Wait til Next Year . . . is making a come back.

I am going to mix a bit of the philosophy of my life into this blog as I continue to highlight some of my baseball card collection. (hoping the card collectors of this world welcome me back)

Its been a tough 18 months for me . . . the Chicago Cubs have had it rough as well.

This site will be devoted to all those who need to define what "wait til next year" means.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Feb 1st Eve

As we "celebrate" the Eve of February 1st (I realize there is no such thing but) there is always something to "celebrate". We embark on the shortest month of the year and the myriad of 2009 cards are starting to come out.

This is a short post to "celebrate" the shortest month with a comment about the shortest baseball player every to make a plate appearance - three foot seven inch Eddie Gaedel in 1951. It was a just one of those media stunts by Bill Veeck the then owner of the St. Louis Browns. Happy February to all !

Happy Birthday Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks, born on January 31, 1931, is celebrating his 78th birthday today and I wanted to be one of the first to wish him a “beautiful day”. “Mr. Cub” deserves everyday to be a “beautiful day” !

So much has been written about Ernie Banks; two time MVP (1958, 59), 512 career HR’s, 1636 RBI’s, 11 time All-Star, 2583 career hits, HOF first time ballot inductee, uniform #14 retired by the Cubs, nineteen years with one team – Chicago Cubs I could not possible due justice. Ernie Banks is also known to have coined to rather famous sayings: “It’s a beautiful day for baseball . . .lets play two” and “The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field”.

So on his birthday I present his 1960 card which highlights his stats from his MVP year of 1959; 45 HR’s, 143 RBI’s and .304 batting average. Oh what a year he had in 1959 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of his MVP year.

And on a personal note, as a teenager I worked at the Glencoe Golf Course in Glencoe Illinois (a northern suburb of Chicago). My “job” was to remove players golf clubs from their cart, after they played, wash their clubs and return their clubs to their car or the racks in our club storage shed (usually receiving a tip of $ .25 for “doing a good job”). Ernie Banks played at this course many times and I recall a warm April day in 1975 that “Mr. Cub” actually followed me into the club storage shed and he signed the small wooden desk my brothers and I shared (he also was a generous tipper). This desk had much of our teenage graffiti etched in it along with some signatures of the celebrities of the day. This desk is long gone from the shed, no teenagers are washing golf clubs anymore and celebrity encounters are less random. Those were the days . . .

One numerical coincidence to leave you with: Ernie Banks hit his last homerun (#512) on May 12th, 1970 (512 on 5-12).
Happy Birthday “Mr. Cub” !

Friday, January 30, 2009

What was Topps thinking ?

In the past six weeks, since starting this blog, I have read hundreds of posts and have learned so much about card collecting that my personal collection has taken on a new life of its own. I am now looking at my cards differently (with a more tuned mind and closer eye) yet with the same interest and passion I have aways had for the game of baseball and the cards of yesterday.

Many of you have taught me to look at cards with this question: what were they thinking ?
So in my thumbing through my 1973 cards I noticed two that stand out.
What was Topps thinking . . .

This is a Steve Garvey card yet his face is completely in the shadows and Wes Parker stands taller and closer. Yes Garvey probably just hit a homerun (he only hit nine in 1972) and as he approaches home plate is being congratulated but Steve Garvey deserves better. Ok, he did not really come into his own until 1974, winning the NL MVP and 8 straight gold gloves at first base from 1974-1981 but still . . . couldn't Topps come up with a better picture ?

and then there is Jim Kaat

. . . a twenty-five year major league career as a left handed pitcher, winning 283 games and earning 16 (yes sixteen) consecutive gold glove awards from 1962 - 1977. Here is Jim Kaat . . . hitting ? Probably watching one of his 2 HR's he hit in 1972. Kaat was a "great" hitting pitcher and did hit 16 career round-trippers so I guess in 1973 Topps decided it was time to showcase his "power" not his pitching or fielding.

Just my question of the day: What was Topps thinking ?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Brock for Broglio"

Ernie Broglio was on the wrong end of the “most lopsided” trade in major league baseball. That is the end of the story, because in June of 1964, the three for three trade was originally deemed in favor of the Cubs.

Broglio was a fixture in the St. Louis rotation for five plus years, posting 18 victories in 1963 and in 1960 had his career year with a 21-9 record and 2.74 ERA, finishing third in the Cy Young voting. After his slow start in the 1964 campaign, winning only 3 and losing 5 games for the Cardinals, he was traded along with Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz for Jack Spring, Paul Toth and . . . Lou Brock.

Brock had been a disappointment for the Cubs, the Cubs had lost patience with this speedy outfielder and Broglio was a top-flight pitcher.

In two and half years in Chicago Broglio posted a record of 7 and 19 and Brock went on to bat .348 for the remainder of the 1964 season, help the Cardinals win the World Series that year, “star” in 2 more series’ (67 and 68) and play for 15 more years. Brock set the career mark for stolen bases at 938 (since broken by newly elected HOF Ricky Henderson). Lou Brock was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985 and Broglio stormed out of Wrigley Field in 1966, burned his uniform and never returned to Major League Baseball

I highlight this 1966 Broglio card for a couple of reasons. First and for most he is in a Cubs uniform. Secondly, as is my usual theme for “vintage” cards, the back is more interesting. The top right cartoon indicates Broglio led the league with 21 victories in 1960 (the year of my birth by the way) and describes the June15th 1964 trade in detail.

In my opinion, Ernie Broglio does not deserve the lifetime tagline of “Brock for Broglio – the most lopsided trade in baseball history”, no one’s deserves that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Men at Work"

I just finished re-reading the book titled "Men at Work" by George Will (copy written 1990). I read this book when it first came out, almost twenty years ago, and now that I have this avenue (blog) I thought I would share my thoughts.

First of all I recommend this read to all baseball fans, it is a book written to helps us all (even cardboard collectors) understand the details and beauty, the hardwork and dedication it takes to be “great” at the game we all love. This passage from the books front flap sums it up: “Being an informed, observant baseball fan is a form of participation in that complex, subtle game. Baseball . . . is indeed a game, but one at which men work with admirable seriousness”.

The book has only four chapters yet over 300 pages packed with statistics and memories from the era of the eighties. The four chapters are titled simply:

Chapter One: The Manager (Tony LaRussa)
Chapter Two: The Pitcher (Orel Hershiser)
Chapter Three: The Batter (Tony Gwynn)
Chapter Four: The Defense (Cal Ripken Jr.).

LaRussa is the only one still “active” and all four truly symbolize the work ethic, character and “greatness” of baseball in the 1980’s.

So I got to wondering . . . if the same book was written in 1970 (the 1960’s were my favorite decade of baseball), who would have been chosen for these four chapters ? For me it might look like:

Chapter One: Manager Walter Alston
Chapter Two: Pitcher Sandy Koufax
Chapter Three: Batter Frank Robinson
Chapter Four: Defense Roberto Clemente

Pick a decade and come up with your four “great” players, keeping in mind that “greatness” is more than just numbers, it incorporates work ethic, character and excellence. I would be interested in knowing what you think . . . as we approach the end of this decade, who would the “great” four chapters be of for the 2000’s ? It is not as easy as you think.

Who will wear # 9 in 2009 ?

I have been on a uniform number “kick” in a couple of previous posts so I thought I would continue my discussion and ask this question. Who will wear uniform # 9 in 2009 ? To begin with I must confess I have no cards of “proof” for what I am going to tell you though my official source of very reliable information is Cubs by the Numbers

The answer for the 2009 Chicago Cubs will be Reed Johnson, who will proudly wear uniform # 9 in 2009.

From the historical perspective, the Cubs did not have uniform numbers until the 1932 campaign and over the last 77 years only 22 players or coaches ( 29%) have worn the uniform number of the year on the calendar.

So here goes in uniform number order:
Uniform # 1: Augie Ojeda year 2001
Uniform # 2: Sandy Alomar Sr. (coach) year 2002
Uniform #3: Wendall Kim (coach) year 2003
Uniform # 4: Jason DuBois year 2004
Uniform # 5: Nomar Garciaparra year 2005
Uniform # 6: Sonny Jackson (coach) year 2006
Uniform # 7: Mark DeRosa year 2007
Uniform # 8: Mike Quade (coach) year 2008
Uniform # 9: Reed Johnson year 2009
Uniform # 34: Stan Hack year 1934
Uniform # 39: Bob Garback year 1939
Uniform # 41: Vance Page year 1941
Uniform # 43: Bill Nicholson year 1943
Uniform # 44: Phil Cavarretta year 1944
Uniform # 45: Ed Saver year 1945
Uniform # 46: Dom Dallessandro year 1946
Uniform # 47: Peanuts Lowery year 1947
Uniform # 48: Andy Pafko year 1948
Uniform # 53: Johnny Schmitz year 1953
Uniform # 55: El Tappe year 1955
Uniform # 57: Vito Valentinetti year 1957
Uniform # 64: Joe Macko (coach) year 1964

Not a star-studded collection, though any list with Cavarretta and Pafko is not half bad. Even though the 1940’s dominated this list, it is interesting (at least to me) that as of the turn of this century almost every team should have a player wearing the number of the calendar year (aside for those clubs that have retired numbers and of course no one will wear # 42 in the year 1942 or ever).

For those of you and curious about next year already, 2010, no Cubbie will wear uniform #10, it is proudly retired by the Cubs in honor of Ron Santo, along with Banks #14, Sandberg #23 and Williams #26. Maybe in the next few years we will see 1931 (Greg Maddux’s and as I was corrected Ferguson Jenkins uniform #31) eliminated from contention also.

So who will wear uniform # 9 in 2009 for your favorite team ?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

44HR for #44

In another entry in my tribute to Roberto Clemente and his remarkable career, a statisical coincidence which appears on other baseball cards (if you recall Clemente's 1973 last card indicates exactly 3000 hits achieved) as I call a "Clemente-ism"

So I present the 1963 National League Homerun Leaders (card is the Topps 1964 # 9).

This card displays awesome power led by Henry Aaron and three members of the San Francisco Giants; McCovey, Mays and Cepeda. The Giants team of 1963 hit an amazing 197 homeruns that year with five players over 20 HR's (those three and Bailey and Felipe Alou).
For comparison, the Cubs hit 127 and the "powerful" New York Yankees hit only 188 (I know Mantle and Maris had injuries). For the Chicago Cubs perspective; Santo and Williams tied for the club honors, each hitting 25.

This card becomes rather unique from the quirkyness found on the back. Aaron and McCovey tied for the League Lead with 44 round trippers . . . they each wore uniform #44 !

Monday, January 26, 2009

Where's Palmeiro ?

a) not in the Hall of Fame
b) the bottom of my card box
c) in line for more "juice"
d) in front of congress still saying "Never. Ever. Period."
e) still wishing to be at Mississippi State
f) you fill in the blank ___________________

Ok so this might be an unpopular post but Palmeiro did spend three "pure" years in a Chicago Cub uniform and I came across these two cards the other night.
I do remember getting these autographs while he was in Chicago. He did start his major league career as a Cub, hit 25 HR's, drove in 95 in three seasons and was a "pure" All Star in 1988.
His career took him to Texas and Baltimore and back and forth twice. Too much controversy surrounds his career and I will end by saying . . . "never, ever period" . . . he is going back to the bottom of my card box.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Glove of the Day

It was a quiet (not boring) saturday night in our home. My wife and I attempted to go out to the movies, drove to the theatre, parked about a half mile away (should have been our first clue) and stood in line as the movie we wanted to see flashed "sold out" . . . so we went home, opened a bottle of wine and watched Across the Universe.

Ok truth be told, I had baseball cards on my mind and was looking through my "vintage" cards while sipping wine, eating popcorn, listening to the music and the kaleidoscope of images from the movie. I do highly recommend this movie to all who like the Beatles music, can remember the sixties or just want to enjoy a glass of wine at home.
Anyhow, I came across two cards that made me think . . . and thinking on a saturday night with wine, popcorn and a movie is not a common occurrence but . . .

When were batting gloves first introduced into baseball and better yet when did they first show up on cards ? I looked through my "old" collection and the earliest card I found were these two from 1969:

Bill White (black glove right hand) and Joe Pepitone (red glove left hand), both are true lefties by the way.
Pepitone was more of a colorful character so that explains the red but shouldn't White be wearing Cardinal Red ? Both of these players had long and successful careers and I will do a longer post on them in the future.

Todays players are very often shown with one or usually two gloves but when did they become popular and when were the first gloves pictured on cards ? Anyone have an older card with a batting glove ?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jose Cardenal - speedy and smiling

Getting back to posting a blog about a “vintage” player, I present Jose Cardenal; a Topps All Star Rookie from 1966. Cardenal played for nine different major league teams in his 18 summers and we, Chicago Cub fans, were blessed with his “best years”.

Cardenal was signed as a free agent by the San Francisco Giants in 1960 and played in the 1980 World Series with the Kansas City Royals. A career which culminated with 2017 games played and 1913 hits, 329 stolen bases and 333 doubles.

MVP consideration was given to Cardenal in 1972 and 1973 placing him 28th and 23rd respectively, both years wearing the Cubbie blue. Solid in the outfield, speed on the bases and a reliable line drive hitter, Cardenal had a most respectable career.

Cardenal, born in Cuba and the cousin of the great Bert Campaneris, spent his “glory years” with the Chicago Cubs (from 1972 through 1977). Hitting the most homeruns (17) and scoring the most runs (96) in his career in 1972 and in 1975 had career highs in hits (182) and batting average (.317).

Cardenal was voted Cubs Player of the Year in 1973 leading the Cubs in batting average, doubles and stolen bases.

I like this Rookie Card of Jose Cardenal for two reasons; first it is a Topps All Star Rookie gold trophy card and second he is smiling (or squinting if that is what you want to call it).

The back of the card presents a puzzle to me though. It states that in his first big league at bat he homered off Whitey Ford BUT the stats on the back indicate his first HR was not until his 1965 season; at least 29 games and 20 at bats into his major league career.

In either case, Cardenal had a fast start to his career and ended up in a World Series.

Three's Company

For those of you who read my blog (thank you !) you know that I received a nice package in the mail the other day from Night Owl. How I know it was for ME was that it had the name STEVE before my last name.

That being said, there were 16 cards in all . . .
destined for my daughter are six National League All Star Team cards form the Score 1991 subset including none other than Chicago Cub "great" and HOF Ryne Sandberg. Also included were Santiago, Larkin, Bonds, Bonilla and Davis. These are "fun" cards with the over sized head drawings.

Night Owl also included another start to the Score 1991 project of my daughters with Dream Team cards (#'s 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13). Need I mention again that my wife "stole" three of them and left my daughter with the remaining five "suitable" cards including Larkin standing tall.

So that leaves me with my two "vintage" cards; two Cubs cards I really like and two cards that will be proud to join MY collection.
Topps 1955 Frank Baumholtz: because his last game played was in 1957 I never got to see him play but sources say his back to back seasons of '52 and '53 batting .325 and .306 respectively made Baumholtz a solid outfielder for the Cubs.
Topps 1973 Milt Pappas: are those ear flaps he his wearing or just the hair of the times ? Pappas had several career highlights including a nine pitch / three strikeout / half inning of work on September 24th, 1971 and on September 2 1972 was one pitch away from a perfect game, the 27th batter to face Pappas was given a walk (controversial to this day) yet Pappas did retire the next batter to preserve his no-hitter. Pappas deserves a longer post and I will do a more thorough account of his career in a later post.

So thanks to Night Owl, my daughter ends up with 11 cards, my wife three and for me . . . two. I guess having three "interested" collectors in my home is not a bad thing. I am learning to share.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Not suitable" ? for whom ?

Dear Night Owl

Thank you very much for the package you sent my husband / daughter. My husband really appreciates the "vintage" cards (before 19975) and will post a blog about "his cards" soon.
My daughter, who is in Finland will certainly appreciate the start of the two 1991 Score subsets (Dream Team and All Stars) you sent . . . and as for me . . . I truly appreicate the cards you alluded to as "bare chested" and possibly "not suitable".
I am now beginning my own collection of cards and need everyones help . . . are there other "not suitable" cards for this wife to admire ?
the wife of "wait-til-next-year" (my friends call me Karen)

P.S. My husband Steve gave me this Bo Jackson card to add to the other three.
Thanks again Night Owl . . . the cards are very "suitable" !

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Milestones in 2009

I have been inspired by two fellow bloggers who celebrated recent milestones; Dinged Corners one year blogging and White Sox Cards 1000 posts. Today marks my one month as a blogger (that is 1/12 and 8% of DC) and only my 46th post (1/22 or 4.5 % of WSC).

It is interesting to note that the size of my card collection and baseball card knowledge is about the same percentages when compared to those two (I guess I am right on track and still have so far to go).

Other Milestones to take note of this year are (yes I have to start with the Cubs):
101st anniversary of their last World Series,
64th anniversary of the last pennant and
the 40th anniversary of my beloved “Cubs of '69” heartbreak.

And on a more positive note:
2009 will bring my daughters 18th birthday, 23 years of marriage for my wife and I and finally I will turn 49 in May.

So back to Baseball . . . 2009 we will probably see . . .
Gary Sheffield hit his 500th HR (currently at 499)
Jason Giambi will hit his 400th (at 396 now)
A-Rod just might make the 600 HR club (553)
Albert Pujols will get to 350HR and 1000 RBI’s
Randy Johnson will win his 300th game (sits at 295 today)
Mariano Rivera will join Hoffman in the 500 save club (has 482 now)
and many others will join the 300 HR club (ie White Sox Dye and Konerko)and the 2000 hit club might welcome Kendall, Helton, and Abreu

So in 2009, we celebrate our fellow bloggers for leading the way, look forward to certain players to achieve personal goals and maybe, just maybe the Cubs will shine in two thousand and nine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Good Mail Arrived Today

My mail-person (a real nice lady) must like me, as opposed to Night Owls mail person who holds out on him. I received another great package today, from Chris at Project 1962 , and once again has made my Wednesday much more enjoyable. Here is a good sample of why today was a good day.
Chris sent me many cards from my want list including three 1987 Topps All Star Rookies; Snyder, Tartabull and Incaviglia and this 1962 Jake Wood. While the condition is not pristine, it is still I card I greatly appreciate and needed (as an aside, I am in the camp that for "vintage" cards, condition is secondary to the story of the players).
Woods Rookie Year, 1961, was his best of his career with 170 hits, 14 triples playing in every 162 games. His career never got any better and had a short and fast stay with the Tigers.
I like these cards with the little gold trophies on them (hint hint for future trades).

Chris also sent a Cubbie from the sixties (1964 Don Elston) and the seventies (1970 Paul Popovich) Pictured here is the 1964 Don Elston, in a typical face shot of the time. Elston spent the better part of nine seasons with the Cubs, appearing in 450 career games (all but one as a Cub) and amassing a record of 49-54. Elston was elected to one All Star Game (1959) and was the workhorse for the Cubs, leading the National League in games played in 1958 and 1959.

Also in this envelope were two UD Masterpieces; Derek Lee and this Carlos Zambrano. And if that was not enough an assortment of Chicago Cub "greats" were included:

Thank you to Chris who made my Wednesday . . . can this week get any better ? The mail-lady will be the judge of that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brian the Mailman made my day

Today I received an envelope from Brian at 30-year old cardboard and I greatly appreciate all that he sent. All Cubs cards . . . here is a sample of what he sent me . . .

Manager Zimmer and his "stuffed" cheeksJoe Girardi and a cloud of dust "he's out" !

future Hall of Famer Lee Smith winding up to "save the day"

stars of the present day Fukudome and Soto . . . what will their futures hold . . .

and "Mr. Cub" himself in a classic pose

Thank you Brian, for these cards and all the other Cubs . . . you made an otherwise "boring" Tuesday exciting.

The Cubs # 44

Cheers to all those Chicago Cubs who wore uniform #44:
Phil Cavarretta (player and M)(1941-53),

Burt Hooton(1971-75),

Mike Garman(1976),

Dave Giusti(1977),

Ken Reitz(1981),

Dick Ruthven(1983-86),

Drew Hall(1986-88),

Steve Wilson(1989-91),

Jeff Hartsock(1992),

Bill Brennan(1993),

Amaury Telemaco(1996-98),

Chris Haney(1998),

Tony Fossas(1998),

Kyle Farnsworth(1999-04),

Roberto Novoa(2005-06),

Chad Fox (2008)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ken Holtzman - 1969 was a "fun" year

A mainstay in the Cubs pitching rotation in the late sixties, Ken Holtzman was the first of the "stars" from the 1969 Cubs team to walk away. Traded to the Oakland Athletics in 1971 (for Rick Monday) Holtzman became part of the "characters of green and gold" who won three consecutive World Series' in '72, '73 and '74. Holtzman joined the staff with Vida Blue, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Blue Moon Odom and Rollie Fingers.

Holtzman's career started (rookie year was 1965) and ended with the Cubs (1979) but has later admitted that 1969 was "the most fun and exciting" single season ever. Holtzman has five championship rings (including the three mentioned, he also pitched for the division winning A's in 1975 and the 1977 World Series Champion Yankees). Holtzman is the winningest Jewish pitcher of all time with 174, surpassing Sandy Koufax.
Holtzman pitched two no hitters in his career both in a Cubs uniform. Pitching his first on August 19, 1969 at Wrigley field against the Atlanta Braves; some consider the last "good" thing that happened that summer for the Cubs. The Cubs went on to lose 7 of 9 after that August day and their fate had begun. That September of 1969 will always be remembered and never forgotten as the Cubs went 8 - 17. Holtzman himself went 1 - 5 in September yet finished the year with a 17-13 record.

His second no hitter was in 1971 and was the first recorded no hitter in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium history. Ken Holtzman was "perfect" in 1967, going 9 and 0, in a season that he pitched weekends only as he served his role in active military service. It is interesting to note that many players of that day had military service commitments and many baseball cards reflect that involvement.

Ken Holtzman always remembers 1969 as the year he had "fun" in losing, the fans of Chicago always remember the "fun" Holtzman too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cubs Convention is over - Spring training is near

A friend of mine in Chicago just called me (as I now live in Sarasota and wintertime is not a usual time to call us who live in "paradise") but nonetheless he called.

While he has recently discovered my renewed interest with baseball cards and now in the world of blogging he was mostly calling to share with me that the Chicago Cubs just concluded their 24th annual convention, which unofficially is the kick-off to Spring Training and the upcoming season.

Twenty years ago we went to the Cubs Convention and remember shaking hands with all of our childhood stars and eating ball park food (though it tastes much better at Wrigley than in a hotel).

The memories are still there and I just reviewed the list of stars at this years convention which still include all my "heros" from the sixties and seventies; Banks, Williams, Beckert, Jenkins, Santo; stars from the eighties, nineties and current players galore.

The best thing about the Cubs Convention this year is that I am in Florida enjoying our "chilly" weather and that Spring Training is near. Cubs Home Opener at Wrigley is April 13, only 86 days from today. The Cubs will (ok might) shine in two thousand and nine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bubble Mailer # 2 - "I am getting into the '90s"

I received a bubble mailer in the mail on Friday, culminating a trade with Kevin at The Great 1965 Topps Project .

I had sent him about 25, 1965 Topps cards, last week and in return he sent me an assortment of 91 cards (that is right 91) from 1991. From the various sets including a Topps Stadium Club and Fleer Ultra, he has gotten me kick started in my quest to complete a "real" 1991 set before my daughter returns from her year in Finland (scheduled to return sometime in July of this year). If anybody else can help . . .I am open to many ideas of trades.

Thank you Kevin for getting me started.

A sample of what he sent me includes the following:

an unremarkable Cubbie and a Hall of Famer

he really looks like a caveman

a most unflattering action photo

Ryno . . . record breaker and Hall of Famer

My wife says it is about time I "got into the nineties" as I have been stuck in the late sixties and early seventies "forever". She thought I understood that to mean my "state of mind" and not with collecting cards . . . just another difficulty in communication between the sexes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Cubs of 1963 - a "team"

My new friend, blogger and fellow Cub fan, Paul, Wrigley Wax has inspired me to look at my Chicago Cub team photo cards. I like these too and he has presented a very interesting “floating head” commentary. If you have not already, I encourage you to visit his blog.

First, the 1963 Cubs had a winning record, their first over .500 mark since 1946, fighting hard to an 82 – 80 record. The prior year, 1962, the Cubs managed only 59 wins – now that is a one year turn-around of 23 games and in today’s standards would still be remarkable. (Even though the Tampa Bay Rays improved by 31 games from 2007 to 2008 in the “year of the Rays”)

Second, attendance at Wrigley was the most since 1952 with over 979,551 entering the gates. Interesting to note is that the 1927 season was the first year over 1 million Cub fans attended and not until 1984 division championship year did they exceed 2 million, and just 20 years later in 2004 the Cubs hit that elusive 3 million attendance mark.

Ron Santo led the team in all the major offensive statistics; batting average, .297, RBI’s 99, hits 187 and tied for the team lead in HR’s with Billy Williams clubbing 25 a piece. Santo played in all 162 games that season (for the second straight year) and Williams only missed one game. Ernie Banks only played in 130 and had an injury plagued sub-par year.

As for pitching, Dick Ellsworth led the team with a 22-10 record, 290 innings pitched, 19 complete games and 185 strikeouts. All were career bests for Ellsworth.

And finally, 1963 was the first year that P.K. Wrigley had one “head coach”. Yes that is what he called Bob Kenendy, “head coach”. The three years prior, Wrigley instituted what he deemed a “group of coaches” and not being happy with the results. Wrigley’s thought was the owner was the “boss” and the manager was “just a worker” and a part of the puzzle. It was not until the hiring of Leo Durocher in 1966, who demanded to be called manager, that Wrigley agreed to use the term “manager”.

So, I salute the 1963 Cubs; Santo, Williams and Ellsworth and the entire team, certainly not the best but one of the most improved and worthy of mention, even though it was 46 years ago and I was only 3 years old.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don Kessinger - durable and dependable

Here’s the pitch, a two hopper towards the hole between short and third, Kessinger glides to his right, gloves the ball, leaps and throws to first – umpire yells “out”.

That was a common scenario for the Cubs with the dependable and durable Don Kessinger playing shortstop for eleven consecutive years (from 1965 to 1975), averaging more than 150 games for ten straight years.

Kessinger earned two gold gloves and appeared in six all star games . His career batting average of .252 and 14 career homeruns does not tell the true value of Kessinger, whose offensive numbers were adequate for the era he played in, his defensive skills and gamesmanship made him one of the most popular Cubs of all time.

In 1969 Kessinger actually set a record (now since broken) of 54 errorless games to start the year. June 17th, 1971 might be considered one of his best offensive productive days, going 6 for 6 in an extra inning win (my research says he is the last Cub to have six hits in a game). My research also dug up this; in 1973 Kessinger was walked intentionally 18 times, yet did not hit a home run all year. This probably remains the record for most intentional walks by someone who did not hit a homerun.

His Rookie Card from 1996 shows Kessinger in the typical “ready” stance, just waiting for that ground ball that will challenge him to the right.

Kessinger will always be remembered for being that tall (6’1”), long armed, good hands and solid range defensive gem for the Cubs during those years of so much promise. Similar to Ron Santo, Kessingers last playing years were spent on the southside of Chicago with the White Sox (1977-1979).

The most durable and dependable shortstops the Cubs have ever had.

My Current Want List

I apologize for not posting a card blog in a couple of days, my excuse is that I have been busy. Ok not really "that" busy, but I finally got around to organizing (yes I know that is a bad word in this hobby) my Topps 1970 cards.

I had them in various places in my home; some framed as in the Cubs, some in rigid plastic holders of various sizes though most were in those nine pocket binder sheets. So I took them all out, sorted by number and replaced them in binder sheets - in order. The card to the left is #1 in the set, The Mets as World Champions. I look at this way; I see Banks, Williams and Santo somewhere in there. Personally it is one of my least favorite cards of all time, for obvious reasons.
The end result is that I am not as close as I thought but have 618 of the 720 cards, for 86 % completion, not bad but still much "work" to be done.

The Cubs have all remained in the frame (the cornerstone of my collection) and the the hi value cards I kept in the individual holders with gaps in my binder noting where each "missing" card was. I know all of you have done this process many many times over but for me it was a task, being that I am now returning to a hobby after about 15 years.

So why am I telling you all this . . . well I have posted my "current want list". Please take a look at my Irregular Special Features and click on the link.

Obviously I am concentrating on the Topps 1970 cards but also the Topps All Star Rookie (those with little gold trophies), anything Cubs and cards from 1991.

Please take a look and let me know if you can help . . . I do have many duplicates of some "superstars" of the 70's and 80's (the good news was that I found only 5 duplicates from 1970, not bad for one who used to shop for cards with no list in hand).

So that is why I have been busy . . . my next card I am highlighting will be a Cubbie from my youth, that is unless I receive my second bubble mailer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bobby Bonds - "Dancing" in 1973

Much has been written about Bobby Bonds over the years, most notable being the Father of Barry, yet so many forget how great a baseball player he really was. The combination of power and speed had not been seen since Willie Mays; Bobby Bonds was actually the second player to hit 300 homeruns and steal 300 bases (Mays being the first).

Bonds played fourteen seasons, seven of which were in San Francisco to begin his career (1968-1974) and interestingly enough he ended his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1981, hitting six home runs in 45 games. Bonds ended his career with 332 career homeruns, 461 stolen bases and had a grand slam as his first major league hit.

The card I am highlighting is his 1973, Topps # 145. I like this “action” shot of Bonds trying to return to first base avoiding the pick off (it looks like a “young” HOF Willie Stargell or is it Bob Robertson ?). In either case Bonds looks like he will be safe as usual.

The back of the card is even more interesting, noting that “Bobby’s Hobby is Dancing”. I think he might be able to win “Dancing with the Stars” if he was able to compete today.

And another one of Topps genius’ messed up on his statistics for 1968 and 1969, his first two years in the majors. Yes they are inaccurate.

From all reliable sources I can find, including his 1969 RC and 1970 second year card, as well the Baseball Almanac, he hit .254 with 9 Hr and 35 RBI in 1968 and batted .259 with 32 HR and 90 RBI in 1969. His 1973 card is all messed up yet his major league totals are indeed correct.

I do not have any later year cards of Bobby Bonds to see if and when his stats were corrected. Can anyone help me on this one ?

Bobby Bonds “danced” . . . on the bases and with his bat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My First Bubble Mailer

I have had many first in my life and today I added one to that list.
I received my First Bubble Mailer.
Yes cards in the mail from Cliff at Capewood Collection

Cliff sent me the three cards I needed to complete the 1991 Fleer Pro Vision set my daughter really really likes.

Other firsts in my life I can share with you of equal proportion are:

my first steps taken (1961 according to folk lore)
my first job in 1973 (cleaning golf clubs in Glencoe Illinois)
my first car 1976 (a 1974 Datsun B 210 named the Bumble Bee)
my first wedding 1986 (only had one, Karen)
my first house I bought 1987 (Buffalo Grove Illinois)
my first child born July 18, 1991 (only have one, Jennifer)
my first Bubble Mailer (from Cliff, January 12, 2009)

Thank you Cliff. My daughter thanks you too !

Jim Rice - Congratulations !

Congratulations to Jim Rice on his election to the Hall of Fame on his 15th and final time on the ballot. He deserved it !

From his electric rookie year in 1975, blasting 22 HR’s, 102 RBI’s and a .309 batting average and coming in 2nd in the ROY award to none other than teammate Fred Lynn to his career numbers of 382 HR’s, 1451 RBI’s and a career average of .298.

Rice was the American League MVP in 1978 and an eight time all-star. His election to the Topps All-Star Rookie team of 1975 and now to the Hall of Fame class of 2009 – Congratulations are in order. Rice was indeed one of the most feared batters of his day and deserves to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As an aside, Ricky Henderson also was elected but that was a gimmie. Maybe next year will be a Cubs year with Andre Dawson or Lee Smith entering.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Ernie Banks Story - in comic book form

Sunday was always a day for reading the comics, playing baseball and professional football. Today is Sunday and I thought I would give you a comic about baseball (football is on but . . . no Bears . . . ok enough said).

In 1970, a series of 24 baseball story books were released and I remember buying this complete set in 1985 for only $ 10.00. (I have no idea what todays value would be if anything).

These stories tell a factual yet sometimes humorous tale of each of twenty-four players, including Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose and Wllie Mays.

I like the fact that the Banks booklet was numbered 14 (his retired uniform number that he wore for his entire career in Chicago).

This storybook tells of his amazing power for a shortstop, hitting five grand slams in 1955 and hitting 47 roundtrippers in 1958.

Page five shows a "moving truck" pushing into first base designating Banks' switch of positions in 1961 and on page seven, Banks is holding a rifle "shooting for a bakers dozen" after being elected to 12 All Star games.

For those interested, I do have four duplicates and open to trade: Mike Cuellar #1, Walt Williams # 4, Bill Freehan # 6 and Tony Olivia # 8.