Thursday, October 01, 2015

Better Know a Blogger (Tony from Wrigley Roster Jenga)

1. Your name (or alias):  Tony Burbs
2. Your blog website:  Wrigley Roster Jenga

3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?
I am definitely a team and player collector.  Having the relative misfortune (although this year has been pretty swell) of being born into Cubs fandom, my fromative years were spent watching day games on WGN with my grandfather.  Naturally, I gravitated towards collecting the team that I watched on a near daily basis, with a special fondness for Slammin' Sammy.
Additionally, in becoming devoted to the Northsiders, I also became fascinated with those who were lucky enough to suit up in blue pinstripes.  Thus, I also began to hoard whatever cards of these players I could find, no matter what team they were depicted with.  Kenny Lofton on the Indians?  Mark Grace on the D'Backs?  Doesn't bother me any, even if this makes for literally hundreds of player collections..  So yes, i am both a team and player collector.
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
Many have beaten this drum before I got a hold of this questionnaire; however, if they could just show some love to full rosters...  Yea, Sandy Koufax and Ernie Banks were legendary and all, but do we really need 10 new cards of them a year?  The backup catchers, middle relievers and bench players of the world worked just as hard to get to the big leagues and they deserve to have their time recorded in baseball's unofficial history keepers.  Can we get a Topps Total/UD 40-Man type set back, please?
Furthermore, with the professional era of this sport dating back to 1869, it's a crying shame that the card manufacturers pretty much ignore anything and anyone from before the 1960's.  I would buy packs upon packs of a set that shined the spotlight on players who played before color film was the norm.  Conlon Collection quickly became my favorite set as kid for this reason.  At least, maybe with such super-retro themed sets as Gypsy Queen, Allen & Ginter, Goodwin Champions, etc., they could insert some players from the source material's time period?  TriStar Obak was a blessing in this regard.
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My Cubs All-Time Roster Collection, or CATRC for short (yea, I couldn't come up with a clever acronym). This is the main focus/cornerstone of my collection - a binder that I have been working on since I first started collecting baseball cards in the mid-90's.  My ultimate goal is to obtain one card of every man who has ever played for the Chicago Cubs.  I am well aware that this is not completely possible - a franchise that extends back into the Reconstruction Era is going to make that prohibitive.  That said, I want to see how far I can get.
Now, if I had the big bucks to blow on original Goodwins and such, I'd be able to get pretty darn close.  Until then, I'm currently sitting on 1,389 out of 2,028 - or roughly 68.5% and still inching along.
6. Most of us have a favorite song that we like for no good reason – heck, it might even be embarrassing.  Do you have a favorite baseball card that might fit that bill?  
I've been caught bobbing my head to "Bandstand Boogie" by Barry Manilow before...
As far as baseball cards though, it's more of a set thing than a specific card.  Panini's recent-ish reboot of Triple Play seemed to be widely mocked by collectors; however, I really enjoyed it for what it was, a fun, quirky, out of left field sort of set that really wasn't meant to be taken so seriously.  You gotta change things up every once in a while, right?
Not that there isn't some nightmare-inducing missteps in there too.
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
If I could keep only one card, it would have to be my autographed copy of Ron Santo's 1973 Topps issue.  Sure, it's not a great looking card and I didn't obtain the autograph in person; but, there's more nuance than that.
The card was a unexpected and thoughtful gift my my 9th grade health teacher, after I listed Ron Santo as my hero for an assignment on someone whom we admired (the man was a HOF player despite battling diabetes in secret and soldiered on with his broadcasting career even though he lost both legs, for cryin' out loud).  Her cousin was a barber in Mesa at the time and, apparently, Ron Santo was one of her regular customers during spring training.  My teacher took the time to obtain a card and have her sister get him to sign it for me, all on her own volition and thoughtfulness.
For that reason alone, that card is probably my favorite.
8. Many of the blogs (including my own at times) seem to decry Topps’ lack of vision and creativity.  Can you think of something creative that could be done for an upcoming card set?  
I guess I really already touched on this in my rambling and ranting answer to question #4.  I'd be more than willing to part with my hard-earned money for a set that focused on players from baseball's rich and distant history; there are just so many colorful characters to chose from.  Plus, it'd really help make my CATRC collecting goal much easier to achieve.
For instance, how about HOF'er John Clarkson, who once tossed a lemon to the plate in a regulation game?  Or, what about Ed Porray, whose birthplace is officially listed as "at sea, on the Atlantic Ocean?"  I don't know about you all, but I'd eat that up like a hungry hungry hippo.
9. What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  If you are in school, what do you plan to major in and/or what job do you hope to get after graduating? 
Currently, I am working as an environmental technician for a contract company and I do most of my work at the local oil refinery.  It's certainly not my first choice in work; but, hey, it pays the bills and I get to help keep the planet a little cleaner, so I got that going for me.
I happened into this job out of pure luck.  I went to school with someone who was fairly high up in the company and they knew that I was hurting for a job in my post-college travails.  She pulled some strings and here I am.
Back in school, I majored in Mass Communication, with a focus on broadcasting.  In plain terms, I went to school to work in radio and/or television.  Unfortunately, I soon discovered that it is an incredibly difficult field to break into and I have been trying to stick my foot in the door (on either side of the mic) ever since graduation.  I hear patience is a virtue.
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
I don't travel as much as I'd like to; heck, until last year, I'd never been further from Illinois than Tennessee.  Nevertheless, I think the best place that I have ever visited has to be Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I've always been a bit of a motorsport fan and the sense of history in that legendary venue is palpable - and this is coming from a fan of the team who plays in Wrigley Field!
I make the trek to IMS every May to catch the time trials and practices for the Indy 500; it's been a family tradition since well before I was a living creature.  I've had the opportunity to meet Mario Andretti, see the actual automobile that won the first 500 way back in 1911 and touch the bricks from the original track surface that were laid down in 1909.  As far as sporting venues go, this place is right there with Wrigley, Fenway and Churchill Downs!
11. Many of us have favorite foods or customs that are somewhat local to where we live.  Do you have any such things that you particularly love?  A website link to specific products would be spectacular.
Well, I'm from Chicago; so, I could get you a detailed list of all the best pizza joints in the tri-state area... that's so cliche though.  Instead, I'll go with the Chicago-style popcorn mix from a local sweets chain called Garrett's.  For those that don't know, Chicago-style popcorn is a mix of caramel and cheese corn all in one bag.  The two flavors might sound strange together, but my taste buds do not lie.
When I worked downtown, I spent waaaaaay more money on this bit of comfort food than I should probably admit to.
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
Ever since my freshman year of high school, when I (purposely) missed tryouts for the golf team and wandered into cross country practice, I've been a long-distance runner.  It carried me through high school, helped put me through college and still keeps me sane in the professional world.  5k's are my preferred distance, they're the perfect blend of speed and endurance (and they're easy to find); but, I've always had a thing for the mile and once made it through the Chicago Marathon.
I'm also a record collector, on top of being a card collector.  I developed a passion for the now-retro cool music medium when I was in college, when I happened upon an old stash of LP's in the radio station that I managed.  Now, I don't collect for value and you won't see my dropping big bucks on the latest Daft Punk album on vinyl for $50.  I'm in it for the thrill of finding classic songs and stories, in physical form, at the local yard sale or thrift shop.  Hearing the needle drop on a scratchy 45 of a 60's novelty tune or a forgotten gem from James Taylor is what does it for me, not the gimmicky market that's hip(ster) right now.
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
My cousin plays bass in the 90's grunge band Veruca Salt - you might remember them as one-hit wonders with their ditty known as "Seether."  Otherwise, I've seen approximately 103 bands/musicians play a live set and my family is relatively close with Kevin Cronin's (of REO Speedwagon fame) parents.  I know, a lot of random music stuff.
As usual, a special thanks to our latest volunteer!  This is the second time in about two weeks where the name Veruca Salt has come up...(the other being a trivia question involving the five kids who visited Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in the movie).

Turning our attention to some of Tony's other answers, I must admit that I've never heard of Ed Porray - but having your birthplace listed as somewhere in the ocean is pretty cool (or a sign you are actually a fish I suppose).  I also never heard of Chicago popcorn - but Garrett's website makes it look pretty tasty!  I'm a huge popcorn fan in general so I'd happily test out Garrett's if I ever find myself near one during my travels.

I still have a few more people who want in on the Better Know a Blogger series before I officially end it...and my responses are yet to come as well (though they have been typed up and ready to post for quite some time now)!  Stay tuned for more interviews in the near future!


SpastikMooss said...

Dang...this guy is awesome! I especially love the piece about records and James Taylor...I was playing some Bill Withers the other day and it's just so much better on the record player for my money. I tend to either grab free records I find locally or I dig through the 99 cent bins at our two local places. One place has buy 5 get 5 free so I grabbed all their Hall and Oates...I do not have the best taste lol.

P-town Tom said...

Yeah, Tony is a great guy. Good taste in music, food, hobby (running) and team.
He's right about needing a 40-man roster set AND that Tri-Star Obak was really cool.

Tony Burbs said...

I dunno, I hear this guy is kind of pretentious...

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