Monday, June 30, 2014

Cubs 1950 Scorecard

I was able to pick up a 1950 scorecard and fill in the hole in my collection.  My run now goes uninterrupted from 1949 to 2014.

The cover is another Otis Shepard beauty.  Unlike some of his later covers, this one actually shows a baseball player.  The directive from above must have been to showcase the action on the field.  In later years, when the product on the field wasn't very good, the covers highlighted a fun day at beautiful Wrigley Field.

This scorecard was unscored,  though the starting lineup was pre-printed by the Cubs.  Based on the advertising in the card for upcoming games, this was probably from Friday, August 19.  Only 3,823 people showed up on a rainy day at Wrigley to see the Pirates beat the Cubs 9-3.

Now that I've got no holes in my collection, I've been thinking about what to do next.  My initial thought was to start going backwards and see how far I could afford to get.  When I started looking at scorecards from the '40s I realized that they were not like the four-page cards in my collection.  Most were smaller, 12-page booklets like my 1941 program.  

I found that the first 4 page large card was used in 1948.  With that knowledge, I've decided that 1948 would be the starting point for me.  I'll end up with the complete run of Cubs full sized, four page scorecards.

The 66 cards that I have right now make a nice 6 x 11 tile....

When I add number 67, I'm not sure how I'll make that tile.  A prime number, 67 doesn't give me much to work with.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 12,442 Cubs cards from 89 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1971 Topps #410 Ken Holtzman  The highlight of Holtzman's 1971 season was a no-hitter against the Reds on June 3. But otherwise, he was not very good, going 9-15 with a 4.48 ERA.  He was not happy with the Cubs and Leo Durocher and asked to be traded.  After the season he was sent to the A's with Rick Monday coming to the Cubs.

1980s: 1981 Coke #2 Bill Buckner This card comes from a 12 card team set put out by Coke with some help from Topps (more about the set here).  Billy Buck had a good year during the strike-shortened 1981 season.  He led the NL in doubles, was second in hits, third in RBIs, and fifth in average.  Always the consistent hitter, he batted .313 against lefties and .312 against righties.  He struck out only 16 times during the season and was an All Star for the third time in his career.

1990s: 1993 Topps #812 Matt Walbeck Coming Attractions  Walbeck would have an 11 year major league career, but played on 11 games with the Cubs.  He made the 1993 team out of spring training but was returned to Iowa at the end of April.  He came back as a September callup.  After the season he was traded to the Twins with the Cubs getting Willie Banks in return.

2000s: 2006 Ovations Spotlight #MW Michael Wuertz This card is a part of my autograph collection.  Sometimes my rule of one autograph of any Cub that has a certified auto from their time with the Cubs means that I get stuck with cards of some so-so guys.  This would be one of those.  Weurtz spent his entire career working out of the pen, usually a seventh or eighth inning guy.  In 2006 he pitched 40 innings over 41 games.  He also made 30 appearances for AAA Iowa.

2010s: 2014 Archives #146 Starlin Castro The RNG picked a card that was featured here just three weeks ago.  Castro has had a nice turn-around season so far.  He's especially thrived since being placed in the cleanup spot.  He currently leads the team in RBIs and has more home runs now (11) than he did all last season (10).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2005 Champions Cubs

After issuing its first Champions set in 2003, Donruss took a year off before bringing the brand back in 2005.  They should have taken more time off, because what they came up with was not very good.

This was one of the last sets Donruss released before losing their MLB license as it came out in December, 2005.  So strike one against the set is that all of the stats listed on the card are from 2004 and over a year passed since that season before the set came out.

The set was increased in size over the previous Champions set, coming in with 450 cards.  But, strike two, several players have multiple cards. Among the Cubs  there are two cards of Derrek Lee and three of Sammy Sosa.

The 2003 set tried to create some sort of connection between the players and being a champion.  Strike three--the 2005 set doesn't even try.  These are just baseball cards under the brand name Champion.

Worst of all, strike four, is the design of the cards, at least the base cards.

This could be an OK design, except for the blank spot on the right side.  The base card was designed with relics and auto stickers in mind.

For those cards, the design is fine.  But the base cards look silly with that dead space.

The Cubs netted 18 cards, though that represents 15 players, with Lee and Sosa getting multiple cards.

The set did have many more retired Cubs than in 2003.  I'll lead off with those:

A couple things to point out....Sammy was an ex-Cub when the set came out in late 2005.  He was traded to the Orioles before the 2005 season began.  Even odder was the inclusion of Hee-Seop Choi as a Cub.  He went to the Marlins before the 2004 season, almost two years before the set came out.  The back of the card has his 2004 stats and list the Marlins and Dodgers as his teams.  I've got no idea why Donruss has him with the Cubs.....Andre Dawson looks very cool in his 1948 throwback uniform.  That was from June 21, 1992 when the Phillies turned back the clock.

Here come the active players for the Cubs. 

Two starting pitchers are missing...Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux.  Maddux was included in the set as a Brave even though the Cubs signed him in the spring of 2004, twenty months before the set was released.

I have to wonder if this was just something Donruss slapped together, knowing that they wouldn't have a license any longer....a sticker and relic dump.  It doesn't really seem like they put much effort into the product.

Champions?   Hardly.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Champion Cubs!!

Yes, you read the title correctly.  Today I've got some Champion Cubs!

No, the cards are not from 1908.

And no, I haven't been over-indulging in some Old Style.

What, then, do I have?

Donruss Champions.

It's been a long time since I've added a new brand to my collection.  Honestly, I think I'm maxing out.  But that doesn't mean that I'll not add.  I still do a daily Ebay search for Cubs team sets.  And every now and then I find something  that I hadn't seen before.  That was the case with Donruss Champions.

Donruss issued the set twice, in 2003 and 2005.  Today I'll have the 2003 cards...tomorrow 2005.

There are 300 cards in the set. Donruss numbered the cards by team city.  The Anahiem Angels come first, the Toronto Blue Jays are near the end, and then 25 assorted rookies finish the set.  

Though called "Champions,"  the players really aren't Champions of anything.  Instead, Donruss gave each card a category like rookie, prospect, rising star, or listed some sort of accomplishment.  

The base Cubs cards are numbers 45-55.  There should be eleven cards, but #47 didn't end up a Cub.  The card belongs to Fred McGriff, who played for the Cubs in 2002, but was not re-signed for 2003.  He ended up with the Dodgers and his card shows him in a Cubs uniform but on the bottom says "signed by the Dodgers on 12/2/02.

Here are the ten Cubs, starting with the "Rookies."


Up next, the Rising Stars...


One Cub was a Prospect (but really, he wasn't, though the Cubs were able to trade him for Aramis Ramirez)...

We got one Cub from the past.

The rest were current players with some sort of recognition



Finally, two Cubs were among the 25 rookies at the end of the set.


And there you have the 2003 Champion Cubs.  Too bad the real Cubs couldn't seal the deal in 2003...still smarting over that one!

Tomorrow I'll have the  2005 Champion Cubs.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


If Pro Debut can feature players for more than one season, why not double up on the mascots, too.

Last year Pro Debut introduced an insert set of manufactured patches of different minor league mascots.  The same set is in this year's Pro Debut also.

Last year, Ozzie the Cougar from the Cubs low A Kane County Cougars made the checklist.

He made it again this year.

Normally I'll stay as far away from any card with the name Ozzie on it.  But, while Ozzie Guillen is an obnoxious idiot, Ozzie the Cougar is warm and fuzzy.

Not only is he warm and fuzzy, but he's numbered too.  Last season the mascot patches were /120.  This year they are a bit harder to come by as they are only /99.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pro Debut Cubs 2014

I've had my 2014 Pro Debut Cubs cards for a couple weeks now.  They kinda got lost in the shuffle when Series Two arrived.  Thinks have settled down, so I've got time to get to them now.

First, I have to start with my annual "What is this set?" rant.

The product is called "Pro Debut."  That means it should feature players that are making their Pro Debut.  Or maybe the set has players making their baseball card debut.   Somehow there should be pros making some sort of debut.

Does that make logical sense?

For me yes; for Topps, no.

There are ten Cubs prospects among the 220 players--a pretty decent representation.  How many of the ten made their pro debut last season?

All ten should be the answer.

It's not.

Try none of them.  Most had their debut in 2012 or 2011.

OK, then how many are making their baseball card debut, or at least their Topps products debut?

Again, the answer should be all ten.

Again, it's not.

Of course the answer is none of them.

None of the ten Cubs prospects in Pro Debut made their pro debut last season or are making their Topps debut in Pro Debut.

In fact, six of the ten had a card in last year's Pro Debut.  In what world do you get to have more than one debut?

In Topps' worlds.

End rant...on to the cards.

First off are the four players that are new to the set.



Of the four, C.J. Edwards is the one to watch.  The Cubs got him last season in the Matt Garza trade.  He started the season in AA, but some shoulder trouble has slowed him down.  He's been rehabbing in Arizona and the Cubs hope to get him back to AA for the second half of the season.

Now the players making their debut²




Two of the "Core Four" were included (Almora and Soler) while Javier Baez and Kris Bryant were left out.  Baez was in the 2012 and 2013 set, so I guess it's good that he was omitted....three cards in Pro Debut would really be crazy!  And Bryant, who made his Pro Debut last season; leaving him out makes no sense.