Friday, April 28, 2017

Billy Buck

The Cubs are in Boston this weekend taking on the Red Sox.  One player with strong links to both franchises is Bill Buckner.  His time with the Cubs was the best of his career.  He is remembered a little less fondly by the Fenway faithful.  Here is a post I ran on Billy Buck back in 2009

  

If you were to play Word Association with any baseball fan under the age of 40 and said "Bill Buckner" they would probably reply "Error." Play the same game with a Cubs fan over 40 and their response should be "Best Player on Team."

It's sad that a twenty year career can be condensed into one unfortunate play. For a Cubs fan like me, his career was so much more, so much better.

Buckner was acquired by the Cubs in January of 1977 along with shortstop Ivan DeJesus for Rick Monday. He came over as damaged goods. A severe ankle injury had limited his mobility as an outfielder. The Dodgers had Steve Garvey over at first base, and so there was nowhere for Buckner to play, hence the trade to the Cubs.

But he wouldn't let his injury keep him down. 
Buckner had a rigorous routine each day to get his ankle game-ready and ready he was. He had the best years of his career in Chicago, hitting over .300 four of his seven seasons with the Cubs. He led the National League in hitting in 1980 and was named to the NL All Star team in 1981. Between 1981 and 1982 he led the National League in RBI's, outproducing the entire league including Mike Schmidt. From 1980-1982 he had more hits than any National Leaguer including Pete Rose. And he was tough to strike out, fanning only 26 time in 657 at bats in 1982. Despite his gimpy ankle, he could still steal a base, swiping 15 in 1982 and 12 in 1983.

From 1977 - 1982 Bill Buckner was the Cubs. He was their best player and a fan favorite. You could always count on him to play hard, get dirty, get a hit, and then watch the rest of the team blow it. The best record of any Cub team during his time was in 1977 when they finished 81-81. Billy Buck was one of the few bright spots.

Buckner also loved to beat up on his former team. His combined batting average against the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978 was .391. He loved sticking it to the club that traded him away.

His time in Chicago came to an end in 1984. After hitting only .209 in 21 games, he was sent to the Red Sox for Dennis Eckersley. And you know what happened to him two years later as a member of the Red Sox.

But do you know the entire story...

Look at these cards and notice the batting gloves he like to wear.
 



Now look at this picture from that fateful day in 1986. Look closely at his right hand. See the batting glove...the Cubs batting glove.






Bill Buckner made one of the most infamous errors in baseball history wearing a Chicago Cubs batting glove, two years after he had been traded away. If ever a Red Sox fan was looking for a reason as to why this tragedy happened, there it is. The combination of two baseball curses was too much for fate to handle and the result was a ball goes through his legs.

But Billy Buck, we Cubs fans still love ya!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

All I've Got of Him: Scott Sanderson

Here's a look at all I've got of another of the former players the got a ring last week.


Sanderson is on the far left.  I haven't heard why these players were picked or if there are others from the past that will get a ring.

Sanderson came to the Cubs before the 1984 season in a three-way deal with the Cubs, Expos, and Padres.  It was a homecoming for Sanderson, as he grew up in suburban Northbook.  He spent six seasons with the Cubs and was an even 42-42.  

I've got 38 cards of Sanderson.  Since he was never a top star, he wasn't included in much above the base sets.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Topps Tribute Billy Williams

Once again I've cherry-picked the high priced sets.

This year's Topps Tribute runs around $265 for a box of six packs, each pack containing three cards.  You're guaranteed three autographs and three relics.  Billy Williams is on the base checklist, but I didn't spent $265 with the hopes of getting his card.  As always, I let someone else spend the big bucks and I'll pick up his leftovers.


Here's the base card.  Looking over the uniform, I know that this is from 1970 or 1971.  I found the original at Getty Images and they just reference it as circa 1970.  The best thing about the picture is that Topps has never used it before.  After years of the same couple of Billy pictures, we finally get something new.  Well, new to Topps since the picture is 47 years old.

Tribute also has parallels and I have two.

 

The green is /99 and the purple is /50.  There are also red (/10) and black (1/1) cards, but I'm not too sure I'll see either.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WW HQ Update: It Lives!!


This picture is from a post in November, our plan to make the front of our house look a little like Wrigley Field




A warm spell in February gave me the chance to paint and install the numbers on the house.  I've had several confused neighbors ask me if we were having problems with the mailman or the pizza delivery guy.  They didn't quite understand the reason for the big yellow numbers on the front of the hosue.  Once I showed them a picture of the outfield wall at Wrigley, they got it.

But the whole falls apart without ivy.  We planted two vines in November, but they were already dormant.  We'd have to wait until spring to see if  there would be any growth.


It lives!  The ivy survived the winter and new leaves have started to pop out.  Now we just have to watch it grow and take over the wall.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Yup, It Hasn't Been Used Before


 On Saturday I showed the Diamond King Billy Williams card.  Matt asked if the photo has been used before.

Good question.

I went back and looked over the 291 cards I've got in my Billy Williams collection.  Would it shock you if I told you that the DK picture isn't on any of the others?  It shocked me.

 

This one is close.  The swing is similar, though the uniforms don't match.  The DK card has to be from 1969 - 1971.

 

This one is even closer.  In fact, I wonder if they are both from the same at bat?  The dugouts match and he is wearing a batting glove in each picture.  Billy rarely wore a batting glove.  These are the only two cards in my collection that show him wearing a glove.

I also went through the Billy Williams pictures at Getty Images to try to find the original, but had no luck.  There are lots of pictures, just not this one.  A Google image search had the same results - nothing.

So kudos to Panini for finding and using an original picture.  Too bad the logos had to disappear!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 14,829 Cubs cards from 121 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.




1900s - 1970s: 1956 Topps #11 Cubs Team This is the very first Topps team card of the Cubs.  It's nice that Topps gives us the names of all the players shown.  Its not nice that the 1956 Cubs finished in last place with a record of 60-94.




1980s: 1987 Topps Traded #73 Dave Martinez  The current Cubs bench coach was entering his first full season in the majors in 1987.  He became the team's regular center fielder and hit .292.  



1990s: 1996 Stadium Club #53 Jim Bullinger I wonder what the story is behind this picture, which shows Bullinger on the rooftop of a building along Sheffield Avenue?  Maybe Cubs management told the guy with a 1996 record of 6-10 and an ERA of 6.54 to take a hike.



2000s: 2003 Topps #635 Cubs Team  Two team pictures out of four cards so far.  What are the odds of that?  The fake wall to cover the batboys has to be one of the dumbest looks.



2010s: 2015 Topps Update #263 Pedro Strop  Pedro pitched in a team-high and career-high 76 games in the 2015 season.  He was the 8th inning guy though he did close a few and picked up three saves.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 Diamond King Billy Williams

Panini has again issued a Diamond King set and  this year Billy Williams was on the checklist.  I went ahead and picked up some of his cards despite the lack of logos.


This is what the base card looks like.  It would be a really nice card if it had logos.  

Of course there are also all sorts of parallels.


This is the artist's proof parallel and it is /99.

There are also framed parallels and I've picked up three of them


The gray frame is an unnumbered common.  The checklist shows an unnumbered green frame too, but not a single green version has been listed on Ebay yet.

  

Among the numbered frames are the red /99 and brown /49.  Look closely at the red frame and you'll notice that it is #26/99.  There are collectors that go bonkers when the number matches the player's number, like this one does for #26 Billy Williams.  I'm not one of those collectors.  This was just a happy coincidence for me and I didn't have to pay a premium for the card.

Other frames include the blue /25 and black 1/1.  Neither has yet to surface.  I'm not planning to see or buy either of them.

Friday, April 21, 2017

All I've Got of Him: Jody Davis


On Wednesday the Cubs gave out championship rings to several former players.  Left to right is Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Steve Trout, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Jody Davis, Jose Cardenal, and Bobby Dernier.

I haven't done an "All I've Got of Him" for a while and thought I'd do it for one of these guys.  I settled on Jody Davis.  Jody was a fan favorite, and one of mine too, during his years as the Cubs catcher.  

From 1981 - 1988 he was a fixture behind the plate.  He was steady if not spectacular.  He also seemed to have a knack for getting a big hit at just the right time.  Those heroics led to a tradition of the Wrigley crowd chanting his name, "Jo-dee, Jo-dee, Jo-dee."

My collection includes a total of 62 cards of Jody, including three autographed cards.  His career coincided with the loss of the Topps monopoly, so I've got some Fleer, Donruss, Leaf, Score, Sportflics, and even one Upper Deck card of him, among others, in addition to a bunch of Topps.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Peek At Donruss, Year by Year

Donruss has been back for four years now.


They seem to be in a bit of a design rut.  

For kicks, I went back and made a tile consisting of one card from each of the years of Donruss.  I used the fewest number of players possible and made it with just four players.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Donruss Cubs

Panini bought the Donruss name a few years back and has been putting out a set since 2014.  Lacking an MLB license, the cards lack logos and team names.  I would normally steer clear of something like this, but since it has the Donruss name, and I have all the Donruss Cubs from the first incarnation, I've been getting the Panini version.

The 2017 set consists of 195 cards.  The first 30 are short-printed Diamond King cards, one for each team.  The next 15 cards are Rated Rookies, also short-printed.  The final 150 cards are the regular cards.


Anthony Rizzo was the Cubs Diamond King.  This makes the third time in four years that its been Rizzo.  I'm somewhat surprised that it wasn't Kris Bryant.

There are ten Cubs among the 150 base cards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


These are the nine active players.  I find it interesting that though Panini can't use logos, they have no problem showing the ads in the background.  Reynolds Wrap, Lexus, and America Airlines all get some free advertising.


Ryno is the retired Cub in the set.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brand #121

I've added my 121st brand to my Cubs collection.  I'm somewhat embarrassed to even mention it because its so small.  Early on when I returned to collecting I said I'd skip these small brands.  But since I'm starting to run out of brands to chase, I've relented.  So today I've got a brand with a total of four cards.

 
 
 

These are from the 2005 set of Upper Deck Classics.  The set has 100 base cards and 30 more rookie short prints.  The Cubs landed these four in the base set and were shut out of the rookie section.

Its an interesting group of Cubs.  The top two, Herman and Hubbs, are certainly not your name brand Cubs.  The bottom two, Jenkins and Billy Williams, have the name recognition you'd expect.

Upper Deck Classics was a one and done brand.  The 2005 set was its one and only version.  So this is it, the entire Cubs run from Classics.  Doesn't get much easier than this!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Full Run of Gypsy Queen

Gypsy Queen has been around since 2011, making this year's set the seventh edition.  When the brand was first announced, I said that I wasn't going to get it.  I felt it was just another Allen and Ginter.  Then I caved and got the Cubs, and have done so every year since.

Most years the set has had 350 cards.  Only twice (2012-300 and 2017-320) has that number differed.  The number of Cubs had varied too, from a high of 14 to a low of 7.

I made a tile of all the GQ Cubs over the years.  One thing you'll notice is that when the team was bad, the number of retired Cubs was much higher.  They had to fill the Cubs slots with someone!  As the team got real players, the retired guys disappeared.