Friday, September 30, 2011

Score 1993 - 1996

In my opinion, Score seemed to have peaked with their 1992 set.

The were several changes in 1993. First, the set shrunk, going from 900 cards to 660 cards. The factory set disappeared too, so it was hand-collating only. And finally, the Score rainbow was gone. All of the regular cards had the same design.

And it was a pretty minimal design.

The set remained at 660 cards in 1994, but again no factory set and no rainbow. And the design was again a very minimal one. Score really seemed to keep things simple.

Shrinkage was back in 1995 (Obligatory Seinfeld quote, "I was in the pool! I was in the pool!") and the set was down to a Score-low 605. The first set had 330 cards, the second 275. I wonder why they cut series 2?

The design team escaped its two year boring streak and came up with the dirt bike set. That's the best description I can come up with for the funky design on the sides.

The shrinkage got worse in 1996 (the pool must have been really cold!) as the set was down to only 510 cards. The design team went back to their minimalist ways, too.

I'm pretty sure that that is the Cubs 2011 11th round draft pick Shawon Dunston, Jr. in daddy's arms.

Tomorrow I'll finish up my review of Score.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Score 1991 - 1992

I've got the next two years of Score today. The thing that sets these two apart is the factory box.

I don't know for sure, but I would make the educated guess that this was the first time a company used a box other than the long narrow box for their factory set. As you can see from the pictures, the boxes held two rows of cards instead of the usual one. I would speculate that the reason for the change was the increase in the set size. Both years topped 900 cards, and the single row boxes were too small.

The 1991 set was made up of 900 cards plus 72 magic motion cards.

The rainbow had some additions. With the increased number of cards came some colors not used in the past, namely light green, black, and white. But despite the new colors, Score only used four colors, repeating each a second time
Blue - #1-110
Green - #111-220
Black - #221-330
White - #331-440
Blue - #441-550
Green - #551-660
White - #661-770
Black - #771-900

The 1992 set was the last time Score used the rainbow. The colors are:

Green - #1-110
Blue - #111-220
Orange - #221-330
Purple - #331-440
and then the rainbow repeated
Green - #441-552
Blue - #553-662
Orange - #663-772
All Stars, Awards, Highlights, 1st Round Picks - #773-810
Purple - #811-877
Dream Team - #878-893
Bonus Cards -B1-B17

And with that, it's good bye rainbow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I was looking for a complete set run to add to my collection.

My Topps complete set collection covers 1969 to 2011. Until I win the lottery, I won't be adding any older Topps sets. No chance to complete that run!

I've got the complete run of Fleer, from 1981 - 2005, plus all but two (Clemens and Puckett) of the traded/rookie cards. And I'm fine with those two holes, so I consider Fleer done.

After I finished the Fleer run, I looked into doing the same thing with Donruss. But towards the end, Donruss went crazy with the dreaded short prints, which has put some complete set prices too high.

The same is true with Upper Deck. I've got their sets from 1989 -1993, and they go for a reasonable prices. But some of their later sets also have the stupid SPs, so Upper Deck is out.

Then I looked into Score. And I scored! They only had an 11 year run, from 1988-1998, and no short prints. And the hunt was on.

For many of the sets, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Factory sealed sets of early Score can be grabbed for no more than $10 each. Now we're talking! By the time I finished, I picked up a total of 8081 cards from the base and rookie/traded sets.

Today, I'll take a look at Score's first three base sets, from 1988-1990.

The first two sets were very similar, They had the same number of cards, 660, and the same box design, with only the color changed. They also came with 56 magic motion trivia cards. In 1990 the set got bumped to 704 cards, plus the 56 magic motion cards and the factory box had a new design, too.

I suppose the signature feature for Score cards was the varied use of colors on the cards.

Here's the Score color chart:


Purple - #1-110
Blue - #111-220
Red - #221-330
Green - #331-440
Yellow - #441-550
Orange - #551-660


Green - #1-110
Light Blue - #111-220
Purple - #221-330
Orange - #331-440
Red - #441-550
Dark Blue - #551-660

Though the set grew buy 44 cards, the rainbow shrunk to only three colors:

Green - #1-220
Red - #221-440
Blue - #441-660
Green - #661-682...these are 1st round draft pick cards and they had a different design
The rest of the set was a variety of cards: Dream Team, Season and World Series Highlights...

and Bo!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Milton Bradley Cards...The Non-Psycho Ones

Please don't be scared off by the title of the post. I've got cards from this



This baseball game, put out by Milton Bradley, came out in 1969, right when I was really getting into baseball. But I have absolutely no recollection of the game. I don't remember seeing any commercials for it or seeing it in the Sears Wish Book (I found the 1969 Wish Book here and the game isn't in the catalog, though a lot of other fun toys careful, you could spend hours at that website going through all of the old catalogs!) I wish I did, because I would have put it at the top of my birthday or Christmas list. Maybe I should put it on this year's list.

To me, it's the baseball cards with actual pictures of the players, that makes this more appealing than Strat-o-matic or APBA. Of course, the pictures do have a major drawback. Since Milton Bradley had only a license from the Players Association and not MLB, the cards are all absent of any team logo.

Milton Bradley had different versions of the game, from 1969, 1970, and 1972. I picked up three Cubs cards,

...1969 Billy Williams

....1969 Ernie Banks

....1970 Ernie Banks

My player collections for both Ernie and Billy has been filling up, though with mostly modern cards. I have been looking for some affordable oddballs from their playing days and these three fit the bill.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2006 Factory Set Cubs

As they did the previous season, in 2006 Toops released a specially made factory set for the Cubs. And again, there were five extra Cubs cards in the set. The five were a combination of current team stars, a traded card, and two rookies.

These are the two stars. In both cases, the factory set cards are different than the base cards. I've got the factory set cards on the left, the base on the right.

Juan Pierre came to the Cubs for the 2006 season. His base card (on the right) was in the second series.

These cards are of the two rookies in set. The Cubs picked Freddie Bynum up from the A's just before the start of the season and he was a bust. Sean Marshall made his Cubs debut on April 9, 2006, and has served as the lefty out of the pen ever since.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 9,199 Cubs cards from 56 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s Topps 1952 #330 Turk Lown This is one of the high-priced high series cards from the '52 set. I've been tracking raw card sales, and since January 1, the average price for this one is $99.83. With that in mind, the picture you see is a reprint!

1970s Kelloggs 1974 #10 Billy Williams
This nice looking card is from Billy's final season with the Cubs. He was 36 in 1974 and his numbers were going down. He played in a career low 117 games in '74 and hit only 16 HRs, also a career low. He also moved to first base from the outfield, playing 65 games at first and only 43 in the outfield.

1980's Topps 1988 #564 Frank Lucchesi
Raise you hand if you knew that Frank Lucchesi managed the Cubs? Anyone?? I didn't think so. Lucchesi took over for the last 25 games of the 1987 season when Gene Michael was fired. The Cubs were 8-17 and for the season finished in last place. After the season GM Dallas Green resigned and was replaced by Jim Frey. Frey quickly hired his childhood friend Don Zimmer as manager and Frank Lucchesi was out.

1990s Select 1994 #32 Ryne Sandberg
This card is from Select's second year, and I think its a pretty nice looking card. The card looks better than Sandberg did in 1994; he was hitting .238 when he retired in mid-June.

The card also looks better than the corncob dress that Cindy Sandberg wore at the press conference when Ryno announced his retirement. Soon afterwords, all sorts of rumors about her relationships with other players came out. It was speculated that he really retired to try and save his marriage. It didn't work; she filed for divorce ten days after he retired.

2000s Upper Deck 2001 #291 Matt Stairs
The well traveled veteran spent the 2001 season with the Cubs. First base opened up because the Cubs let Mark Grace walk and super prospect Hee Seop Choi wasn't ready yet. Stairs played in 128 games, hitting .250 with 17 HRs and 61 RBIs. Late in the season the Cubs picked up Fred McGriff, leaving Stairs without a spot. He became a free agent after the season and moved on to the Brewers

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lee Arthur

Here is the latest addition to my autograph collection

Lee Arthur Smith. The card is from Topps Archives 2003, using Smith's 1983 card.

Smith came up to the Cubs as a September call-up in 1980. It was a perfect time; the Cubs had traded Bruce Sutter before the season and were looking for a closer. He made 18 September appearances and did well. The next season he made pitched in 40 games, but wasn't put into the closer role yet. That would happen in 1982, when he saved 17 games. He would average over 30 saves for the Cubs through 1987.

Jim Frey traded him to the Red Sox in one of his first deals as GM in December, 1987. It was a lousy deal, as the Cubs got two bums in return, Calvin Schiraldi and Al Nipper.

I never had the confidence in Smith that I did in Sutter. Smith always seemed to make things more interesting than I liked. The one game I remember that best exemplifies this was on August 2, 1984.

The Cubs had just taken over first place the day before and were looking to build some momentum. Against the Expos at Wrigley Field, the Cubs held a 3-2 but starter Rick Sutcliffe gave up two singles, and with one out, the Expos had runners on first and third. Smith was brought in to face pinch hitter Pete Rose.

Rose smashed a liner right up the middle and it looked like the Expos would tie the game. But instead, the liner hit Lee Smith on the shoulder and caromed to shortstop Larry Bowa, who caught the ball on the fly for an out. Bowa then fired the ball to first and doubled up the runner. Instead of a tie game, with the go ahead run on second, it was a double play and the game was over. Lee Smith, or more correctly, Lee Smith's shoulder, got the save.

That's the Lee Smith that I remember; make it painfully close, but somehow get the save.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Topps Traded 2005 - Present

It was just about a month ago when I last looked at the Topps traded set. Today, I'll finish up with a review from the 2005 season up to today.

The 2005 set was set apart from the previous traded releases by sheer numbers; the set was Topps largest Traded ever, with 330 cards. And the number has stayed at 330 ever since, including the 2011 version, set for release in a couple weeks.

In addition to more cards, the set also got a new name, "Updates and Highlights." Traded and Rookies was out. Topps also returned to releasing factory sets, at least for a few years. The 2005, 2006, and 2007 boxes are below:

In 2006 Topps cut the base set to 660 cards, with 330 in each of the two series. With the Update set also having 330 cards, some collectors began referring to the Update set as "Series 3." That makes sense to me.

In 2008 Topps eliminated the factory set, so it was back to hand collating. And last season, the set underwent a name change again. This time, it was simply "Update Series." It looks like 2011 will keep that name.

So there you have it, from 132 Traded cards in 1981 to 330 Update Series cards in 2010. If you include the traded sets from 1972, 1974, and 1976, the total traded/update checklist includes 5,388 cards.

Now, lets take at a Cubs card from 2005 - 2010

2005 - 10 Cubs....A nice career milestone for Greg Maddux

2006 - 4 Cubs...That is a crazy-low number of Cubs in a 330 card set. That tells you just how bad things got in Dusty's last season. Carlos Zambrano led the team with 16 wins; Rich Hill was second with...only 6!

2007 - 16 Cubs....I guess they cleaned house after the last place finish in 2006!....This is Carlos Marmol's first card

2008 - 15 Cubs....Putting eight players on the All Star team will boost your team's number in the Update set. Dempster struck out the side during his one inning of work in the All Star game.

2009 - 11 Cubs...Randy Wells pitching in spring training on March 17.

2010 - 13 Cubs....Sean Marshall, making his fourth consecutive appearance in the Update set, and it looks like 2011 will keep the streak alive. One of these years he will crack the base set!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Earliest, Ever

One of the other Cubs items I collected in addition to baseball cards are pocket schedules. My collection goes back to the year I was born, 1961 (though I'm missing the '62...and one hasn't shown up on ebay in over a year and a half!).

Typically I'll get the schedules in the early spring. But not this year. Check out what the Cubs were giving out at the game last Saturday:

The 2012 schedule. I've never had a schedule for the following year when the current season is still being played. Of course, the schedule does say that games and dates are subject to change. And no game times are listed; Fox and ESPN haven't got their games picked yet though I don't think we'll see the Cubs on too many national games in 2012.

Here are some tidbits I gleaned from the schedule:
  • The season is starting a week later than in 2011, which means its ending a week later too, finishing in October.
  • The Cubs opener is at home, for the second consecutive season. They also finish the season at home.
  • The Marlins are listed on the schedule as "MIA" not "FLA" as they will become the Miami Marlins in their new ballpark in 2012.
  • Besides the White Sox, two AL teams come to Wrigley, the Red Sox and the Tigers. Other than the Cell, the Cubs visit only one other AL park, Target Field.
  • Six of the last nine games are against opponents outside their division.
Finally, take a peak at the back of the schedule.

Single game tickets go on sale March 9. In the past the Cubs have given out wristbands to fans lining up at the park. Some were there 24 hours early. And at you were stuck in the virtual waiting room for hours. But I bet next year you'll be able to walk right up to the ticket window, or go online and buy for just about any game.

I think I'll wait and see what bargains I can get.