Thursday, September 30, 2010

1992 Pinnacle's Subsets

Pinnacles first release in 1992 contained several interesting subsets.

Let's start with the two subsets that didn't include any Cubs. First there was The Idols, which contained a large black and white picture of a players idol along with a smaller color picture of the player. Since none of the 14 cards featured a Cubs player, I'll show you the only one of the set that was not a sports personality.

David Cone's idolized Jackie Gleason. Other players picked guys like Willie Stargell, Rod Carew, and Lou Gehrig. Cone picks an overweight comedian.

Another subset was Shades, which showed a player wearing.......shades, of course. And a picture of the player was added to appear like a reflection in the shades. I suppose this was very cool in 1992.

This is the Twin's Chuck Knoblauch. I picked him to show because its not too often that Chuck Knoblauch gets any love from any blogger.

I've got Cubs for the other three subsets. First off is Sidelines, which shows a player doing something besides playing baseball.

Dwight Smith fancied himself a singer and sang the national anthem at Wrigley a couple times. This picture is from Opening Day, 1991. He is the second Cub that I am aware of that has performed the anthem at Wrigley.

Carmen Fanzone did it in the early '70's.

Grips was the name of a seven card subset that showed how several pitchers gripped the ball on their speciality pitch.

The Cubs Greg Maddux showed his circle change grip. 1992 would also be Maddux' last season with the Cubs before signing with the Braves. He left the Cubs in a blaze of glory, going 20-11 with a 2.18 ERA and winning his first Cy Young Award.

The final subset was called The Technician and showed the proper technique for several baseball skills.

Ryne Sandberg was the subject for infield play. He was a good choice as he led the league in fielding at second base three times and won the Gold Glove for nine consecutive seasons from 1983 - 1991.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One and Done: Topps 1977 Joe Coleman

I went through my spreadsheet of Topps Cubs and picked out the players who had only one card featuring them as a Cub; they were just one and done. I came up with 215 different players, not include any of those on rookie cards. I went only with regular cards.

From time to time I'll feature one of those cards and tell the story of that player's brief time in Chicago.

Today's featured card is Topps 1977 Joe Coleman. Coleman came to the Cubs in June of 1976, having been purchased from the Tigers. He was a 20 game winner for Detroit in 1971 and 1973, but was slipping badly by 1976 when the Tigers dumped him on the Cubs.

Coleman was given Fergie Jenkins' old number, but Coleman was no Fergie Jenkins! He was put into the rotation when he joined the Cubs and lost three of his first four starts. After that, he spent the rest of the season in the bullpen, mainly in middle relief. He ended up going 2-8 with a 4.10 ERA for the Cubs. During spring training the next season, he was traded to the A's, ending his short time in Chicago.

The spring trade meant that he would have a 1977 card featuring him as a Cub, though not spending any part of the season with the team.

Fast forward to 2010 and the Cubs have a new connection with Joe Coleman.

Son Casey joined the team in August as a pitcher. Unfortunately, dad's 4.10 ERA is half a run better than son Casey's 4.68, though Casey has been pitching better lately. He picked up the win against the Cardinals on Saturday, going seven innings and allowing only two earned runs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dick Perez Cubs Postcards

Sports Collectors Daily recently had an article on a self-published book by artist Dick Perez.

You may be famimiar with his work on the Donruss Diamond King cards.

The book features over 1400 of his works. Included are the postcards he painted of every Hall of Fame player. The cards were released in limited form (only 10,000) from 1980 - 2001. One cool thing about the book is that it includes portraits of the Hall of Famers inducted after 2001. Among them would be Ryne Sandberg. Now I would love to have a look at that Sandberg, but at $200.00, that a little too steep for me!

As I said earlier, the postcards from the Perez Steele Galleries were released from 1980 - 2001. The first six series, 176 postcards, were issued in 1980 and 1981. Series 7 - 14 were released every other year, starting in 1983. and they featured the players elected into the Hall since the previous release. The final set was produced in 2001, after skipping a 1999 set. In all, there were 253 postcards made.

The cards are regular postcard sized, 3½" by 5½". The backs have the cards number out of 10,000, plus a little information about the player. They also have a spot to write and mail the postcard. I wonder how many of these were actually used as postcards? Not too many I'm guessing.

I do have all of the postcards of the Hall of Fame Cubs. There are eleven of them and I'll show them by era.

Cap Anson was the Cubs (actually they were the White Stockings at the time) first star player and managed the team from 1879 - 1897. He was the face of the franchise in its early years.

These four cards are from the World Champion era....and yes, I know it was over 100 years ago!

The twenties and thirties would be represented by these stars. The Cubs were pretty good during that time, winning NL pennants in 1929, 1932, 1935, and 1938. It was every three years like clockwork; win the pennant and lose the World Series.

And the final three are guys that I idolized as a kid.

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Red Ivy, Again

Yesterday was the Cubs last home game of the season. That means that I will have to wait another year to find out if the ivy at Wrigley Field really turns red in the fall.

At the start of the season, the ivy is an ugly, leafless brown color. It looks drab, but the excitement and optimism of a new season overrides the ugly ivy.

Some time in mid May, the Cubs return from a road trip and when the TV cameras show the outfield, like magic the ivy has turned to a luscious green. It is a true sign that summer is here and the baseball season is in full swing.

I've heard it said that the ivy at Wrigley will turn red in late October, before the leaves finally fall off. Unfortunately, I've never seen Wrigley in late October to confirm this. And this year will be no different. There are going to be no games on the north side in October.

Like I've been doing my entire lifetime, I'll have to wait again until next year. Here's hoping that the 2011 Cubs, led by manager MikeRyne Quadeberg, will be playing baseball with red ivy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Star Sunday: 1988 Mark Grace

I'll try this for a few weeks and see how it goes.

Star is a company you may not be too familiar with. I know that up until about five months ago, I had never heard of it. The company issued cards from 1983 to 1995. But they didn't do it in the usual way of issuing a set of cards that featured several hundred players.

Instead, as their name implies, they featured only the star players. But for each player, there were usually nine or eleven different cards that were sold together in a set. That was one gimmick. Star's second gimmick was to limit the print run of each set.

Star's first set, issued in 1983, was a 15 card Mike Schmidt tribute set. In 1984, they expanded to five players, with either 24 or 36 cards per player. In 1985 it was back to a single player, this time, Reggie Jackson, with a 36 card set. The next season saw Star return to a multi-player set, this time with nine players in sets of 15, 20, or 24 cards. Star stayed with the multi-player concept from that point on. In 1987, eight players were featured in sets of from five to fourteen cards.

In 1988, Star also began issuing different versions. For example, in 1988 there was Star '88, Star Gold, Star Platinum, Star Nova, and Star Silver. Things also get confusing in 1988 because Star released sets in late 1988 and 1989 that all have a 1988 copyright date on them. In the Standard Catalog they are listed as 1988-1989.

1988 was also the first time a Cubs player was featured by Star. Andre Dawson was included in the Star '88 and Star Platinum sets. By my count there are 31 different Star sets of a Cubs player. Right now I've got 21 of them. The remaining ten are all of Ryne Sandberg, and half of them are from 1992. When they've shown up on ebay, they are usually overpriced Buy it Nows. Auctions have been rare.

The cards I've got today are of Mark Grace from the Star base set of 1988, which was released in late '88 and continued into 1989. It's interesting that Star decided to include Grace, since 1988 was his rookie season. Grace didn't even join the Cubs until May of 1988. The season wasn't even finished when his cards were made. One of them says, "As of this printing, Mark Grace is hitting well over .300 and looks to be one of baseball's great young talents." Grace finished the year at .296.

There are eleven cards in the set. As you can see, the design is pretty plain-looking. All the pictures are different and all were taken at Wrigley Field. Each card talks about a different aspect of his career. But since he was so early in his career, they ran out of things to talk about, and his last two cards just list his position, and the backs have only the Cubs logo on them. According to the Standard Catalog, 6500 sets were made.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Updating Stumpy, 1997

Stumpy 1997 is a little out of date too. I've got to get him updated......

In 2006, Juan Pierre had 204 hits for the Cubs.

Myers' record was tied by Trevor Hoffman in 1998, and then passed by John Smoltz in 2002 and Eric Gagne in 2003, as they each posted 55 saves.

The 2001 Seattle Mariners, led by skipper Lou Piniella, tied the record in 2001. Like the 1906 Cubs and the Lou-led 2007 and 2008 Cubs, the Mariners didn't seal the deal in the post-season.

Sammy Sosa is now the franchise leader in home runs, with 545.

Stumpy is now current and all is well with the world!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fifties Friday: 1953 Bowman

Phil Cavarretta

Night Owl likes to give a set an identifying name. I don't think he's come up with one for Bowman 1953, so allow me to offer mine: The Heintz Set.

Why such a name, you ask? Because Topps' 1952 set totally blew Bowman out of the water and in 1953 Bowman was playing ketchup....catch-up. Get it?? But seriously folks, I'll be here all week and don't forget to tip your waitress.

Whatever you want to call the set, Bowman's 1953 set was a radical departure from earlier their sets. The cards were much larger, now measuring 2 1/2" by 3 3/4", which, coincidentally, was nearly the same size as Topps' cards. Bowman was also using a heavier card stock, again, coincidentally, was just like Topps.

And the backs of the cards now featured the players' past season and career statistics, just like Topps! That's '52 Topps on top, the '53 Bowman underneath.

Anyone noticing a lot of coincidences here??

The big difference was the front. Bowman went to a full color photo on the front, with no other writing at all. This was quite different than Topps' design. But the minimalist front has proven to be one of the most popular of all of Bowman's designs.

The size of the Bowman set again shrunk, down to 160 cards. In 1951 there were 324, and in 1952 the set featured 252 cards. As George Costanza will tell you, shrinkage is not a good thing.

There were only 11 Cubs in the set. As with the '52's, I've only got the reprints, which were not the same size as the originals. Because there are only eleven Cubs, I've decided to get the real things. I'm half way there and when I've got all of them, I have another post.

The only gripe I have with the photography is that all the pictures seem to have been taken in the Polo Grounds in New York, meaning the Cubs are in their road uniforms. Otherwise, they are pretty nice looking cards.

Bob Addis

Toby Atwell

Tommy Brown

Harry Chiti

Warren Hacker

Turk Lown

Paul Minner

Bob Rush

Hank Sauer

Bill Serena