Friday, February 5, 2016

A New Hobby

Before I became a baseball fan and baseball card collector, the sport I fell in love with first was soccer.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies became a team in 1975, the year after I was born. They joined the NASL (North American Soccer League) and promptly won the Soccer Bowl in their first year of existence. While I have no memory of that inaugural season, I do remember my parents taking me to Rowdies games at Tampa Stadium when I was around 3 or 4. I got to see some great players in those days, including, arguably the greatest of all time, PelĂ©, when he played for the New York Cosmos.

The NASL folded in 1984, ironically, the same year that I started collecting baseball cards.
Soccer was no longer a part of my life until 1994, when the World Cup took place in North America. I was caught up in the hype and watched every match that was broadcast. From then on, I looked forward to every 4 years to watch the World Cup.
In 2006, after the conclusion of the World Cup in Germany, I discovered a cable TV network called FOX Sports World. On it, they aired live and tape delayed matches from the English Premier League. I was once again hooked on soccer, with Chelsea FC becoming my favorite European team.

In 2010 the Rowdies came back, though, due to a licensing issue, they were called FC Tampa Bay. I went to their first game, held at the New York Yankees spring training stadium in Tampa that April.
In time for the start of the 2012 season, the Rowdies were officially allowed to use their name.

As long as I've been a soccer fan, I never felt the need, nor really wanted to collect any cards. As far as I know, the NASL never had any licensed cards and the English Premier League cards were hard to find and very expensive.

February is not only a time for spring training in baseball, but for soccer as well. The Philadelphia Phillies have their spring home in Clearwater, Florida. Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union have followed, and make their spring home right across the street from the Phillies.

If you're not bored already, let me get to why I decided to create this post.

The Rowdies are hosting a spring tournament this month, featuring 6 MLS teams. 
Not only do I want to attend these games, but I also want to try and get some autographs. This week I've been buying a lot of soccer cards from COMC, eBay and Amazon.
Several cards began arriving today.
First, I went over the Rowdies roster and ordered cards of anyone that I was able to find a card of.
Perry Van Der Beck played with the Rowdies when I was a kid. He is now the Technical Director for the Rowdies.
Here's cards of players that are currently on the Rowdies roster.
Freddy Adu
Matt Pickens

Kalif Alhassan
Michael Nanchoff

Tom Heinemann

Danny Mwanga

This tournament features my favorite player who used to play for Chelsea.
Frank Lampard is Chelsea's all-time leading goal scorer with 211 goals. He now plays for New York City FC, but I just had to find a card of him in his Chelsea kit.
Since the Philadelphia Union will be training so close to my home, I decided to buy a 2015 team set.
Only 4 players from that set are no longer with the team.
I also bought cards of the Union's coaching staff.
Chris Albright
Jim Curtin
Mike Sorber
Also picked up a card of the Union's Sporting Director, Earnie Stewart. I remember watching him play for the USA in the World Cup in 1994.
I ordered a 2014 and 2015 team set of the New York Red Bulls.
Only the 2014 set has arrived thus far.
Inside that set was a card of Claudio Reyna, a former US player and current NYC FC Sporting Director.
I didn't know he'd be included in this set, because I had already ordered one elsewhere. Well, now I'll have 2 once the second card arrives. Luckily, I ordered myself a different card.

I'm looking forward to getting some of these cards signed. It's going to be all new to me, and I really have no idea what to expect, but hopefully I'll figure out the right places to stand and get a chance to meet most of these guys.


  1. Don't know a lick about soccer, but I do recognize the names Pele and Freddy Adu. Good luck with your new mission!

  2. Good luck with your new quest! I'm looking forward to hearing more about it... You've got a nice bunch of cards lined up. I remember when Freddy Adu was supposed to be the next big thing.

    I believe that you're right about there not being any licensed NASL cards from the 1970's, but there were team stickers. The Rowdies were featured on one of the stickers, and the Rowdies' Rodney Marsh was part of one of the puzzles on the backs. I wrote about a recent find in December, and I've got a follow-up post coming in the next week or two.

    1. I would love to meet Rodney Marsh. He was one of my favorite Rowdies. He still makes his home here in Tampa. I should try and find a card of his in case I randomly bump into him at a game.

  3. I may have to check that tourney out just to see Lampard, I'm a Chels fan as well

  4. Sounds like a really good time if you ask me. Like you I'm starting to get into the whole soccer thing. Can't decide if I should go with the closest team in Portland. Stick with rooting for teams from around the area I grew up despite them not existing then. Hopefully I can figure it out soon, and follow along with them.


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