OAKLAND – A’s reliever Jerry Blevins has a unique way of decorating his locker.
Lining the left side of his cubicle is a trail of baseball cards, starting from the top of the locker and extending more than halfway down the length of it.
The inspiration came from fellow reliever Pat Neshek, who is a big card collector himself.
“Nesh gets cards sent to him, and we just started with a little collection,” Blevins said.
Some of the cards are autographed by players Blevins has competed against, like Chipper Jones. Some are entertaining portraits of current A’s coaches from their playing heydays. There’s a 1987 Topps Curt Young card. Close to it is a Mike Gallego card from his time with Triple-A Tacoma.
Some of them you never would have guessed existed.
Blevins smiles and holds up a 1979 trading card of A’s assistant trainer Walt Horn, who was on the Boise State training staff back then. Horn is wearing sunglasses and looking very, well, 1970s-ish.
On the right side of Blevins’ locker is a special spot for the card of Nick LeGrande. LeGrande is a teenage boy fighting a rare blood disorder who threw out the first pitch at an A’s game earlier this season all the way from Kansas City, via a telerobotic pitching machine.
One man sent Blevins a trading card of his daughter, who played youth softball and listed Blevins as her favorite player on the back of her card.
And one young boy decided to send Blevins his own autograph on a card.
“This kid wrote me a letter, he didn’t ask for an autograph or anything,” Blevins said. “He just said, ‘ I want you to have this.”
It’s signed “Finn T.”
One card that made its way on to Blevins’ locker is particularly noteworthy.
It’s a 1995 snapshot of a pitcher named Jeremy Blevins. Jerry Blevins says fans send him cards of Jeremy Blevins once or twice a year, hoping for an autograph and not noticing they have different first names.
Jeremy Blevins pitched eight seasons in the Angels and Yankees organizations but never cracked the bigs. Strangely enough, he’s from Tennessee, the state in which Jerry Blevins was born.
Blevins studies the card of Jeremy for a moment.
“We don’t look anything alike, so we’re probably not related.”