Friday, July 31, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 26

#221 - Art Shamsky I usually don't have much to say about a Met, but this card features a player who was on the Reds in 1967, which means the picture was taken at Wrigley Field. You can see a little of the scoreboard towards the bottom right of the card.

#222 - Duane Josephson
A nice posed shot of the Sox catcher. I had a hat just like his when I was little and still under the influence of my Sox-rooting family. My grandpa spent part of his high school years on the north side and was a Cubs fan, so with his help I was able to escape from the dark side in 1969.

#223 - Tom Dukes
The red brim on the hat would mean he is wearing a Braves hat. Dukes was traded from the Brave to the Astros in 1966. The Padres got him in the expansion draft and he had a 1-0 record in 13 games.

#224 - Angels Rookies
Harrelson got in to 10 games with the Angels in 1968, but never played in the bigs after that. Kealey pitched in 15 games for the Angels in 1969. After the 1970 season he was traded to the White Sox and he had a couple decent season with the Pale Hose. The big question from the card is...what is up with Kealey's glasses?? Those are pretty funky looking.

#225 - Don Kessinger
The Cubs All-Star shortstop gets his own post tomorrow.

#226 - Bruce Howard
The smiling Bruce Howard is in a White Sox uniform, though he was traded by them after the '67 season. He started 1968 with the Orioles and was traded to the Senators in June. He had a 5.36 ERA in Washington and never played in the major leagues after that. His card also mention an oddity for a pitcher: Bruce was a switch hitter.

#227 - Frank Johnson
This part-time outfielder got into 67 games for the Giants in '68 and figured he was on his way. But in 1969, he went the wrong way and played in only seven games

#228 - Dave Leonhard
Dave is one of the luck few who got to play for his hometown team. The Baltimore native was 7-7 in 1968 and followed it up with a 7-4 season in 1969. He pitched in game 3 of the World Series and was taken deep by Ed Kranepool.

#229 - Don Lock
This is not an attractive card, in fact, its ugly! Lock was a part-time outfielder for the Phillies in 1969, but after only four games he was traded to the Red Sox. He hit .224 in 53 games in Boston. That was the end of the line for Lock.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 14
Hatless - 49
Airbrush - 45
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 37

Thursday, July 30, 2009

196(9) At A Time - 1/3 of the Way Home

I started this series on May 5, doing two pages a week. With this post, I've hit the 1/3 mark of the set. 25 of the 75 pages have been shown for your perusal.

So far, the set has broken down like this:

12 League Leader cards
3 checklists
8 World Series cards

12 team rookie cards
183 player cards

183 players + 24 rookies (two per card) = 207 players total so far.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)

Hall of Famers - 14 out of 207 players - 7%
Hatless - 47 out of 207 players - 23%
Airbrush - 43
out of 207 players - 21%
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 36 out of 207 players - 17%

Here's how lousy the photographs are in this set: If you add the hatless and airbrushed players together, you get 90 out of 207 players, a whopping 43% of the cards!

As the set progresses, these numbers will improve, as cards of the expansion team players start to show up in their new team's uniform. Also, the Houston problem gets worked out and we will see Astro hats, though the cards still say "Houston" instead of "Astros."

I also wonder how the past, present, and future Cubs percentage of 17% would compare with other teams? Anybody want to go back through the pages and come up with your team's count?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Checking Out the New Guys

Its amazing that the Cubs are only a half game out of first place as we near the end of July. They have been hammered by injuries all season. There have been only a handful of games in which the eight starters have started the same game.

Yet, they have been plugging along, and with the rest of the division struggling, the Cubs are where I hoped they would be, right near the top.

There has been a constant shuffle of players from Iowa that have contributed to the team's success. I'm sure these guys won't make Topp's Update set, so I included them in mine.

Pitcher Jeff Stevens has been with the team for about three weeks and has made five appearances. He's done a decent job since his MLB debut on July 10, having given up runs in only one appearance.

Stevens was sent back to Iowa this morning. The Cubs needed a fresh arm in the bullpen and called up Mitch Atkins. This is Atkins' first time on a major league roster.

UPDATE UPDATE: Atkins got into the game today and pitched a scoreless inning. Welcome to the majors!

In the off-season, the Cubs let back-up catcher Henry Blanco go. We miss Hank White. To help ease our pain, this year we added Andy White to the team. Second baseman Andres Blanco did a nice job with the glove when the regular Mike Fontenot had to play third base in place of the injured Ramirez.

Jeff Baker is our new Mark DeRosa, the play everywhere type of guy. Unfortunately, he can't hit like DeRosa. I hope our old pal Mark doesn't come back to haunt us now that he is with the Cardinals.

Kevin Hart has done a nice job as a spot starter. We will need more good starts from him, now that Ted Lilly is out until mid-August.

The last two months of the season should be exciting and with strong contributions from unlikely sources like these four, the Cubs should be in the mix as they shoot for their third straight division title.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 25

#212 - Tom Tresh
The 1962 Rookie of the Year was on his last legs by 1969. He was coming off a season in which he hit only .195. He couldn't get back on track in 1969 and was traded to the Tigers in June. He finished the season with Detroit and was released by the Tigers at the end of spring training in 1970. With that, he was finished.

#213 - Gerry Arrigo
I had this card as a kid and it was one of my favorites, not because of the player, but because of what is behind Arrigo's right shoulder. Yep, that is the Wrigley Field scoreboard. This would be another of the many Reds photos taken at Wrigley in 1967.

#214 - 3rd Series Checklist -
This one doesn't have a photo on it like the first two. It does have a second checklist on the back, a checklist for the 33 card deckle edge insert set. And when I was a kid opening packs of cards in 1969, these inserts meant nothing. Of course, the autographs on the cards weren't real and there weren't any little square pieces of jersey attached to the card.

#214 - Rico Petrocelli
I like this un-centered photo, which works because of the way Rico is bent over. The name circle looks good over his shoulder. The Bosox shortstop had a career year in 1969, smashing 40 homers, being named to the All-Star team, and finishing 7th in the MVP balloting.

#215 - Don Sutton
The future hall of famer is shown at spring training, and look how absolutely awful the grass looks. That's what my lawn looks like in July (because if God doesn't want to water my lawn, why should I!!). Don had just finished his third season in the majors and had yet to have a winning season. That wouldn't change in 1969 as he went 17-18.

#216 - John Donaldson
This is the only airbrushed card on the page, as Topps had to get rid of his KC A's hat. He appeared in only 12 games for the A's in 1969 before he was traded to the Pilots for Topp's left-handed catcher Larry Haney. He got into 95 games for Seattle.

#217 - John Roseboro
John is hatless and wearing a Dodger uniform (you can see the top of the D in the very bottom left corner of the card). By 1969 he was one of the few Brooklyn Dodgers still active. Traded to the Twins in 1968, he made the AL All-Star team in 1969. Yet, the Twins released him at the end of the season. He spent a little time with the Senators in 1970 before hanging 'em up.

#218 - Freddie Patek
The shortest man in baseball at the time was a secret hero of mine because I was a little shrimp of a kid. The back of his card calls him "pint-sized." How nice! 1969 would be his first full year in the majors and he started 141 games for the Pirates.

#220 - Sam McDowell
Sudden Sam was at the top of his game. He led the AL in strikeouts in 1968 , was second in ERA and was an All-Star. He continued his dominance in 1969, again leading the league in K's and posting 18 wins.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 14
Hatless - 47
Airbrush - 43
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 36

Monday, July 27, 2009

2008 Upper Deck Flopumentary about taking a pretty good idea and completely screwing it up. What a flop!

When Documentary came out last winter, I was intrigued by the idea of a set of baseball cards chronicling the entire MLB season. Then came the reviews and complaints of cards with pictures that didn't correlate to the game on the card- players wearing home unis for away games, players pictures who didn't play in the game, etc.

Documentary was never really on my radar, and those reviews pretty much knocked it off.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I'm scanning Cubs sets on ebay and run across a Cubs set of UD Documentary, all 163 cards of the set. The price was decent, about 11¢ per card. And the Cubs did have a really good regular season, with the National League's best record. The set could be a nice scrapbook of the season.

I figured I would just watch the set and if no one bid on it, I would try to snag it. Well, no one did bid on it so I grabbed it at the last second for the minimum bid. Good deal!

Not really!! The set came last week and I started thumbing through the cards. I look at the first ten games, and yes, not all the pictures matched the game, but that was ok. Then I get to games 11-20.......and the same 10 pictures are used again. On to 21-30 and its the same thing.....and the pictures are in the same order! This continued up to game 100.

This exact same picture of Alfonso Soriano was on cards 1, 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, 81, and 91.
The same thing was true of 2.12....3,13... and so on.

The picture on the card has absolutely nothing to do with the game and everything to do with the pattern! That is absolutely ridiculous. I understand that it would be too costly for UD to have photographers at every single game. But AP did. If you are going to document the entire season, why not work out a deal with AP to use their pictures. Heck, you can put an AP logo on the cards. But at least make an effort to get pictures to match the game!

The pattern changed with cards 101-133. Now there are only three cards in the rotation, repeating every three. This Soriano picture shows up on 101, 104, 107, 110, 113, 116, 119, 122, 125, 128, and 131.

From 134 to 163, three more cards show up, again repeated every three.

And to top things off, this familiar looking shot of Rich Harden shows up 11 times.

Why familiar? Because shots from the same sequence also show up in 2009 Series 1, 2, and OPC.

I like Rich Harden, but I don't want to see another picture of him again!

And in the future, UD, if you are going to document the season, do it right. Use 162 pictures instead of only 16!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Five Random Cubs Cards

I have 5,408 Cubs cards from 16 different brands. A random number generator picked five of them. Here they are in the order selected.

The generator came up with two Banks cards today. One is a really good one and one is a not-so good one. We also got two cards of players who didn't even play with the Cubs the year the card was issued.

Fleer 1983 #509 Pat Tabler He came to the Cubs from the Yankees in 1981 as a can't miss prospect. He murdered AAA pitching but really struggled with the Cubs. He didn't play with the Cubs in 1983, being traded across town to the Sox in the Steve Trout deal.

Topps 1994 #15T Willie Banks
This would be the not-so good Banks card. Most of you probably never knew that another player named Banks played on the Cubs. Willie had a very unforgettable Cubs career. The Cubs obtained Willie from the Twins for the 1994 season and he was placed in the starting rotation. He went 8-12 with a 5.40 ERA. In June of 1995 he was sent to the Dodgers for the immortal Dax Winslett (a pitcher who never rose above AA).

Pinnacle 1997 #60 Jaime Navarro
This is another card of a player who didn't suit up for the Cubs - Navarro was signed by the White Sox as a free agent for the 1997 season. He went 29-18 in his two years with the Cubs and the Sox thought they made a shrewd signing. Oops - he had a 25-43 record in three years on the south side.

Topps 1957 #55 Ernie Banks
Two weeks in a row we get to see Mr. Cub! This time, its the 1957 card, a style you should be familiar with because of the Heritage set from a few years back. He's pictured wearing a hat with the wishbone C. In 1957 the Cubs switched to the now-familiar rounded C on the hat.

Ernie had established himself as the premier shortstop in the National League by 1957. He had a great season, belting 43 homers and knocking in 102 runs. He was the only bright spot on a team that went 62-92 and finished one spot away from the cellar.

Topps 2007 #41 Rich Hill
2007 was Rich Hill's breakout season. He spent the entire season in the rotation and went 11-8. His 183 strikeouts were good enough for 5th in the National League. I saw him pitch in Cincinnati the day after the Cubs clinched the division. He was lights out giving up only one hit in six innings in a tune up for the playoffs. Everything seemed so positive that day. But that was the Cubs last win of the season, as they lost the last regular season game and then were swept by the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. 2008 was Hill's breakdown season, as he could no longer find the strike zone.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

27 Years Later, I Never Knew...

...or if I did, I forgot all about it.

I was surfing around this site, It is a great resource for finding error and variation cards. I was checking to see if there were any errors that featured Cubs cards and came across this one.

Fleer, 1982 Lee Smith. This was Fleer's second year of production. The first set from 1981 was riddled with errors, but they seem to have gotten their act together in 1982. Look again at the card. Can you find the error? Well, if you can't its because the error was on the back side!

Now look at the back. Back in the day, I must have looked at this card tons of times and I never noticed the error. Have you found it yet?

Check the Cubs logo in the corner of the card. The logo has been flipped horizontally. But because of the symmetry of the design and the letters, its not to easy to detect. I missed it for 27 years! Here is a closer look at it.

According to, Fleer corrected the error. But the two cards I have both are error cards. If any of you have the corrected card, I'd be happy to trade you an error card for it. Let me know

Friday, July 24, 2009

Goudey 4 in 1 Cubs

While everyone else has been busy with their Allen and GInter, I've been putting together a Cubs team set from the Goudey 4 in 1 cards. These cards are based on the 1935 Goudey 4 in 1 set. The backs of the original cards were also puzzle pieces, with nine needed to form a picture. It would have been cool is Upper Deck had done that, too. I remember several Topps sets in the late '60's and 70's had subsets with card backs that formed a large picture. Have any sets done that recently?

I couldn't find any checklists that listed the players on these cards by team, so I just had to carefully scan the list to see which cards I would need. I hope I've got them all.

There were 12 cards that have Cubs players. Three Cubs from the past, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, and Billy Williams, were featured, along with current players Harden, Fukudome, Ramirez, Soriano, Lee, Soto, and Zambrano.

I'll start with the cards that show only Cubs. There were four of them.

And then, the other eight, with Cubs mixed in with other players. All of these have some theme that connects the four players.


Pitchers, again

Pitchers, one more time

First Basemen

Second Basemen

Third Basemen

Asian players?

Rookie Stars

Thursday, July 23, 2009

196(9) At A Time - Page 24

One of Topps biggest uncorrected errors of 1969 is on this page.

#204 - Jack Hiatt - This would be a really nice looking card if it wasn't off-centered. Hiatt was the back-up catcher for the Giants. In 1970 he came to the Cubs to help replace the injured Randy Hundley. HIs .242 average wasn't much help.

#205 - RIch Reichardt
Another very happy young Angels outfielder in a batting helmet. He hit 13 home runs as the Angels starting left fielder in 1969.

#206 - Phillies Rookies
Hisle had a great rookie year for the Phillies in 1969, finishing 4th in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Lersch ended up with a six year career, including a really bad 1971, when he went 5-14 (though his ERA was 3.78).

#207 - Roy Face
Face was obtained by the Tigers from the Pirates to help with their pennant push in 1968. He appeared in two games with the Tigers in September. They released him at the end of spring training in 1969 and Face was signed by the Expos. He made 44 appearances and actually had a winning record of 4-2. But he was released by the Expos in August and at age 41, his career was over.

#208 - Donn Clendenon
Poor Topps tried to keep up with the bouncing Clendenon, but couldn't. In both cards he is pictured in a Pirates uniform, the only team he was with in the first eight years of his career. In October, 1968, he was drafted by the Expos in the expansion draft. In January, 1969 the Expos sent him to the Astros in the Rusty Staub trade. But Donn refused to report to the Astros. In April he was traded back to the Expos and played in 38 games before being traded to the Mets. He ended up hitting .357 for the Mets in the World Series.

#209 - Larry Haney
Here is the big uncorrected error, as the card shows Haney left-handed; the negative was flipped around. This was a collossal blunder for a couple reasons. First, the picture is the exact same one used by Topps in 1968 and it was shown correctly.

Secondly, how many left-handed catchers have there ever been in big league history. You can probably count them on your left hand. It anyone proofing the set had any baseball savy, they would have caught the error right away. But the card was never corrected.

#210 - Felix Millan
Scrappy Felix is shown at spring training. The one thing I remember about this guy was how far he choked up on his bat. He always seemed to have a good six inches of bat below his hand.

#211 - Galen Cisco
Cisco made it back to the majors in 1969 after spending all of 1968 in the minors. Thank you expansion. He made it into 15 games for the Royals and that brought his big league career to an end.

Overall Set Totals (player cards only)
Hall of Famers - 13
Hatless - 46
Airbrush - 42
Cubs (includes past, present, or future) - 36