Thursday, April 30, 2009

Topps Heritage Side by Side: 1960 / 2009

Today I'd like to take a look at the 2009 Heritage cards next to their 1960 counterparts.

The only Heritage cards I have are the Cubs, so my sample size might be a little small. But overall, I think Topps did a great job. They were able to match almost exactly the format of the cards. The photos they used also matched the style from 1960 - posed shots, no action.

Here's a sampling of the 2009 and 1960 cards:

Team Card - the only real difference in that the left side of the original is a darker red-orange instead of the faded orange on the Heritage version. I wonder why they changed the color?

Manager card - I really like the fact that they used the old logo on Lou Piniella's card. They did use a different color combination on the names. Again, I wonder why they didn't use the same combination as on the Grimm card?

Coaches: A very close copy but again, why not go all the way and use a green border on the bottom?

All Star Cards: Nice job here, on both the Ernie Banks card and the Kosuke Fukudome card. I suppose this will be Fukudome's only all star card.

Team Superstar: Ernie Banks and Alfonso Soriano. The fact that Soriano wears high socks makes his card look even better.

A Few Random Pitchers: These two cards, Glen Hobbie and Ted Lilly, look like they came from the same set.

Moe Drabowsky and Rich Harden, a couple more that look really good next to each other.

Doctored Cards: These two cards show the difference in technology. The Del Rice card shows him hatless and in a Braves uniform. The smaller black and white photo has a "C" slapped on his Braves hat. Its pretty obvious he has a Milwaukee uniform on when you see the big belt loop on his left hip. Fast forward to 2009. Joey Gathright was acquired by the Cubs over the winter, so the card is a complete photoshop job. They did a decent job. The only flaw is the number the put on his jersey. They would have had no way of knowing what he would use with the Cubs so they put a 2 on the jersey like he wore with the Royals. However, he is wearing #4 with the Cubs. Oh well.

Overall, Topps did a nice job and I look forward to collecting the Heritage cards in the future,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fleer 2007: The End of the Line

A final look at Fleer Cubs cards from the 2000's

This was the swan song for Fleer's baseball cards. Fleer finished up with a more modern looking design. The backs had more than just stats, but depending on the length of the player's career, there was still a lot of blank gray space.

The Cubs set featured 14 players. Three of them were winter free agent signings and they are shown in their previous team's uniform. Otherwise, there wasn't anything special. Fleer went out with a whimper.

Mark DeRosa, in a Rangers uniform

Jason Marquis, a Red Bird

Alfonso Soriano, as a National

And the players in Cubbie Blue

Ryan Dempster

Rich HIll

Jacque Jones

Derrek Lee

Scott Moore, rookie card of a typical Cubs prospect washout

Mark Prior

Aramis Ramirez

Ryan Theriot

Kerry Wood

And two on Carlos Zambrano, as always, in the blue jersey

His regular card, with the pink ribbon. Zambrano pitched on Mothers Day in 2005, tossing a complete game as the Cubs topped the Phillies 2-1. He didn't pitch on Mothers Day in 2006, so I would assume this picture was from 2005.

And this card, the team checklist

And with that, it's goodbye Fleer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Leaf 1994 Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes. This is one of two cards that calls him Tuffy instead of Karl. The picture was taken in the spring of 1994 (the newer version of the Cub patch is the give-away, it was new in 1994). It must have been a pretty cold day. The fans are bundled up and there are lots of empty seats.

Congratulations to Tuffy Rhodes, who recently hit his 450th home run in the Japanese league, becoming their 12th player to top that mark.

Tuffy also hit 13 major league home runs, and 11 of those were with the Cubs. The highlight of his time on the north side was opening day, 1994. Tuffy won the center field job in spring training and was going to be the Cubs leadoff man. The Cubs faced Doc Gooden and the Mets in the opener and Tuffy hit a home run off of Gooden in each of his first three at bats. He is the first player in history to hit three home runs on opening day. Talk about a great way to start the season! Of course, the Cubs being the Cubs, despite Tuffy's three home runs still lost the game 12-8. He only hit .234 for the season and when he got off to a .125 start the next season he was released.

He is the top foreign-born home run hitter in the Japanese League, but for one day in 1994 he was the top home run hitter in the National League.

Bowman 1994

Donruss 1995, the other Tuffy card

Fleer 1995

Pacific 1995

Pinnacle 1994, getting a face full of dirt

Score 1995

The back of the card mentions his opening day feat

Stadium Club 1995, look out for the inside pitch!

Topps 1994

Upper Deck 1994

Fleer Ultra 1994

Monday, April 27, 2009

A New Card

I created this card of Sean to send to those of you who were nice enough to send him some cards. I thought it was a fun way to say thanks.

But the card bothered me a little. It looks ok from the front, but the back was blank. I only made a front. Well, I fixed that this weekend.

First, I created a new front, using the 1969 template. Sean was born in 1999, thirty years after these were issued. I had used the same template for some Cubs cards, so I thought, why not use it again.

Here is the front.

But I needed a back too. I knew there was a card in the set that would be a perfect starting point. I went through the pages and found it. A few hours of photoshop later and voila, here is the back:

Bio, cartoon, write-up, and stats, the whole thing. Disclaimer: the stats are my best guess. And keep in mind, in T-Ball, pretty much everyone gets on base every time up. In our league the whole lineup bats once each inning and you play three or four innings.

This is what we will send out in future mailings.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Cubs Fact: Last Position Players to Pitch

Recently, Nick Swisher of the Yankees took the mound for an inning in a game that saw the Yankees getting blown out. That got me wondering about when the Cubs used position players on the mound. Here is what I found:

Since 1960, the Cubs have used four different position players to pitch. I'll start with the most recent.

Gary Gaetti took the mound for the Cubs in the 8th inning on July 3, 1999. The Cubs were getting trounced by the Phillies as starter Kyle Farnsworth lasted only 1/3 of an inning and gave up 8 runs. By the time the Phillies batted in the bottom of the eighth the score was 19-8. Gaetti has pitched twice for the Cardinals, so he was brought in to pitch the last inning and save the bullpen from a little more work. He gave two runs but did stike out one hitter.

Upper Deck 1991

Outfielder Doug Dascenzo made four pitching appearances for the Cubs in 1990 and 1991. What does it tell you about a team's pitching staff when an outfielder is needed four times in two years? Little Dougie actually did a decent job in his four outings, never giving up a run.

Score 1991 shows Dascenzo pitching!

His first appearance was on June 12, 1990 when the Mets blew out the Cubs 19-8. He faced only three hitters, getting a double play after the second batter had singled. He took the hill three times in a three week span in June/July 1991, each time coming in as the Cubs were getting trounced. His best game was on June 10, 1991 when he actually went for two innings and faced the minimum of six batters, although he needed a double play to erase a walk.

Outfielder/First baseman Larry Biittner pitched one game for the Cubs in 1977. In game 1 of a July 4 doubleheader, the Expos were creaming the Cubs and I'm sure manager Herman Franks wanted to save the bullpen for game 2, so Biittner got the call to pitch the ninth. The good news is that he got two strikeouts. The bad news is that he gave up 5 runs including homeruns to Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson. His career ERA is a whopping 40.50!

Topps 1977

Outfielder Willie Smith pitched once for the Cubs in 1968. He should have an asterisk by his name, because he was originally signed as a pitcher and later converted to the outfield. His one appearance was against the Giants on August 27 and he recorded a 1-2-3 inning. Willie actually pitched a total of 61 innings in the majors and had a decent 3.10 career ERA.

Topps 1969

The back of Willies 1969 card talks about his earlier pitching career.

Its been 10 years now since the Cubs have had to have a position player pitch. I hope I don't see one take the mound this year!