Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Cubs Fact: Nine Run Comeback Win

A few weeks ago I wrote about this game in 1979, when the Cubs came back from a 12 run deficit to tie the game. But they ultimately lost the game in 10 innings.

The team's record for coming from behind to win a game is nine runs, done twice. The most recent time was on August 29, 1989 at Wrigley Field against the Houston Astros. I wasn't at this game (school had already started up, and I can't ditch when I am the teacher), but I did watch the game on TV as soon as I got home.

Starter Mike Bielecki lasted only 4 innings - Donruss 1989 #512

The Cubs starter, Mike Bielecki just didn't have it that day. He gave up two runs in the second and fourth innings and with reliever Dean Wilkins was tagged for five more in the fifth. The lowlight of the fifth was a grand slam given up by Wilkins to Astro shortstop Rafael Ramirez. After five, the Cubs were down 9-0. That is about the time I got home from work and turned on the game.

It still seemed pretty hopeless even after the Cubs scored twice in the sixth. They trailed by seven with only three innings to go. They tallied three more in the seventh and my thought was that at least the score would now look respectable in tomorrow's paper. A 9-5 loss looks alot better than 9-0.

But the Cubs had other ideas. The put together a four run rally in the 8th to tie the game. Most of the runs scored on singles with Ryne Sandberg, Lloyd McClendon, and Mark Grace leading the way. The tying run scored on a double play, with Dwight Smith hitting a sacrifice fly that scored McClendon, while Mark Grace was thrown out trying to advance to second.

Lloyd McClendon went three for five with three RBI's - Bowman 1989 #287

The Cubs bullpen did a nice job of holding the Astros scoreless for five innings. Calvin Schiraldi, Scott Sanderson, Les Lancaster, and Paul Assenmacher were up to the task.

After a scoreless ninth, the Cubs game up against Houston closer Dave Smith in the tenth. Jerome Walton coaxed a leadoff walk. He was sacrificed to second by Ryne Sandberg. Lloyd McClendon's third hit of the day got Walton to third but he was held there. The game ended when Dwight Smith lifted a sacrifice fly to left that scored Walton and Wrigley Field went nuts and a crowd of 25,829 went home happy. In only four innings, the Cubs turned a 9-0 deficit into a 10-9 victory.

Jerome Walton was 0-4 but scored three runs including the game winner - Upper Deck 1989 #765

Dwight Smith game into the game in the 7th inning and was 2 for 2 with 3 RBI's - Score 1989 #642

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Player and Manager: Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall is in select company as someone who both played for and managed the Cubs. And as far as success goes, as a player and as a manager, he would be at the bottom of both lists.

Marshall spent one and a half of his five year major league career in a Cubs uniform. He was acquired from the Orioles off of waivers in August, 1958. He played in 26 games after joining the team and hit five home runs. Perhaps this gave the team some optimism about his future. But he had a very average season for the Cubs in 1959, hitting .252 with 11 home runs in 108 games. After the season he was sent to the Giants. He later played for the Mets and Pirates before his major league career was over in 1962.

The only card of Jim Marshall with the Cubs is this Topps 1959 card, #153. He is wearing an Orioles uniform in a picture that was taken at Yankee Stadium.

But his playing days weren't finished. He spent three seasons in Japan playing for the Chunichi Dragons. When he returned to the states, he looked to get into managing and landed a position with the Cubs Class A team in Lodi in 1968.

He worked his way up the ladder, managing in AA ball before being names skipper of the Cubs AAA team in Tacoma for the 1971 season. He continued at AAA until being named the Cubs third base coach in 1974.

Topps 1974 #354 shows Jim Marshall as one of the team's coaches

His rise to the top was completed when he was named the manager of the Cubs on July 24, 1974. Marshall spent the next two and a half seasons leading the team to mediocre finishes. In fact, the team had identical records in 1975 and 1976 of 75-87. He was fired following the 1976 season by new team GM Bob Kennedy.

Topps 1975 #638 Cubs Team Card with manager Jim Marshall, regular team photo

Topps 1976 #277 Cubs Team card with Manager Jim Marshall, floating head style

Marshall would have one more season as a major league manager, leading the A's in 1979. Their record was even worse than anything he did with the Cubs, finishing last with only 54 wins and 108 losses.

Mediocrity....thy name is Jim Marshall

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bowman 2009 Cubs Prospects

A complaint I have heard about 2009 Bowman is that they don’t have many decent prospects in the set. I hope that is true because the Cubs prospects that Bowman featured seem very underwhelming.

BP #10 Jose Ceda
is no longer in the Cubs organization. He was traded to the Marlins on November 13, 2008 for reliever Kevin Gregg. Are there trade-backs? Can we have him back please? We don’t want Gregg any more.

BP #8 Jericho Jones
was a 20th round choice in the 2008 draft. He led Louisiana Tech with .364 average and 46 RBI in 54 games, and smacked 13 home runs. Jones had a .340 batting average in 43 games in the Arizona Rookie League in 2008. He is currently on the roster of the Cubs Extended Spring Training team in Arizona. You would think he would have been placed on one of the Class A teams if the Cubs felt he had a future.

BP #55 Nelson Perez was a free agent signing by the Cubs in 2006, coming from the Dominican Republic. He was signed as a pitcher but has been converted to the outfield. He spent 2007 & 2008 with the Cubs rookie team in Arizona. This year he is with the Peoria Chief (Low A) and is hitting .209 in 40 games.

BP #56 Drew Rundle
was drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round in 2006, coming out of high school. In four years he has yet to rise above Class A. He started the season with Daytona (High A) but was sent to Peoria on May 1 and is hitting .182 in 20 games with the Chiefs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

1969 One Cub At A Time - #63 Jim Hickman

An airbrush special, with Hickman in a Dodger uniform

My 1969 Update card for Jim Hickman

When the Cubs acquired outfielder Jim Hickman from the Dodgers in April of 1968, his major league career was in doubt. Hickman broke into the big leagues as an original Met in 1962 and had five solid but unspectacular seasons in New York. He was traded to the Dodgers for the 1967 season but hit .163. He didn't make the team in 1968 and was sent to the minors. It is not a good career move for a 30 year old veteran to be sent to AAA. He moved to the Cubs AAA team after the trade, but a month later was called up after hitting .344 at Tacoma.

The stint in the minors somehow change Hickman because in 1969, at the age of 32, he had the best year of his career up to that point. He played in 134 games, most as the Cubs right fielder. Though he hit only .237, he blasted 21 home runs and knocked in 54 runs. He was a quiet steady influence on the team.

He peaked the following season, hitting an amazing .315, almost 65 points above his career average. He knocked out 32 homer runs and drove in 115 runs. If his numbers jumped like that today, there would be whispers of steroid use. Back then, people just said he finally figured things out. He was 8th in the MVP balloting and also made his only all star appearance.

The all star appearance was also one of the most replayed events in all star history, though most don't connect the event to Jim Hickman. In the bottom of the twelfth inning he rapped a single. Pete Rose was on second and Cub manager Leo Durocher, who was coaching at third base waved Rose in. He flew into home and barreled over the catcher, Indian Ray Fosse, to score the winning run. Fosse's career was never the same after that, and the incident was a hallmark of Rose's career. But it was Jim Hickman's bat that made it all happen.

Rose, running over Ray Fosse, with Leo Durocher also visible.

Another shot of the collision

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 8

#62 - Chico Salmon Chico came to the Pilots from the Indians. The Pilots and the Padres share the brown colored name circle. The color makes sense for the Padres, but not for the Pilots, who had blue as their primary color.

#63 - Jim Hickman - another Cub, he gets his own post tomorrow

#64 - Bill Monbouquette
Bill probably has the longest last name in the set. Look how small they had to make the font on his last name. Bill is shown in Yankee pinstripes. The Giants obtained him mid-season, 1968.

#65 - Willie Davis A nice shot of the Dodger star.

#66 - Orioles Rookies Adamson looks scared to death and Rettenmud looks thrilled to be on a baseball card. Merv would have several good seasons with the powerhouse Orioles of Earl Weaver in the early '70's. Rettenmund was signed by the Orioles in 1964 so I'm not sure what Topps had to airbrush out. Was the photo of him with a minor league hat?

#67 - Bill Stoneman Stoneman is pictured in a Cubs uniform, the team the Expos drafted him from. He was nothing special with the Cubs over two seasons, but tossed a no-hitter for the Expos in only their ninth game in 1969. He had another no-hitter in 1972.

#68 - Dave Duncan Tony LaRussa's right hand man is shown with an airbrushed KC A's hat. Most catchers at this time were still catching two handed, like Duncan is shown. Johnny Bench and Randy Hundley were the one handed pioneers.

#69 - Steve Hamilton The 6'7" lefty is posing at Yankee Stadium. The back of the card says he played pro basketball for the Lakers. He was a second round pick of the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958 and played two season for the Lakers. His baseball career ended in with the Cubs, making 22 appearances in 1972.

#70 - Tommy Helms Helms taking a cut at Shea. The Reds last wore sleevesless uniforms in 1966. Why did Topps not take a picture of him since then?

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 4
Hatless - 20
Airbrush - 11
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 9

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 7

#53 - Sonny Jackson
Sonny spent the entire 1968 season with the Braves, but Topps digs out a photo of him with the Astros and airbrushed the hat. That's an interesting look on Sonny's face.

#54 - Cisco Carlos Cisco is posing at spring training in Sarasota. The Sox were one of a few teams to wear TV numbers on their sleeves in the 1960's.

#55 - Jerry Grote I will have very little to say about any of the Mets in the set because if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

#56 - RIch Reese Forgive me if this is politically incorrect or insensitive, but it looks like Reese throws like a girl. His arm is at a very weird angle to throw the ball. Sorry ladies!

#57 - Series One Checklist The checklists included pictures of various All Stars, with 30 game winner Denny McLain on this one.

#58 - Fred Gladding Fred is pictured in a Tigers uniform. Both he and McLain were teammates and they look like twins. Compare this card with the checklist; same glasses, same smile. But where McLain won 30 games in one season, Gladding hadn't won 30 games in his six year career.

#59 - Jay Johnstone A rare card in which a batter is actually wearing a batting helmet. Jay looks like his is 16 years old. He would later spend 2 1/2 seasons with the Cubs in the early '80's.

#60 - Nelson Briles Nelson is looking all business in this spring training pose. And I will say it again, the yellow and red in the name circle match perfectly with the yellow and red on the Cardinals uniform. This is the best use of color in the set.

#61 - Jimmie Hall He was the AL rookie of the year for the Twins in 1963 and then spent the rest of his career trying to duplicate that season. He never could. He is pictured here in an Angels uniform. Jimmie came over to the Cubs at the tail end of the 1969 season and and stuck around for the early part of the 1970 season before being released. Since Topps have update sets back then, I had to create a Cubs card for Jimmie

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 4
Hatless - 18
Airbrush - 7
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 6

Monday, May 25, 2009

Five Random Cubs Cards

I have 5,274 Cubs cards from 13 different brands. A random number generator picked five of them. Here they are in the order selected.

Topps 1954 Ray Blades For the first time, the generator gives us a card from the 1950's. Ray Blades was a coach with the Cubs and he doesn't look very happy about it! After managing the Cardinals in 1939 and 1940, he bounced around the majors as a coach with three other teams before coming to the Cubs. Ray was born in 1896, making this one of the few cards (or maybe the only one) I have of someone born in the 19th century.

Pacific 1999 Sammy Sosa: Two week in a row for a card from Pacific 1999. Since he is not hopping, I would have to say that Sammy just flied out. This is card #66 in the set, the year after Sosa hit 66 home runs. That was kind of a cool thing for Pacific to do. Can I assume #70 is Mark McGwire?

Donruss 1983 Larry Bowa: Bowa is digging in at Wrigley. Notice he is wearing his hat under his batting helmet. Player don't do that anymore since they now must wear the helmet on the bases, too.

Bowman 2004 Grex Maddux: This was Maddux's first year back with the Cubs after 11 seasons with the Braves. The card looks like a photoshop job; the Cubs logo just doesn't look right on the jersey.

Donruss 1994 Jose Guzman: Guzman making a pitch in the spring at Wrigley Field. The picture on the back of the card was taken later in the season, showing him against green ivy instead of the brown ivy we see on the front of the card.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bowman 2009 Cubs Team Set

I was able to pick up the 2009 Bowman Cubs team set off of ebay last week. There are 10 players in the base set and four in the prospect set. Today I'll feature the base cards. I'll show the prospects sometime soon.

First, a little about the cards. What is the deal with Bowman and black? I'll admit that I don't know much about the Bowman brand. Is there some reason why black has been the featured color on their cards for the past several years?

One thing that I you don't see too often is the player's uniform number on a card. Bowman has it in the bottom left of the card. I like that. However, the front of the card does not list the player's team. That, I don't care for.

Here are the ten Cubs cards, in alphabetical order.

#104 Milton Bradley This card features a pretty bad photoshop job. The red C on the hat is too big and the "Chicago" on the jersey looks ridiculous. I'm guessing this was taken when in 2008 when Bradley was with the Rangers. If you look at the left edge of the dugout, you see some of the lettering for ""

#96 Ryan Dempster A nice posed shot of the Cubs starter at spring training in Mesa.

#190 Kosuke Fukudome The Cubs outfielder is taking a swing at Wrigley. He has an interesting looking signature. I wonder what his signature looks like in Japanese?

#31 Rich Harden It looks like a shot from spring training. Harden's only spring with the Cubs was this spring, 2009. Did they take a picture in February and then get the card printed by May? Does Topps need more lead time than that?

#172 Derrek Lee This was taken at spring training, too because the Cubs are sitting on the first base side. It also looks like 2009 because the numbers and name on his back have the red trim missing (compare this to the letters and numbers on Soriano's back)

#17 Ted Lilly Ted is warming up in the bullpen at Wrigley Field.

#163 Aramis Ramirez The Cubs third baseman is taking a lead on the road. The Cubs sure are missing his bat in the lineup right now.

#176 Alfonso Soriano Soriano is waiting for a pitch at the Friendly Confines. Notice the red trim on the name and numbers, which is what the jerseys looked like last year.

#164 Geovany Soto A nice action shot of the NL rookie of the year. But I don't like that you can't see his face. If they want to use an action picture, use one of him with his mask off. I've never understood the point of a card of a player if you can't see what he looks like.

#131 Carlos Zambrano Big Z is on the hill at Wrigley. He just came off the DL and the Cubs need strong pitching from him, now that Harden has gone to the DL.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sean-O-Meter Update May 23

Total keeps going up and now the Sean-O-Meter is in four figures! Thanks this week to John and David.