Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cards as a diversion (again)

I haven't had much time to devote to cards. The few scraps of down time I've found today have been spent watching the water attempt to swallow my old hometown.

I mentioned before that my folks live in an area that is now being swamped by record flooding. It's also where I grew up. Fortunately, they live up on a hill and they're in good shape. Last I heard anyway. The water, hopefully, should be receding very soon. But what a mess now.

Between the ages of 3-19, I lived in what is known as the Southern Tier of New York state. That's an upstate area that includes Binghamton, Johnson City, Endicott, Vestal, and various other assorted towns strategically positioned along the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers.

Well, the Susquehanna is now over the flood walls in downtown Binghamton, something that I have never heard of in my life. It's reached historical levels. I have been reviewing staggering photos from various areas of the Southern Tier where I spent much of my younger years.

This is a look at the school grounds behind Union-Endicott high school, not far from where I used to live. You can see the back of the school on the far right, and the bleachers for the football field swimming off to the left.

When I was about 13, my friends and I would walk down to these fields about two times a week and play baseball. There is (or was) a wide expanse of green field off in the distance, by the tennis courts, where we used to play. The light poles in the distance are likely near where the tennis court is.

The field where we used to play is under water.

There's a closer look at the football field, with the goal post sticking out of the water at center-right.

The school grounds run right along the river, so some flooding is always possible, but nothing like this. The thing that made me almost gasp out loud is illustrated by the next two photos:

That's the Boys and Girls Club at left. You can see it overhangs the ground, and that ground leads to Union-Endicott field. We would walk under the Boys and Girls Club, past the pillars that hold up the building, to get to the ballfield. I don't remember how tall those pillars are, but I know they were a great deal taller than us as we walked under them. I'd have to guess maybe 15-20 feet?

Well, I was watching the news and a picture of the Boys and Girls Club came on the screen with the water at the level that is on this picture. The anchorwoman then proceeded to say that this picture was outdated. The water is now up to the windows.


I didn't know if that was true or not. Until I saw an updated photo:


Needless to say, The Weather Channel has figured out where the Southern Tier is.

Some more pictures:

Glendale Road, near Glendale Park, which is where I first learned to drive, terrorizing both my dad and my driving instructor. At least I wasn't driving through water.

Jennie F. Snapp Middle School (cool name, huh?). I rode my bike down this very road countless times in the summer after watching my youngest brother play in a baseball league. I'm sure the water is higher now.

MacArthur Park School in Binghamton, where I went to elementary school. The school is under water.

Exchange Street in downtown Binghamton. Holy crap.

The parking lot at Sears, which is at the mall where I used to work. The mall is in Johnson City, and a lot of the buildings there are flooded.

There is actually a road that goes under this underpass. I've driven it many times.

This is off a few miles to the west. We would take this road sometimes on our way to visit my grandmother when I was a kid. Looks like a disaster now.

This is in Apalachin, which got hit pretty hard. A few high school friends lived here, and one girl that I crushed on tremendously.

Route 17 in Binghamton. The main drag for getting to and from the area.

The west side of Endicott. My folks live on the east side of town. The north and the east side are where to live when there's water like this. They are evacuating thousands of people from the west side, and areas in Binghamton and Vestal that are right near the river (not that the river isn't everywhere now).

More crazy photos.

I don't live in the Southern Tier anymore. I moved away when I was in college and now am about 2-3 hours away. But even though there aren't a lot of people there left that I know, it still hurts to see the places that I know in such disarray.

None of this has anything to do with baseball cards, except for the fact that when I'm in a state of stress, and I happen to drive past a place that sells baseball cards, I'll stop, and buy some.

I happened by a Rite-Aid today and grabbed one of those repack rack packs -- the black wrapper, because they're better than those yellow wrapper ones. In my flood-addled state, I noticed a theme.

 I pulled this 1977 Topps card of Marc Hill. Then I pulled a Glenallen Hill from '93 Ultra. A couple of Hills. Live on a hill. Always. Live. On. A. Hill. I also pulled a Brian Fisher.

Then I stopped focusing on the water and let the cards take over.

I really need to do another Best Glasses in History countdown. Placing the O-Pee-Chee logo on the Breining card some how makes it even better.

You can't argue with pulling 1981 Donruss cards 30 years later. You just can't.

I don't know. Donnie Moore looks pretty happy a year after giving up Dave Henderson's epic home run in the '86 A.L. Championship Series. ... Of course, this photo was probably taken in spring training of 1986. So, never mind.

This would have been a great card to pull in 2008. But I think everyone in Boston knows it's not 2008 anymore.

Two players who once suited up for the Class A Watertown Indians, a team I used to cover. Person's had some legal issues recently.

Once, Reed played with just one arm. That's some kind of prospect.

Time for the informational segment of  the card show. The back of this card says that Zosky was such a fan of his team that the shoes he wore to his wedding said "Blue" on one and "Jay" on the other.

John Vander Wal's hobbies are radio-controlled cars and airplanes. Where's my wife? See, hon? I could be doing that for a hobby.

The back says Tackett made his acting debut in the TV show "Dave." I had him pegged for "My Name Is Earl."

The back of this card says James Austin set an unofficial record by stuffing 75 pieces of gum in his mouth.

Don't believe me?

The card back doesn't lie.

I don't know what the official record for gum-stuffing is. But I'm sure you can find some gross videos looking up the answer.

Finally, Ted looks awfully happy to be on a miscut card. But why not? It's a '68 Topps out of a repack rack pack!

Always a good time.

And now, even more distracting than ever!

I'd appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the good people of the Southern Tier.


  1. wow... your family is in rain and flooding, mine is in record heat and drought.

    something strange is going on ...

  2. So sorry to see such devastation. With the out of control fires down here I didn't know that was going on. All the local media coverage is covering the Texas fires. We'll keep the people in your neck of the words in our prayers.

  3. It's amazing to see. I was at a wedding downtown last weekend (Holiday Inn by The Arena). I remember going outside to look down at the river. It was about 20 feet below. The water crested over that wall today.

    My family all lives on the West Side of Bing off of Riverside Dr. The Susquehanna is feet from they'd homes right now. Scary, scary times.

    Glad your parents are safe.

  4. I am attending Binghamton U. for my Ph.D. work - and I made it out of the city to my "real" job about an hour or so before they started closing down the roads yesterday. I ended up driving in 6" of water a number of different times (which is scary - esp. in a 2 wheel drive car). I hope that everyone is's really bad in my old hometown of Sayre, PA too...

  5. Hey, while you were growing up in Binghamton, I was growing up over in Elmira. Small world. It is weird to see all that water covering the Binghamton area. I'm not too familiar with the area, but I kinda am.

  6. Last time i checked they were saying 10,000 people in Broome County alone needed to be evacuated.