Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Post I Didn't Want to Write

I wish I didn't have to write this one. But, it is now official. With the Rockies win yesterday, the Cubs are officially eliminated from the post season and the futility is now at 101 years.

Do you know how hard it is to write that...101 years. Unbelievable!

My grandpa was a Cubs fan. In fact, besides me, he was the only other one in a Sox-heavy family. He died at the age of 83. He's been gone for 16 years. The Cubs never won a championship in his lifetime....or mine...or Sean's.

I went through my Cubs cards and pulled these eleven.

Topps 1969 Glenn Beckert....Topps 1976 Pete LaCock...Topps 1993 Jim Bulllinger...Upper Deck 1993 Shawon Dunston.....Pacific 1994 Greg Hibbard....Stadium Club 1996 Luis Gonzalez....Stadium Club 1999 Kevin Tapani....Fleer Traded 2000 Raul Gonzalez....Bowman 2001 Kerry Wood....Fleer 2006 Greg Maddux....Upper Deck 2006 Rich Hill

And the common thread in all eleven? It's on the back.

They are all card #101.

(And I hope I won't need them, but I have eight cards with #102)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now in Color: Studio 1992

After the first year's black and white release, Studio added some color in 1992. We've got a color pose atop a black and white action shot on the front, and color printing on the back. The set had the same number of cards as in '91, 264 and the same number of Cubs, ten.

The back again was stat free. The "Up close" section gives us a chance to learn a little about the player and I'll feature some of this.

Five of the ten Cubs were also in last year's set, while five are new to Studio.

Doug Dascenzo: His favorite actor is Patrick Swayze (RIP Patrick)....his best friend in baseball is Ryne Sandberg

Andre Dawson: Favorite singer is Whitney Houston...favorite book is the Bible...Best baseball friend is Tim Raines

Joe Girardi: Favorite group is Dire Straits....favorite book is the Bible...would most like to meet Jesus

Mark Grace: Favorite group is AC/DC....favorite actor is Jim Belushi...would like to meet Magic Johnson

Greg Maddux: Favorite book is 1001 Tasteless baseball friend is his brother Mike...would like to meet Christopher Columbus

Chuck McElroy: Favorite actor is Denzel Washington....favorite singer is Anita Baker....would like to meet his great-great grandfather

Mike Morgan: Likes country and western music....Don Mattingly is his favorite baseball friend

Ryne Sandberg: favorite movie is Field of Dreams....Doug Dascenzo and Gary Matthews are his best baseball friends....Would like to meet Jack Nicklaus

Gary Scott: favorite actor is Robert De Niro....would like to meet Arnold Schwartzenegger

Sammy Sosa: favorite actors are Mel Gibson and Danny Glover....favorite movie is Lethal Weapon (way to be really creative with the answers, Sammy)...would like to meet Roberto Clemente

Monday, September 28, 2009

Studio Premier: 1991 Cubs

Studio's first set was released in 1991. Ten Cubs were included among the 264 cards. The design featured a black and white studio-posed photo. It's interesting that they went with black and white at a time when everyone was trying to keep up with Upper Deck and their use of color on the fronts and backs of cards.

The backs of the Studio cards were very plain, with no color at all. In keeping with the Studio theme of personalizing the players, the back didn't have any stats. Instead there were small write-ups on the things like personal information, career highlights, hobbies and interests, and the player's hero. I'll share some of these tidbits as the cards are shown

George Bell: Hobbies include watching old movies and helping poor children. Hero - Cesar Cedeno and Rico Carty.

Shawn Boskie: Hobbies - Golf and reading....America's Funniest Home Videos is his favorite TV show...Hero - Billy Graham

Andrew Dawson: Hobbies- Fishing and weight training...Favorite TV- Nightline...Hero - His uncle Ted

Lance Dickson: Hobbies - Surfing and skiing...Favorite TV - Cheers....Hero - His father, Richard

Shawon Dunston: Hobbies - spending time with his kids....Favorite TV - Knots Landing....Hero - His father, Jack

Joe GIrardi: Hobbies - Golf...Favorite TV - Sanford and Son....Hero - Jesus

Mark Grace: Hobbies - Golf and Hockey....Favorite TV - Cheers...Hero - General Schwarzkopf and Magic Johnson (what a bizarre combination!)

Ryne Sandberg: Hobbies - Golf and Tennis....Favorite TV - America's Funniest Home Videos (another Bob Saget fan)...Hero - Pete Rose and President Bush (another strange combo)

Gary Scott: Hobbies - Tae Kwon Do....Favorite TV - Magnum PI and Family Ties....Hero: Magic Johnson and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dave Smith: Hobbies - Surfing and Fishing....Favorite TV - Arsenio Hall Show....Hero - Don Drysdale

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Donruss Studio: An Overview

I’ve finished up getting all the Cubs from Donruss Studio, my 19th different brand of complete Cubs.

Studio was another of the many that came out when I wasn’t doing much collecting. For most of the 90’s I received the Topps complete set for Christmas and ignored everything else.

I wish I knew about Studio. I think I would have enjoyed it. In some ways, Studio was the first retro brand. Let me explain. For the first 20 years, all of the Topps cards featured posed photos. Cards showed game action shots for the first time in 1971. By the mid ‘80’s almost all the cards had action photos. While the action was nice, you had a tougher time recognizing the face of the player.

Enter Studio in 1991. Some Donruss executive must have said, “We need something different. Let’s see……if all of today’s cards have action shots, we should go back to the posed cards.” But rather than using the cheesy poses of the Topps cards, they went with a studio-type photo shoot and poses. The card design was modern, but the photos have a retro feel to them.

For the most part, Donruss accomplished what they set out to do. We got nice a look at the player's face. And many times, the Studio shot also gave us a glimpse into the personality of the player.

Studio ran from 1991 – 2005, though there were no cards in 1999 and 2000. Sets typically had around 200 cards, some years more, some years less. That would mean 5-10 Cubs per set. There were a total of 105 Cubs cards that I had to gather.

I can show you the entire Studio run with two players. The Mark Grace cards are from the first part of Studio’s production, 1991 – 1998. Kerry Wood takes us through the second half, 2001 – 2005.

1991 - Black and White

1992 First color pose

1993 - non-posed on front, posed shot on back

1994 - in front of the locker

1995 - credit card

1996 - big face

1997 - basic pose

1998 - pose over action

2001 - pose with logo, similar to 1993

2002 - tribute to 9/11

2003 - the marquee

2004 - pose with skyline

2005 - last set comes full circle, back to black and white like the first set

In future posts I’ll take a look at each of the Cubs cards from a particular year or two.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Five Random Cubs Cards

I have 5,557 Cubs cards from 18 different brands. A random number generator picked five of them. Here they are in the order selected.

For the first time, the generator picked two cards of the same player. Unfortunately, the player picked is one of the biggest Cub flops of the decade.

Topps 1985 #280 Shawon Dunston This was one of several cards from the 1985 set that featured various #1 draft picks. 1985 was Dunston's first year in the majors. He broke camp as the starting shortstop. But he never got his bat going and was sent back to Iowa in mid-May. He came back to the Cubs in August and started the rest of the season. He ended up with a respectable .260 batting average.

Goudey 2008 #38 Carlos Zambrano
This is one of my newer cards, as I just picked up all the Goudey cards this summer. 2008 was a good year for Zambrano. He went 14-6 and tossed a no hitter against the Astros in September.

Topps 1984 #618 Dickie Noles
Noles was one of many Phillies who came to the Cubs when former Phillie skipper Dallas Green took over as the Cubs GM. Alcohol and an injury to his knee ruined his career with the Cubs. In 1984 he was 4-5 with a 5.15 ERA before being traded to the Rangers. He did no better in Texas, finishing the season with a 5.15 ERA for the Rangers. Kinda weird that he had the exact same ERA with both teams.

Leaf 2005 #39 Corey Patterson
By 2005, Cubs fans had given up on Patterson. His 118 strikeouts and .215 average were sent to Baltimore after the season.

Upper Deck 2002 #313 Corey Patterson
Corey looks like he is a pitcher in the windup. And how much did 7-11 pay for the ad?? In 2002, Patterson was the pride of the Cubs farm system, a future All Star in the making. He was the teams starting centerfielder and hit .253. That wasn't quite the number you would like to see from your leadoff man. The Cubs have had a problem all decade long trying to come up with a decent leadoff hitter. Patterson was one of many failures.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mini Cubs, UK Style

When I hear mention of mini cards, Topps 1975 is what comes to my mind. But I recently had the chance to pick up some minis from 1988 that I was completely unfamiliar with.

In 1988 Topps put out a mini set of cards that were sold in the UK. I wonder if John from The Pursuit of 80's(ness) remembers these? The set was mini in two different ways. First, there were only 88 cards in the set (the US Topps set had 792 cards). Secondly, the cards were mini sized, at 2 1/8" x 3".

The design of the cards is completely different than the US version, on both the front and the back. One of the different features on the back was a section titled Talkin' Baseball. The purpose of the section was to try to explain baseball to an unfamiliar audience in the UK.

Three Cubs were featured in the set, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, and Rick Sutcliffe.

#65 Ryne Sandberg The card is on top of a regular 1988 card so you can see the difference n size. It shows Ryne with a mustache. I really don't remember him with a 'stache at all. I wonder if this was taken at spring training. I also didn't know that he enjoyed hiking.

#20 Andre Dawson The Hawk is in a nice action shot, taking a swing at Wrigley Field on a rainy day.

#77 Rick Sutcliffe The Cubs pitcher is making a pitch on a much nicer day in Chicago.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1969 One Cub At A Time - #372 Adolfo Phillips

I really like the way this card looks. A good swing and a big smile.

But 1969 was a season with little for Adolfo Phillips to smile about. SInce coming to the Cubs from the Phillies in 1966 (in the same trade that brought Fergie Jenkins to the Cubs), great things were expected of Phillips. He was a speedy outfielder who could hit for power. He was going to make Cub fans forget about the Lou Brock trade.

He averaged 15 home runs and 18 stolen bases over three seasons. But his averaged dropped each year. He was also a very sensitive person, which isn't good when Leo Durocher is your manager.

The 1969 season did not start out well for Phillips. He broke his hand in spring training Leo was getting impatient with Adolfo's recovery and in May declared that Phillips was ready but doesn't want to play. By June, he had played in only 28 games and was hitting .228. The Cubs gave up on him and on June 11 he was traded to the Expos. In a three-way trade, the Cubs received utility infielder Paul Popovich from the Dodgers.

Adolfo Phillips was no Lou Brock. He played in 150 games with the Expos in '69-70. He was out of the majors in '71 and resurfaced with the Indians for 12 games in 1972 to wrap up his career.

Center field was a problem position for the 1969 Cubs. They really never had a consistent presence in center, as Phillips, and rookies Don Young and Jim Qualls manned the positiion, but never did much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 42

The good hats are airbrushed!
The bad news...its hard to airbrush hats when five players aren't wearing one!

#365 - Jim Fregosi Another of several Angels pictured with a batting helmet. An original Angel, Fregosi had his last big season in 1969. He made the All Star team for the 6th time in 7 seasons. He hit 22 home runs and knocked in 82 runs.

#366 - Bo Belinski
Bo pitched for the Astros in 1967 (you can see the top of the UST on his jersey) but spent all of 1968 in the minor leagues. He was trying to regain the form that saw him toss a no-hitter for the Angels in 1962. The Cardinals got him from the Astros in December, 1968 and then sold him to the Angels in April 1969. He never pitched for the Angels, and they sold him to the Pirates in July. He was 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA and then traded to the Reds after the season. Than means in 14 months he was with the Astros, Cardinals, Angels, Pirates, and Reds!

#367 - Lou Johnson
This picture is a contender in the Ugliest Card of the Set competition. Lou came to the Indians from the Cubs in exchange for WIllie Smith during the 1968 season. He was sent to the Angels just before the season began and hit .203 in 67 games. That was his final year in the major leagues.

#368 - Vic Roznovsky
His MLB debut was with the Cubs in 1964 and he spent parts of two seasons in Chicago. He is another player who spent all of 1968 in the minor leagues. He was traded by the Birds to the Phillies in April, 1969. He played in 13 games and then his career was done.

#369 - Bob Skinner
He looks pretty old in this card, but he was only 36 when he took over as the Phillies skipper in 1968. They were 48-59 with him at the helm. In 1969 the team was going backwards and Skinner was fired after 105 games.

#370 - Juan Marichal
This is a great looking card of the Hall of Famer. He looks so nice and mild mannered, not like a guy who would swing a bat at an opposing team's catcher. In 1969 he was an All Star for the eighth consecutive season. He led the league with a 2.10 ERA and was 21-11.

#371 - Sal Bando
In 1968 he established himself as the A's third baseman, playing in all 162 games. He did the same thing in 1969, playing in every game and he made the AL All Star team for the first time.

#372 - Adolfo Philips
This Cub gets his own post tomorrow

#373 - Fred Lasher Lasher is wearing a pinstriped uniform, which has to be from his time with the Twins, back in 1963. He was the Tigers top reliever in 1968. He made 32 relief appearances in 1969 and was 2-1.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 23
Hatless - 87
Airbrush - 80
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 54