Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Master Set Completion Shrinkage

In July I picked up my 101st item on the Billy Williams PSA master list.  It brought my completion rate to 80%, 101 out of 127.

Today I have 100 items on the list, and a completion rate of 75%.

I wasn't robbed.  I didn't lose anything.  Nothing was ruined because I left it in my pockets and it went through the washer.

The reason for the change is that PSA has adjusted the list.  I was alerted yesterday by superBanks collector Joe that there were two new items added to the Billy Williams list.  I went to the PSA site and looked up the Billy list.

It turns out that in addition to those two new additional items, five others had been added since I grabbed my original list.  And one item was removed from the list.

We went from 127 items to adding seven more and subtracting one.  The new to me total is 133 items.

Added were:
1964 Venezuela Topps Cubs Team 237
1969 Transogram Billy Williams Hand Cut-Side Panel
1971 Bazooka No Number Billy Williams/Dave Mcnally/Jim Fregosi Complete Box
1971 Bazooka Numbered Billy Williams Hand Cut 26
1971 Bazooka Numbered Billy Williams/Dave Mcnally/Jim Fregosi Hand Cut-Panel
1971 O-Pee-Chee Cubs Team 502
1974 O-Pee-Chee Chicago Cubs 211

None of these are actual new items; they are all variations.  The only ones that should be fairly simple to get are the two O-Pee-Chee cards.  The others are rare and expensive.  The 1971 Bazooka box is listed at $175.  An unnumbered 1971 Bazooka can be had for $37.49.

One item was removed from the list, the 1973 Topps Pin-up.  I don't know why a item would be removed from a list.  Maybe Joe can help out with that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Uncharted Waters

As a Cub fan I am in uncharted waters.

It's August 30 and the Cubs have the best record in baseball along with a 14 game lead in the division.  This is totally unprecedented in my lifetime.

Among the Cubs five division winning teams, on August 30th the 1984 Cubs had the biggest lead, 6 games.  A 14 game lead is more than double that.

Do I (can I) start to feel confident?

Or do I anticipate the inevitable heartbreak?

It seems like they are in a very good place.  They've been playing good ball since the All-Star break.They have a manager that knows how to keep them sharp and get them ready for the post-season.

But they are the Cubs.

Do I (can I) start to feel confident?

Or do I anticipate the inevitable heartbreak?

How would you fans of teams without a 108 year drought be feeling if your team was in the same position as the Cubs?

Help...I am floundering in uncharted waters!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Bad Post Office, A Good Guy

I ordered the Bunt Cubs team set from Brentandbecca a few weeks ago.

He emailed me on August 16 that the team sets would ship out the next day.  I kinda forgot about it for the next week.  When the set still hadn't arrived by the 26th I emailed Brent for tracking information.

He emailed me the tracking number and said it had been delivered.

I checked the tracking info and he did too. We emailed each other at just about the exact same time....the package got delivered to the wrong address.

It says delivered in Fenton, Michigan.

I live in Sturgis, Michigan, which is about 150 miles away from Fenton.

Thank you USPS.

Luckily, Brent is an upstanding dealer.

He told me he has no more team sets, but he has a complete set on Ebay and his own personal complete set.  He took the Cubs cards from one of those sets and sent them to me.  He's also working with the post office to find out what happened to my cards.  If he gets them back he'll use them to replenish his complete set.

The tracking on the replacement package says the cards should be delivered by Tuesday.

Unfortunately the tracking does not say where the package will be delivered.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 14,407 Cubs cards from 108 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1969 Milton Bradley Glenn Beckert  No logos, no team names--the Milton Bradley cards were about as minimalist as you can get.

1980s: 1989 Topps #642 Argenis Salazar  Who????  I've got absolutely no memory of Argenis Salazar.  Baseball reference has him listed as Angel Salazar.  Whatever his name is played in 34 games for the 1988 Cubs   He was outrighted to Iowa after the season and never played in a big league game again.

1990s: 1990 Bowman #39 Andre Dawson.  This guy I've heard of!  This is a nice shot of the Hawk taking a cut at Wrigley.

2000s: 2004 Topps Total #556 Tom Goodwin  He wasn't Good and the Cubs didn't win.  Badlose hit .200 over 77 games and the 2004 Cubs choked at the end of the season and blew the wildcard by losing five of their final six games.

2010s: 2015 Cooperstown Collection #11 Billy Williams Blue The blue on the card would have looked much better if Panini had used a color picture instead of black and white. It also looks like Panini has killed this brand.  There has been no mention of a 2016 Cooperstown Collection.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Graded Barney

A first (as far as I know) appeared on Ebay yesterday:

A graded version of the 2011 Heritage Barney no position card (link to auction here).  The seller has it as a Buy It Now / Best Offer with a price of $200.  That's twice the average price of the raw card.

You can see that the card has a grade of 8.5.  The price seems high for a card with that grade.  $200 for a 10 maybe, but not an 8.5.

I checked the PSA population report (you'll have to type in "Darwin Barney" into the search bar   for the report) to see home many of these have been graded.  I guess this is the only one since the card isn't even listed in the pop report.  My guess - it was just recently graded and PSA hasn't update their list.

I won't be buying this but I will be an interested bystander.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Missing Numbers

I was looking through my 1950s Topps Cubs cards, looking for other players that wore #26.

I made an interesting discovery:  Cards from the 50's rarely if ever gave you a look at the number on the back.

Here are all the cards I could find that showed the uniform number of the featured player:

That's it, just two cards.  The 1956 card shows Dee Fondy's #40 and in 1959 we get a look at Lee Walls' #2.

So if you're looking for uniform numbers, skip the 50's.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Other 26s Update

I'm still looking for a picture of Fritz Connally wearing #26 in 1983.

But I at least tried to find asking Fritz himself.

He didn't have one.

No, I'm not a personal acquaintance of his. But during my search for a picture I found his work email address. Figuring that I had nothing to lose, I wrote to him on Tuesday night:

I'm a big Cub fan and was wondering if you have a picture that shows you wearing #26 with the Cubs. You were the last active player to wear that number before it was retired in honor of Billy Williams in 1987. I've searched the internet and Chicago Tribune archives for a picture but came up empty. Billy Williams was my favorite player and I'm trying to put together a photo montage of all the players that wore #26.
Thanks for any help.

I got a reply the next morning, which impressed me. He could have just as easily trashed my email. Here's his reply:

I’m sorry but I do not have anything showing me wearing #26. In fact, your email to me is new news, I thought I wore something in the 40’s. Maybe the Cubs have a resource for you to follow up on?
Best of luck.

Interesting that he forgot what number he wore. I guess no one told him that he was given the number of one of the greatest Cubs of all time. That doesn't surprise me because Dallas Green was doing his best to purge the organization of any memory of the '69 Cubs.

My quest for a picture of Fritz Connally wearing #26 continues.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Other 26's

Billy Williams was traded from the Cubs after the 1974 season. His familiar #26 was moving on to Oakland.  It was not a Cubs tradition to retire numbers, so I knew that his number would eventually end up on the back of another player.

But it was still an odd sight when it finally happened.

Larry Biittner was the first player to wear it after Billy was traded.  Biittner came to the Cubs in May of 1976 and was given #26.  During that era Cubs outfielders typically wore numbers in the 20s, so it made sense.  But I still didn't like it.

These are the only two cards of Biitter that show him with #26.  The cards are from 1981 but Biittner was signed as a free agent  by the Reds before the season began.  Also, these are older pictures because in 1980, Biittner switched to #33.  Billy Williams was a Cubs coach from 1980 - 1982 and he reclaimed his old number.

Billy kept the number through the 1982 season when he was fired after the final game.  His number went back in circulation.

It was used again by just one very nondescript player, Fritz Connally.   Connally was a September call-up in 1983.  He played in just eight games and had one hit in ten at bats.  He was traded to the Padres in the off-season so there would be no further desecration of #26.

With such a short time with the Cubs, pictures of him are not easy to come by.  I went through the Trib archives and found nothing.  In fact there was barely a mention of him in any article.  The White Sox were coasting to their first ever division title and the Cubs were barely a blip on the radar.

This is a spring training shot but we can't see a number.

Getty Images has this from his time in AAA Iowa.

This is a 1981 card from his time with the Class A Quad City Cubs.

I wonder if a picture exists that shows Connally wearing #26?

Billy returned to the Cubs as a coach in 1986 and hit number was retired in 1987, so Connally was the last active player to don #26.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Looking At All the Ginter Designs Over the Year

I meant to do this a couple of weeks ago...and forgot.

With Year 11 of Allen & Ginter in the books, lets take a look at the design of the cards over the entire run of the brand, from 2006 - 2016.

When you look at the complete one, there is definitely one outlier, 2011.  Its the only design with a full border, the only one with team logos.

Other design elements over the years:
  • Players first and last name: just the first three years; after that it is last name only
  • Watercolor background: All years
  • Year listed on card front:  2007 - 2010, 2016
  • "Brooklyn, New York": 2006 - 2012, 2014, 2016
  • "Topps": 2008-2016
Many of the cards use posed shots.  Action shots are pretty rare.  Because they use posed shots from the spring training picture day shoot, most Ginter cards show the players in their home uniform.  That is a bonus for me.

My predictions for the 2017 Ginter design:
It will list the players last name, there will be a watercolor cloud behind the posed shot of the players, the cards will say "Topps Allen & Ginter, Brooklyn New York, 2017, and I will buy the entire set.

Monday, August 22, 2016

1973 Jewel Ron Santo

I put my Jewel Cubs set together months ago, but ended up with two holes.

Make that one hole.

For some unknown reason, the 1973 Ron Santo and Jim Hickman have been impossible to find.  I settled for the above Santo because it has some tape on both the top and bottom.  It didn't show up in the scan, but it is there.

If a better one shows up I may try to get it. For now, I'm happy to just have a hole filled.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five Random Cubs Cards

I've got 14,406 Cubs cards from 108 different brands listed on a spreadsheet. A random number generator picked five cards, one each from the past several decades.

1900s - 1970s: 1968 Topps #258 Rookie Jose Arcia  Bill Schlesinger A couple of busts here.  Arcia played in 59 games for the Cubs in 1968 and hit .190.  He was left unprotected and the Padres took him in the expansion draft.  The Cubs got Schlesinger from the Red Sox for pitcher Ray Culp.  Culp was 16-6 for Boston while Schlesinger spent the year in the minors.  

1980s: 1984 Topps Stickers #43 Jody Davis  WW Fun Fact...I have a son who was born in 1985.  If son would have been a daughter, she was going to be named Jodi.  Not necessarily named for Jody Davis, but the name was very familiar to us at the time.

1990s: 1992 Team Issued Ryne Sandberg The Cubs gave these cards out on July 10 to every fan in the house.  John Smoltz and the Braves shut out the Cubs 4-0 as the Cubs manages just four hits.  Ryno didn't have any of the four, going 0-3 with a walk.

2000s: 2008 Factory Team Set #CHC12 Mark DeRosa  He had a really nice season for the '08 Cubs, hitting .285 with 21 HRs and 87 RBIs.

2010s: 2012 Sega Card Gen #229 David DeJesus  DeJesus was one of the placeholder players on the Cubs during the teardown and rebuild.  He was serviceable at best.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

All I've Got of Him: Kris Bryant

Saw some interesting Kris Bryant facts yesterday:

  • First player with multiple 5 hit games that included 2 homer runs
  • First player under age of 25 with 4 hit/2 home run games three times in a season
  • In the past calendar year (160 games) his average is .306 and he's hit 40 home runs

He's really good and yet he's really humble.  He was raised in the same area as Bryce Harper, and has as much talent as Harper, but his personality is 180° a good way.

My Bryant card total is already up to 66 cards.  That's a big number for a guy in his second season.  I'm sure the number will grow significantly over the next several years.  I'm figuring that he'll be in every set that Topps issues and in several inserts too.

Here's what I've got so far:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Debunking Banks Boulevard

Back in 2008 idiot Joe Morgan was doing a Cubs game on ESPN.  He spouted off about the basket at the top of the bleacher wall.  He went on about how it was put there in the late 60s to give Ernie Banks a chance at more home runs.  Morgan even had a name for it, Banks Boulevard.

There isn't even the slightest sliver of truth to what he said.  There was a lot of outrage among Cubs fans back then.  No Cub fan, including me, had ever heard of the phrase "Banks Boulevard."

Yet last week as I was perusing a Cardinals fan forum (I like to see what the other side says about the Cubs), there was some discussion about Banks Boulevard.  Eight years later, Morgan's BS is still alive and kicking.

With the help of the Tribune archives, allow me to kill the BS and set the record straight.

This picture from April 17, 1970 lays out the Cubs original plan.  The bleacher bums were getting too rowdy and so the screen would be installed to keep them and the trash they tossed off of the field.  The plan was for the screen to be installed at the top of the bleacher wall which meant that fans in the first couple rows would have to watch the game through the screen.  

The May 7 edition of the Trib shows the completed screen.  The article mentions that the screen was not put at the top of the wall as originally planned, but two feet below the top of the wall.  It is in the same location today.

Now on to Ernie Banks.  

The Cubs first game at Wrigley with the basket was on May 7, 1970.  At that point in his career Ernie had 498 home runs.  He would go on to hit eight more home runs at Wrigley Field.  And how many of those ended up in the basket, or Banks Boulevard as the idiot called it?

Most likely, none.

He hit #499 on May 9 and it was no landed on Waveland.

This picture come from the WGN clip of #500 on May 12.  The ball landed about three rows up in the bleachers and then bounced back onto the field.

Ernie's 501st career homer was hit on May 30th and the Trib article states that the ball landed high in the left-center seats.  No basket shot there.

On June 24th he hit #505 as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. The article makes no mention of where the ball landed.  Could it have been a basket shot?  Maybe, but I'd think if it landed in the basket the article would have mentioned that fact.

This picture shows where #508 landed on September 5.  It hit high up on the left field catwalk.  There wasn't even a basket along the catwalk back then.  The initial 1970 installation placed the basket only in places where fans sat.  There was no basket in front of the catwalks and in center field.

There was no Tribune sports page in the archives for his next Wrigley homer on September 10.  I had to resort to other newspaper accounts of that game.  His homer in the fourth inning is mentioned in each article but no location of the ball is given.  Again, no mention of a basket to me means that it didn't land there.  This was his last Wrigley homer in 1970.

Here's a look at his first 1971 Wrigley blast.  The article and picture show it just making the bleachers.

And this is the swing for his 512th and final home run.  The caption says the drive went into the left field bleachers.

So what I've found is definitive proof that six of his eight Wrigley homer after the basket installation did not land in the basket.  The other two most likely didn't land in the basket either, though it is possible they did.

Even the two were basket shots, that means 2 out of 290 career Wrigley blasts were in the basket.

Banks Boulevard?

Not a chance, Joe Morgan.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

All I've Got

This isn't an "All I've Got of HIm" post, this is all I've got.

Every now and then I post a link to my online album of all 14,406 of my Cubs cards.

Here's the link

There isn't any special reason that I use Photobucket instead of any of the other online photo storage sites.  I just ended up there.

The albums are arranged alphabetically by brand and then in the brand folder by year.  Photobucket is pretty easy to use and it takes just a minute to add new scans into the folders.  I do appreciate having a cloud backup of the scans.  I also like having access to the cards anywhere I can get to a computer.  I can write something and add pictures when I'm away from home.

Go ahead and browse around...enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Era Schwarber Card

Topps put baseball cards in pizza and hats this year.  I took care of the pizza cards a while ago and have now gotten around to the hat card.

The deal with these is that if you bought a New Era hat at selected LIDS stores, you'd also get a pack of cards.  The New Era set is much smaller than the Marketside Pizza set, with just nine players.  I'm a little surprised that Topps went with Schwarber over Bryant.

While Marketside got its own unique design, the New Era cards used the flagship design, though they did use a different picture.This makes the sixth 2016 card of Schwarber with the flagship design...there is the flagship, Berger's Best insert, Opening Day, Factory Team Set, Chrome, and New Era.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Very Dedicated Reader!

I appreciated all of you who take a couple minutes of your day to read this.  But there is one reader in particular who's story I need to share...Joe.

Joe is a Cub fan and an Ernie Banks collector.  In fact he is THE Ernie Banks collector.  His collection is #1 on the PSA listing of Ernie Banks master collectors.  Joe has 100% of the Banks master collection.  Amazing!

Joe found the blog a while back and made it his mission to read through the entire thing.  He went back to post #1 and slogged his way through.  A couple weeks ago he finally caught up to the current post.  Not only did he read every single post, but he commented on many of them,.  That is dedication.

When he reached this post on the 1969 Cubs record Cub Power, he asked me for a copy of the CD.  I was more than happy to oblige.  I packed up a CD and sent it his way. It also turns out that Joe knows several of the musicians that performed on the record.

He is not only a dedicated reader, but a generous one too.  He sent me some Cubbie odds and ends from his collection.

Several were cards of Kerry Wood:



The triangle shaped card is from 1998 Pacific Crown Royale.  The card on the bottom right is from the 2001 Leaf Sun-Times collection.  The cards are /5.  And the last card has Kerry's autograph.

This came from a Cubs Wrigley Field Give Away.  Fans were given these cards to scratch off and there were 100 winners that got a Mark Prior Jersey.

This graded card is from The Score Board's 1997 Sports City USA set.

Below is the complete set for the 1997 Orlando Rays.  They were the Cubs AA affiliate at the time.


Former Cub All-Star second baseman Manny Trillo was a coach.  The only player that had a big league career of any significance was pitcher Justin Speier.

Squirt teamed up with Topps in 1982 to put out a 22 player set.  Not of the 22 were Cubs, so I've got a Tiger, Red Sox, and Royal.

I saved the best for last...

...this 1960 Ernie Banks Armour Coin.  Buy some hot dogs, get a coin.

Thanks for reading, Joe, and for all the goodies!