October 2011

Saturday’s Sponsor Spotlight: Finnigan’s Sports Cards

In a new weekly segment that will be posted every Saturday, we will shine the spotlight on some of our many sponsors and give you a look into their business. Our inaugural segment will feature Finnigan’s Sports Cards, located at 1593 Central Avenue in Albany.

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Many of us grew up collecting sports cards and for some it’s still a huge passion. That especially holds true for Jeff Finnigan, owner of Finnigan’s Sports Cards which has been in business for 11 years.

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Born and raised in East Greenbush, Jeff first began collecting cards at the age of seven. The first set he ever put together was 1978 Topps Football including Tony Dorsett and his first baseball set was the 1980 set featuring Ricky Henderson. During that time, obtaining trading cards was not as easy as it is today. Jeff says he got some of his cards at Wolworth’s, Price Chopper and Joy’s in East Greenbush.

Still, shops like Finnigan’s are still rare. Jeff told us that there are only about a couple hundred stores like his in the entire country. Collectors sometimes travel up to four hours to come to his shop!

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Jeff estimates that he has around 4 million cards in his store!

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Jeff just recently finished putting together a 1957 baseball card collection:

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This set is very valuable, but the most valuable single item that Jeff owns isn’t even in the store. Located in a safe deposit box is a 1909 Walter Johnson that is valued at close to $7,000.

The rarest cards to see are those that came from tobacco and cigarette cartons. The ones pictured below are valued at hundreds of dollars each:

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Cards aren’t the only thing you can find in Jeff’s store. There are autographed balls, photos and memorabilia scattered around the store as well.

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This signed Jackie Robinson card is one of only five:

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Cal Ripken Jr. and Ken Griffey Jr.:

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Look what we stumbled upon…Former ‘Cat J.D. Martinez:

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Maybe someday J.D.’s card will be worth as much as these:

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This past season at “The Joe,” Jeff featured some great cards on our concourse. It was a big hit!

Finnigans Cards at Stadium

During the season we even featured an old school baseball card machine in our team store:

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Proceeds from the cards were donated to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation through “Autographs 4 Alopecia,” a campaign created by two brothers in which one suffers from the disease. Click here for more information.

If you are a sports card collector, Finnigan’s Sports Cards is definitely a must-stop shop. Jeff is extremely friendly and helpful. He also knows a few things about sports cards!

We’ll leave you with a few more photos:

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Our trip to the World Series!

As mentioned in our previous post, ‘Cats Intern rewarded…heading to World Series, 2011 Merchandise Intern and current Siena Student Tom Carmona won a trip to games one and two of the World Series in St. Louis. He went along with ValleyCats Fan Development Manager Michelle Skinner.

Below is Michelle’s recap of the trip:

On the morning of Tuesday, October 18 I set off for St. Louis for Games 1 & 2 of the 2011 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.  Merchandise Intern, Tom Carmona and I won the trip through the “Going for the Goal” promotion held by Minor League Baseball.

We had to take separate flights due to Tom’s afternoon midterm exam so I traveled from Albany to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.  After a short layover and some lunch, I made my way to St. Louis.  (Unfortunately Tom’s travels were not as smooth.  Delayed from Albany, he missed his connection in Philadelphia and spent the night in the airport; arriving in St. Louis on Wednesday afternoon.)

When I landed in St. Louis, I took a short “MetroLink” ride to the Stadium station.  MetroLink is a small train system that runs through St. Louis from the airport, across the Mississippi, to Illinois.  The train let me off right at Busch Stadium.  From the corner I could see the stadium, The Arch, and the Millennium Hotel.

The hotel was a short, two block walk from Busch Stadium and our rooms overlooked the Mississippi River and Arch.

After checking into the hotel, I did a little exploring.  First order of business was to research the merchandise.  I stopped by the Cardinals Team Store and walked to the Scottrade Center, home of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.

Both stores were very impressive and offered some great ideas for SouthPaw’s Den.

Following those visits, I then walked through Union Station, which was once one of the world’s largest and busiest train stations, but in the early 80’s was converted into a shopping center, entertainment complex and hotel.

I read about the history of St. Louis as the Gateway to the West and then headed back towards the river for dinner in historic Laclede’s Landing (http://lacledeslanding.com).  “The Landing” is St. Louis’ oldest district and happens to be where the city was founded.  Fittingly, I had the “St. Louis Baseball Steak” at Jake’s Steaks (http://www.dinejakes.com).

Wednesday morning, while Tom flew from Philadelphia, to North Carolina, and finally to St. Louis, I went to the top of The Arch and ate lunch at Pappy’s Smokehouse (http://pappyssmokehouse.com), St Louis’ best BBQ joint.

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After finally meeting up with Tom, we headed for the Pre-game Block Party outside Busch Stadium.

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line waiting to get in

After entering the stadium, we were excited to watch the Tarp Crew remove the tarp from the field.

Oct 19 - Tarp Crew

Oct 19 - Game One - Tom & Michelle

Tom and I

Oct 19 - Game One

The facility is top-notch and the entire staff were friendly and helpful. The Cardinals run a great operation. Game 1 was an exciting game and the crowd went crazy at the final out.

view from our seats

View from our seats

Flag unfurreled

Big flag unfurled in the outfield

national anthem game 1

National Anthem

Texas takes the field

St Louis Wins Game 1

St. Louis wins Game 1

On Thursday, Tom and I went to the top of The Arch (my second trip in as many days!).

Oct 20 - Tom & Michelle in Arch

Oct 20 - Stadium through Arch Window

We then ate lunch at Landry’s Seafood, and then hopped a bus to tour Anheuser-Busch.  This free tour is a “don’t miss” attraction for anyone visiting St. Louis.

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Oct 20 - Anheuser Busch Brewery 1

Oct 20 - Anheuser Busch 2

Oct 20 - Anheuser Busch Brewhouse 3

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This machine turns 1,300 bottles per minute!

Oct 20 - Anheuser Busch Wagon of Baseballs 5

Anheuser Busch Wagon of Baseballs

Oct 20 - Budweiser Horse Stables 6

Clydsedale Horse Stables

We finished our tour and returned to the hotel just in time to make our way to the stadium for Game Two! Greeting us outside were the Budweiser Clydesdales!

Oct 20 - Clydesdales at Busch Stadium 2 Use Last

WS ticket

game 2 first pitches

Red Schoendienst and Lou Brock throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2

After the win, the Cards fans were out in full-force.  Although it was another great game to watch, it was a tough loss for the Cardinals.

Game two final score

The fans cleared out quick:

Game 2 stadium cleared

After the game, Tom and I were invited by Eliot Runyon, MiLB Licensing Director, to attend the Post Game Hospitality Party upstairs. The next morning, we were on our way back to Albany. A great trip overall and definitely a rewarding experience!

I’ll leave you all with a shot of The Arch at Sunrise:

Arch after the game

-Michelle

(Michelle can be reached at 518-629-2287 Ext. 15 or at michelleskinner@tcvalleycats.com)

How do you like them pumpkins?

Team building is back in full force for our front office staff and after our golf outing and trip to the movies to see “Moneyball,” our next activity was carving pumpkins!

Some had a small pumpkin, some had a large pumpkin, some carved faces and some carved their favorite sports team or animal and some didn’t carve at all.

Here are the finished products. We think the pumpkin on the far right got sick. Which one is your favorite? (Not many of us have good pumpkin carving skills).

Close Ups:

(L-R Chris Chenes, Joel Pagliaro, Matt Callahan, Mike Johnson)

(Rick Murphy, Chris Dawson, Gian Rafaniello)

(Ryan burke, Keith Sweeney, Kyle Wheeler)

Photos from our carving session:

‘Cats Intern rewarded…heading to World Series!

In 2011 the Tri-City ValleyCats took part in Minor League Baseball’s “Go for the Goal” challenge, a retail promotion to motivate teams to increase sales with a combination of creative merchandise items, promotions, and displays.  It was open to every merchandise department in MiLB.

ValleyCats Merchandising Intern and current Siena College student Tom Carmona, along with Fan Relations Manager Michelle Skinner were grand prize winners for all Short-Season/Rookie League clubs, and have won an all-expense paid trip to World Series Game 1 & 2 in St. Louis!

Carmona and Skinner led the ValleyCats campaign by:

  • Setting and meeting a 2011 sales goal and submitting a plan to reach that goal.
  • Developing and implementing retail promotions in four categories – Opening Day, Patriotic, Charity (Pink Shirts), and “Wild Card” (Game Day Used Merchandise Program to give a portion back to the team for donating their items)
  • Retail Displays – Provide MiLB with our ideas and photos of our displays  (Game Used / Kids Corner)

Teams could receive extra credit for sending additional photos, programs, and promotions each month to share with all teams participating.

Tom and Michelle will be capturing the entire trip and will share their photos with you when they get back. Have fun guys!

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