Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rest of the Bowman 2011 Cubs

A week or so ago I had a post on the Bowman 2011 Cubs base cards. There were five other inserts I was after and I've got them all now.

Finest Futures FF6 Starlin Castro, another of the many, many Starlin Castro cards.

Bowman Best BBP11 Brett Jackson There's been alot of buzz about these, but I wasn't collecting much when the originals came out in 1994, so I'm not as amped about them. Sorry.

Topps 100 #12 Hayden Simpson I love it when I see "H. Simpson" on a checklist. Doh!! A 2010 first round draft pick, the right handed pitcher is with the Cubs class A team in Peoria.

Topps 100 #66 Josh Vitters, he gets his second Topps 100 card in two years.

Topps 100 #92 Brett Jackson, another Topps 100 repeat.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Well, That Only Took 11 Years

In the June draft of 2000, the Cubs #1 pick was Lou Montanez.

The next year he was included in the Bowman set. It seemed like it would just be a matter of time before he would be a member of the Cubs. But the Cubs have a warped sense of time. Remember that this is the franchise that can go for a century without a championship. For Lou Montanez, "a matter of time" became eleven years.

Lou's career with the Cubs stalled and after the 2006 season he was released. He managed only 82 games in AAA in 2006 and hit .224. He looked like another draft bust.

The Orioles signed him for 2007 and he started the season in AA. After hitting .369 he was moved to AAA. He went back to AA to start the 2008 season, but after another hot start, .335, he was called up to the Orioles. He spent three seasons going back and forth between Baltimore and the minors. With the Orioles he hit .223 and after the 2010 season he was again looking for a team.

The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal for the 2011 season and he started the year in Iowa. When Marlon Byrd was hit in the face by a pitch and placed on the DL, it was Lou Montanez who got brought to the majors.

So here we are, eleven years after he was first drafted, and Lou Montanez finally makes his debut with the Cubs. He started against the Mets on May 24, the day he was called up, and was 2-4 with an RBI.

I made this Bowman card for Lou to commemorate his eleven year journey to Wrigley Field.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 8,877 Cubs cards from 51 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s: Topps 1960 #412 Bob Anderson Bob
was the #2 starter for the 1960 Cubs, going 9-11 with a 4.11 ERA. Not a great record, but I like the card, with the Wrigley scoreboard in the background. And Bob sure looks like a happy guy.

1970s: Topps 1974 #603 Rookie Catchers Tom Lundstedt
Lundstedt is a Chicago area boy, growing up in Arlington Heights and attending the same high school, Prospect, as Mike Quade and Dave Kingman. A first round draft pick in 1970, he never lived up to the hype. He played in 22 games with the Cubs in 1974, batting an anemic .094. After the season he was traded to the Twins for Mike Adams.

1980s: Donruss 1981 #558 Barry Foote
We actually get two Barry Foote cards in a row since he was also on the Lundstedt rookie card. Foote spent very little time with the 1981 Cubs. After going hitless in nine games (26 plate appearances) he was traded to the Yankees. I wonder how often a guy with a .000 average gets traded? You have to give GM Bob Kennedy credit for finding a team willing to take Foote. He did get some hits with New York, raising he season average to .177. He even made the Yankees post-season roster and appeared in the NL playoffs and the World Series.

1990s: Star Nova 1990 #140 Ryne Sandberg
Ryno had a great year in 1990, one of the best ever for any second baseman. He led the NL in homers with 40 and won his eighth straight gold glove.

2000s: Donruss 2005 #140 Todd Walker
Walker's 2005 season got off to a bad start because of a knee injury he got when Carlos Lee banged into him while turning a double play. He was on the DL from April 11 to May 25. He finished the year appearing in 110 games and hit .305 with 12 HRs and 40 RBIs.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Topps 1970 Comic Book Inserts

In yesterday's post on the Kimball Champion inserts I had a line about the Topps 1970 comic book inserts. I wanted to include a link to the post I did about the comic books. So I did a quick search for that post, but discovered that I didn't have one....

....until today!

There were 24 different story booklets in the set. A player from each of the 24 MLB teams was included. That meant that some superstars were left out (Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, and Lou Brock among others), since only one player per team made the list. That also means some less than stellar names made the list (Jay Johnstone, Wally Bunker, Al Ferrara) simply because Topps had to come up with someone on the star-deficient teams.

The booklet was eight pages long. The fronts featured a head shot of the player, and the back was a checklist of all 24 booklets. The rest of the booklet told about the players life and career in the typical hokey way that Topps did things back then.

Here are the 24 booklets in numerical order. Topps numbered them by team city alphabetically, starting with the American League teams.

And below is what the stories look like. On his 80th birthday I featured the Ernie Banks story. I'll repeat it here....Let's Read Two!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kimball Complete

Very rarely do I go after a complete Topps insert set. In fact, prior to 2011, the last one I have is the comic book inserts from 1970. But this year, I've already picked up two.. The first was the History of Topps set. The other is the Kimball Champions set.. I like the look of the Kimball cards and they all seem to have original drawings on them. There are only 50 in the set and complete sets were popping up at reasonable prices.

I went ahead and picked up a set and I wasn't disappointed. With Series 2 coming out soon, I'll be on the lookout for the next 50. For now, here is the first batch.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

T206 Cubs: Two More

I've really slowed down with this feature, but I don't want to leave it unfinished! So here are two more Cubs from the iconic T206 set.

Pfeel Pfree to read and learn about these two pfanstastic players. I wonder if the Cubs are the only team to have two PF players on the team at the same time?

Francis Pfeffer Though his first name was Frances ("lighten up, Frances"), he was known as "Big Jeff" because he resembled heavyweight champion "Big Jeff" Jeffries. He is shown with a bat in his hand, but was a pitcher. He had two tours of duty with the Cubs (1905 and 1910) and two with Brooklyn (1906-1908 and 1911). He wasn't particularly good, posting a lifetime record of 31-39.

Jack Pfeister He was known as Jack the Giant Killer, because of a career 15-5 record against them. That was especially important since the Giants were one of the other elite team in the National League at the time. Pfeister was on the mound against the Giants for the "Merkel's Boner" game. His career record was 71-44 with an ERA of 2.02. Not too shabby! That was good enough for him to get two cards in the set.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cards With My Class

A couple weeks ago I took my third and fourth graders to see the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the low A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The team sponsors a reading incentive program. My class participated in the program and each student that completed the program got a free ticket to the ballgame. Any time I can combine baseball and school, I'm going to do it!

At the game, the kids were buying the typical souvenirs like minibats and foam fingers. I found something else....baseball cards. There were team sets from previous seasons on sale and I grabbed the set from 2001. I thought it would be interesting to see how the players from a Class A team have fared ten years later.

First, you'll notice that the team name is different. In 2001 the team was the Fort Wayne Wizards. They became the TinCaps when they moved into their new ballpark in 2009. This card is of their old mascot, Dinger the Dragon.

Here is the only Cubs connection I could find. The Wizards pitching coach was former Cub Mike Harkey. He spent five seasons with the Cubs in the early '90s. Because this was the era when eveyone and their brother was putting out baseball cards, I've got a whopping 64 cards of Harkey! The one above is from Team Stadium Club 1993.

This MVP card features the most prominent player in the 29 card set. The Wizard's top pitcher in 2000 was Jacob Peavy. I wonder when he became "Jake"?

There were 24 different players who had individual cards. Of them, six made it to the major leagues. I'll show the players, ordering them by most games played in the big leagues.

Pitcher Oliver Perez had the longest MLB career, from 2002-2010. His best season was 2007, when he went 15-10 for the Mets. Overall, he pitched in 206 games and was 58-69.

Pitcher Justin Germano has a 78 game career and besides Peavy, is the only other Wizard still active in the major leagues. Currently on the Indians roster, he also pitched for the Padres and Reds. He had a lifetime record of 8-19 coming into the 2011 season.

J.J. Furmaniak spent a short time with the Pirates in 2005 and the A's in 2007. Over the two seasons he got into 29 games, batted 43 times, and picked up only 8 hits. The only redeeming thing for him is that he is from the Chicago suburb of Naperville and his childhood hero was Ryne Sandberg.

Jack Cassel pitched briefly for the Padres in 2007 and the Astros in 2008. Over 15 games he was 2-2 with a 4.92 ERA.

Kevin Reese had two short stints with the Yankees in 2005 and 2006. He played in 12 games, batted 12 times, with five hits. That was good for a career average of .385....not too shabby.

Australian born Chris Oxspring pitched in five late season games for the Padres in 2005, a total of 12 innings. He had no decision and an ERA of 3.75.

Overall, as far as big league careers go, it was an unimpressive bunch. That may help explain why the 2001 Wizards finished the season 54-83.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Another Castro Card (if you can stand to see any more!)

This is the Black Diamond wrapper redemption card. I didn't buy the hobby box to get this. It was a simple Ebay purchase. I like the nice tight shot of Castro. My only complaint would be that if we are going to do a 1952 card, then the Cubs logo needs to look like....


With this card, I'm now up to 17 Castro cards from series one!
Anniversary Platinum
Gold border
Black border
NL All Star
Cubs Factory set
Black Diamond
Kimball Champions
Purple Diamond
Topps 60 jersey card
Manufactured Patch
Leather Glove
Leather Glove black

I also did a quick count and now have 36 different cards for a 21-year-old with a little more than a year in the majors. By comparison, I have 44 Cubs cards of Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Bowman Cubs

2011 Bowman Cubs cards have started arriving at Wrigley Wax world headquarters. The design of the card, as usual, is your basic black. It's nothing too fancy, but nothing that makes me turn away either.

The 220 card base set features eight Cubs, which is two more Cubs than last year. It's mostly the usual suspects that were included. The biggest name among the missing Cubs would be Carlos Zambrano, who missed the Bowman cut for the first time since 2003. Closer Carlos Marmol is also not in the set; actually Marmol has never been included in any Bowman set.

The Soriano card is the International version; the seller sent me the wrong one, but I won't complain since the international is a tougher card to get than the base. I do like the international parallel. To me it's much more interesting than just changing the color of the border. I'm currently chasing down all 10 of the Cubs international cards. I'll post them once I've got them all.

There are only two Cubs among the 110 prospect cards. Last year there were eight, so that is quite a drop. That also doesn't bode well for the Cubs future....I guess they'll have to go out and overspend on free agents again!

Michael Brenly: If the name sounds familiar, well, it should. He is the son on Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly. Bob mentions his son and his son's team quite often. In fact this weekend, Bob wasn't with the Cubs. Since he would have had only one broadcast, he got Friday off (Bill Buckner filled in) to stay in Florida and spend time with Michael, who plays for the Cubs A team in Daytona.

Evan Crawford: The Cubs picked him up last summer from the Giants in the Mike Fontenot trade. He is teammates with Brenly in Daytona and is tearing it up, hitting .336.

There are a few other Bowman Cubs I'm picking up, one in the Bowman Best insert and three in the Topp100 Prospects series. They'll get a post once they're in hand.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meet Tony Campana

When the Cubs sent Tyler Colvin back to AAA, it was Tony Campana that took the roster spot. He was not familiar to me at all, and I bet most of you have never heard of him, either. The card companies also don't know him. A search of Beckett turned up only one release, 2009 Tristar PROjections.

I didn't want Tony to feel unloved, so I created a Heritage Card for him.

This one was a little tricky because I had a hard time finding any pictures of the guy. But I don't mind a challenge, and I think the card turned out pretty well.

Information on Campana was a bit hard to come by, too. He wasn't on the 40 man roster (he wasn't even in the big-league camp this spring), so there is very little about him in the media guide. The Cubs drafted him out of the University of Cincinnati in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. He played in rookie ball and A in 2008, low and high A in 2009, and AA last year. He had a .299 career average, and started the year in AAA, where he was hitting .342 before getting the call to the Cubs.

Campana is a little guy, only 5'8" and 165 pounds. One of his biggest assets is his speed. He has pinch-run for the Cubs twice and has scored both times. He also got a double in his first big league at bat in his hometown against the Reds, which had to be a big thrill. You can see the hit here. Overcoming his lack of size is nothing compared to what he overcame as a 7-year-old. The young Campana was diagnosed with
Hodgkins lymphoma. He battled with chemotherapy for six months and beat the disease. Compared to that, baseball should be a breeze.

Right now he is the fifth outfielder. It's hard to imagine him getting much playing time. But he seems like the kind of person to take advantage of any opportunity, so it will be interesting to see what happens.