Beyond Left Field with Norm: John Snelling

John, thanks for taking time to chat with 9 Inning Know it All.

You’re very welcome – thank you for taking the time to sit down with me as well.

598774_353641371420139_1427627745_nPlease tell us more about yourself.

Well, I’m 41 years old, married, and have 5 kids (all girls) currently living in Fort Lewis, WA. Fort Lewis is a military base (Army) about 40 south of Seattle.  I have been enlisted in the Army for just under 14 years.  I have taken part in four different combat deployments and have taken many good natured ribbings for my love of a certain baseball team.

Growing up did you play baseball? Who were you a fan of?

Growing up I played T-Ball…….in left field if that tells you anything about my athletic ability.  My T-Ball days lasted a few years but sadly I never had the talent to take me further.  I grew up in Waldorf, MD, a town about an hour south of Washington DC and an hour and half south of Baltimore.  When I was growing up there was only one professional baseball team in the area, so I became a fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Why did you decide to enlist in the US Army? How has your experience been?

I decided to enlist in the US Army because of many reasons. One being a young father and needing to support my family.  Another would be where I was living at the time, there wasn’t many full time jobs that offered benefits that I needed to put food on the table.  Also, the military provides lots of positive attributes that have helped me not only in my professional career but also in my personal life.  The military offers tons of programs that can make your life a more rich and rewarding one.

My experiences have been across the board – some good, some bad.  It’s just like a normal 9-5 job after you get past the basic training and schooling.  After enlisting I did my Basic Training (approx. 2 to 3 months) at Fort Knox, KY and then traveled by bus to Fort Lee, VA for 2 more months of training to become a Supply Specialist also known as a 92Y.  92Y is what is known in the Army lingo as your MOS or Military Occupation Speciality.  When someone asks me what I do, I usually just respond “I’m a 92Y” or a “Supply Sergeant”.

After graduating Supply School, I spent two years at Fort Carson, CO working for a Mechanized Light Infantry Company.  While stationed at Fort Carson, CO, September 11th happened and my unit packed up and did a rotation in the Kuwaiti desert for 6 months.

Upon returning back to Fort Carson, CO, the military moved me and my family to Fort Richardson, AK (Alaska).  Alaska offered a ton of new experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else in the lower 48.  I have had live, wild moose and bears in my back yard.  Seen the sun stay up for 21 straight hours, gone deep sea fishing, seen the king salmon running and walked on top of a glacier.

Alaska also has it own brand of baseball sine the “summer” time is short, Alaska has a short Semi-Pro baseball schedule.  Hopefully you can catch some of the up and coming MLB stars before they hit it big.

I could go on an on about Alaska and the other places that I have been, but you would need to add extra bandwidth.

Where has the best and worst place the Army has sent you to and why?

I have been many places because of the Army that I would never have gone or could afford on my own.  Earlier I told you about where I enlisted (Ft Knox, KY) and where I did my training at (Fort Lee, VA).  I also told you about part of the time from when I was in Ft Richardson, AK.  I have also been stationed in Ft. Drum, NY (1 hour north of Syracuse) and I am currently stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA.

Each duty post is really what you make of it.  There are some things that I haven’t liked at each place, but there are other things that usually outweigh the bad.  Take for instance when I was stationed in Alaska the nearest MLB team (or for that matter minor league team) was Seattle, WA.  I was in Alaska for 10 years, so when I was reassigned to Fort Drum, NY I took every opportunity to make the seven hour drive down to Baltimore to catch a game.

I also took in the Nationals, Pirates, and a trip to Fenway.  Though my favorite team is the Orioles – how could you not go and see Fenway or any of the other stadiums.  Though I got to tour Yankee stadium, when I was in town the Yankees, Mets and Phillies were gone.

Tell us about Jackpot Sports Cards.

Jackpot Sports Cards is a small Veteran owned online sports cards store that I own/operate.  I have been collecting baseball cards on and off for the past 20 – 25 years and it is something of a dream come true.  Through this venture I get the opportunity to talk baseball and sports with all kinds of people a lot more than I was before.   Combined with those cards and the good relationships that I have with the card distributors – I get to live out every little child’s dream of owning a baseball card store.

Tell us about your baseball card collection. Do you have a favorite card?

As I mentioned I have been collecting on and off for the past 20-25 years.  I am a HUGE Orioles fan and collector.  I don’t necessarily have a favorite card – each one adds a level of uniqueness that the collection would be missing without it.

I like to collect things that I feel others overlook in the world of collecting.  I have authentic MLB Jerseys of Orioles players (Darren O’ Day for example) from when they were on other teams.  I like to take those with me when I go to the Stadium and get them autographed in person.  It helps to make me stand out from all the others there asking for autographs as well.

When Baltimore came to Seattle, I got to “hang out” and talk with Darren O’Day for about ten minutes before the game.  Other things in my collection include the 8oz Coca Cola bottles that are sold to commemorate the opening of a Ballpark or special feat.  Also just picked my first ever 1952 Topps card.

What has been the best advice anyone has given you?

The best advice anyone has ever given me is a tossup….”You get what you pay for” or “A card is only worth what someone will pay for it”.  With the first one….you can spend a little money or time over and over and over OR put some effort and money into at the beginning and have something of quality to show for it.  For the second piece of advice; there have been things (sports cards included) that I have had sentimental attachments to whether because I had it for years or another reason that I thought it should sell for more than it did.

What advice would you give someone looking for a career in the military?

The best advice I would give someone looking for a career in the military is live a little.  Take some college courses, move out of your parents basement.  Find out what you want from life – the military is not only a job, but also a life style.  Unlike a job at Home Depot, you can’t put in your two week’s notice when things are not going your way.  The military is a great way to gain some skills, do some traveling but if you don’t know what you want or like (as in career) then you could be stuck with a job you don’t like for 3, 4, or as much as 6 years.

Please give us your top 5 songs of all time.

Just 5? LOL, I don’t really have a favorite song – more like favorite artists.  I can listen to anything by the Smiths or Morrissey (ex frontman of the Smiths) over and over.  Also like to listen to the Cure, The Ocean Blue (Alternative band from Hershey, PA) and other 80’s alternative rockers.  Can you tell I grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s?  Living an hour south of Washington D.C. was a great place to be when it came to music.

Go ahead and give us your info for Jackpot Sports Cards.

As I mentioned earlier, Jackpot Sports Cards is a small online Veteran owned and run sports cards retailer.  I have everything from single cards, to unopened boxes and cases of all sports.  Because I am just getting it off the ground, I cannot sell Upper Deck products until they have been on the market for at least 90 days.  I have an application into Panini to become a “Case Breaker” meaning that I can buy the cases, open them and then sell the individual cards or run case breaks though the store.

I am also branching out into other licensed NFL, MLB and Collegiate items.  You will also find sports related video games on my site.

You can find me at: www.Jackpotsportscards.com    or on Amazon.com at:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main/ref=olp_merch_name_3?ie=UTF8&asin=B00BV18B08&isAmazonFulfilled=0&seller=A1SVELKY7BVVCQ.  I will soon also be on eBay as well.

John, thanks for spending time with us.

Your welcome – any time.