In the early 1990s, three-thousand miles from Fenway Park, resided a die-hard Red Sox fan who supplemented his long-distance rooting with a baseball card collection of his heroes. Phil Hughes now pitches for the Red Sox's archrival, but he fondly recalls his days manning the Red Sox West outpost in Santa Ana, Calif., and collecting the images of his favorite players. Hughes recently took a look back in time at his card collection:
MLBPLAYERS.com: Which cards did you collect as a kid?
Hughes: I was a big Red Sox fan. I grew up in California, but my dad was from Rhode Island. I was big on the early 1990s Red Sox players -- Ellis Burks, Mo Vaughn, [Mike] Greenwell, Nomar [Garciaparra], when he first came up as a rookie.
I mainly tried to get as many Red Sox guys as I could, which was easy because all my friends wanted Angels and Padres guys. They gave me their Red Sox cards. I made some good trades -- I thought so at the time.
I had a couple of Nomar rookie cards. That was big for me at the time. He was my favorite player growing up, and I haven't had a chance to meet him. I'm sure at some point we'll cross paths.
Mo Vaughn was another favorite. On my favorite card, he was in BP -- wearing a cutoff shirt -- and he just looked huge. When I was younger I had a shirt with Mo's face on it. He signed with the Angels after that, and I could see him play all the time.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where did you first appear on a card?
Hughes: You're on a Little League card, but the first professional card was the Gulf Coast League [Rookie League] Yankees. We played in Tampa. I had the background of the Yankees' facilities. I looked dorky and 15 because I was 17 at the time. I've seen people bring these cards to me all the time with all these autograph collectors.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Will you treasure this year's card if it has the background of Yankee Stadium in its final season?
Hughes: Sure. That would be something cool to have and keep for a long time.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.