Thursday, August 31, 2017

20 x 6

Last night Ian Happ hit his 20th home run of the year, as the Cubs demolished the Pirates 17-3.  His blast set a new team record, as he became the 6th Cub to his at least 20 homers this season.  Even better, five of the six are under the age of 25, with Anthony Rizzo being the gray-beard at 28.  And all six have serious HR power; none of them hit cheapies.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Billy Over the Years

Now that I have roster books with pictures, I can see the evolution of a player.  I can also see how cheap the Cubs publicity department was.

Since I have pictures of the players, I can go year by year and compare the pictures to one another.

Unfortunately, the Cubs publicity machine of the '60s and '70s wasn't what it is today.  The player's pictures in the roster book were the team head shots.  But the PR department didn't update the photos each year.  Billy Williams was included in 14 roster books, from 1961 - 1973.  Yet there were just six different pictures used over the 14 years.

This is the first picture of Billy and was in the 1961 book.

The team shot a new picture of the 1961 rookie of the year for the 1962 book.  They liked it so much that they used it again in 1963... and 1964........and 1965.........and 1966.  Yes, the same picture was used for five consecutive years.  The Cubs were making Topps look good!

Finally in 1967 this new picture was used.  But not wanting to let a good thing go to waste, it was recycled for the 1968, 1969, and 1970 books.  That means just two pictures over nine years.

From that point on, however, things got better.

A new picture was taken for the 1971 book.

In 1972 the Cubs began wearing new pullover uniforms, so new pictures were taken of every player.

Billy grew a mustache, so a new picture was taken, for the third year in a row.  Crazy!  But his would also be the last picture, as it was used in both the 1973 and 1974 books, and the '74 was his last.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cubs Roster Books - Spring vs. Regular

Several years ago I put together my collection of Cubs' Roster Books.  The first edition came out in 1958 and that continued through 1981.  Starting in 1982 the books were labeled media guides.

I was able to get one for each year.  At the time, I was aware that there were different editions for each season, typically one from the spring and one regular or mid-season edition.

It didn't matter to me which one I had as long as each year was represented.

It was only within the past year that I finally realized that there was a major difference between the spring and other editions.


The spring edition had no pictures of the players, while the others did.  I suppose that makes sense since the spring book was put together over the winter and the team's roster was changing.  Getting pictures of the new players in Cubs gear wasn't possible until the team reported to Arizona, so the spring book had none.  Once the season began and the regular edition was released, pictures were added to the book.


I really liked the idea of having pictures of the players, and I made the decision to get a regular edition for each season.  I went through my collection and counted eight spring versions.  They would need to be replaced, and the quest was on.

Several were easy to find, but it took a while to get the rest.  This week I received my final missing regular, from 1962.

I now happily have a regular or mid-season edition for each year.

No, I won't go and get spring editions for all years...

...for now!

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Couple More Ernies

I was able to pick up a couple more 2017 Ernie parallels

The purple version of his Museum card is /99.  It cost me two bucks plus shipping, which I consider to be a bargain.


This is the no number version of the A&G back mini.

My totals are now four Museum and six Ginter cards.  That should do it with these.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 15,069 Cubs cards from 122 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1972 Topps #512 Paul Popovich  He was one of my favorite Cubs as a kid, not because he was any good, but because we share the same first name.  He missed some time during the 1972 season because of an ulcer flare-up.  His average for the season was .194.  That's the kind of average that will give a player an ulcer.

1980s: 1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals #17 Cap Ansonb   The 1939 flag on the card refers to the year that Anson was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  That was just the fourth class, so he went in pretty early on.

1990s: 1993 Bowman #648 Jeff Hartsock  This is the second week in a row that the RNG has given us an unknown from the Bowman set.  Hartsock pitched four innings for the Cubs in 1992.  He gave up seven runs in nine innings.  He never returned to the big leagues.

2000s: 2006 Heritage #239 Kerry Wood  The 2006 campaign was another lost season for the oft-injured Wood.  He pitched in just four games.  Those four were the final starts of his career.  He moved to the bullpen for the remainder of his appearances.

2010s: 2015 Topps Factory Team Set #CHC3 Starlin Castro  The card is only two years old but it seems like Castro has been gone a lot longer than that.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I Have A Hat....But....

Yesterday I looked at all of the hatless players in the 1969 set.  Brett Allen left a comment with a link to a great explanation of one of the main reasons for so many hatless players.

In addition of the poor players without a hat, there were 71 players with a hat, but also with a Topps bad airbrush job.  The reason for so many of these is the same as with the hatless: Kansas City's move to Oakland, four expansion teams, a logo dispute with the Astros, and Marvin Miller.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Brother Can You Spare A Hat

Here's a look at one of the most infamous characteristics of the 1969 set, the hatless players.  It was an expansion year, so I can see why it was done for the four new teams. But it wasn't necessary for the other teams.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ballparks Of the 1969 Set

Paging through the 1969 Topps set, I was able to identify seven different ballparks (not counting any spring training sites).

The most unexpected ballpark in the 1969 set would have to be the Polo Grounds, which was last used by the Mets in 1963.  Topps was really digging into their files for some of these pictures.


The most expected would be Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.

Connie Mack Stadium makes an appearance, as the park is just a couple years away from its last game.

It looks like the Topps photographer caught an Indians / Angels series in Cleveland because there are cards for players from both team at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

This is very obviously Fenway Park.

And we end with Wrigley Field.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Topps 1969 Cubs But Not Cubs

There were a few of these in the 1969 set.  I thought there might be more since Topps used so many older pictures, but I could only find three.


This picture would be from 1967 or earlier, since the Cubs traded Popovich after the '67 season.  There are a couple versions of the card as Topps tried harder to get rid of the C on his helmet.

Here's another picture from 1967, which was Culp's one and only season with the Cubs

 This one looks like the Topps photographer caught Hartenstein in front of the bullpen at Shea Stadium.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wrigley Scoreboard In Topps '69

The Wrigley Field scoreboard made a few appearances in the 1969 set...

Here's the best looks at it.  As a kid this was one of my favorite non-Cub cards because of view of Wrigley Field.

Here's another look at it, over the shoulder of Matty Alou

One more tiny peek at it.  Shamsky was with the Reds in 1967.  Topps snagged a load of Reds' pictures at Wrigley Field that year.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fleer Evolution

Today's title sounds like some insert set from the late '90s.  Actually it looks like Upper Deck had a set called Evolution in 2001.

But I'm not looking at inserts.  I'm looking at the Fleer patches and cards from the late '60s and early '70s.

Saturday I showed the three versions of the Fleer "City" patches.  The Cubs logo evolved in both color and design.  A look back on some other Fleer items from the same era show the same evolution process.  Take a look.

I've got the quiz card, logo patch and city patch.  These are the versions originally issured by Fleer.  Two of the three have the small UBS and all three have a lighter shade of blue.

With the second version, the color evolved to a darker shade which matches more closely to the one actually used by the Cubs.  The UBS got bigger, too.

The evolution ends as the UBS gets slid into the proper position, where the S lines up with the ends of the C.

Is it safe to say that Fleer paid attention to their product and wanted to get it right?

That's a novel concept in the baseball card industry.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 15,069 Cubs cards from 122 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1909 T206 Jack Pfeister Seated Pfeister has two variations in this iconic set, this seated card and another that shows him throwing.  Pfeister was knows as "The Giant Killer," as he posted a 15-5 record (including seven shutouts) against the Cubs biggest rival/

1980s: 1985 Donruss #555 Garry Woods The '85 Donruss set was split about 50/50 between cards with action shots and those with tight portraits.  The 1985 season was Woods last in the majors.  He was used mainly as a pinch hitter, with 97 plate appearances in 81 games.

1990s: 1994 Stadium Club #403 Mark Grace  Looks like Grace and Jose Bautista are celebrating a Cubs home win.  There were three times during the 1993 season when Bautista finished a Cubs home win.  All three games were day games and Mark Grace played in all three.  Without anything else in the picture to help, I can't say if this is from August 1, August 18, or September 5.

2000s: 2003 Bowman #309 Jemel Spearman  The Cubs drafted Spearman in the 16th round of the 2002 draft.  But he hit .311 in rookie ball, so Topps considered him Bowman-worthy.  He never rose higher than AA ball in the Cubs system and was released after the 2007 season.  He played a couple more seasons in the Nationals' chain, but never made it to the major leagues.

2010s: 2017 Heritage 1968 Disc #2 Anthony Rizzo This is not a very flattering picture of Rizzo, with his squinty eyes and odd grin.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fleer City Patch #3

In February 2015 I picked up some Fleer cloth patches including

the "city" patch.

As with most of the Fleer products from that era, there were different variations.  I picked up the second version, so of course I had to get the first one, too.

That was taken care of in December, 2015.

All was fine until a year later.  In November, 2016, I had a post on acquiring a third version of a different Fleer patch.  That brought a comment from FleerFan (who is the ultimate authority on early Fleer products).

He said "I'm not sure if you are aware, but these same variations exist for the patches with the City/Logo as well. I haven't had a chance to post the 3rd variation on my blog ( yet, but I finally found one recently. I will try to post it when I get a chance."

Another quest was on.

Another quest was completed!

My newest patch is actually the second of the three.  Below are the three in order, left to right.

The first patch has a lighter shade of blue and very small "UBS" letters.  The second one has a darker blue and the UBS is larger, but closer to the C.  In the final version, the UBS has been moved over to the right.

So now I'm done with these...unless I get another comment from FleerFan!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Repeated Extra Ernies


The good news....Ernie Banks has been included in some 2017 Topps products.

The bad news....

...Topps is not being very original with their choice of pictures.

I realize that there is a limited number of color game-action pictures of players from the '50s and 60s.  But in this digital world of Photoshop and other photo-enhancing tools, isn't it possible for Topps to take some black and white pictures and colorize them.  I'm sure that there are a bunch of game action B&W pictures ripe for color.

Yes, that means going a little above and beyond.

But shouldn't they??