Friday, January 29, 2016

Thanks for the help

Unless you're an egomaniac or sociopath, you are probably aware of your shortcomings. Since I am an introspective sort, I am definitely aware. While others try to hide their shortcomings, I don't mind broadcasting mine. Here are three:

1. I am inherently shy. That means I dread small-talk and encountering people I know in hallways.
2. I can be hypercritical. It's nothing that loses me friends, but I get that look and I know I should take it down a notch.
3. I have no willpower. This is a big one. It explains a lot of things. It explains my hobby.

I try very hard to overcome these issues and it's not easy, but fortunately I have a card set now to help inspire me.

You're probably aware of the Pride and Perseverance insert set that came out with 2015 Topps Update. I'm not interested in many insert sets enough to try to complete them, but this is one of the very few. Like the best insert sets, it has a story, and this story is how each of the players in the set overcame difficulties -- most of them much more difficult than my above personality flaws -- to compete at the highest level of baseball.

In other words, they persevered.

I was lucky enough to receive 11 of the 12 cards in the set (I had the George Springer one already) from Adam of ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession. So now I have the complete set. And I'm going to go through each one and list what they overcame.

Buddy Carlyle is a Type 1 diabetic. There are three Type 1 diabetics in this set. As someone who deals with diabetes, I gravitated instantly to these cards. Type 2 diabetes is a little more easily contained than Type 1, but, I know first-hand that it still takes an awful lot of perseverance.

Curtis Pride was born deaf and become the first deaf player in the major leagues since the 1940s when he appeared for the Expos in 1993. He played off-and-on for 11 seasons. He was just starting out in the New York-Penn League when I was starting out as a sportswriter covering that same league.

George Springer dealt with a stuttering problem when he was a kid. I worked with a person who stuttered (he recently took another job). He was so intelligent that I found it intimidating.

Jake Peavy is legally blind????? How did I not know this? That's certainly something to think about if you're a hitter. Peavy apparently wears corrective lenses, which the back says he has been using since 2006. What about before?

Jason Johnson is also a Type 1 diabetic and was the first to wear an insulin pump on the field.

Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter without the benefit of a right hand, dude. End of story! Stay in school!

Jim Eisenreich played with Tourette syndrome. He might be the first player that I knew of who competed with a disability, although I'm guessing I'm forgetting one or two people.

Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006 and had chemotherapy treatments. I've been a fan of his ever since (well, actually before that). He tested my fanhood, though, by signing with the Cubs.

Very cool card. Possibly the most famous disabled player of all-time, Pete Gray (his actual last name was Wyshner) lost his right arm in a childhood accident.

Sam Fuld has been coping with Type 1 diabetes since he was 10 years old. He checks his blood sugar six times a day! Yikes!

William Hoy (Topps avoids using his commonly known nickname of "Dummy") was deaf, but that didn't stop him from compiling more than 2,000 hits in his career.

Anthony Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma eight years ago. He, too, went through chemotherapy. I can't imagine what it takes to come back from that and play at the highest level.

Whoever thought of this set should be commended. The set should be handed out in schools to encourage kids and let them know what is possible with hard work, courage and a little belief in yourself. It's common in sports for coaches and athletes to throw around "they never quit" so often that it doesn't have meaning anymore. But these guys in this set NEVER QUIT. Truly. If it can be incentive for me -- an old, hypercritical cynic who doesn't talk to anybody unless he has to -- then it can be incentive for a lot of people.

By the way, Adam sent me a few other cards:

Update set needs.

Stadium Club set needs (is there a better example of people born in the '90s now in the workforce than a card of Rondell White? I don't think I've thought of him since he retired).

And some Dodger needs (That etopps card is very intriguing, I can't say I know what that is).

We collectors know about persevering toward a goal, so the Pride and Perseverance set speaks to me on that level, too.

But I'll also use it to keep me away from late night snacking and not ducking into the bathroom when I see someone from advertising coming my way in the workplace.

We all have our shortcomings. I appreciate Topps trying to help.


  1. I bought a hand collated 2015 Topps Update set which included all the insert sets. Yes this was a great set.

  2. Spot on! Topps and/or MLB and/or MLBPA should be getting that set out not just to schools but everywhere they can reach kids (maybe even an adult or two). That Pinnacle Kershaw is sweet, reminds me on a long ago insert.

  3. Re: rondell - they had to put some expos in there.

  4. My daughter (6) was just diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes - I need to find these cards! I point out Jay Cutler to her every time he's on tv, now I've got some ball players to point out too...

  5. Im putting this set together for my favorite seven year old. Such a great post NOC. My grandfather was diabetic. I remember watching him inject insulin into his thigh. I didn't understand at the time. Now I pay more attention to my own health as a candidate for type 2.

  6. Kudos to Topps for producing that Pride & Perseverance set. I started suffering from anxiety a few years ago... and when I heard about this set, it made me go out and track down cards of athletes who have to deal with panic attacks too.