...well, actually, reprints of the originals
In this post I showed the Topps 2004 Cracker Jack cards that were based on cards originally produced in 1914 and 1915. Not to long ago, I found a Cubs set from the reprint of the 1915 cards. It was only a few bucks, so I grabbed it.
The reprints came in the original size of the cards, 2 ¼” x 3” while the Topps versions were in today’s standard 2 ½ x 3 ½. Otherwise, the two sets look pretty similar.
There were nine Cubs in the 1915 Cracker Jack set. Most are players you've probably never heard of. There is only one Hall of Famer in the bunch, and he was a marginal selection. This may surprise you, but just a few years earlier the Cubs were the premier team in baseball. In a five year period starting in 1906, they won four pennants and two world series. They were MLB’s first dynasty. There were four hall of famers on those teams, but by 1915 the stars were gone and the team was in serious decline. The 1915 team finished in fourth place, 73-80.
Catcher Jimmy Archer came to the Cubs in 1909 and would be their primary catcher for the next nine seasons. According to Wikipedia, he could remain squatting and still throw out runners attempting to steal second base due to his unique arm strength, which became his trademark, acquired from the healing of burns that shortened his muscles after an industrial accident in which Archer fell into a vat of boiling sap at the age of 19.
Manager Roger Bresnahan was the team’s player/manager, and he also did some catching. He was the Cubs’ fourth manager in four seasons, a sign of a struggling team. He lasted just one year and was replaced the next season. His most noted accomplishment is being the first catcher to wear shin guards.
Larry Chaney, pitcher, came to the Cubs in 1911. He won 20+ games from 1912-1914, but was on the outs in 1915, going 8-9.
Pitcher Jimmy Lavender has a name that sounds like a mob guy. He came to the Cubs in 1912 and was an innings eater, but never posted much of a record. His career mark was 63-76. Two items of note: he was a spitball pitcher, and he threw a no-hitter in 1915 against the Giants.
Tommy Leach was an outfielder who was released by the Cubs before the 1915 season began, despite playing in all but one game for the Cubs in 1914. He hooked up with the Reds for 1915. I wonder if there was an Updates and Highlights Set??!!
Vic Saier was the team’s first baseman. He came to the Cubs as a 20-year-old rookie in 1911 and had the unenviable job of taking over for former player/manager/icon Frank Chance.
Frank Schulte was one of the few holdovers from the Cubs glory years. The outfielder was with the team from 1904 –1916 and was the leagues MVP in 1911. In that season, he became the first player to have at least 20 double, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in a season. The next player to do that was Willie Mays in 1957. In would be another 50 years before two more players, Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson, pulled it off.
Here is Schulte's card from the 1908 team set I made a few months ago:
Hippo Vaughn was the ace of the staff, going 20-12. He would be a 20 game winner five times in his career. His claim to fame is his participation in baseball’s only double no-hitter. On May 2, 1917, Vaughn and Reds pitcher Fred Toney each had a no hitter for nine innings. Vaughn lost his in the top of the tenths, giving up a couple hits and a run. Toney was able to hold the Cubs hitless in the tenth to get his no-hitter.
Heinie Zimmerman, the Cubs second baseman, was another holdover from the dynasty days, though he was a reserve then and didn’t become a regular until 1911. He led the NL in average and homers in 1912, and just missed the triple crown by finishing 3rd in RBIs.