Friday, April 29, 2022

Kelsey Hollis Visits Section 36!

Photo Matt Boyd
Section 36 had another visitor! 
Kelsey Hollis is passionate about autism acceptance and awareness, a talented singer, and the current Miss Capital City. I was so excited that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Kelsey Hollis visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Capital City crown?

As cliche as it may sound, I gave a huge thank you to God (right before I ate my celebratory Waffle House All-Star breakfast). When I competed for Miss Capital City I was coming off a rather tough loss at Miss Tennessee where I placed 3rd runner-up. I was proud of myself, but inevitably still defeated. Coming back home to Georgia gave me a little bit of nerves, so I prayed a lot leading up to the pageant that God would just send me a sign that I'm on the right track and still walking in my purpose. Winning Miss Capital City itself meant so much, but I also won all of the overall awards which gave me the confidence I needed at that time to keep going.  

You were previously Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen. Do you think that past experience helps as you compete for Miss Georgia?

For sure! During my reign, I did tons of speaking and singing engagements; sometimes in high stress situations. I believe to some extent a lot of being able to handle that from a mental standpoint eventually becomes second nature. Being Miss Georgia's OTeen helped me to feel comfortable as being MYSELF as I transitioned to being a Miss candidate. I always tell people the experience was so surreal for me because I was able to fit the title to my life, rather than fitting my life to the title. Everything about my reign was genuine. 

What is something that Karson Pennington is doing as Miss Georgia that you would want to emulate? 

Karson is truly doing so many amazing things for our state, it's hard to choose! I personally believe one of the most special things that Karson has focused on is showing how important it is to bring awareness and resources to communities in Georgia that don't all receive the same opportunities in literacy. Aiding equity within our state is something I don't believe too many people before Karson gave attention to. I'd love to keep that same priority in terms of literacy, but also in terms of those who are diagnosed with a disability within our state as well. 

How did you select your social impact initiative?

My older brother, Jeremy, was diagnosed with Autism at a very young age. My mom also is a special education teacher. I believe these two components of my life gave me the perception that everyone in the world was use to, and comfortable with the idea of being around someone with a disability. It wasn't until I got older, and started noticing the differences in my life and my brother's life that I truly realized the dire need for awareness, acceptance, and advocacy on behalf of the (what I like to call) DIFFERENTLY-abled community. 

As a talented singer, what do you enjoy about performing on stage?

Photo Rob Metzger
I tell people all the time that for me, it's such an out of body experience. As a child I was extremely shy in terms of large crowds. The first time I ever preformed by myself it was on my 4th birthday in church. I made my mom stand on stage with me, and I sang with my back to the crowd. I truly can say that years later, I now know that singing and preforming is part of my God-given purpose. I love knowing that I have the ability to touch the lives of people simply by doing what I love for Christ. Every time I go on stage I challenge myself to find at least one person in the crowd and talk to them through song. As I'm preforming I make eye contact with whoever God leads that person to be in my heart. I always try to pick songs that I can connect and resonate with, so that hopefully that same conviction and inspiration is able to transpire into the lives of those watching and listening; even if it's just one person. 

You are thinking of a career in sports journalism/sports psychology. What interests you about those fields?

I've always loved sports! The Miami Heat, Big 3 era was really what gave me the desire to formulate a career somewhere in the sports industry. I think in order to help athletes from a mental standpoint, you have to be able to understand their world and the validity of the things that they go through. The communicative aspect of journalism I believe, will give me the proper stepping stones to be successful in furthering my sports psychology aspirations. I would love to ultimately open a practice of traveling sports psychologists that use skill-based techniques such as music therapy and psychodynamic therapy, to aid athletes in their daily struggles.  

What is your personal fitness routine?

Firstly, a huge part of staying in shape for me has been my diet. I'm very careful about my proportions and pretty much only drink water except for the occasional sweet tea or fruit punch on my good days, lol. As far as exercise, try to go to the gym at least once every other day and I LOVE lifting. When you work legs, arms, back, and core often; your body naturally starts to slim down and tone up. Truly, I hate cardio in terms of running; so I use the rowing machine a lot and do things that warrant a lot of movement like jump squats and burpees. 

You had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem game at Fenway Park before a Red Sox Yankees game. What was that experience like?

INCREDIBLE! We lucked up and got to sing for the Red Sox vs Yankees rivalry game, so it was packed! That definitely is the largest crowd I've ever preformed in front of. The atmosphere in Fenway Park is crazyyyy, but in such a beautiful and exciting way. The crowd also was super responsive and supportive after our performance which made it even better! 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I'd love to throw the first pitch!! I've never had the chance to do so, but I played softball for a little while when I was younger, and I was the quarterback in high school for our powderpuff team... needless to say, I've got a pretty good arm! I really would love to see how well I can throw it under pressure! 


That would be so wonderful!

As usual, I want to thank Kelsey for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish her luck when she competes for Miss Georgia! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Cassandra during her journey as Miss Capital City. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on. 

Thanks again Kelsey, and good luck!

Monday, April 25, 2022

2021 Topps Allen & Ginter Blaster!

It's time to open some more cards! How about another blaster of 2021 Topps Allen & Ginter? Still working on my thoughts with the set...whether it's still old fashioned or just old. But, it's still fun to open cards, right? 

How did this one turn out? Let's see!

The packs, as always. After all, I can't have the thumbnail showing off the good stuff...assuming there is good stuff.

Is this good? Anytime you can grab a card of this MVP candidate it's a good thing.

A great card of David Ortiz. Bonus points because I was at the dame mentioned on the card. Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS when Ortiz finally sent everyone home happy and avoiding a sweep.


I have to admit, I'm getting a little bored of random Ted Williams cards for no reason.

Verdugo is going to have a big year this year, right? I keep expecting it. Anyway, here's his mini.

Here's the back of it, with all the numbers spelled out. Is that how people used to write their numbers? Seems like an incredible waste of time.

And there you have it. Nothing to write home about. A couple decent players, but not the world's best blaster.

How did yours go?

Friday, April 22, 2022

Cassandra Pinataro Visits Section 36!

Photo: K. Garcia Productions
Section 36 had another visitor! 
Cassandra Pinataro is passionate about fearless authenticity, a talented singer, and the current Miss Boston. I was so excited that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Cassandra Pinataro visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Boston crown?

My parents, cousin, and cousin-in-law went to a delicious dinner at Posto in Sommerville. Shortly after that, my parents took me and eleven of my wonderful friends who had attended the pageant to Earl’s in the Prudential Tower to celebrate even more! I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I could hardly stop smiling long enough to take in the wonderful celebrations around me, but my lasting impression from the night is that I’ve been surrounded with so much love and support that I truly believe I’m the luckiest girl in the world!

What portion of the Miss Massachusetts competition are you most nervous about?

I am most nervous for the time in between stage appearances. Changing hair, makeup, and wardrobe in the dressing rooms in such a short period of time can be very stressful!

What is something that Elizabeth Pierre is doing as Miss Massachusetts that you would want to emulate?

Photo: V2 Productions
Elizabeth’s ability to use social media to advocate for change and to break down stigmas on a global scale is something that I admire and have been actively working to do in my own social media as I strive to help others build self-love, self-confidence, and find healthy relationships. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Fearless Authenticity”?

I have already been living my social impact initiative in my own journey of creating, releasing, and promoting my original pop songs. The title, “Fearless Authenticity” stems from a conversation I had with a friend. I told them I wanted to promote a message to help others become fearlessly authentic so that young girls could be unencumbered by outside judgement. My friend looked at me and said, “Thank goodness you’re the one advocating for this. You’re authentically fearless”. I don’t know if they ever realized how much that meant to me, but their comment remains in my mind as a constant reminder that my strength and confidence can be used to help others find that same strength and confidence within themselves. 

As a talented singer, what is your favorite part about performing your talent on stage?

I adore the character of Adele from Die Fledermaus. She’s smart, witty, fun, and bold. I believe I resonate with her qualities! I thoroughly enjoy creating the character delivered in this piece and the laughter that results throughout the performance. It’s also a joy to share classical music in new spaces. The world always needs more music! 

You’re also a wonderful recording artist. What can you tell me about your recent single, “Meanwhile in My Head”?

Meanwhile in My Head highlights the idea that vulnerability is real and can empower us if accepted. Acknowledging an insecurity is the best way to begin eliminating it. In this song, infidelity is feared in the relationship, and I take the listener through the mental battle of worrying that your significant other is being unfaithful while being in love and not wanting to speak up about your concerns. Though the song lives in this space, my promotional content revolves around the idea that this type of relationship is NOT healthy! If someone finds themselves unable to trust their partner, it is best to walk away from that relationship. Being unable to walk away from a relationship like this shows an insecurity that must be tackled to have a healthy relationship in the future, and if someone’s actions lead you to believe they are being unfaithful, they too are not ready for a healthy relationship. It’s a two-way street when it comes to communication and vulnerability, and I hope this song can help someone feel less alone as they handle this type of breakup or turmoil. Stay tuned for my new song releasing on April 29th titled, “Free Woman,” talking about how it feels to be in a healthy relationship!  

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would absolutely be Jasmine! She lives by the idea that life is too short to settle and as someone who is always searching for the next way to reach a higher goal, I resonate with this. Also, how cool would it be to ride a magic carpet? It definitely would beat waiting to take the T. 

If you had an extra ticket to see the Red Sox play at Fenway, who would you take with you? Why?

Photo: Steve Smith
I would take my brother! He played baseball since he was a young boy and was a catcher at Vassar College. I have so many memories of watching him play baseball games when we were younger and now, I love going to games with him, cheering together, finding yummy snacks around the stadium, and catching up on the exciting things we’re both doing as adults! We have the best sibling bond I’ve ever seen so I always love getting to see him. 

Is there a feature or activity at a Red Sox game that you’d especially like to experience?

I have dreamed of singing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game for years! I remember being a senior in high school and seeing the stadium in person for the first time. I told my mom that I wanted to sing the National Anthem there one day. I haven’t gotten to do this quite yet, but I hope I am able to as Miss Boston!


That would obviously be incredible!

As usual, I want to thank Cassandra for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish Cassandra luck when she competes for Miss Massachusetts! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Cassandra during her journey as Miss Boston. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on. You should also check out her personal Instagram and website to follow her amazing singing career. And, as luck would have it, Cassandra is performing her New England Conservatory senior recital tomorrow (April 23, 2022). If you'd like to attend, or watch via livestream, check out this link: NEC Senior Concert

Thanks again Cassandra, and good luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Jordan Whitlock Visits Section 36!

As I'm sure you remember, since 
Section 36 is in the centerfield bleachers in Fenway you get a perfect view into the Red Sox bullpen. I'd say that makes the perfect place for Jordan Whitlock to visit, since her husband Garrett spends a lot of time there. Jordan is an aspiring genomicist, and an avid traveler. I’m thrilled she was willing to take some time to visit with us and discuss those topics, along with a few more. I know you’ll enjoy reading everything she had to say.

So let's see what happens when Jordan Whitlock Visits Section 36!

You’re currently working on your doctorate in genetics. What do you hope to do within that field?

I hope to continue research and advocacy for kiddos with rare diseases. Half of the battle for individuals born with rare genetic disorders is obtaining a diagnosis. Oftentimes, after having an answer (which is a huge relief and milestone in a diagnostic odyssey) it is unclear what an individual or family should do next. 

Individually rare diseases may not appear to affect many, but collectively they affect millions worldwide. Because of this raising awareness and advocating for their needs in a research landscape that typically lacks adequate funding and resources for specific rare diseases is crucial. In the future, I would love to work for a nonprofit or public benefit corporation focused on helping kiddos and adults post-diagnosis continue their journey through raising awareness and building communities. Ideally, I would love to be in a role where I can direct research in order to find treatments that increase their quality of life or drive research to accelerate discoveries toward cures for rare diseases. I am a people person, and interacting and helping individuals in need is a core passion of mine, especially with rare diseases.

As an avid traveler, what is your favorite place you’ve visited?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I always joke with Garrett that I would take a plane ticket from a stranger to anywhere as long as it was somewhere I have never been. 

My favorite domestic trip so far would definitely be our most recent trip this last off-season to San Diego and the Coastal Highway to visit one of my sisters. Whenever we travel I am all about immersing myself in the local people and culture or vibe of a destination and love to partake in any extreme sports or outdoor activities whereas Garrett loves a good view and relaxing getaway. San Diego was the best of both worlds for us. I got to take surfing lessons with my sister while he lounged on the beach. 

As far as outside of the United States thus far my favorite trip hands down would be our Honeymoon in Athens, Greece back in 2019. It was a total surprise to me, all planned by Garrett. He remembered when we first met in 2015 that I mentioned it was at the top of my travel bucket list. I had no idea he remembered until we got to the airport and I realized where we were going. It was absolutely beautiful, even during the winter. We took a segway tour of the city and just wandered around without maps to see where the day would take us. One day we took the local metro system and booked a ferry out to a small local fishing town on an island and another day we rented a car and drove along the coast up to the temple of Poseidon for sunset. It was our first trip as a married couple and will always be a core memory of mine. 

Your husband, Garrett, went from Tommy John surgery, to a COVID canceled season, to joining the Red Sox all within about a year and a half. How did you deal with that unprecedented life instability and uncertainty? 

Even prior to TJ and COVID during the minor leagues, I had to learn that constant change and uncertainty are just a built-in part of this baseball life. You catch on really fast that you either have to roll with it or get rolled over by it. I think that's the part of this lifestyle, which may seem crazy to an outsider looking in -- living out of a suitcase with no furniture in an apartment, not knowing where you will be in a week or a month -- that really makes you cherish the small things and the present. Embracing the change, that's what makes it fun and has led to us exploring cities we would never have visited and met people who have turned into lifelong friends all over the country thanks to this game. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, and God has already written out a plan for our lives better than we can imagine, so that's something I always lean into whenever I am overwhelmed by the instability and uncertainty of this lifestyle. I find a lot of peace in that. There's always a silver lining to unforeseen change too. COVID, while tough for many gave us a silver lining and we got to spend our first year together as newlyweds without long distance. Because of TJ, we had 20 months to focus on ourselves and define what our foundation for our family would be outside of baseball. His injury, which seemed life-shattering at the time was exactly what we needed and a big reason Garrett ended up getting drafted in the Rule 5 to Boston. If that season of uncertainty had never happened, we would not be where we are today -- so blessed and thankful to call Boston home for a while and home some stability.

How often do you get to see Garrett pitch in person? 

Ironically it feels like I always fly in the day after he pitches or leaves the day before he ends up going in. Trying to "schedule" to see him throw when he is coming out of the pen is extremely difficult especially when I don't live with him up in Boston and travel full time. Luckily, my Ph.D. mentor is amazing and is super supportive of our situation. I can throw on the game in the background during work in the lab or fly out every couple of weeks to see him for a few days at a time during a series. Usually, I am there long enough to catch an outing or two! 

Other than Section 36, what is your favorite feature or experience at Fenway Park?

Definitely the atmosphere and authenticity of the stadium. There is nothing else like it. Last year was our first year in the Big Leagues, so prior to that, I had never had a chance to visit a ton of ballparks outside the Braves (we grew up in ATL) and the Royals (that's where I was born).  It doesn't matter who the Red Sox are playing the crowd is always energized for every big hit or strikeout. When I walked into the ballpark for opening day last year, even though it was different with COVID you could still feel the electricity of the crowd and the history in the park. The ramp-up in the atmosphere toward the end of the season with playoffs was insane! 

Being in the bullpen seems to automatically mean a pitcher will see some criticism during the season. How do you deal with the negative side of Red Sox fan social media? 

Social media is a platform today where people can share and express opinions, but that does not necessarily mean that they are also truths. I believe that words don't carry any weight unless you allow them to and the same applies to criticism during the season. I understand it's a part of the game, especially at this high of a level a big stage comes with big scrutiny. I just wish people would really think before they click "comment" and recognize that while yes we are a Red Sox baseball family, at the end of the day we are also people too.


I think that's definitely something everyone should try to remember.

Of course, I want to thank Jordan for taking her valuable time to do this interview. I know she has plenty of things to do, especially this time of year. I also want to thank her for sending along the pictures to go with the post. They always help tell the story better.

Thanks again Jordan!

Monday, April 18, 2022

2021 Topps Fire Blaster

Let's open some more cards! How about another blaster of 2021 Topps Fire? I wonder if we can do better than last time.

How did this one turn out? Let's see!

Here's what the box looks like. Why doesn't Pete Alonso get more hobby love? Topps seems to wonder that too.

I mean, there he is on every pack. That's supposed to make you want to buy more packs!

The first Red Sox card from the box is a good one! Not the best picture of Mr. Houck. But, it's a nice looking card. And, it's a solid rookie of someone who should be a big part of the Sox rotation going forward.

Speaking of future stars, we have Dalbec here! Two players who made big contributions in their rookie seasons, and are expected to be stars for the Sox. Not bad.

Of course, you'd prefer to get card with writing on them, or perhaps some fancier foil. But, I can't complain about probably the two best Red Sox base cards in the set.

Not bad at all.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Deolinda Mendes Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Deolinda Mendes is passionate about helping youth find their confidence, future nurse, and the current Miss Worcester County. I was so excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Deolinda Mendes visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Worcester County crown?

Leading up to pageants I always try to be very focused on my health. Eating healthy and fueling my body the best way I can so I am the best version of myself on pageant day. After packing up all my things after crowing, my best friend Miss Lakeville’s Outstanding Teen and I celebrated by getting McDonald’s happy meals and Mcflurry’s. This was just icing on the cake after winning, I was so excited that all my hard work and effort paid off and I just couldn’t wait to start doing volunteer work and getting to wear my new shiny hat! 

What portion of the Miss Massachusetts competition are you most nervous about?

Personally, when it comes to every pageant, I get very nervous about my onstage question, because it is in front of not only the judges but in front of the audience. During this phase of the competition, you can get asked basically anything, and being up on stage just makes it a little bit more nerve-racking than normal questions during an interview. This being my first ever states competition I really don’t know what to expect so I am nervous about everything but my onstage question in particular.  

What is something that Elizabeth Pierre is doing as Miss Massachusetts that you would want to emulate?

When I was about 16 years old, I decided to compete in my first local title, at the time I was only a teen, and walking into my first ever pageant I was already a bit shy and felt like the underdog because I have no experience. Being the only woman of color competing that day made me feel as though there wasn’t a space for me in this community. A few weeks after that pageant was Miss Boston/Cambridge 2020 pageant, I watched Liz become Miss Cambridge and it instantly changed me. I did not know her at the time, and I became a complete fan of hers. She changed my confidence, my view on pageants, and my stage presence, and she never even knew that. Due to the pandemic, Liz competed for Miss Massachusetts in 2021 instead of 2020, and later that night she became Miss Massachusetts 2021. Liz changed not only me but so many other women of color in this system. Through her acts of service, acts of kindness, promotion of her social impact incitive, and her words of encouragement for the black community she has become such a positive role model for not only me but for the younger generation. She has changed who I am today, and she is whom I strive to be like. Liz is a role model to all; I strive to become not only a better version of myself but a positive role model to young women of color who once felt as though there was not a space in the Miss America Organization. Just like Liz did for me. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Be You”?

When I was younger, I was bullied a lot because I was smaller than the other kids in my grades. These actions truly stuck with me throughout elementary, middle, and even high school. I remember the feelings I would get when I felt like I was not enough at such a young age, this truly made me ashamed in my body and in the way I always looked. When I started competing in pageants this is when I watched my self-confidence flourish into something I never knew was possible. I developed a social impact that I can connect with and encouraging, reminding, and helping people believe that they are beautiful is a passion of mine. I know how it feels to not love the way you look, and love who you are, and I developed this social impact because I want to help the youth to find their confidence and learn to embrace their imperfections because imperfections live in everyone, and they are nothing to be ashamed of. 

What do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?

I have been a dancer for 15 years and I have always loved entertaining people. Being able to showcase my talent and continue to entertain the audience and the judges is the best part.

You’re studying nursing at Rhode Island College. What got you interested in that field?  

I have always loved the hard work and dedication that anyone in the medical field had, but the level that nurses have for their patients is heart-warming. I attended a vocational high school where I was in the Nursing Assistant technical field. Having this four-year opportunity gave me a glimpse into this field that I have always had a dream of working in, and I am so excited to one day become a nurse. I love that nurses are the workers giving the patient’s bedside care, and I love helping people, and being there for someone during their worst, and best times in life is heart-warming. Although I am only in my first year of school, I know that my hard work and dedication will pay off and I cannot wait to work my dream job!! 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would want to be princess Moana because chosen by the sea, and she has an ocean connection. Although I do have this fear of being in the ocean when I can’t see anything below me, I love being on the beach and being in the sun! 

If you had an extra ticket to see a WooSox game, who would you take with you? Why?

My uncle Artie and I have always been extremely close growing up, and he was the person to teach me how to play T-ball. I think going to a baseball game would be so much fun with him because we have always had a very strong bond, so being able to hang out and eat some hotdogs and popcorn would be such a great experience together. 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I have never been one of the lucky people who catch the t-

shirts being thrown. So, I think I would have a lot of fun throwing t-shirts into the crowd and hopefully making someone’s day!! 


What a fun time that would be!

As usual, I want to thank Deolinda for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish Deolinda luck when she competes for Miss Massachusetts! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Deolinda during her journey as Miss Worcester County. You should be sure to check out her Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on.

Thanks again Deolinda, and good luck!

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