Saturday, July 22, 2017

Where's the Board?

Since its construction in 1937, the centerfield scoreboard has loomed over the park.  Its a registered historic landmark, though its become obsolete with the addition of the video boards.

It is the only outfield scoreboard that has been in existence during the entire era of Topps cards.  You'd expect it to be visible in a slew of Cubs cards.  I did.  So I did a little research.

Want to make a guess as to how many Cubs cards have the scoreboard visible?

Take a look at all of them...

It shows up in two of Bob Anderson's cards.

It's over the shoulder of Mr. Cub in 1960.

Jerry White's 1979 card gives up a look.

 The Franchise History card in the 2010 card features the board in a shot from 2008.

And that's it!

There are approximately 1160 Cubs base Topps cards from 1952 - 2017.  Only five of them give us a look at the iconic scoreboard.

Why so few?

Two main reasons...

  • Today's cards are all tight action shots making it nearly impossible to show the board.
  • For most of the posed shot era, pictures were taken in New York, San Francisco, or at spring training.  There were just a few years with a significant number of pictures taken at Wrigley.
And even worse...
In just a five year period, 1966 - 1970, we get almost twice as many cards showing the scoreboard at Shea Stadium.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bonus Cubs

This happened more than I thought it would.

In the '60s and 70's Topps had a couple different types of multi-player rookie cards.

Some were team exclusive, like this one with all Cubs.

Others were by league...

...or position.

What I've found on several of the non-team exclusive cards are bonus Cubs.  Several of these cards feature players not shown as Cubs but at some other time would wear the blue.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cubs Per Year

On Monday Night Owl had an excellent post on the number of cards in the Dodger team sets over the years.  His premise it that Topps has recently been doing a better job of upping the number of cards in the team set.

As soon as I finished reading, my mind wandered, naturally, to the Cubs.  How did their team numbers stack up?  Has Topps been doing a better job for the Cubs too?

Of course I had to find out, so I was off to my Topps binders.

Before I share the results, I had some questions running through my head...
...Would the Dodgers have more cards in their sets because they were originally a New York team?
...or Would there be more Dodgers because they had better teams (and better players).
...was there an increase or decrease in the number of Cubs based on the previous season's wins and losses?

So here's what I found.  For comparison, Night Owl's Dodger numbers are in parentheses


1952: 28  (33)
1953: 13  (21)
1954: 11  (16)
1955: 12  (18)
1956: 21  (24)
1957: 25  (26)
1958: 29  (28)
1959: 39  (35)

Average Number 22.25  (25.13)
 The Cubs beat the Dodgers in just on year, 1959. The Cubs number was goosed by several extra Ernie Banks cards and some rookie cards.  Bad teams have lots of rookies. There were, on average, three fewer Cubs cards than Dodgers.  The Dodgers also won several pennants and two titles while the Cubs finished no higher than fifth.  Honestly, I thought the card gap between the two teams would have been higher.


1960: 33  (37)
1961: 31  (28)
1962: 24  (27)
1963: 27  (24)
1964: 28  (31)
1965: 29  (29)
1966: 27  (27)
1967: 28  (29) 
1968: 31  (27)
1969: 26  (24)

Average: 28.20  (28.3)  
There were bigger numbers early on and then things settled in the 27-29 range for a while.   There was a bump in 1968 but then a decrease in 1969 (due to four additional teams).  For the decade the number of Cubs and Dodgers was nearly identical.  Was Topps making a conscious effort to keep the cards fairly evenly distributed among the teams?


1970: 28  (27)
1971: 30  (24)
1972: 32  (31)
1973: 25  (23)
1974: 28  (26)
1975: 27  (26)
1976: 23  (27)
1977: 25  (23)
1978: 29  (27)
1979: 28  (29)

Average: 27.50  (26.3)
This decade was a shocker.  The Dodgers won three pennants but there were more Cubs cards.  How the heck does that happen?  FYI, the 1972 numbers saw a jump because of the In Action and Traded cards.  That added five additional Cubs.


1980: 26  (28)
1981: 27  (28)
1982: 28  (32)
1983: 27  (25)
1984: 26  (28)
1985: 33  (27)
1986: 28  (31)
1987: 28  (31)
1988: 31  (30)
1989: 35  (26)

Average: 28.90  (28.6)
Another Cub victory over the Dodgers?  I wonder if I'm counting the cards in a different way than Night Owl?  The biggest head-scratcher is 1989. The Dodgers were coming off of a World Series title and the Cubs had nine more cards?  How is that possible?


1990: 31  (29)
1991: 33  (32)
1992: 27  (29)
1993: 28  (29)
1994: 30  (27)
1995: 21  (25)
1996: 15  (15)
1997: 13  (21)
1998: 15  (17)
1999: 18  (19)

Average:   23.10  (24.3)
This decade goes to the Dodgers.  Notice the big drop starting in 1995,  as the strike of '94 caused the card market to bottom out and production was scaled back.


2000: 14  (15)
2001: 20  (23)
2002: 27  (22)
2003: 24  (26)
2004: 30  (25)
2005: 27  (23)
2006: 25  (16)
2007: 18  (22)
2008: 21  (22)
2009: 20  (24)

Average: 22.60  (21.8)
Both teams won three division titles during this decade, but the Cubs ended up with almost one card more per season.  I really don't get it.  The Cubs biggest jump was the 2004 season, which makes sense after the near-miss of 2003.  The good teams at the end of the decade didn't do much for their card numbers, though.


2010: 24  (21)
2011: 24  (18)
2012: 24  (20)
2013: 19  (22)
2014: 21  (25)
2015: 19  (22)
2016: 21  (28)
2017: 26  (28)

Average: 22.00  (23.0)
The Dodgers topped the Cubs despite a World Series title.  The rebuild years in the early part of the decade really took a toll on the Cubs numbers.

So back to my questions...
The Dodgers numbers didn't dwarf the Cubs like I thought they would.  Except for the '50s, the two teams were usually within a card of each other each decade.
Did good seasons equal more cards the next year?

Cubs won the division in 1984 and the next year there were 7 fewer cards.
Cubs won the division in 1989 and the next year there were 4 fewer cards.
Cubs won the division in 2003 and the next year there were 6 more cards.
Cubs won the division in 2007 and the next year there were 3 more cards.
Cubs won the division in 2008 and the next year there was  1 less card.
Cubs won the division in 2016 and the next year there were 5 more cards.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Stadium Club Cubs

The 2017 edition of Stadium Club came out last week and I've got my Cubs cards in hand.

This year's set has 300 cards and 15 of those are Cubs.  That's a lot of Cubs!

The card design is a pretty typical Stadium Club layout...full bleed picture with minimal writing.   The focus for Stadium Club has always been the picture and this year is no different.

Three of the Cubs are retired...

It's nice to see that D-Lee is not forgotten.  The picture of Ross is after he hit a home run in game 7.  And Sandberg, we see him all the time...

...and we've seen that picture before, too.

The twelve active Cubs included are the usuals.  It was nice that Topps didn't include a card of Rob Zastryzny in this set.

Topps needs to make a rule that some part of the player's face needs to be visible on the card.

Is this a Contreras or Chapman card?

Schwarber opens the top of the eleventh inning with a single.

Ben is celebrating his series winning double.

Rizzo climbs the wall.

Lester roars.

And the rest...


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cubs #39...Wow!

So the Cubs added their 39th active player last week and was it a stunner, as they got Jose Quintana from the White Sox.

There was much written in the press about the Cubs and Sox not being willing to make a deal with one another.  Looks like they were wrong!

For the second season in a row, Theo/Jed added a top tier pitcher to the team without it costing the Cubs a regular.  I guess the farm system was loaded.

The two main prospects the Cubs sent to the Sox will not be ready for at least a couple years.  Quintana will be under the Cubs control through 2020.  The Sox got the prospects they needed for success down the line while the Cubs helped out their struggling starting rotation right now.  It was a win / win.

Quintana started on Sunday and dominated the Orioles.  Seven innings, one run, three hits, 12 strike outs, no walks.  Yes, win / win.