Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Birthdays

According to Baseball Reference, there have been only eleven major leaguers with a Leap Day birthday and not a single player active today has a February 29th birthday.

The list includes:
Terrence Long, 1976
Bill Long, 1960
Jerry Fry, 1956
Al Autry, 1952
Steve Mingori, 1944
Al Rosen, 1924
Pepper Martin, 1904
Roy Parker, 1896
Ralph Miller, 1986
Ed Appleton, 1892
Dickey Pearce, 1836

Of that group, only one played for the Cubs,

Bill Long. The card is from the 1990 Topps TV set.

He is known more for his five years on the south side than his short time with the Cubs. He came to the Sox in the same 1984 trade with the Padres that brought Ozzie Guillen to the Sox. Long spent most of his career in the bullpen and never had a winning season with the Sox. He was traded to the Cubs on April 30, 1990 and made 42 relief appearances. Though his ERA was high, 4.37, he posted his only winning season, going 6-1. He was released by the Cubs after the season and was picked up by the Expos. He made only three April appearances for the Expos before being sent to AAA and never returning to the major leagues.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another T206

I've hinted at more T206s.

So here's the deal: I'm after two more, Joe Tinker and Frank Chance. When finished, I'll have the Cubs famed double play trio.

Right now I've got one down, and one to go. Here's what I've got:

I picked this one up raw. It's in rougher shape than my Evers card, but I can live with that. Actually, at first I couldn't live with it. So I did something that some collectors might frown on; I soaked the card.

It was a leap of faith to try to clean up a 100+ year old card. I did lots of reading on the process and everything I read said that the T206 cards should come through with no real risk of damage. It was a fairly simple procedure: you quickly submerge the card in a flat bowl of luke warm water and soak if for several hours. Then you carefully remove the card from the water, dab it off with paper towels, and then place the card in another paper towel and set it under some weights for 24 hours to dry.

This was supposed to clean up the card and remove some dirt. For me, it did nothing. Nothing bad happened to the card, but it didn't get any cleaner, either. Oh well; it was worth a try.

Buying raw meant no need to worry about cracking a slab. I keep the card in a screw down, just like the Evers. And it goes on the shelf.

And that gives me Tinker to Evers to one more card I'm still looking for.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I appreciate the comments on Thursday regarding my graded T206 Evers. I thought it over, and I had to go ahead and crack it.


I actually had a couple reasons. First, as I said on Thursday, I like to be able to hold my cards, and if its slabbed, I can't. But I also wanted to be able to have a decent, consistent looking display. Having different slabs wouldn't look as nice as what I had in mind. It was fairly simple to crack the cards out, and since the holder is oversized for a T206, I didn't have to worry about damaging the card.

I still wanted to keep the card protected, so this is what I did:

I got several of these matching screw down holders. I really like the look of the two relics (yes, I got another....the new one if from the 2002 version of T206) surrounding the T206.

So now I can touch the card, but keep it safe.

I have a matching display on the shelf.
And I've got more holders and room on the shelf for more cards.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 10,017 Cubs cards from 64 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1950s / 1960s Bowman 1951 #211 Hal Jeffcoat He had a decent season in 1951, hitting .273 in 113 games. He didn't have any power to speak of, with only four homers, and knocked in only 27 runs. But it is a really nice looking card.

1970s MSA 1976 Jose Cardenal
It wasn't too long ago that I had a post with the entire Cubs set of five players from this 1976 set. The 1976 season was Jose's last as a full-time player. But he was already in decline, as his average dropped 18 points and he had 21 fewer RBIs. But you can see that his fro was still growing strong.

1980s Topps 1980 #381 Cubs Team
The random number generator gives us some floating heads! Too bad it was of a really bad team. Preston Gomez is the manager on the card, and 1980 was his first as Cubs skipper. But he didn't last very long, only 90 games. The team was 38-52 when he got the boot. Replacement manager actually did worse, as Joey Amalfitano's tenure saw the team post a 26-46 record. For the year, that was 64-98 and last place.

1990s Bowman 1998 #423 Courtney Duncan
The Cubs took Duncan in the 20th round of the 1996 draft. He spent the 1998 season with AA West Tennessee. The Cubs were grooming him as a starter, and all of his 1998 appearances were as a starter. With 29 starts, he was 7-9 with a 4.26 ERA. He did eventually make it to the Cubs in 2001 and 2002, but didn't do anything too impressive and the Cubs let him go after the 2002 season.

2000s Upper Deck 2009 #64 Kerry Wood
This card is from the first series of Upper Deck's 2009 set, and is Wood's last UD card as a Cub. He spent the 2009 season with the Indians, who had signed him as a free agent after the 2008 season. UD did have a card of Wood with the Indians in the second series.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Couple New Stamps

I recently had a chance to add a couple stamps to my Ernie and Billy collections. These are inserts from the 1961 Topps set. There were 208 different stamps in the set and came two to a pack.

Half of the stamps, like Ernie's, were green. He was on two different two panel stamps, sharing one with Chico Fernandez and another with Pedro Ramos.

Billy's stamp is the other color, brown. It's interesting to me that he was included in the set, since 1961 was his first full year in the majors. Topps must have seen him as an up and coming player; for once they were right!

As you can see from the pictures, both stamps are in really nice condition, considering that they are 50 years old. In fact, the Williams stamp becomes the oldest piece in the PC. They both came at very reasonable prices, and are nice additions.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flick Friday: Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams is up today. The 1989 classic is known not just as a great baseball movie, but as a great movie in general. There's no need to talk about the all know it. So lets just get to the other stuff!

You may remember that the WW family spent part of its summer vacation in Iowa at the Field of Dreams. The fact that the field is still there 22 years after the movie's release is a testament to the power of the film.

When we were there the ball field, farmhouse, and farm acreage were for sale, as the farmer-owner was retiring. In late October the property was sold to a couple from my home town of Oak Lawn, Illinois. They plan to leave the movie field and build a youth baseball complex on the rest of the property.

I've got a couple cards related to the movie

This Joe Jackson card was in the opening scene of the movie. Its a fake, created by the producers, with Ray Liota as Joe Jackson.

Here is the original Cracker Jack card along side the movie fake.

This is a card of Moonlight Graham that I picked up at the field in Iowa.


I've got a couple. First, in this scene, when Ray first meets Joe. They have a conversation about the lights.

Joe: "What's with the lights?"
Ray: "All the stadiums have them now, even Wrigley Field."
The movie was filmed in 1988, the year the lights were installed in Wrigley Field. Jackson died in 1951, three years after the Tigers, the second to last team to install lights, did so.

When Ray, Terrance, and Archie are heading to Iowa, we catch a glimpse of this sticker on the visor of the van.

Ray was a Dodger fan as a kid, but is he a Cub fan now? If so, that could give, "Ease his pain" a whole new meaning!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cub Card #10,000

You may have noticed from my Five Random Cubs Card posts that I was approaching the 10,000 Cubs card mark. I wanted to do something special for card #10,000; I didn't want it to be some scrub player from a junk wax set of the 1990s. I also had some extra cash to spend from my Star Stellar profits, so I could go for something nice.

As I was trying to come up with an idea for #10,000 I kept thinking about this card

that I got from Trey around Christmas time. It was very cool to have a Johnny Evers relic card. But that got me cool would it be to also have a Johnny Ever baseball card. And the real deal, not some reprint.

I knew what I would be my 10,000th Cub card...a T206 Johnny Evers.

I've got reprints of all of the Cubs T206 cards, but going after the originals was going to be different. I spent a week or so looking over different auctions and completed sales just to get an idea on price. I decided that condition wasn't going to be super huge. I didn't was a card with creases or paper loss, but I didn't need sharp corners. After all, the card was going to be over 100 years old.

I also decided to get a graded card. That way I didn't have to worry about authenticity or card doctoring. I settled on either a PSA 2 or 3. They weren't the lowest grade, and they're in my price range. I also decided to get the bat, Chicago on shirt version. There are there different Evers T206s, but this version matches the relic card. I thought they would look nice displayed next to each other.

With my card choice settled, it was a matter of watching some auctions and waiting. It took only a couple weeks for me to acquire 10,000th Cub!

I was very please with the look and condition of the card. Though its only a 2, it seems to be in great shape. The corners don't look bad at all for a 2. The only disappointment for me is that, being a graded card means I don't get to handle the card, just the plastic holder.

This is my first grade card, and I've intentionally stayed away from them because I'm a tactile person. I like the feel of the cards in my hands. Having it in the holder robs me of that. I'm very tempted to crack it out of the slab. After all, I know its authentic, and as a 2, if I get it re-graded some day I don't have to worry much about a lower grade.

So why should I keep it slabbed? Or do I crack it and hold it!

Should I take a Chance and Tinker around with the card? And do you want to take a guess on the next two T206 cards I'm chasing?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1992 Star Stellar Ryne Sandberg for FREE!

I've written in the past on my quest for all of the Star Cubs sets. There are a few I'm missing, mainly because they are nowhere to be found. One of those was 1992 Stellar Ryne Sandberg. In two years I think I saw only one set on Ebay, and it went for over $30. But recently, I not only found the set, but I got it for free! Here's how:

Bored one Saturday, I decided to do some Star hunting. Instead of looking for individual player sets, I searched for complete sets. And I hit paydirt! There was a seller who had a couple of complete 1992 Star Stellar sets. His starting price for the 12-player set was $19.99. I figured I would try to get a set and then sell off the other players to make back some of the full set purchase price.

I was able to get the complete set for only $21, which was less than the price of the only other Sandberg set. I was very happy! Once I got the set, I put the other eleven players on Ebay. So far, I've got six of them sold. The total selling price of the six was $86. So not only did I end up with the Sandberg set for free, but I made another $60!

One thing different about this set is that it comes in a binder and 9 pocket sheet instead of a plastic case like all of my other Star sets. This one also has a certificate.

You can see that my set is #63 of of 500.

The cards are have the usual Star setup, with nine cards detailing different parts of the players career.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with my Star profits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Operation Bullpen

Today's post isn't Cubs related. It isn't even baseball card related, but its close.

For Christmas I wanted another baseball card related book, but I had trouble finding one. I've already got Mint Condition, Card Sharks, The Card, and Cardboard Gods. I settled on Operation Bullpen by Kevin Nelson, which deals with sports memorabilia.

The book tells the true story of an FBI sting named Operation Bullpen. We're given a very disturbing picture of the sports autograph industry and the shady characters involved. A California card shop owner, Wayne Bray, teamed up with forger Greg Marino, to produce over $100 million worth of bogus memorabilia. They even fronted an authentication service to give their junk worthless certificates of authenticity.

It takes the FBI a couple years to get enough evidence to make arrests, but eventually Bray, Marino, and several others are brought down. Though they are put out of business, sports forgery is still alive and well today, due in large part to Ebay. Anyone can sell anything on Ebay, and Ebay claims no responsibility in making sure that autographs are legit. It's buyers beware.

One of the most interesting things in the book for me was what led to the FBI investigation in the first place. In the early 1990s, Michael Jordan signed an exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck. He would sign only their products. But Upper Deck was seeing his signature on many other non-UD items. They confronted MJ, who denied signing them. If he wasn't signing, then they had to be forged. To protect their investment, Upper Deck cooperated with the FBI as they conducted an investigation in the Chicago area named Operation Foul Ball.

Several arrests were made, but Upper Deck complained to the FBI that shutting down one operation just shifts the forging somewhere else. Upper Deck kept pressuring the FBI to do more, and that led to Operation Bullpen.

The irony to me is that the book Card Sharks details many of the shady practices of Upper Deck, including printing up thousands of additional copies of supposedly rare cards that management personnel sold for their personal profit. In essence, what we have is crooks ratting out other crooks who are hurting their syndicate.

I found the book to be an interesting (but disturbing) read. I would recommend the book, but if you are looking to buy an autograph on ebay, I recommend that you be very careful!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Day Cubs Style

In honor of Presidents Day, I present to you the Presidential line up, Chicago Cubs style.

Bobby / John Adams

Terry / John Quincy Adams

Joe / Jimmy Carter

Reed / Lyndon Johnson

Craig / James Monroe

Phil / Ronald Re(a)gan

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly

Franklin Roosevelt Brown

Sammy / Zachary Taylor

Willie / Woodrow Wilson

And one of my favorite cards from last year