Monday, November 30, 2009

Waxs Packs at the World Headquarters

This is something that turned out better than I had hoped.

Over the summer, I decided to take the empty Topps wax wrappers I had and repack them for display purposes. That was the best way I could come up with to show them off. I then went out and picked up packs from the years I was missing and ended up with one pack from every season from 1969 through 2009. That's 41 years worth of wax to match the 41 years of Topps complete sets I've got.

As part of the renovations at Wrigley Wax World Headquarters, I wanted to set up a wax pack display. My problem was coming up with acceptable shelves. Most of the shelves and shelving systems I found were too wide. I wanted narrow shelves on the walls so it looked like the cards were on the wall, sort of like a poster. I didn't want wide shelves sticking out.

When I couldn't find what I wanted, I decided to go the Do-It-Yourself route. Norm from This Old House would be proud of me.

I took some 4" wide baseboard that was left over from our living room remodeling...

and cut it down the middle. I then nailed the flat top half perpendicular to the bottom half and voila, simple, narrow shelves perfect for wax display.

A little spray paint and then they were ready to go up on the wall. All I had to do was nail them into the studs behind the drywall and I was done.

The top shelf has 1969 - 1982; '83 - '96 are in the middle, and the bottom shelf has 1997 - 2009. I've got room on these for four more years. After that, I've already made up a fourth shelf that will go under #3, good for another 12 years. So I'm covered up to 2025.

Do you think the Cubs will have won a World Series by then?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 5,827 Cubs cards from 21 different brands, all stored here

They are also cataloged in an Excel spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five of them. Here they are in the order selected.

Fleer 1993 #104 Steve Buechele He was one of many (too many) third basemen for the Cubs who played after Ron Santo and before Aramis Ramirez. For too long that was a revolving door position. Buechele actually had a pretty good season in 1993, hitting a career high .272 with 15 HRs. He also led all NL third basemen in fielding. But his season was marred by an achilles heel problem that put him on the DL in June and bothered him the rest of the season.

Pinnacle 1995 #373 Kevin Foster
A local guy from Evanston, Foster spend the 1995 season in the starting rotation and was 12-11 . He also led the team in strikeouts with 146. The good news...he led the league in something......the bad was homeruns allowed....but the OK news, 25 of the 32 HRs he gave up were solo shots.

Upper Deck 1990 #660 Paul Assenmacher
Paul and his wicked curveball had a really nice season in 1990. Used mainly as a setup man, Assenmacher was 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA. When closer Mitch Williams got hurt, Assenmacher stepped into the closer role and ended up with 10 saves.

Topps 1966 #559 Roberto Pena
In 1965 Roberto Pena was the Cubs shortstop of the future. The future lasted until early June. The Cubs gave up on Pena, his erratic glove, and his anemic bat. He spent the rest of 1965 in the minors. He made the 1966 roster, but was sent back to AAA in late April and never played for the Cubs again.

Upper Deck 1991 #761 Heathcliff Slocumb
He made 52 appearances for the Cubs, all out of the bullpen. He became the first Cubs rookie right-handed pitcher to make more than 50 appearances since Bruce Sutter in 1976. He struggle in July and August (7.47 ERA) and was sent back to AAA, but was recalled in September and did much better (1.29 ERA).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 61

This page is full of ex-Cubs who did nothing. And I know what your thinking....are there any ex-Cubs who did something at all...stop that!!

#536 - Padres Rookies At least they both are wearing Padres' hats. Danny Breeden never made the San Diego roster and was sold to the Reds organization on June 30, 1969. He played in three games for the Reds on three consecutive days in July, and then never again for them. Going 1-8 probably didn't help his cause. He spent all of 1970 in the minors and then was traded to the Cubs over the winter. He played in 25 games for the Cubs, hit .154, and that was the end of his big league career. His younger brother Hal also played for the Cubs in 1971 and hit .139.

There were two different Dave Roberts who played at this time. This one broke in with the Padres in 1969 and was 0-3. He would later pitch for the Cubs in 1977 and 1978 and was 7-9 with a 4.70 ERA.

#537 - Mike Paul
I'm not sure if Night Owl would consider this a night card, but the lights are on. Paul was 5-8 as a rookie in 1968 and followed that up by going 5-10 in 1969. He came to the Cubs in late August, 1973, but was no help in getting the Cubs to the top of the division. He pitched only two games in April of 1974 before being released. No other team picked him up.

#538 - Charlie Smith
Breaking my rules, Charlie will not get his own post tomorrow. You have to play in more than two games to get your own post. He's got blue pinstripes on, but they are Mets blue. He played for them in 1965 - way to get the updated photos, Topps!

The Cubs purchased Smith from the Yankees at the end of spring training. He made two appearances as a pinch hitter in April, was 0-2, and got sent to the minors. When you are 31 and sent to AAA, its time to reconsider your career. Charlie did, and after 27 games in Tacoma, he called it quits.

#539 - Ted Shows How
Three things I noticed on this card....1) Did Ted Williams really choke up that high on the bat, and why is he showing that to power hitter Mike Epstein? 2) That black batting glove look dorky 3) Epstein has long white sleeves under his jersey. I'm pretty sure that is not allowed today, that the long sleeves have to be a dark color.

#540 - Curt Flood
Curt Flood does not look like a happy man on this card. He was still a top player in the league, but his numbers were starting to decline. His 1969 average was 16 points lower than 1968 and after the season, he was traded to the Phillies in a seven player deal. This was the trade that ultimately brought an end to the reserve clause and ushered in free agency.

#541 - Joe Verbanic
Topps has an ugly hatless photo of Joe from his year with the Phillies, 1966. He was 6-7 for the Yankees, but didn't pitch at all in 1969, either with the Yankees or in the minors. Injured?

#542 - Bob Aspromonte
True confession time...I knew he played for Houston and I thought his last name was Astromonte, and I thought, how cool is that! He was traded to the Braves and the '68 season, so this has to be a nice new, spring of '69 shot. He was a part-time player for the Braves, starting a lot of games in the first half of the season, but coming in off the bench from July on.

#543 - Fred Newman
So why did Fred get a card? His last MLB experience was three mid-season games in 1967. Those were also his last games

#544 - Tigers Rookies
Kilkenny made his MLB debut with the Tigers in 1969 and had a decent season, 8-6, 3.37 ERA. Woods also broke in in 1969, but his numbers weren't too good, a .183 average in 186 ABs.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 38
Hatless - 123
Airbrush - 91
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 74

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bud Jeff Boots





Nothing else for today. Recovering from yesterday and spending cash today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Red For Turkey Day

Just a quickie today. These are a few of my favorite Cubs from 2005 - 2007 Turkey Red.

You can't go wrong with Mr. Cub, 2005 #315

Also from 2005, Jeromy Burnitz, #122, with the old school high socks (although stirrups would be even better!).

Anything with Ryne Sandberg is OK with me, 2005 #312

I picked up this 2006 jersey card of Derrek Lee for all of 38¢. And it even has a blue pinstripe.

2007 Alfonso Soriano. What I like most about this card is the background, which is the grandstand of the West Side Grounds, the Cubs home before moving to Wrigley Field. This is where the Cubs were playing when they were world champs.

That's enough Turkey it's time for turkey white, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn, cranberries, rolls, pie (not Felix)......and a nice long nap!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1969 One Cub At A Time - #535 Phil Regan

Topps had nothing with Regan in a Cubs uniform, so we get a hatless picture from his Dodger days, taken at Shea Stadium.

My update shows him at Wrigley Field. I couldn't find any action shots, so I was stuck with the pose. But at least he's in the home uniform in a picture from 1968 (the patch on his right sleeve was only worn that season). If you look behind his head, you'll notice there are no baskets on the outfield wall. Those were added in 1970.

Phil Regan was the fireman for the 1969 Cubs (they didn't call them "closers" back then). He came to the Cubs in April of 1968 from the Dodgers. The Cubs made a great deal, getting Regan and Jim Hickman off of the LA scrapheap in exchange for Jim Ellis and Ted Savage. It was a real steal.

Regan went 10-5 with 25 saves for the Cubs in '68. His 1969 numbers look just as good, a 12-6 record with 17 saves in 71 games. The Cubs bullpen was pretty thin, and Durocher was the kind of manager who would go with what works, so Regan got a lot of work. Overwork is one of the main reasons cited for the Cubs collapse, and a closer look at Regan's numbers would indicate that his arm was worn out.

In August, he made 13 appearance and had a 5.48 ERA. September was even worse, though he made only nine appearances. His ERA in the final month was 6.23. The fireman was pouring gas on the fire instead of water.

Another Cub, another weak August and September. Another reason for a collapse.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 60

Two Hall of Famers are featured today.

#527 - Al Lopez - We start with our first hall of famer right off the bat. Lopez was in his second stint as manager of the White Sox. He led the Sox to the pennant in 1959 during his first go around on the South Side (1957 - 1965). He came back to lead the Sox at the end of 1968 and they finished 21 - 26. He was with the team for only 17 games in 1969, as the Sox went 8-9. Perhaps he knew how bad this team was going to be, so he stepped down and retired for good. The '69 Sox finished 68-94.

#528 - Claude Osteen Forget about the off-centered picture, check out grass. Or what is supposed to be grass. That looks worse than my Michigan lawn in December. The Dodger lefty would have a great rebound year in 1969, winning 20 games a year after he had left the National League in losses with 18. The interesting thing is in 1968 when he lost 18 games, he had an ERA of 3.09.

#529 - Ed Kirkpatrick
Ed's got a mean looking scowl on his face! After playing in 117 games as a 21 year old for the Angels in 1966, Kirkpatrick appeared in only 92 games over the next two seasons and was left unprotected in the expansion draft. He appeared in 120 games for the Royals and played every position except shortstop and pitcher. He did OK at the plate, hitting .257 with 14 HR and 49 RBIs.

#530 -
Cesar Tovar Here's an interesting fact: Cesar Tovar finished in the top 25 in the AL MVP voting each season from 1967 to 1971, but never made the All Star team.

#531 - Dick Farrell
Turk Farrell was at the end of the line in 1969. He started as a 22 year old with the Phillies in 1956 and after stops in Los Angeles and Houston, returned to Philadelphia for the end of this career. 1969 was his final year, and he went 3-4 for the Phillies, all out of the bullpen.

#532 - Bird Hill Aces
While the card features four decent pitchers, there is one glaring omission. I guess Jim Palmer wasn't good enough to make the photo. The picture was taken in spring training, 1969, Cuellar's first with the Orioles. He would be the ace of the staff, going 23-11 and winning the Cy Young. McNally also won 20, going 20-7, while Phoebus was a decent 14-7. Hardin was the bust, posting a 6-7 record. Palmer went 16-4, so Topps was three for four.

#533 - Nolan Ryan
This is Ryan's first full card and is one of the more valuable cards in the set. I had this one as a kid, so that saved me some bucks when putting the set together. Otherwise, he is a Met and I have already said too much...

#534 - Jerry McNertney
After spending four seasons with the White Sox as a backup catcher, McNertney was left exposed in the expansion drafted and snapped up by the Pilots as the 7th pick. 1969 would be his only as a regular and he put up career best in home runs (8) and RBIs (55).

#534 - Phil Regan
The Cubs fireman will get his own post tomorrow.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 38
Hatless - 115
Airbrush - 91
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 70

Monday, November 23, 2009

Renovations at Wrigley Wax World Headquarters

This year we are having my parents and brothers over to our house for Thanksgiving. But before we can give thanks to God, we first have to do all sorts of projects around the house to get ready for our company.

Its been about two years since I've gotten back into collecting, and during that time I haven't really had a decent spot to store things. I was just grabbing a shelf here, closet space there. But with the Thanksgiving remodeling we have going on, I decided to take a corner of the basement and do some renovating there. I am creating a space to get all my cards together in one spot. I'm also getting a computer workspace put together, so I'll be able to work on the blog and get the cards all in the same area.

Today I want to show you the centerpiece of my collection, my Cubs cards. When I do a "Five Random Cubs Cards" post, I mention the number of Cubs cards I have. Right now it is up to 5,827 and I have all of them stored neatly on this new shelf:

I've read that it is better to store binders flat rather than upright. Since these cards are the crown jewel of the collection, that is how I store them. I like using these smaller white folders because the stack nicely, aren't too heavy to deal with, and can hold around 300 cards. They are a perfect size for ten years worth of Topps cards.

This shelf has the Topps Cubs team sets from the '50s. 60's, and 70's. The cards are separated by year and then each year has the players in alphabetical order. Each season has a page that I use to divide the folder up.

This is the divider page for 1969. It has the team record and place finished, plus season stats of each of the players. The logos at the top are from that season. Players that have a card in the set are in bold print. The dividers make it quick and simple to find a year. If I'm looking for a 1973 Billy Williams, I can find it in a matter of seconds. Just grap the '70's folder, flip ahead to the 1973 page divider, and then find the card.

This is what the front covers look like. That's another reason I like these binders; I can design my own covers and spines. I added the blue pinstripes, like on the Cubs home uniforms, to give the cover come color. Otherwise, a white cover on a white binder looks pretty plain.

This is the cover to my Bowman collection. On all of the other brands, I put a brand logo. I didn't on Topps because to me, Topps is baseball cards. If the cover says "Cubs Team Sets" I can just assume its Topps. Remember, when I was a kid, Topps was the only game in town.

There are some brands that had a short run, and I have combined some of them into one folder.

This is the folder for Score and Select.

I'm real happy with how the shelf and binders turned out. Everything is easy to get to and easy to look through. And that I why I have the cards in the first place. I want to be able to enjoy them with little fuss.

Other projects as part of the world headquarters remodel include heavy duty shelves for all my complete sets, the previously mentioned computer area, and display shelves for my wax packs. I'll show those in future posts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's Old is New: Studio 2001

After a two year hiatus due to bankruptcy, the Donruss brand name returned to the baseball card scene in 2001. And with its return came the return of Studio. There were only 150 cards in the set and a mere four of them were Cubs. Two of the players were rookies, and two were veterans.

The card design looked very much like the 1993 design, shown below

Both featured an embroidered team logo in the background. You would think that with two years to come up with a design they could have come up with something original!

I'll start with the two rookies. Both cards are numbered to 700. My Frese card is 418/700 and the Patterson is 679/700. The Nate Frese card was one of the more expensive Cubs of all of the Studio cards. I hate that I have to pay so much for a no-name guy.

Nate Frese spent seven seasons in the Cubs farm system but never made it to the majors. In fact, it looks like he barely made it in the minors. The most games he played in a season was 117. It appears as if he was a utility man in the minors. I wonder why Studio decided he would get a card?

In 2001 Corey Patterson was the crown jewel of the Cubs system. He was our center fielder and leadoff man of the future. He had speed and power, he could do it all. Yeah, right.

The two featured vets were the two biggest names on the team.

Sammy Sosa was still at the top of his game. In 2000 he won the NL HR title with 50, the third consecutive season he hit at least 50. In 2001 he smacked 64 HRs, becoming the first player in MLB history to have four consecutive seasons of 50 or more homers. He also led the NL in RBI's with 160 and finished second in MVP voting to Barry Bonds (who hit 73 HR that season).

Kerry Wood had a nice year in 2001, going 12-6. And the season had to be considered a success because he had only one trip to the disabled list!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heritage 2010

Previews of Heritage 2010 are starting to pop up. Mario at Wax Heaven has a nice one.

Not to brag or anything, but I had everyone scooped on this one. I had a sneak peak back in April. Well, sort of, anyway.

This is what I came up with back then.

And this is what they will actually look like.

I don't think I ended up too far off of the original.

Of course, Heritage is pretty easy to figure out since we already know what the basic design template looks like. Now its time to get cracking on Heritage 2011!

Friday, November 20, 2009

2007 Masterpieces: A Couple Small Tweaks

I don't think I've read anything but positive comments about Upper Deck's Masterpieces sets. And you can add me to the list of those who love it. The paintings are awesome, the linen-like look of the cards, the classy gold fonts; everything is done right. This was a must-have for me when I got back into collecting.

But I've found a couple things on the back of a couple cards from the 2007 set that could use a slight tweak.

First, there were two Sandy Koufax cards in the set and one needs a small fix.

This is the back of the first card.

Now compare it to the second card.

Do you see something out of place? Look at the team logo. Why is there a Brooklyn B? Only 62 of Sandy's 397 career games were while the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. I don't think anyone associates Koufax with Brooklyn. And the card was for his retirement, when he was with the LA Dodgers. So allow me fix that little error.

Tweak number two is on the three president cards. Here is the back of JFK's card.

Something is missing....a team logo. On the front of the card, in the spot where the team is listed for the players, it says "US President" on the three president cards. So why not use the president's "team logo," which would be the official seal of the office of the President.

I did. And here it is:

There. Now I feel better. All is right in the Masterpieces world.