Ever since I began the daunting collecting endeavor that is my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection, I've made sure to keep record of what has come in and out of the jam-packed binder that houses said cards. I've always made sure to keep a computer-based spreadsheet up-to-date with the comings and goings of each player in the tome. Did I acquire a new guy in a Cubs uniform? Did I dig up a dude who played for the Cubs, but in a different jersey? Did I trade away a card previously housed in the collection? It was all there in the spreadsheet. Furthermore, in case of emergency, I've always had a good, old fashioned paper list too, just in case disaster should occur with my hard drive and/or Google Drive.
In short, as someone who, as a kid, used to make up lists of random subjects just for fun, I've been meticulous about my CATRC record keeping - when you're trying to get one card of every player to suit up for a team that's existed for nearly a century and a half, it's kind of a necessity.
Nevertheless, sometimes the records get fouled... or, rather, "Faul-ed" up.
Meet Bill Faul - a guy who pitched for the Cubs from 1965-66, after being purchased from Motown. For God knows how long, my records have indicated that I had this card in my binder and that Bill was properly represented in the CATRC. In fact, according to my records, the only player with a plain, ol' Topps base card hitherto missing from those pages was Norm Gigon and his dreaded '67 high number - a special set of circumstances. Of this fact, I was quite proud... and then Billy came and "Fauled" it all up.
While updating my lists after the acquisition of Loyd Christopher the other day, I noticed something peculiar. I don't know why Faul was on my mind, but as I flipped past the "F" section in my binder, I noticed that Bill wasn't there. How could this be? For years, his name has been highlighted in blue... did I have this card at one time and forget to notate a trade? Did I get cocky and assume I had the unassuming card and never bothered to check (you know what they say when you assume)? Suddenly, my whole life was a lie!
Okay - so, that's a bit melodramatic, but I definitely was befuddled.
And how appropriate that it should be Bill Faul that did the befuddling. During his playing career, he only made it on to one true Cubs card (cap-less and Tiger-tracked though it may be), seeing as his time was fairly brief and undistinguished... at least, as far as statistics go. In 34 games (22 starts) for the Cubbies, Bill posted a 7-10 record to go along with a 4.07 ERA - about as mediocre as you can get. However, despite this "blah" stat line, you might recognize Mr. Faul's name for his exploits off of the diamond, as his name pops up in the "weird baseball" files quite a bit.
One need only flip his 1966 Topps card over to get a hint as to why:
According to the cartoon on the backside, "Bill practices self-hypnotism before pitching assignments." That's no exaggeration or stretch either - as the hurler himself once told the Park City Daily News in 1965, "I hypnotize myself before the game and I'm then able to hypnotize the hitters... I was really concentrating in my subconscious state on the mound." Well then... did we all just picture a pitcher on the mound, swinging a pocket watch back and forth before each pitch or was that only me?
"You're getting very sleepy... very swing-and-missy."
Furthermore, according to his teammate, Billy Williams, "...one time our team was staying at the Walforf Astoria Hotel in New York. Faul was on the 19th floor and he told his roommate, Ken Rudolph, that he was going to hypnotize him, turn him into a dog, and make him jump out of the window." Apparently, after that odd encounter, Ken refused to room with him on the road; I can't say I blame him either.
If that's not bizarre enough for you, during his playing days, managerial maven, Jack McKeon, was teammates with Faul in the Royals chain and claimed that Faul would eat anything... and he meant ANYTHING. According to Jack, he witnessed Faul eat a live frog in the bullpen on a bet and bite the head off of a live parakeet... for fun. I've heard it said that the swallowed frog added a little hop to his fastball that day.
Lastly, the cherry on top of the weird sundae was that Faul wore the taboo number 13 on his back when he took the field. In fact, he was the last Cub to don the digits until the similarly wacko Turk Wendell did nearly 30 years later. I mean, what other number would a self-hypnotizing, frog and bird eating weirdo wear, right?
Bill during his Cubs days, courtesy of Topps' archives
As you can see, it feels totally appropriate that it should be one of the strangest men to don a Cubs uniform (or any uniform, for that matter) should mess up my intricate records, just like he (attempted to) mess up the minds of opposing batters. Maybe I was hypnotized into thinking that I already had his card in my collection... that's why I was so befuddled!
At any rate, the situation has now been resolved in short order. As the image which leads off this post would indicate, I was able to track down a copy of that 51-year old piece of cardboard for inclusion in my CATRC binder, without any trickery. When I stopped by my LCS over the weekend to see if they had any singles from the recently-released Update set available for purchase (they did not), I made sure to dip into their vintage stock as well. Luckily for me, among the '66 singles in the stack was that very good-conditioned Faul, which salvaged the trip for me. Mere days after noticing my screw-up, I was able to correct it without any further issue.
Also, if anyone has extras of Jose Quintana's and Brian Duensing's first Cubs cards, which came in Update, please feel free to dump them on me.
I only wish that I noticed this error sooner, as this would have been a perfect post for Friday the thirteenth, which occured only a few days prior to my discovery. Oh well - it all worked out in the end, after all. Welcome to the CATRC, Bill Faul - you big weirdo!