors and their cards, looking in amazement. For every Mantle, Ruth, DiMaggio, and Williams card I saw there were countless cards that looked neat but were stuffed in the $1 bin. I would spend countless hours scouring through those bins looking for the Nolan Ryan gem that I was hoping they mistakenly put in the bin. Even to this day I am an avid collector of Nolan Ryan cards.
You see, growing up I was, and still am a big Nolan Ryan collector. There was something about him, the way he attacked batters, the way he pitched, I was him in countless pickup games with my friends. I didn’t care about any other card until two days ago. Two days ago Topps released a series of cards called “2011 Bowman Chrome” and if you happen to get yourself a box or a pack and open it, you just might come across card #BCP127. You might not recognize the name, its not going to be worth $100 in Beckett, but that card right there signifies one of the proudest moments in my baseball career. That card, number BCP127 is the first rookie card of yours truly, Ryan Tatusko.
I had no idea I was going to be in this particular set of cards, and as a matter of fact I found out through an email. Someone posted on my twitter account that they “found a Ryan Tatusko card in the wild.” As you can assume, I was as confused as ever because I knew I didn’t have any cards out (besides the ones that each individual minor league team comes out with), and unless you knew someone close to me or my mother (who I think owns 50 of every card I’ve got), there was a very slim chance you were coming across my card, and why would you want one anyway? I did a little digging and to my astonishment I was a part of this 2011 Bowman Chrome series.
I don’t know what the selection process is for these cards, or who decides what players go on or if it’s just a joke to put me on card, but I am one of the extremely lucky few who are forever immortalized in cardboard. I saw the card for the first time, and I have to admit the first thing I thought of was “Wow, I got to get a better autograph, that thing is terrible.” But I have to admit its one of the coolest feelings as a baseball player. I know the “prospect” guys sign baseball card deals right away and sign 1000-2500 cards and they put them in sets. But everyone who gets drafted doesn’t necessarily get a “legit” baseball card. Like I said, everyone gets immortalized in a team set, but not everyone gets put on a Topps, Bowman, Fleer, or Leaf card. I never thought in a million years, I would have been given the opportunity to be collected.
I know the Ryan Tatusko card market isn’t surging with interest, and I am most likely bound for the 3-ring binders, coffee cans, and the as the throw-in for almost every kid in America, but I still hold solace that maybe one kid might say “Hey that one looks kind of cool, throw that one in and we have a deal.”
Another very cool factor is that for some reason Bowman decided to issue limited editions of my card as well. It’s the same picture, but the border around the card is different. I’ve seen the normal base one which is white then there is blue, purple, red, and green edged cards and then other cards that are completely yellow, green, and super reflective and they even released the printing plates which I do believe they only release one of. Its crazy for me to think that there is a limited edition card floating around that only one of is made. So if you are reading this right now and you buy a box of Bowman Chrome and you pull a card that is a 1/1 of me, I am sorry it couldn’t be someone worth more (ha ha). Also to the man that pulled the super refractor of me that is also a 1/1, again I’m sorry it wasn’t someone more important, but if you’re ever looking to get rid of it you know where to look (ha-ha).
It’s been pretty neat to see people direct message me on twitter or talk to me on message boards about pulling my card out of packs, to which again I apologize . The coolest story I have found so far, is a man who messaged me saying that he lives in my hometown and he frequents a card shop that my father and I used to go too all the time when I was a kid. In that shop he bought a few packs of the cards and out popped a Ryan Tatusko orange bordered card that was numbered /25. That was a very big “whoa” moment for me that one of my cards made it all the way back to my hometown, out of all the places in the world.
So here I am now, just smiling as I see random people messaging me saying they pulled my card out of their pack. Although I am currently in Venezuela playing winter ball for the Margarita Bravos if anyone reading this pulls me out of a pack and wants an autograph please don’t hesitate to ask me on Twitter, Facebook or the various message boards I frequent. I would be happy to give you an address you can send them too once I get back.
To the little kid who now sits in his room and his front porch trading with his friend dreaming of one day being on a baseball card, I say to you never lose that dream because if no-one believed they could do it, all those coffee cans, 3-ring binders and tire spokes would be empty and a passion of millions of kids and grown ups around the world would be lost.