Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fleer Finally Finished II

The featured set today is Fleer's 1961 Baseball Greats Set. The set almost doubled in size over the previous year, going from 79 cards to 154. The number of Cubs doubled too, from nine to 19. Once again I used the checklist from Teamsets4U and based the team designation on the uniform shown. Because of that, you'll see some famous names that you may not associate with the Cubs.

Before I get to the cards, I'd like to talk a little about their condition. These are 50 years old and all have yellowed over time. Some were also a bit dirty. There were several that had wax or gum residue on the fronts, too. I decided to try to clean that off. An old collector trick is to use a nylon stocking (no, I don't wear them....I borrowed one from Mrs. WW) to rub off the residue. It does a great job and really made a difference in the look of the card.

Does anyone else do this? Does anyone have a problem with me doing it. I know some collectors won't touch a card...the way it is is the way it is. My opinion is that I'm not changing or altering the card, I'm just removing something that was added to the card. Anyone else clean their cards, or try to remove creases (I haven't tried that yet)? Is it wrong?

Back to the cards! Fleer used a variety of background colors, so I thought I'd arrange the cards by colors.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fleer Finally Finished

When I returned to collecting in 2008, one of my first goals was to complete the run of all Cubs cards from Topps, Donruss, and Fleer. Those were the brands I knew and for the most part, I got that goal accomplished. For 1952 Topps, I settled on reprints. Later I got the real cards except for the high series. For Donruss and Fleer, I started at 1981 and went to the end of the line for each. I thought I was done.

I later learned that Fleer wasn't finished. In 1981 all the talk I heard was about Donruss and Fleer's first sets. I bought them back in 1981, errors and all. It wasn't until I got back to collecting that I realized Fleer had sets from the early '60s too.

The 1963 Cubs set was easy to put together. There were only two Cubs on the 67 card checklist. But Fleer also had sets from 1960 and 1961, and in order for me to say that Fleer was finished, I needed to get those cards, too.

I decided that I would tackle that project over the Christmas break. Today I'll show the '60s and tomorrow it'll be the '61s.

Both the 1960 and 1961 sets featured retired players. Topps had the exclusive on the active players (except for Ted Williams), leaving Fleer to pick up the retired left-overs. The 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats set had 78 past players and one card of Teddy Ballgame. Nine of the 78 were Cubs, which is a pretty decent showing of Cubs. The cards don't list a team on them, just the player's name, so for the most part it's the players uniform that determines the team.

I used the checklist from Teamsets4U as my Cubs checklist. It was good with a couple exceptions. The list had this card...

...of Johnny Evers on the Cubs list. But if you look at the bottom right of the card you'll see a "B" on his uniform. Evers is known mainly as a Cub, but he did spend time with the Boston Braves near the end of his career. To me he's a Cub, and despite the "B" I'm leaving him in my set.

Evers was one of seven Cubs in the set that are in the Hall of Fame. I'll start with those...

KiKi Cuyler was not in the Hall of Fame when the set was released. With each of the others, the card includes the year the player was inducted. Cuyler didn't make it until 1968, so there is no HOF mention on his card.

The two non-HOFers were known more for their time with other teams.

I'm have doubts about keeping Derringer in the Cubs set. The best part of his career was with the Reds. Both the Reds and the Cubs had a wishbone C on their hat, so it looks like this card could pass for both teams. Now look at his chest. Just above his right arm are some letters. Is it spelling CINCINNATI or CHICAGO. I'm thinking I see a IN more than a CH. What do you think?

Finally, here is the other problem with Teamsets4u's checklist. This card of Earl Averill

was included as a Cub. And it sure looks like a Cub, but actually, the C is for Cleveland. Averill was and Indian for the majority of his career and never played for the Cubs, though

his son did. Maybe it was the same name among father and son, plus the C on the uni and hat, that caused the confusion. It just means that I have an extra 1960 Fleer card in my collection.

Tomorrow I'll have the 1961 Fleer Cubs.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 9,972 Cubs cards from 64 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

Before I get to the cards, take another look at the number of Cubs cards I've got. It's getting real close to 10,000. When Topps 2012 comes out, I'll be even closer. I want to make #10,000 something special, and I've got in mind what I'd like to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull it off. Stay tuned!

Back to the cards....I believe this may be a first for Five Random Cubs Cards....no Topps cards. All five are other brands.

1950s / 1960s Bowman 1955 #137 Bob Talbot We start with a card from the TV set, Bowman's 1955 swan song. This card was also Talbot's swan song. After hitting .241 for the Cubs in 1954, Bowman considered him worthy of a card. But he didn't even make the team and spent the next six years in the minors, never making it back into the major leagues.

1970s SSPC 1978 #257 Greg Gross SSPC gives us a nice portrait shot of the Cubs outfielder. This season was the second and final for Gross in Cubbie blue. After hitting .322 in 1977, he had a 57 point drop in '78. After the season he went to the Phillies in a trade that included a total of eight players. You don't see those big swaps anymore.

1980s Score 1989 #146 Frank DiPino Like Greg Gross, DiPino came to the Cubs from the Astros and would spend two seasons with the team. His 1988 numbers were lousy, 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA. So after the season the Cubs let him go. The Cardinals signed him and all he did was go a perfect 9-0 with a crazy low 2.45 ERA.

1990s Fleer 1992 #388 Chuck McElroy The Cubs were the second of nine times that McElroy pitched with. The 1992 season was the worst of his three in Chicago, as he went 4-7.

2000s Bowman 2003 #BDP29 Sergio Mitre The righty pitched briefly with the Cubs in 2003, making his major league debut. He got bombed in his first MLB start, giving up 8 runs in 3 2/3 innings. He returned to the team in September and pitched scoreless ball over five innings. That helped to lower is ERA for the season to only 8.31.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Oddball Upper Deck 2008 Variation

I paid 99¢ for eight Cubs 2008 Upper Deck cards. Then again, it was 99¢ for just one card. Take a look:

It's a single sheet of eight cards with the center card congratulating the 2008 NL Central Division champs. The cards are exact duplicates of the actual UD cards, same size, same pictures, same card numbers.

The sheet isn't perforated, so I don't think its supposed to be cut apart. I check ebay pretty regularly for Cubs cards, and when I found this sheet, it was the first time I saw it. I was the only bidder, which explains the bargain price. What I haven't been able to figure out is what this card is from. Was it given away by UD at Wrigley Field? Chicago area hobby shops? The Cubs Convention? I plan to keep an eye out for more of these to see if I can come up with any other information on it.

The back does have an Upper Deck oddity. Back when UD first came out in 1989, they played up the fact that their cards had a hologram on them to make the cards more difficult to counterfeit. To this day, they still use the hologram....

....but not on this sheet. The area where the hologram would go is blank. Boy, I sure hope I didn't waste 99¢ on a counterfeit product!

Friday, January 27, 2012

30 Years Ago Today, the Cubs Pulled Off A Good One

Flick Friday will not be seen today so that we can bring you this special 30th anniversary presentation.

Whenever really bad trades are listed, the Cubs trade of Lou Brock to the Cardinals for sore-armed pitcher Ernie Broglio is usually near the top of the list. The Cubs catch a lot of flack for the deal, deservedly so.

But 30 years ago today, the Cubs made a trade that like the Brock trade, involved a future Hall of Famer. But this time the Cubs were on the up side of the deal. The trade was basically a swap of shortstops. The Cubs got an aging Larry Bowa and the Phillies got Ivan DeJesus (and his 1981 batting average of .194). But Cubs GM Dallas Green insisted the Phillies throw in a prospect, and the Cubs got a kid named Ryne Sandberg.

click on the picture to get a better look

Here is the AP article on the trade from the Pittsburgh Gazette. Sandberg is called a utility infielder and he gets one whole line in the article. The rest focuses on Bowa and DeJesus.

Sandberg spent his rookie season at third base, moving to second for the last month of the year. The only card of him from that year is this one...

....put out by the Cubs. It's also the only card that shows him as a third baseman.

In addition to this one, I've got 445 other Ryne Sandberg cards in my collection. That's more than any other player. Not bad for a throw-in.

While digging around for the newspaper article on the trade, I found another one that was very interesting. It was from the Milwaukee Sentinel on December 13, 1981. The Brewers were looking to make a deal or two at the winter meetings and guess who they were interested in?

It looks like Dallas Green wasn't the only GM who thought Sandberg had potential. Luckily, the Brewers weren't able to make a deal, and a month later the Cubs did. Otherwise, instead of this...

we may have had...

....this. Yuk!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fixing A Couple 50 Year Old Hats

There are a couple cards in the 1962 Cubs set with hat issues. I felt the need to fix them.

This card is up first. Poor Bob Anderson; poor hatless Bob Anderson. The iconic Wrigley scoreboard is in the background, so we know this picture was taken at home. But Bob isn't wearing a hat. When the Topps photographer tells you to take your hat off, that means he thinks you're not very good and they need a shot to use in case you get moved.

But Bob didn't. So why are they using this picture? Shouldn't there be a picture of him wearing a hat? We can't have a hatless Cub at Wrigley Field. That would just be wrong.

Consider the wrong righted.

On to problem #2

I have to give Topps credit for trying. Bob Buhl was traded to the Cubs on April 30, 1962. Topps scrambled to get the card updated and changed the team listing to the Cubs. But the hat, well, I'm guessing that they picked this picture because so little of the "M" was visible but forgot to airbrush out the "M."

Later on an airbrushed version of the card came out. That is all well and good, but with 2012 technology we can do better. Let's put Bob in a Cubs hat.

Much better!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Red and Blue Heroes

In the post I wrote about the 2008 Baseball Heroes set I said I liked the base but was ambivalent about all of the different colored parallels. There were too many for my taste. Among the comments was one by Night Owl, who stated that the colored parallels were the only reason he cared about the set and that I should look into some of the parallels.

It was good advice and I took it. After looking over the different choices, I decided to get the red and blue sets. The reason for those to colors should be obvious: they are to two main colors you see on a Cubs uniform and I thought the cards and uniforms would look nice together. I was right!

Both colors are numbered, the red to 249 and the blue to 199. Yet despite the fact that they are in such short supply, I was able to get them all fairly easily and fairly cheaply. I don't understand how cards with such a low print number can go for only a dollar or two. I would have thought that there were 199 Ernie Banks collectors that would have snagged all of the blue Ernies and stored them away, putting them at a premium price. Luckily, that's wasn't the case.

With the numbered cards, that means that at most, there are 199 blue Cubs team sets put together. It's safe to assume that not all 199 of the cards ended up in team sets. I wonder how many blue or red Cub sets (or any other team, for that matter) have been put together? 50? 100? 1?

I'll display the cards side by side. You can really see how both colors match nicely with the Cubs uniform. Thanks Night Owl for nudging me towards these.

I like to store my parallels side by side in the binder so you can see how they looked together. Here is what the first page looks like:

Pretty nice!