Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ernie Banks Peel-Off Sticker

This sticker comes from the 1963 Topps Peel-Off insert set. As you can see, the front has a floating head picture of the player, along with a listing of his team and position.

There were a total of 46 unnumbered stickers in the set. Banks was one of two Cubs in the set; second baseman Ken Hubbs was the other.

I would assume that these would be more scarce than other inserts of the era, since many of them ended up getting stuck on notebooks, book covers, and other assorted items.

If you're wondering who else the set included, here is the checklist, sorted by team.

Jerry Lumpe A's
Norm Siebern A's
Bob Aspromonte Colt 45s
Dick Farrell Colt 45s
Bob RodgersAngels
Lee ThomasAngels
Hank AaronBraves
Warren SpahnBraves
Ken BoyerCardinals
Stan MusialCardinals
Bill WhiteCardinals
Ernie BanksCubs
Ken HubbsCubs
Tommy DavisDodgers
Don DrysdaleDodgers
Sandy KoufaxDodgers
Orlando CepedaGiants
Willie MaysGiants
Jack SanfordGiants
Rocky ColavitoIndians
Dick DonovanIndians
Johnny RomanoIndians
Richie AshburnMets
Al JacksonMets
Brooks RobinsonOrioles
Jim GentileOrioles
Johnny CallisonPhillies
Art MahaffeyPhillies
Roberto ClementePirates
Bill MazeroskiPirates
Bill MonbouquetteRed Sox
Carl YastrzemskiRed Sox
Bob PurkeyReds
Frank RobinsonReds
Chuck HintonSenators
Dave StenhouseSenators
Jim BunningTigers
Al KalineTigers
Camilo Pascual Twins
Harmon Killebrew Twins
Luis AparicioWhite Sox
Ray HerbertWhite Sox
Floyd RobinsonWhite Sox
Mickey MantleYankees
Bobby RichardsonYankees
Ralph TerryYankees

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Learned Something New About the 1967 Set

The title says it all...

I think most collectors are aware that in 1968 Topps made a pretty significant design change after series one. They went from the wide burlap background of series one... the tighter burlap for the rest of the set.

But not too long ago as I was looking through the '60s binder, I had one of those "Duh!" moments. It came from a look at the first two player cards on the page. Here they are side by side:

Can you spot the difference?

It shouldn't be too hard, since the design is pretty minimal. On the series one cards (like the Altman), the top line has the player's name and position. But after series one, Topps added a dot between the name and position. See it now?

I've had 1967 cards since, well since 1967. But I never noticed the missing dot.

The question I have is, why the change? Did Topps get complaints about the lack of design features?

The meeting of the Topps execs may have gone like this:

Boss: Men, we've got a problem. The first series is out and the sales numbers are down. I think the design on these cards is just too simple. It's missing something; it needs some pizazz. Anyone got any suggestions to spruce things up?

Flunky One: Sorry boss, I got nothing.

Flunky Two: Me either boss, sorry.

The boss, getting agitated, shouts, "I'm surrounded by incompetence! We are Topps...we are known for our design innovation. Now someone give me something!"

Flunky Three, with some trepidation in his voice says, "Well, what if we add a dot to the card. We could put it between the player's name and his position."

Boss: Brilliant! That's the kind of thinking we need more of around here!

And the rest is history. The dot was added to all of the series two through series seven cards.

But I still don't understand why!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Disappointment at the LCS

In my neck of the woods, there are no local card shops, unless local mean about at least a 40 mile drive. I don't consider that to be local, so I've use the internet as my LCS. Because of the distance, I think I can escape the guilt that some in the hobby try to lay on those who don't buy from their local card shops.

I spent a couple days over Thanksgiving at my parents house in the SW Chicago burbs. There is a card shop only a couple miles from their house, and Steve at White Sox Cards has said good things about it, so I thought I would check out the place.

Specifically, I was going to be looking for cards that the Cubs handed out at Wrigley Field in 2002. In this post I wrote about the 2001 giveaway cards and mentioned that I would be on the hunt for the '02s and '03s. I was able to come up all of the '03s and seven of the eleven '02s from my usual on-line sources. I figured that a shop in the Chicago area might be an excellent place to look for the missing four '02s. So I was pretty excited to be able to set foot in an actual card shop.

The plan was to head there on Friday. The shop I was heading to has no online presence (disappointment #1; how can a shop survive today with no website? Apparently you can't, because it turns out that there is a For Sale By Owner sign in the shop window), so I was unsure of their hours. I slept in a bit and then figured I would get to the place a little after 10:00, which I did. That led to disappointment #2.....the store was closed. They opened at 11. I turned around and went back to the folks'.

We had other plans for the middle of the day, so I didn't return to the shop until about 3:00 p.m . When I walked in I saw the same guy I see in every card shop. You know him-- the overweight guy with greasy hair who talks about everything but doesn't really know much about anything. He also doesn't seem to have a job, other than hanging around the card shop.

I milled around a little while until I was able to grab the attention of the guy behind the counter away from the fat guy. I told him what I was looking for, cards that the Cubs gave away at Wrigley Field in 2002. I expected him to say something like, "Sure, let me go in the back and see what I've got." Instead, I just got disappointment #3, a completely blank stare. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. He muttered something about the All Century team set (which was given away in 1999). I said no, and repeated about the cards given away at Wrigley in '02.

He pointed at a quarter-a-card box of Cubs on the opposite counter and said I could look through it. I humored him and rummaged through it, but of course, the cards weren't in a box of early '90s junk.

I told him, nope, not in there, but thanks anyway, and headed out of the store. What a bust! Maybe if the shop was on the north side, I would have had better luck. But still, this was in Chicago, so wouldn't you think the guy would at least have had an inkling about these cards?

I got back into the car and headed back. Along the way, while waiting at a stop light, I noticed a card shop shop on the other side of the street. This was less than a mile away from the parents' house. Turns out the place just opened and my folks never noticed it before. Well, maybe my luck was changing! I crossed the street, parked the car and headed in.

This place was empty except for the guy working there. I guess they haven't had time to get a fat guy regular yet. The worker greeted me and I explained what I was looking for. He then greeted me with another blank look. Disappointment #4! He too had no idea what I was talking about. The best he could do was say that they might have the cards at their other store, which was in another suburb over 30 miles away. That wasn't going to do me any good. I thanked him for his time and left the store.

Two local card shops, two uninformed workers, too bad for me.

And if of you happen to be in your LCS, do me a favor and check and see if they have any of these four:
Dave Kingman, a 1979 replica, given away on July 25, 2002
Lee Smith, a 1984 replica, given away on September 28
, 2002
Billy Williams, a 1961 replica given away on June 19, 2002
Don Cardwell, a 1961 replica, given away on May 7, 2002

I've never seen an actual copy of these four, though the Kingman card should look something like this:

...a replica of the 1979 card with

a special 2002 Wrigley Field label added ( I just guessed where the Wrigley label would go).

And if the shop owner gives you a blank look, check with the fat guy. Maybe he has a line on the cards!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Name The Date, Super Vintage Style

With modern cards, it's become a fun game to try to name the date the picture was taken. But on vintage cards, it's not so easy, mainly because there were so few action shots.

And on cards from the '50s its next to impossible, since there were no action shots, only posed ones. But notice I said, "NEXT to impossible."

I found a 1957 card that I can pin down to a three day span.

First, I know for a fact that the picture on this 1957 card was taken in 1957. That was the only season that the Cubs wore this style of road uniform. Since the picture for a '57 card was taken in the same year the card was released, I have to assume that it is from the early part of the season.

Second, I know that the picture was taken in Philadephia at Connie Mack Stadium. Behind Singleton is the famous "Spite Fence" that Connie Mack built to block the view of the ballpark from the houses across the street.

So it was just a matter of checking the schedule to see when the Cubs were in Philadelphia in the early part of the season. The answer? They had a three game set against the Phillies from May 2-4.

Another clincher for those dates is that Singleton only pitched in games in April, May, and one in September.

So a combination of '57 uniforms, Connie Mack Stadium, and games in April-May give me pretty conclusive evidence that the picture was taken on either May 2, 3, or 4, 1957.

And this one too!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Harry With A Patch

All right class, raise your hand if you can tell me something about Cubs pitcher Harry Perkowski.


Then allow me. Harry Perkowski pitched for the Cubs in 1955. He had spent the previous seven seasons with the Reds. His best seasons were 1952 and 1953, when he won 12 games in each season. He fell off badly in 1954, winning only two games. That somehow made him attractive to the Cubs brass, and they put together a five player swap in October, 1954 to bring him to the Cubs.

Topps felt he had something left because they included him in the '55 set as one of only 12 Cubs. They wouldn't have had any pictures of him in a Cubs uniform, but since all of the cards were paintings, that shouldn't have been a big deal. Plus, both the Cubs and the Reds had a wishbone C on their hat, so all Topps had to do was switch some colors.

That they did with no problem. But look at the action shot. Poor Harry has a blank uniform. Topps didn't take the time to put a Cubs patch on his chest.

But I did!

The back of the card says that they Cubs picked up Perkowski "to strengthen their mound staff." So how did Harry do?

Not very well! He was 3-4 with a 5.29 ERA. The 1955 season was his last in the majors. He bounced around the minor through the 1960 season but never did enough to get recalled.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Big Hunking Patch

I wasn't collecting in 2007, so I had no idea about the felt logo patches that were a part of the Heritage 2007 set. When I saw a Cubs patch listed on ebay a couple weeks ago, I thought it would make a nice little addition to my collection.

Heritage 2007 was based on the 1958 set. The Cubs logo on the patch is the same one that I have as my photo on my Google profile, so that made me want the patch even more. I figured that it was about the same size as the patches that kids in my era wore on jackets or hats, which were around two inches in diameter.

No one else seemed to interested in the Heritage patch. I was the only bidder and picked it up for 99¢. What a deal!

When the patch arrived, I was shocked. It was huge! This wasn't some little two inch patch, it was five inches! What a nice little big surprise.

This gives you some perspective on how big this thing is. It dwarfs a baseball card. Because of their size, they were not included in rack packs; instead they came one per hobby box. Those boxes are going for around $99 right now. I'll gladly skip the box and just take my 99¢ patch.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Red for Turkey Day

My Thanksgiving tradition is to post a couple Turkey Red cards on Turkey Day. Topps is making that a little harder since they didn't put out any Turkey Red cards in 2011. So I'll have to dig back into the WW archives for a few older cards.

After browsing through the sets, I decided to show a few real turkeys.

2005 Corey Patterson...a true turkey, good ol' KKKKKKorey Patterson

2006 Phil Nevin. The Cubs picked him on May 31, 2006 and traded him away exactly three months later. Topps thought that those three months were good enough to include him in the set. I disagree.

2007 Felix Pie: I'd much rather be thinking about some French Silk Pie than Felix Pie.

I hope these guys haven't ruined your appetite. Now go enjoy some real turkey!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1966 Billy Williams Rub Off

Today I've got a recent addition to my Billy Williams collection.

It's a Rub Off insert from the 1966 Topps set. It becomes the second oldest card in my Williams player collection (which is made up of cards other than the regular Topps cards). It's in really nice shape; I've seen others of these that get all cracked and ugly looking.

The set was made up of 100 players and 20 team pennants. Other Cubs included Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. There isn't a single one of either of these on ebay right now. If an Ernie Banks pops up I'll go after.

Since this is a rub off, that means it reversed. I don't have any plans to actually rub it off, so through the magic of photoshop, here is what it would look like if it were rubbed off on a piece of paper.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coins in the Pockets

As a kid, I did the most collecting from 1973 - 1976. The four previous years, I bought cards, but not a bunch. But by 1973, Topps had stopped placing inserts into packs of cards. It was just cards and the gum. I do remember getting a couple of the inserts from the earlier years like the 1969 Deckle Edge cards 1970 booklets and scratch offs.

And today's feature too, the 1971 coins. In fact, I definitely remember having a Don Kessinger coin. It wasn't with my cards, but I dug around some other junk boxes in the house and found it!

It looks like it's seen better days.

Topps put out a set of 153 coins in 1971 and even included a checklist in the base set. The list includes seven Cubs. I didn't really think much about adding the set to my collection until I saw an auction that had a lot of six of the seven. Being able to get a bunch at once is a good thing, so I set my sniper. Apparently there wasn't too much interest because I won the lot at a price of less than a dollar each.

They aren't in mint condition, and the centering isn't perfect, but they look pretty good for being 40 years old. Here are the six from the single lot:

The seventh Cub was Fergie Jenkins. I poked around ebay and found a good one at a good price, and with that, the set is complete.

Once I had the coins, I needed to figure out a way to store them. Here's what I came up with:

They are in a 20 pocket tobacco card sheet. I spaced them out because when they were in pockets next to each other, the sheet started to pucker up.

For now I added the sheet to the back of the 1971 set in my '70s Topps binder. My only concern is that the coins may leave a circular impression on the cards. If that happens, I'll have to move them. But for now, they look nice right where they are.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Harry Bright: Mr. All

One has to be a serious student of the game to know the name Harry Bright. Until I bought his Cubs cards, I never heard of the guy. Yet he has a card that features something that may not have been on any other card, ever.

Bright broke into pro ball in 1946, at the age of 17. He started off as a catcher, and after a couple years, switched to the infield. His minor league journey lasted 12 years, when he finally broke into the majors with the Pirates in 1958. From there he bounced around with the Senators, Reds, Yankees, and finally with the Cubs. Along the way he also started playing some outfield. When you're in you late 30's you play any position you can to keep a spot on the roster.

So by the time he came to the Cubs in 1965, he was Mr. All. And Topps reinforced that on his 1965 card.

Look at the positions they have him listed at

INF - OF - C. Can anyone think of another card that lists a position player at every single position? I can't. Plenty of cards list two different positions, but I can't recall another that lists three different spots.

And if Topps had a sense of humor, they would have listed Bright this way...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 9,566 Cubs cards from 60 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s: Topps 1959 #118 Art Ceccarelli The Cubs picked Ceccarelli up from the Orioles after the 1958 season in the Rule 5 draft. He spent the first half of the '59 season at Fort Worth, and then joined the Cubs in July. He started 15 games and was 5-5 with a 4.76 ERA. The highlight of his season was a 3-0 ten inning shutout against the Dodgers on September 6.

1970s: Topps 1979 #299 Steve Ontiveros The 1979 season would be his last season as a regular. He put up decent numbers, hitting .285 with 57 RBIs. The next season he slumped badly, hitting only .208 before the Cubs released him in late June.

1980s: Fleer Record Setters 1988 #10 Andre Dawson I picked up this card as part of my Dawson player collection. There were 44 cards in the set that Fleer produced for the Eckerd drug store chain. Though the set is called "Record Setters," there is not mention on the card of any specific record that he set.

1990s: Donruss 1998 #133 Kevin Orie The late 1990s version of the "Third baseman for years to come" lasted only a season and a half. He was below the Mendoza line in 1998, hitting a mere .181 when the Cubs gave up on him and sent him to the Marlins on July 31.

2000s: Topps 2006 #447 Jacque Jones I was excited when the Cubs signed Jones for the 2006 season. He had put up solid numbers with the Twins the past several seasons and the hope was that he would settle in as the Cubs right fielder. But Jim Hendry seemed to have a knack for signing guys right as they peaked and then they began their downward slide with the Cubs. Jones got off to a very slow start and the Cubs fans got on him quickly. There was talk of racist remarks coming out of the bleachers, and Jones never really caught on. He did end up with 27 HRs and a .285 average, but the next season he slumped badly and by 2008 he was finished.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The New Boss

So, the Cubs hired a bald headed manager with a hard to pronounce last name.

Here's hoping the second time's a charm!

Actually, I think they made a good hire. Plus, I trust the judgment of Epstein and Hoyer more than Jim Hendry. Now that the management team is in place, it's time to get some players. Front office stats don't count in the standings. I want some wins on the field, too!

As far as cards go, I guess I've got several of him in my collection. I didn't do a complete search, but I did come up with some Fleer bookends.

1986 Fleer Update, at the start of his career

1992 Fleer, as things were winding down

Friday, November 18, 2011

Action Shots in the '80s: Not Shea, Again!

Action shots first showed up on Topps cards in 1971. Throughout the '70s they slowly crept onto more cards. And during the '80s they became more and more common. But Topps, based in New York, seemed to shoot most of the National League action shots at Shea Stadium. And once the photographer picked his shooting spot in 1981, he stayed put there the rest of the decade. That led to some pretty boring cards.

This is Scot Thompson's 1981 card. Take note of the dugout in the background, because you're going to see it seven more times!

Shea got a paint job in 1981, but otherwise, it's the same spot on Jim Tracy's 1982 card....

....and Jody Davis in 1983....

....Jody again, 1984....

....Bobby Dernier in 1985....

Steve Lake in 1986....

....Ryno in 1987....

....and in almost a carbon copy of the Ryno card complete with ball coming off the bat, its Jerome Walton in 1989.

Here are the eight all together. Do you have a sense of deja vu? Do you have a sense of deja vu?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Topps Stickers

These came out almost three months ago and when they did, I didn't have much interest in them. But not too long ago, I saw a Cubs set for sale for less than a buck and and half. I couldn't say no to a deal like that could I?

I really like the design of these. It's simple, yet colorful. And it's readable! There's none of that hard-to-see glossy silver/gold junk that Topps have been using on the cards as of late. I didn't realize that the stickers were smaller than regular cards, but that's no big deal. I guess it makes sense to have them smaller, since they are stickers that are supposed to go into an album.

Nine Cubs made the 294 sticker checklist. They're all the usual suspects; no surprises here.

And here is the team card, shared with the Padres.