2001 Fleer Platinum #500 Arizona Diamondbacks PG
This was one of the many cards I bought at Saturday's card show.
I'd found a few of these "Postseason Glory" cards in dime boxes at the last few shows. I love 'em. It's just something about those black-and-white photos.
Plus, they chronicle one of the best World Series ever played. I'm not sure you could write a better script.
This picture captures the moment after Craig Counsell scored the winning run in Game 7 of the series, after the famous "bloop" single by Luis Gonzalez. Counsell leapt onto the shoulders of teammate Matt Williams after crossing the plate, ending what could only be classified as a emotionally-charged 2001 season.
Even the umpire can't help crack a smile at the amazing scene that's unfolding in front of him.
What really stands out to me is the reaction of Mark Grace in the right-hand portion of this card.
Mark Grace is one of the most beloved players in Cubs history. Of course, the downside to being a post-1908 Cub is that you don't have a World Series ring with the franchise.
Grace chose to leave Chicago and sign with the D'Backs for the 2001 season. It proved to be a fantastic choice, as he won his first and only championship in Arizona.
As you can see, Grace was utterly thrilled to have finally realized his dream of winning a World Series.
The enthusiasm that Grace shows in this shot reminds me of those crazy backyard baseball games that many of us played in our younger years.
I never really had the type of friends that wanted to play a game of baseball at the park when I was younger. It was always football or basketball. No baseball.
That seems to be pretty typical of all kids in this day in age. Whenever I drive past a park in the summertime, I never see a bunch of kids playing a pickup game of baseball, our national pastime. If I do see a sport being played, it's always soccer or something. Or maybe they're just all at home "chatting" on Facebook or playing "Call of Duty". I don't know.
Little League is one thing that has spanned the generations. I definitely had my moments then. I was a two-time Little League "All-Star". And I even turned an unassisted triple play once.
After I stopped playing Little League when I was in 5th grade or so, I devised my own type of "schoolyard" baseball game, since I could never get my friends together for a game of baseball on a regular basis. Since I lived in a condominium complex (and still do), there wasn't a backyard. So I mapped out a "game" that I could play in my own living room. I still give my parents a lot of credit for letting me run around the living room like a crazy person on the "game days".
I used to have this little yellow foam ball. From about twenty feet away, I'd just toss the ball up and "hit" it with my hands clasped together. There was a small gap between where the couch was and the living room window, so anything over that on a fly was a home run. Anything that bounced off the couch and into that gap was a ground-rule double. Any bloop that landed and stayed on the couch was a single. To get a force out, you had to hit the little reclining chair before the "runner" got there.
It seems silly now, but I even made up fake names for all the "players" in my league. I even gave them "tools". Some guys had exceptional speed, and some were big home-run hitters. Some of the pitchers threw knucklers, and some were power pitchers.
I'd play a "season", filled with triumphs and devastation, comebacks and blown leads. The best-of-three championship "showdowns" (after one-game playoffs in the semifinals) were big days in my kid life. The championship games would be filled with excitement and tension. A game-changing home run. Getting out of a bases-loaded jam.
After the last out, I'd jump around the room and celebrate, actually acting like I had won a big-league championship. It was a great day for the "team" that won it all.
Looking back, I find it amazing that I thought up all of that when I was just a fifth grader. It was my biggest dream.
Mark Grace lived my dream on that fateful November day.