Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 12,997 Cubs cards from 98 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1971 Topps #502 Cubs Team Floating Heads! This team card is a bit of an oddity because there is no team name at the top of the card like there is on every other Topps 1971 card.  I guess it may have been a little redundant since there is a giant Cubs logo in the center of the card.  I went ahead and made a version with the name on the top

I think I like my version better than the original.  And you?

1980s: 1982 Donruss #151 Leon Durham  Year #2 of Donruss shows the Bull in the box at Wrigley.  His career was on the upswing as he led the 1982 Cubs in home runs (22) and batting (.312- good for third in the NL), slugging, and walks.  He was also a 20/20 man with 22 stolen bases.  He was the first Cub in 72 years to make the 20/20 Club!

1990s: 1993 Upper Deck #612 Rey Sanchez The '92 season was Sanchez's second big league season.  He was hitting .324 through the first half of the season, but then injuries limited his time in the second half.  His low point of the season--lining into a triple play on August 23.

2000s: 2003 MVP #40 Moises Alou  This card is from one of the new sets added to my collection-Upper Deck MVP.  Anything that combines 2003 and Moises Alou brings immediate flashbacks to his hissy fit after missing the foul ball in game six.  It will always be my contention that his actions (not Bartman's) made the whole situation what it was.

2010s: 2010 Topps MHR400 Rogers Hornsby USA Hat Logo  This has to be one of the dumbest manufactured cards.  All MLB teams wore a similar logo on the 4th of July in 2009.  What on earth is the connection between that and Rogers Hornsby??

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1961 Topps Stamps Cubs

A package of free goodies a few weeks back from reader Chad included some 1962 Topps stamps.  That sent me on a bit of a stamp frenzy, as I decided to add both the 1961 and 1962 stamp sets to my Cubs collection.  I'm still waiting for one more of the '62s to arrive, but all of the '61s are now in hand.

The 1961 stamps were an insert to the regular wax packs.  I can't say with 100% certainty, but I'm pretty sure that they were the first inserts into Topps packs.  They were issued in two-stamp panels, 208 different stamps thought 207 players; Al Kaline has two different stamps.

The stamps were shaded in brown or green, divided equally with 104 of each color.  The stamps weren't numbered, so most catalogs list them in alphabetical order.  A 10¢ album was also sold and the stamps were to be placed in the albums.

The Cubs managed to land twelve players on the checklist.  With 18 MLB teams that season, twelve is spot on to evenly spread the teams.  The twelve Cubs are also split evenly between brown and green.

The 1961 Cubs were not very good: a 60-94 record was good for a seventh out of eight teams finish.  They did have four future hall of famers, and each had a stamp.



When you look over the rest of the stamps, you'll understand why the team wasn't very good.



I'll wrap up with a tile of all twelve, looking kinda like a sheet of stamps you'd buy at the post office.  In 1961 that sheet of twelve stamps would have cost you 48¢.  Today you're paying $5.88.

Friday, November 21, 2014


A recent birthday, an Amazon gift card, and a few clicks of the computer brought me this book...

...Dorothy and Otis: Designing the American Dream.

The book is a biography of graphic designer Otis Shepard and his wife Dorothy, who was also a very talented designer.  You may remember Otis' name from posts I've done on the Cubs scorecards from the past... Otis was the artist who created these.

His main job was head of the art department of the Wrigley Company.  But his work spilled over into other Wrigley interests like Catalina Island and the Cubs.

The most amazing thing that I came away with from reading the book:  Otis left school at age 12 with a fourth grade education.  He had no formal art training, but instead learned by doing.

It's not really a baseball book, but then again, he did so much Cubs work that you can't tell the story of Otis Shepard without including baseball.

Not only was he involved in the designs on the scorecards, but pretty much anything of the Cubs involving graphics involved Otis.

My all-time favorite Shepard-designed Cub item is this...

...the Cubbie bear shoulder patch worn in the '60s and '70s.  Until  I got the book I never realized that Otis designed it.  But looking at it now, I can definitely see his style.

He also had some fun with the team.  Both of these show Shepard and Manager Charlie Grimm.

But as I said earlier, the books goes into so much more than just the Cubs.  And the story of his artistic wife Dorothy is a great read, too.  If you enjoy art, biographies, the Cubs, or just looking at pretty pictures, you'll want to read Dorothy and Otis.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kinda the Opposite of CheckoutmyCommonsLot Marketplace

About a week ago I laid out what my dream card site would be, CheckoutmyCommonslots Marketplace  In my fantasy the site would combine the best features from Checkoutmycards, Just Commons, Sportlots, and the Beckett Marketplace.  It would make me millions (in my fantasy, too!).

A couple days ago the mailman brought me the anti-CheckoutmyCommonsLots Marketplace.  I got this...

...the most recent catalog from Larry Fritsch Cards.  It you want to buy cards at highly inflated prices and do it by mailing in an order form and check (and wait 15 days while the check clears), then this is the place for you!

It ain't for me.

At one time it would have been.  The back of the Sporting News and Baseball Digest had ads from several mail-order card companies. Fritsch was among them and is about the only one still in business.

How that happened is beyond me.  The prices charged are crazy high.  There are plenty of items available, but I'm sure you can find just about anything in the catalog on Ebay and at a price significantly lower.

But somehow they keep churning out the catalogs and ringing up the sales.  And I suppose that if people are willing to pay the high Fritsch prices, then Fritsch has every right to charge whatever they want.

This is page 22 from the catalog and it has the prices of Topps baseball sets available for the years 1973 through 2014.  Those year match pretty closely to the years that I check set prices on Ebay for each month.  So I though it would be interesting to compare the Fritsch price with the my most recent Ebay 12 month average price.

    Ebay 12 Mo. Avg.
    Fritsch Price

So there you have it.  If you want to pay nearly triple the price, skip Ebay and go to Fritsch.

I'm not trying to be a jerk with this.  Again, a company has the right to sell whatever they want at any price they choose.  And apparently with the prices they set, the company still makes sales.

I suppose the this is more an indictment of the knucklehead shoppers out there.  I'm too cheap to blindly buy from one store.  I look around for deals.  I looked at the Fritsch catalog and decided that I could find a better price elsewhere (actually--anywhere!).  

Do Fritsch customers not look elsewhere?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2007 Topps Finest Cubs

Feeling original post today

The 2007 edition of Finest grew just a bit, from 155 cards to 166 cards.  The setup remained the same, with the last couple subsets being rookies, including 16 rookie autograph cards.  The Cubs lousy farm system saved me some money again as no Cub make the list. There were two future Cubs (Jeff Baker and Ryan Sweeney), but I don't deal in futures.

The 2007 set saw Alfosno Soriano make his first Finest appearance as a Cub.  He and his 8 year/$136 million contract joined the Cubs over the winter.  Mark Prior makes his final Finest appearance. His inclusion was odd and optimistic, since he pitched in just 9 games in 2006 and was absolutely horrible.  His arm was shot, but no one told Topps.

The other three were the big names, Lee, Zambrano, and Ramirez.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Give Me Some Mo' Moe

Still not feeling too hot so here's another from the archives...February 9, 2009

If you look at the names at a major league roster today, it would sound like you are at the United Nations. Baseball has a diverse group of players, and that is a good thing.

Take a look at the Cubs. You have a Geovany, Carlos, Aramis, Kosuke, Derrek, Ryan, and Ted. All from different countries and/or different nationalities. And they are all good players!

But page through a Cubs team set from 50 years ago and you wouldn't find such exotic names. Instead you would find mostly blue collar, lunch bucket kind of names. Names like Jack, Joe, Frank, and Chuck.

And for some strange reason, for two years the Cubs cornered the market on Moes. A quick search at Baseball Reference comes up with 7 Moes in MLB's entire history. Three of them played for the Cubs in the early 1960's.

Here are the Moes:

Moe #1, Moe Drabowsky. He is the best know of the three, with a pitching career that went from 1956 - 1972. Moe was born in Poland in 1935 and came to the US with his family in 1938. He was a starter early in his career but was switched to the bullpen and made most of his appearances as a relief pitcher.

Topps 1957 - Young Moe

Topps 1958 - as "Mike" Drabowsky. I guess Topps wanted no mo' Moe.

1959 Pink Moe

Moe #2, Moe Thacker. This Moe was a back up catcher who played in a total of 158 games over five seasons. He wasn't much of a hitter, his career average being .177

Topps 1959

Topps 1962

Moe #3, Moe Morhardt. When this Moe came to the Cubs, they got rid of Moe Drabowsky. Apparently there is only a two-Moe limit. He played first base and batted .205 over his 25 game career.

Topps 1962, his only card

Two Moes got in the same game on April 13, 1962, when Moe Morhardt pinch hit for Moe Thacker in the 15th inning of a game against the Cardinals. The Cubs didn't have many mo' players left, so Moe hit for Moe and made one mo' out.

That's it. I got no mo' to say about Moe. So beat it, you knuckleheads!

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Frog Got Boiled Revisited

I am bit under the weather, so I'm just rerunning a post from the early days of WW with an update at the end.  This post first ran on January 30, 2009.

Do you know the story about a frog in boiling water? It's said that because a frog is cold-blooded, if it is placed in a pot of cold water and then the water is gradually heated, the frog will boil to death without even moving. It never notices the change in the water temperature

Well, this team-
collecting frog has been boiled in an individual player-collecting pot. Let me explain:

I have always been a set builder, both Cubs team sets and Topps complete sets. This is due to the fact that when I started collecting, Topps was the only game in town. There weren't really any individual player collectors because each season it was one or two cards at most for a star.

When I got back into the hobby, I was surprised (shocked) at how many cards were available for players, especially the stars. I looked at the possibility of collecting a player or two, but decided it was going to be too much of an effort.

So I would stick to team sets. I decided to add to my collection of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer Cubs sets by putting together sets from Upper Deck, Score, and Pinnacle, companies that didn't exist when I took a break from collecting. Over the past two weeks I have been receiving most of these team sets and adding then to my Cubs team master spreadsheet. When all is said and done, I should have over 3,900 individual Cubs cards from these six brands.

I was playing around with the spreadsheet and I did a sort by player's name. I was floored when I tallied up the totals of some players:

I have 102 Sammy Sosa cards! I know it isn't anywhere close to the total that is available, but the fact that I have over 100 of any player just blew me away. In contrast, I have 25 Ernie Banks cards, and he was with the Cubs several years longer than Sammy.

Here are just some of the Sosa Cards

And here are ALL of the Ernie Banks cards

Other totals of recent Cubs stars:

Kerry Wood - 49
Mark Grace - 78

Ryne Sandberg - 95

Compare the above numbers to totals for some star players from my earlier collecting days, numbers that I was more used to:

Fergie Jenkins - 15
Billy Williams - 17
Ron Santo - 19

Apparently, without knowing it , I have become an individual player collector too.

UPDATE November 17, 2014:

My Sosa total today is 408

The other players in the post have the follow number of cards:
Kerry Wood - 223
Mark Grace - 334

Ryne Sandberg - 645!!!!

Compare the above numbers to totals for some star players from my earlier collecting days, numbers that I was more used to:
Fergie Jenkins - 87

Billy Williams - 270
Ron Santo - 88

And my Ernie Banks total is now 381

I guess I've added a few cards over the past nearly 5½ years!