Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two More Roster Books

In addition to my Cubs baseball card collection, I've also got a collection of Cubs media guides. Until 1981 they were called "Roster Books" and were available for purchase at Wrigley Field. When the Tribune bought the team they started putting out more traditional media guides.

My collection begins with the 1960 book and runs through 2010. That makes 51 years worth of guides. Not too long ago an ebay seller had several older guides up for sale. Besides several that I already had, he also had roster books from 1958 and 1959. I haven't seen too many of these available and the ones that I've seen were BINs with crazy prices on them, so I never bothered. But these two were auctions, so I set my sniper and watched.

There wasn't much action on them, and I had my sniper set high enough to win them both. The price I paid was barely half of the BINs, so I was pleased. Even better, they arrived quickly are in in fantastic condition, especially for books that are over 50 years old.

This is the front cover from the 1958 guide.

And this is the inside cover. That action picture is unique; it's the only action shot in any of the roster books I've got, up through the last one in 1981. Too bad they didn't do that again.

Here are a few fun facts I gleaned from the book:
++The 1958 Cubs had 17 scheduled doubleheaders
++The longest winning streak for the 1957 Cubs was six games
++Lee Walls hit for the cycle on July 2, 1957
++The 1958 team had two new hotels on it's itinerary: the Biltmore in Los Angeles and the St. Francis in San Francisco
++Box seats cost $2.50 for adults and $1.60 for children


The 1959 roster book looked like this:

The style of the cover was varied from year to year, yet you could see some design consistency.

The guide included this picture of Hall of Famer and Cubs coach Rogers Hornsby instructing some member of the Des Moines team. The strange thing about it is that Des Moines was not listed as a Cubs farm team. In 1958 Des Moines was a Dodger affiliate and the next year the club was part of the Phillies' chain. So I'm at a loss as to why Hornsby is working with Des Moines.

Other interesting tidbits from the 1959 book:
++the Cubs moved the starting time for weekday home games to 2:00 p.m., half an hour later than in 1958.
++Only three players, Ernie Banks, Don Elston, and Lee Walls lived in the Chicago area year-round.
++Joel Schaffernoth (21) was the youngest player on the team; Elmer Singleton (39), the oldest.
++the 1958 Cubs led the major leagues in home runs, yet finished in 5th place, 72-82.
++the team was touting modernization of Wrigley Field during the off-season, including the addition of new concrete slab facing installed on much of the park. (This ugliness was partially removed in 2010).

I'm not totally positive, but I believe that 1958 was the first year the Cubs put out the roster book. I've found team yearbooks available for earlier seasons, but I haven't seen a 1957 or earlier roster book. So maybe, I've got the back end of the collection finished and just need to add a new book each season.

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