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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

welcome to the big leagues

Today in baseball history (1955 that is) Brooks Robinson made his major league debut. Getting two hits on his opening day was a teaser of what was to come. Those actually would be his only two hits in 1955 after appearing in only 6 games and 22 at bats, but his first two of 2848 career hits.

His full time role would not officially start until 1958 playing in 145 games, and from 1960 until 1974 would appear in 15 consecutive all-star games and receive 16 consecutive gold glove awards.

Topps 1960 # 28; my birth year and a real "cool" card

Brooks Robinson began his storied Oriole career today, September 17, 1955; played his entire 23 year career in Baltimore and ended his career in 1977.

A career .267 batting average, 2848 hits, 1357 rbi's and 268 home runs is just the icing on the cake for this "vacuum" at 3rd base. Lee May nicknamed him "Mr Hoover" and it is well known that "while Brooks never had a candy bar named after him, in Baltimore, people named their children after him".

Topps 1969 # 550; a "happy" smiling card

The 1964 AL MVP, two time World Series Champion (1966, 1970), 1970 World Series MVP and Babe Ruth awardee, Robinson was inducted into MLB Hall of Fame in 1983 with 92%.

I remember watching the Orioles back in the late 60's and early 70's, secretly cheering for them (not so secretly, as they were my favorite AL team back in the day). Being a Cubs fan meant being an anti-White Sox fan and the Orioles were going to beat the Mets in 1969, emphasis on were. They sure did have some great pitching and fielding back then.

Brooks Robinson, a childhood "hero" of mine, started his career . . .today !

Sunday, September 13, 2009

6 in 30: better late than never

Exactly one week ago Dinged Corners offered up a challenge that many of you tackled quickly. For me, since I am "slow", have been called "a dollar short and a day late" many a time in my past, and just got busy with cleaning, organizing, and redecorating my home (it is for sale now and today was the first Open House)I am just getting to this challenge today.

But nonetheless here goes. The challenge was to pick a binder and find six cards in that binder that made you "happy" in 30 seconds. For those of you who did this, I don't have to tell you that 30 seconds goes quick.

My first challenge was to pick what binder. I could have easily picked my almost complete Topps 1970 binder, or any of my Chicago Cubs binders or my newest binder with the 1995 Cardtoon set or even the 1991 binder I put together for my daughter. All of which would have made for finding six "happy" cards easy. No instead I choose a binder I don't look at much; a miscellaneous binder of stars and set out to find six "happy" cards quickly.

For me, one of the first words I think of when someone says "happy" is smile. So I set out to quickly find six cards that had a smile. Here are my six "happy" (smiling) cards:

Bo Jackson; 1991 Upper Deck # 744

Kirby Puckett, 1993 Topps # 200

Ken Griffey Sr., 1988 Donruss # 202

Frank Thomas, 1993 Leaf Hotshots # 77

Barry Bonds, 1992 Upper Deck # 134
Ozzie Smith, 1990 Post # 6 of 30

So there you have it, my 6 in 30 "happy" cards . . . a nice challenge . . . better late than never.

When 500 HR meant something

Today in baseball history two HOF'ers hit their 500th home run. Two of the greatest players of any era; Willie Mays and Frank Robinson.

Mays hit his 500th in 1965 while Robinson hit his in 1971. Back in the day when hitting 500 home runs was a commodity for a select few both Mays and Robinson were tops in their class.
September 13th certainly does mark a special day in baseball lore.

Willie Mays Topps 1970, # 600: the eyes awaiting a home run pitch
(I know it is a photo from spring training but I still love those intense "eyes")

Frank Robinson Topps 1967 #100: another shot of the "home run" eyes

Ranking 4th (Mays with 660) and 7th (Robinson with 586) in career round trippers, I salute Mays and Robinson for reaching that 500 HR club on the same day, albeit six years apart.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Someones "junk" is someone elses treasure

Several months ago a most generous blogger John of Pursuit of 80's offered up a set he "did not like as much as he thought" and I because my thoughts are far less deep or poignant I asked and received this most unexpected treasure.

John had acquired the 1995 CardToons set of cards (copy written date of 1993 though not released until 1995).

For those not familiar with this set, it was a parody,simple as that. The base set of 95 cards spotlighted almost every star of the day in a caricature rendition with humor and sarcasm flowing freely. There were also several subsets printed including one aptly named Big Bang Bucks (showcasing the 20 highest salaried players on card currency) and Politics in Baseball ( an eleven card set focusing on the problems of baseball at the time).

My personal favorite subset is the Field of Greed (a nine card set) which describes the history of baseball (at the time) labor problems. The most interesting thing about this subset is that when completed and aligned (or put in a nine-pocket page) they make a complete Field of Greed picture.

The complete set has a comical approach to our national pastime and its players; fronts and back are very cleverly stated (or at least in my opinion) and gives me a chuckle every time I look at these cards.

A couple of my favorites are naturally the "Scrubs" (ie Chicago Cubs) cards:

Shawon (Tungsten Steel) Dunston

Ernie (Mr. Club) Banks

and if some remember this superstars' brief stint in baseball, Michael (Just Air) Jordan (sorry if the timing is perfect as he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame (yesterday) as the GOAT (greatest of all-time) for a sport I rarely follow.

This 1995 Cardtoon set is fun, simple as that. Collecting baseball cards should be fun, simple as that. This set is now my "treasure". Thank you John !

Friday, September 11, 2009

We will always remember . . .

We will always remember where we were eight years ago at 7:46 am . . . I certainly do and will never forget. That September day in 2001 that has changed our lives, country and world forever.

To reflect just a bit on the personal side of things; I was President of the Buffalo Grove Area Chamber of Commerce participating in our usual Tuesday morning networking group (yes back in the day I lived in Illinois and was a business owner). Our executive director walked in and whispered in my ear about what she was just saw on tv (very similar yet far from the scope of how President Bush was informed at Emma E Booker Elementary School in Sarasota Florida).

I excused myself from the group, walked to her small office and watched with horror on her nine inch portable television. Within moments, cell phones were ringing and about fifteen of us crammed into the space built for one watching in shock. There was silence among us, except for the few who stepped away to use their phones. Within a few short moments "chaos" occurred with our group - fear, shock, concern, horror.

For about an hour our group slowly shrank in size, many going to schools to pick up their kids, some going home to family and others going to their office to start a "new day". I stayed behind until all were gone and then headed to my office well after nine o'clock. I drove the one mile with indescribable emotions and met my six employees in the front office. Our day was not about "work". We stayed together for another hour or so and by 11:00 my office was closed and I was in communication with so many families, businesses and "officials" of our town that my mind was all about "whats next", the loss of lives and "where do we go from here".

Later that evening a networking event was to be held at a local restaurant and the Chamber of Commerce decided we should go ahead with it. I am today still so proud of the turnout and generosity of my fellow Chamber members and friends. We turned it into a fundraiser, handed out small American Flags (thank you to my still good friend Ron) and networking turned into hugs and tears.

I know this is a baseball card blog, so lets get to it. As an excuse, I was not collecting cards in 2001 (I had stepped away from the hobby in 1993), even though my collection from the 1960's and 70's and my flagship framed tribute to the 1969 Cubs were proudly displayed in my home.

Several months ago, I did acquire one card from a blogger (sorry I forgot who) that is appropriate for today.
This great shot of a 30' by 50' American Flag (Topps # 357) being help by the players,coaches and personnel of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies on September 17, prior to their first game being played after the horror of 9-11. America - United We Stand.

So today, as I write my 200th post, it is time to remember and never forget. It is a time to be thankful and grateful to those who serve and protect. It is a time to reflect on the lives that have been changed so drastically and be so proud of those who have stood tall and fought back.

It is a time we will always remember . . .

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Maz'

September 5 marks the 73rd birthday of Bill Mazeroski - Happy Birthday Maz !

Mazeroski was one of my favorite non-Cub players of my youth. I toiled around youth baseball at second base for about a year, before I became a pitcher, third baseman and finally a bench warmer. But Mazeroski was the star NL second baseman of the day and I tried to be him.

Maz's Rookie Card, Topps 1957 # 24 was one of my first major star cards I remember cherishing and eventually put into a thick single screw plastic holder.

The 1960 card, Topps # 55, is really my all-time favorite for several reasons. First it is the year of my birth (yes 1960 is a looong time ago). The 1960 cards showcase the nice classic vertical style of cards and I like the contrast of background colors used for the two photos; blue sky in the color large head shot (got to love that bulging cheek) and the black and white half body shot with the yellow background (reminds me of day baseball when the sun shines). 1960 is also the year that Maz hit that most unlikely walk-off game seven ninth inning homerun to catapult the Pittsburgh Pirates to World Series Champions over the highly favored New York Yankees.

So today I salute a boyhood "hero", World Series star, perennial all-star (7x) and 8x Gold Glove winner on his birthday - Happy 73rd Birthday Maz !

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lifes Balancing Act

Many of us, especially in my age bracket (going to be 50 next year), have experienced (or suffered through in some cases) the challenge of balancing family, work, home and community into ones life.

This balancing act of such has taken turns and shifts through the years and as I sit here in my quiet home (no wife, no child, no pets) fumbling through (actually the never ending task of sorting, organizing and storing of) my baseball cards I came across this 1991 Topps #659 of Oscar Azocar card that seemed pertinent to this balancing act of life.

While his career lasted all but 202 game, 439 at bats, a .226 BA over three seasons and two teams Yankees (1990) and the Padres (1991, 92), Azocars' skill of balancing seems remarkable.

Here's to lifes balancing act.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just One Shy

Today (Sept 2) marks the 37th anniversary of Chicago Cub Milt Pappas' razor thin close call with perfection (in 1972 for those math challenged). After retiring the first 26 batters in a row and reaching a 3-2 count on the 27th batter (Larry Stahl of the San Diego Padres) Pappas was one pitch shy of perfection. Unfortunately the call was a ball (lets not over react to a correct call made by then plate umpire Bruce Froemming) and perfection was "ruined". Pappas did however retire the next batter to secure the no-hitter and an 8 - 0 victory at Wrigley Field. Still today, Pappas has the unique honor of being the only pitcher to have a perfect game "ruined" by a base on ball to the 27th batter.
{1973 #70 love those "earmuffs"}

Pappas's career began in1957 with the Baltimore Orioles appearing in only 4 games, yet 1958 began a string of eleven years in a row of double digit victories. Prior to that infamous day in 1972, Pappas was probably best known for being traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the off season of 1965 for the "old" superstar Frank Robinson.

{1958 # 457 "oh so young"}

Two and half years in Cincinnati and a couple of stints with the Atlanta Braves, Pappas was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June of 1970. Arguably, his finest year was in 1972 as Pappas compiled a 17-7 win-loss record and a top ten in the Cy Young award voting.

Pappas finished his career in 1973 with a 209 - 164 record, 3186 innings pitched and a better than 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio (1728 to 858). With 110 wins as an Oriole, Pappas came within one win shy of achieving 100 wins in the NL as well. Pappas would have been just the eighth pitcher to achieve 100 wins in both leagues joining; Cy Young, Al Orth, Jim Bunning, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins and Dennis Martinez.

Once again, Pappas was just one shy of being part of an exclusive club. So today I honor Milt Pappas and being just one shy . . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trying again

Dear fellow bloggers, followers, baseball card junkies and baseball fans in general

I am attempting a comeback. Being that this is my first post in almost three months I will take it slow and do my due diligence in returning to your nightly reading lineup. It has been a "summer to forget" in my part of the woods and it is now time for me to get back on the playing field. Ok enough of the baseball analogies, I am going to give my blog another shot.

Just a bit of a recap of my personal life: my daughter returned from her year in Finland on May 24, and two weeks later my wife asked me for a divorce (and I agreed). We decided to put the house on the market and I would move out in 2 - 3 months (I thought we agreed). I packed up most of my "stuff" (including my baseball cards, binders, supplies etc) and within two weeks was "ready". Then my wife said she was "moving out" and out she went. I unpacked my "stuff" and she used my boxes and crates. She was gone by July 15 and I took the house off the market (never really had officially listed it). This past weekend I moved my beautiful daughter into her college dorm (she is attending Flagler College in St Augustine Florida and is an incoming freshman). My house is now empty, quiet and clean. No more dog, no more cat, no more wife, no more teenager. The house is too big for one so now I will try to sell it more vigorously. So that's my "brief" update of my summer . . .

Now for my baseball update: at the time of my last post in June the Cubs were 29-26 trying to find their groove. They never found it and now sit at 65 - 64. Another "summer to forget" as well. Quite coincidentally the day of my previous post the Cubs beat the Astros 7 - 1 (yesterday the Cubs lost to the Astros 5 - 3).

This past weekend I started reading a George Will book titled Bunts. In a rather poignant way Will concludes his introduction like this: ". . . baseball is a work in progress. If you dont believe me, just remember, and heed, the fans familiar cry, Wait til Next year".

A great big thank you to all of you who have expressed concern for me. I will try to get back to the basics of my blog (a personal salute to the Cubs of 1969 and baseball of that era), try to remember why I started this, try to get back into the trading mode and try to rekindle some blogger friendships I have ignored. I am going to try again . . .