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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Upper Deck creates card to honor veteran

Posted Apr 22, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 04:53 PM

Let’s put aside the bad news that we’re exposed to every day and examine an inspirational story. It’s the tale of a man who served his country and paid a price physically, but refused to give up. Instead, he moved forward and realized a lifelong dream.

And Upper Deck stepped in and took it to the next level with a card to honor a true hero.

Here’s the story. Daniel “Doc” Jacobs is a veteran who served in Iraq. He was injured by an improvised explosive device and lost his left leg, the toes on his right foot and two fingertips on his left hand. Jacobs was hoping to play baseball on a Navy squad when his deployment ended, but his injuries prevented that. He did, however, realized a dream on Feb. 28 when he got a major-league tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers and met former manager Tommy Lasorda.

Upper Deck sprang into action and last Saturday presented Jacobs with his first baseball card. Lasorda was present when Upper Deck announced that Jacobs’ card will be part of a “Heroic Inspirations” subset that will be randomly inserted into Upper Deck’s 2013 Goodwin Champions set due out on July 9. Jacobs will be signing 100 of those cards.

“It’s pretty breathtaking to have my own baseball card,” Jacobs said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Jacobs co-founded VETSports, an organization that helps wounded veterans overcome their injuries through adaptive sports and rehabilitation programs. To Upper Deck sports marketing manager Chris Carlin, creating a card for Jacobs was a no-brainer.

“When we heard about Doc’s story, we immediately said to ourselves, ‘Now that’s a baseball player we need to make a trading card for,’” Carlin said in a news release. “We couldn’t be more excited to give patriotic Americans the opportunity to collect inspiration.

“This is the beginning of a larger program we will be unveiling soon working in unison with Operation Gratitude and VETSports to show the brave men and women in uniform how much Upper Deck appreciates their service.”

Lasorda was asked if Jacobs’ card would appeal to collectors, which is an obvious question, but Tommy is 85 and has mellowed. The Hall of Famer’s answer was not as carbonated as his response to “what’s your opinion of Kingman’s performance?” But Tommy was a little incredulous, as in “how could you ask this?”

“Sure, why not, he’s a hero,” Lasorda said. “A lot of youngsters have baseball players as their heroes. That’s why there’s so many cards distributed in this country.

“And one of a man who’s given a leg, and toes and hands and everything, deserves a card. And a lot of people would like to have his card.”

Jacobs received another surprise on the day his card was unveiled. Upper Deck spokesman LeBron James took time out from the Heat’s playoff push to autograph a Goodwin Champions promotional poster and send it to Jacobs. It read: “Doc Jacobs, You are an inspiration to us all! Best Wishes!!!”

Goodwin Champions already has an impressive lineup of subjects for its cards. Jacobs is a welcome addition to that set.

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