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
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
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
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
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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.
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
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Cardenal was voted Cubs Player of the Year in 1973 leading the Cubs in batting average, doubles and stolen bases.
In either case, Cardenal had a fast start to his career and ended up in a World Series.
Friday, January 23, 2009
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 ?
Thursday, January 22, 2009
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
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
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 poseThank you Brian, for these cards and all the other Cubs . . . you made an otherwise "boring" Tuesday exciting.
Monday, January 19, 2009
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
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
he really looks like a caveman
Friday, January 16, 2009
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
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.
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 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
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
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 !
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
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.