Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bleed It Out

I'm doing my best to absolutely bleed my local card shops out of every Cub player they might have.

This recent splurge of purchases hasn't been expensive, as I've paid no more than $1 per card and most are well below that.  But, it may be the last run for a while since I'll be moving into a new place in the middle of April.  I'll have more important things to focus on or something...

It's a pretty gray and gloomy day, so let's kick things off with a black and white card:

Johnny Schulte was a middling back up catcher in the 1920's and 30's that spent a singular season with the Cubs in 1929.  He picked a good year to be in Chicago though, as the Cubs won the pennant that season, however he did not make an appearance during the Fall Classic.

It was his stint in Chicago, however, that would set him up with his next career.  He became close with manage Joe McCarthy that season and when his playing career came to a close, he joined the Cubs coaching staff under McCarthy's invitation.

When Joe was forced out of the Windy City in 1934, Schulte followed him to New York to stay on his staff, a stint that this card commemorates.  He ended up spending 15 full seasons as a mentor in the Bronx.

Most notable, though, were some of the kids he helped scout out for Bronx Bombers.  He convinced a failing first base prospect to test out his pitching arm.  That man prospect turned out to be Whitey Ford.  Not to mention, he also signed HOFer Phil Rizzuto to his first contract as well.

The man had a good eye!

Keeping things in the same era, we have Babe Dahlgren.  Pictured here on an Upper Deck reprint based off of the 1941 Play Ball set, Babe was a slick fielding first-sacker with some pop.  But he was a fine fielder and his career .261 batting average was more than passable.  He is best known for his time with the Yankees and the Dodgers.  But, in between those stints, he was briefly a Cub.

The Cubs bought him midway through the '41 season to try and ignite a sputtering roster.  He hit .281 with 16 long balls but the Cubs went nowhere.  Thinking they'd found a keeper though, they brought him back for '42 where he went off of a cliff, Gary Gaetti-style.

Babe bounced around the league for a while as he became eligible for the draft and no one wanted to take that liability.  However, he was rejected for service in '43 and he strung his career along until '46.

The most fascinating this about his career came off of the field; he was the first player in MLB history to take a drug test in 1943.  Not for steroids obviously, but for for marijuana.  Someone (who is lost to history) had started a nasty rumor about him and he took the test to prove his innocence.

Also of note, he was the man that came in to replace Lou Gehrig when the Iron Man decided to end his consecutive games played streak.  Interestingly, Babe had a nice 621 consecutive games played streak during his time in the PCL himself.

How's that for some fun, odd facts?  Speaking of odd, let's have some fun with an oddball:

Rick Bladt was briefly a member of the still-beloved, near-miss 1969 Cubs.  Signed out of college in the days before the draft, Rick got his first taste of big league action in June of '69 when he pinch ran for Billy Williams.

However, he was merely one in a series of disappointments in center field that year.  He got into 9 more games posting a batting average under the Mendoza Line and little else to offer before being sent back down.

If that '69 Cubs team had just had a decent center fielder, they might have actually gone all the way.

He was traded to the Yankees for Jimmie Hall the next season where he became organizational filler.  They gave him a second cup of coffee in 1975, his prospect status long since vanished, that amounted to nothing and he was done in big league baseball.

As for this unique little card itself (it is little, 3x2), it comes from a promotional series of cards honoring Yankees of the '70s, issued by Wiz Home Entertainment Centers in 1992.  It originally came on a perforated sheet, but I only found this single.  I wonder who else made it into the set?

Speaking of the '70's, we have time for one more card:

Fernandez was the Yankees back up catcher from 1968-69 until Thurman Munson came along and staked his claim to home plate.  That Munson guy had a decent career I think.

No longer needed, he was traded to the A's just before the '70 season.  Then, during the '71 season things got crazy.  The A's traded Frank to Washington and only a little more than a month later, they reacquired him.  Did they keep him this time?  No they sent him packing to the Cubs before the season was over.

The A's should have called him Duncan because they were yo-yo'ing him all over the place!

He wrapped up his career by getting into 20 total games for the Cubs from 1971-72, spending most of his time with the franchise at AAA Wichita.

I love the 1971 Topps set, I truly do.  I've always felt that that black borders encapsulate a good photograph much better than white one and the simple design keeps it nice and classy.  This card gets bonus points too for showcasing one of those painfully awesome (painful on the eyes because they're so bright) A's jerseys of the '70s.

I can now cross four more names off of the to-get list for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  Although, I'm really starting to wonder how many more I can possibly dig up from my local card shops at this point.  I guess there's only one way to find out right?