Vinny Rottino! Dungeons & Dragons! Massage Parlors!

Last Summer, I was sorting through my cards that I keep in Top Loaders, and came up with a new idea for this site. Only it wasn't this card that inspired that idea. I'll explain...

2005 Bowman Chrome Draft Red Refractor - Vinny Rottino

This was a pull from one of the MANY boxes of 2005 Bowman Chrome (both Regular and Draft) that I bought in the Summer/Fall of 2005. Serial numbered to only 5 copies, the Red Refractors were about the rarest cards you could get from packs of the brand. At the time, I was living in a house with 4 roomates. But my room was a tiny closet in the basement. I'd only brought 2 albums of cards with when I moved back to Colorado, since space would be scarce at first.

14 years later, I find myself suddenly living in a nice house, with a spacious basement to house my office and archives, card collection and toy collection. It's an uberdorky basement. And I love it. For the first time since childhood, all of my things are in one place, and I can finally concentrate on getting them set up the way I’d like. Cards first, to facilitate further downsizing!

Albums are for singles that I like. Those are arranged chronologically by year and brand. Twins, Expos and Rockies kept in seperate albums. Singles and duplicates of the other teams worth keeping are sleeved in stashed in Monster Boxes. Significant rookies, vintage, autographs, decent relics and other notable cards get the Top Loader treatment. Pretty easy system. I'm just so far behind on keeping it together...

One of my first plans for organizing the collection was to take all of my cards that I keep in top loaders, and place each one inside it’s own sealed bag. Then sort all of them by team.

As I was doing this, I started to think of all the single cards in this box that I wouldn't likely feature in a story here. Unless they are shown as Twins, Expos or Rockies, or a player or set that I want to write a story about, they will remain hidden.. I probably wouldn't write a story about a random Pittsburgh Pirate card. Even if it wasn't an overproduced common. It would held down and discriminated against due to the color of it's jersey.

There are a ton of great cards here that deserve a little press.

Just have to figure out how to do that...

As I sorted these Top Loaders, I started looking around my office. The shelves along the walls contain the Archives. Folders and notebooks of my writing, and boxes stuffed with various other souvenirs of life that I've kept throughout the years...

This 30+ year old box, with a TDK Audio Cassette sticker affixed to the top, caught my eye...

Once housing new checkbooks from my parents account, from the bank in Anoka my dad hated. This box was commissioned in 1988 to serve as a carrying case for my Dungeons & Dragons dice. With old KQRS 92 FM stickers reinforcing the bottom.

Another pile on another shelf has my old Dungeons & Dragons books stuffed in it. I think this one cost $20 from the B. Dalton Bookseller at Northtown Mall in 1988. While I had a few books and a nice mess of dice, the game itself wasn't anything I got into back then. This piece from Wasted Quarter issue 23 (March, 1996) sums it up pretty well:

Yeah, that's how I remember it. That and the collecting and trading of dice. Which are still cool on their own, and the reason why I kept all of mine, despite having no use for them.


There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. 

So I took all of them and assigned them a number at random.

Then a simple roll of the 30-sided die would tell me which team I'd be selecting a card from. 

Next, I'd figure out how many cards I have in Top Loaders from each team. 

That amount would be allocated to a number that could be rolled up with 20-sided dice.

Added to any of the needed 4, 8, 10 and 12 sided dice needed to reach that total of each team's Top Loadered cards!

I like dice!

Not including the boring ass 6 siders...

So in today's first attempt at trying this writing subject randomizer, the 30-sided die rolled up the Milwaukee Brewers. I had only 12 Top Loadered Brewers cards in the box, so a 12 sider will do just right. Quick roll came up with the number 8, meaning I would review the 8th Brewers card in the stack.

And you already know which one it was...

2005 Bowman Chrome Draft Vinny Rottino Red Refractor

Cool. This is the perfect example of why I came up with this idea. Vinny Rottino never made it big in Baseball, however this card is anything but common. It's also not likely a card that would be a part of a larger story that I'd probably write.

I bought a whole lot of 2005 Bowman Draft that year. The pool of autographs was very strong in the set, decent design, and it was a product I typically liked.

Maybe that will have to be it's own story here some day?

Most of which came from Mike's Sports Cards in Englewood, CO. Mike's was my go to card store from 1996, when I moved to town, until it closed in 2013. Many of the cards in these Top Loaders came from his card shop. Bowman products were a big seller, and Mike always ordered several cases from Topps. 2005 was the first year I had the money to fully participate in the Bowman fun. And it was generous to me!

(Todd Helton 1/1 Yellow Printing Plate says hello!)

Rottino made his Major League Debut in September of 2006. Never claiming a full time job with Milwaukee, he bounced around the Dodger, Marlins, Mets and Indians organizations through 2012. Then a season in the Korean Baseball Organization and another in Japan. A return to North America and the Marlins organization happened in 2015. Then a final season with the Chicago White Sox AAA team in Charlotte, NC, before retiring in September 2016.

He played in 62 total games in the Major Leagues, between 2006 and 2012. Hitting .165/.241/.299 in 110 at-bats. Totalling 3 home runs, 11 RBI's and 5 stolen bases at the game's highest level.

But what makes the card is this:

Only 5 of these cards exist. I have #4.

So that's that... 

Next time I need to get a story about cards posted fairly quickly, I'll roll the dice again and come up with a new Random Top Loader to discuss. I'm sure if the card isn't overly interesting on it's own, I came come up with a related story about it that is!


Since I'm not finished with any of the larger stories that I'm currently working on, I'm going to throw in a random abandoned building that popped up in memory this week. The other night, I was talking with a co-worker about Andover, MN. Specifically, the area of Bunker Lake Road, and what it once was. With tales of massive junkyards, tire fires and Vapors Steam Baths! She'd heard stories, so I showed her my story about the area.

When I got home that night, I posted the following image on Facebook. Looking for confirmation that it was used as a cable TV Public Access studio in the early 1990's. The photo was taken just days before the Coon Rapids Shopping Center was demolished in 2004. This was one of the doomed storefronts I had specific interest in.

We sometimes checked out equipment from this shop in 1993.

However, 201 Proof Television was recorded at the long gone NCTV studios in Blaine, MN. Thanks to Danno for the photo, from just over 25 years ago now... Yikes!

Back on the internet, people were commenting on my photo of the Coon Rapids Shopping Center storefront's nefarious past. Yes, it indeed was once used for recording TV programs that aired on local cable TV channels. But years before that, a massage parlor by the name of "The French Quarter" operated here. According to locals, it was raided by police and shut down in the early 1980's.

The next day at work, she tells me that she was talking to her friend and mentioned the Vapors. Her friend said she also knew of the place, but she was trying to find any information about Coon Rapids possibly having a massage parlor at one time. So she thought of asking me what I knew about it.

Well, I just posted a picture of it to Facebook, less than 24 hours ago...

Weird coincidence...

Kind of a happy ending to this story!


  1. That's such a cool system! I'll look forward to any more of these posts.


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