Friday, May 6, 2016

Backing Up the Truck: Glenn Beckert

A month after Fergie Jenkins was traded, Glenn Beckert was the next to go. I’m sure that he saw the handwriting on the wall when the Cubs acquired Vic Harris in the Jenkins deal. Beckert was aging and had an injury-filled 1973 season.

Beckert was moving west, to the Padres. In return the Cubs got outfielder Jerry Morales.


The deal led to a couple of the oddest-looking cards in the 1974 set. Topps spared us the bad airbrush job.  But it doesn't look right to have a Cub uniform on a Padres card and vice-versa.  Also, on the Morales card Topps forgot to change the border color from yellow to blue.

The strange thing with all of this is that the deal was made fairly early in the off season, November 12. Topps put trades made later into the traded set. I’m wondering why this deal was left out.

Here’s another weird thing with the trade. The baseball-reference page for the players list the trade date as November 7, 1973. I looked in the Tribune from the following day for information on the trade, but found nothing. Maybe the deal was made late in the evening of the 7th, past the paper’s deadline. I checked the paper from the 9th --- nothing there either. An article on the trade didn’t appear until November 13. And from reading the article, it seems like the trade was just made. So was the trade made on November 12 or November 7?

I always assumed the deal was a straight up swap of the two players. But according to baseball-reference, the Cubs also included another player, Bobby Fenwick.


Bobby Fenwick is a name I had never heard of before. Turns out that the Cubs had him for a very short time. In 1973, Fenwick spent time in the Cardinal and Astro organization before the Cubs signed him off of waivers in July. Three organization in three months is not usually an indication that your career is going well.

Fenwick spent the rest of 1973 in AAA and then was included in the Becket trade. He played in 52 games for the Padres AAA team in 1974 and that was his final professional season.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Backing Up the Truck: Fergie Jenkins

The 1973 Chicago Cubs finished the season with a record of 77-84. That left them in fifth place. It was the first time since 1966 that they finished under .500. It was the end of the line for the 1969 Cubs.

After the season, the dumping began. First to go was Fergie Jenkins. His 1973 was a disaster. He failed to win 20 game, ending his consecutive streak at six years. Fergie also has an ugly episode at Wrigley Field where he was booed by the fans as walked to the dugout after being pulled from a game. He didn’t take kindly to the booing and to the work of the home plate umpire. He tossed some bats towards the field. His time as a Cub would soon be over.


The Cubs didn’t wait long to dump Fergie. On October 25, 1973, he was traded to the Rangers for second baseman Vic Harris and young third baseman Bill Madlock.

Why would the Cubs trade for a second and third baseman when they had Glenn Beckert and Ron Santo?

Because they were backing up the truck. Two more former All Stars would be gone soon, too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Bowman Prospects Cubs

You would think that with Bryant, Soler, Baez, Schwarber, and Russell coming up over the past couple years that the Cubs system would be depleted.

You would be wrong, at least according to Bowman.

Just like the major league team, the prospect Cubs received eight of the 150 Bowman prospects slots.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2016 Bowman Cubs

We'll take a little from the the 1969 Cubs and turn out attention to the 2016 team.  After all, this year's Cubs are off to a great start, an even better start that the '69 Cubs.  Of course, starts aren't as important as finishes---and I'm hoping this year ends better than 1969!

The Bowman formula has been pretty consistent the past several years.  You have a base set of 150 current players and 150 prospects cards, with the prospects in both paper and chrome versions.

Today I'll take a look at the current players.

One advantage of a winning team is more cards.  Four years ago when the Cubs were really bad they landed just three spots on the Bowman checklist.  The 2014 checklist also had just three Cubs.

This year, following a 97 win season, the Bowman powers that be granted the Cubs eight slots on the checklist.  All the names you'd expect are generally there...Arrieta, Bryant, Heyward, Lester, Rizzo, Schwarber, and Soler.  The most notable absentee would be Addison Russell.  The most notable head-scratcher is Carl Edwards.

Topps has gone crazy all-in on Edwards.

The Cubs have not.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Backing Up the Truck: Bill Hands

The next '69 Cub to go was pitcher Bill Hands.  He was traded to the Twins on November 30, 1972.  The Cubs sent Hands and two other pitchers north in exchange for Dave LaRoche.

Hands was the second '69 starter moved, with Ken Holtzman being traded the year before.  Hands was expendable because he was pitched out.  He averaged nearly 250 innings over the past five season and the workload took a toll on his arm.  

The trade also led to one of the funkiest airbrush jobs of all-time.

Sure, I believe that he is a Twin.  That ivy on the wall, the bleachers,  I can ignore them.


Speaking of yikes, Dave LaRoche didn't fair much better

The card is just as ugly as his time with the Cubs....a 5.17 ERA over two seasons.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 14,194 Cubs cards from 108 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1976 Topps #101 Pete LaCock  Alright, get your mind out of the gutter. Forget about his last name.  That wasn't what made him famous.  It wasn't his unspectacular year with the 1976 Cubs either (.221 average over 106 games, 8 HRs, and 28 RBIs).  It was his dad, Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall.... I'll take Paul Lynde for the block, Peter.

1980s: 1982 Donruss #225 Jody Davis  Jody became the Cubs #1 catcher in late April and put up solid numbers for the year.... hitting .261 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs.  

1990s: 1990 Score #646 Kevin Blankenship  The Cubs picked up this guy in a trade with the Braves for the guy in the card above, Jody Davis.  He pitched in three games in late May/early June and did lousy.  The time before and after were spent in AAA.

2000s: 2008 Masterpieces #96 Ernie Banks Frames Black  This black parallel is in my Ernie Banks collection.  Masterpieces is one of my favorite modern sets and definitely my favorite Upper Deck product.

2010s: 2012 Topps Mini #348 Alfonso Soriano  The 2012 season was his last full year with the Cubs.  He put up pretty decent numbers, with 32 HRs and 108 RBIs.   The RBIs number was a career-high.  And he cost the Cubs a mere $18 million.  What a deal!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ernie's One Game Return

I learned something new while I was doing some research for the Leo Durocher post:

Ernie Banks played in one game for the 1972 Cubs.

He retired after the 1971 season and became the Cubs first base coach for the 1972 season. He was 41 years old and his playing days were behind him.

But for one night, he took to the field as a player.

It was on August 14, 1972.

The opponent?

The White Sox.

Yes, the cross-town White Sox.  Keep in mind that this was years before inter-league play.

But each season, the two Chicago teams got together for the Cubs-Sox Boys Benefit Game.  A crowd of 38,000 fans were at Comiskey Park for the exhibition.  Ernie entered the game defensively as the Cubs first baseman in the bottom of the seventh inning and received a one-minute standing ovation.

He came to the plate in the ninth inning to another loud ovation.

Then he struck out.

The fans rose and cheered him one last time.

The irony is that Ernie's final at-bat in Chicago took place on the south side.