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.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

wait 'til next year

As you may have gathered by reading “how I got started”, this first real post is about the 1969 Cubs and the old pennant that was found. This article was written by me in the summer of 1991 and originally published by Beckett Baseball Card monthly, issue # 80, in November 1991. I have taken the liberty to edit where necessary. This was and still is my only published writing to date.

My favorite team, my favorite players, my favorite baseball year. . .

Cub fans know the most popular phrase to describe our enduring optimism is always “wait til next season”. But when the 1969 season began, Chicago chanted a more positive tune, “The Cubs will shine in 69.”

I was 9 years old that season. The highest hopes of any major league fan were within reach and Opening Day set the pace with a dramatic game-winning bottom of the 11th homer by Willie Smith. By the end of April the Cubs were solidly in first place. Excitement held a tight grip on the Windy City as attendance skyrocketed to 1,674,993 by season’s end (a record that lasted until the 1984 season.)

By August 14 the gap had widened to 8 ½ games. Everyone was contributing with career seasons as the team held onto first place in the NL East for 155 days consecutive days since Smith’s Opening day heroiccs.

Even as the lead shrunk to an uncomfortable two games by August 27, the never-say-die Cubbies rattled off an incredible six-game winning streak that seemed to solidify their hold on the top spot.

No sooner had the excitement returned when the dog days of summer set in during September. Ernie Banks, two years away from his retirement, began to slow. The hitters were pressing, the pitchers were overworked and Leo Durocher was not about to make any changes in the lineup.
It was the beginning of the end.

With a five game lead on September 5 the Cubs lost their footing and fumbled their pennant hopes to the “Miracle Mets.”

The Hope the season had offered was lost. It was over except for the memories of diehard fans. So one might ask what ever happen to the souvenirs from that season. Most items wound up under the seats of Wrigley Field after the usual “how’d that one get away” tantrum. Programs were thrown away, foul balls tossed over playground fences and Moms across Chicago cut Cubs t-shirts into rags (including my mom). Everything was left to my memory except for a special pennant tucked away for 21 yearrs.

Late in the summer of 1990, I found the flag boasting what seemed to be at the time, obvious; “Chicago Cubs Eastern Division Champs 1969”. Immediately I started to think of ways to highlight this newly found treasure and then it came to me – a topical subset. The Sport Americana Team Baseball Card Checklist # 5 was my first stop and I easily put together the checklist of the 1969 Cubs (with the 1970 cards of course.)

After about six weeks, my set was complete. Along the way I had also picked up two 1970 Sporting News All-Star cards of Ron Santo (#454) and Don Kessinger (#456). Another interesting find was a 1970 Ernie Banks comic book I discovered by accident in a half-priced box at a show. (I have since been able to find the entire set of 24 story books which include Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, Bob Gibson and Willie Mays and will highlight these in a subsequent post.)

As I checked each card off the list, they went directly into semi rigid card savers. When my subset was complete, I had 30 cards and a vintage pennant to admire. For days I set up the 1969 lineups with the cards and relived some memories on my dining room table. Then another idea came to me – to frame this collection.

So I took all my cards and pennant to a local frame store in and after about an hour of experimenting, the store owner and I agreed on a plan. The starting nine (from opening day 1969) would be displayed on a playing field while the rest of the team was organized around the pennant. The cards were kept in the holders and attached with self-adhesive corners, the banner is held in place with artist clips. If I ever wanted to I could take the frame apart and have a completely undamaged team set of cards, even the pennant would not have any glue stains.

The finishing touch is a brass plate which simply reads: “The 1969 Cubs”. Aside from a few grammatical changes and updated verbiage, this article was published in Beckett’s in November 1991. This framed collection of mine is still hanging in a prominent place in my home today and is the driving force behind this site and cornerstone of my collection. I can think of no better way to start my discussion and introduce myself to all of you . . . for one hundred years and counting . . . “wait ‘til next year” . . .

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