Friday, March 7, 2014

Who's Next? Walter E. Smith?

All of my posts this weekend are going to be disappointingly short.  It's my girlfriend's birthday on Saturday, so we're going to be celebrating all weekend.  Thus, my attention will be focused on her plus the bands, sushi, bars and shows that make up our schedule.  Yea, we are definitely making the most of it.

But, today's mail brought me my most recent purchases, albeit a little late.  But, with the crazy weather this winter has brought us Chicagoans, I think I can forgive that.  I'll cover half of today's delivery today and the rest tomorrow.

Unfortunately, half is only one card.  However, this beautiful specimen of a card depicts a man who's contributions on the field have been largely forgotten, but his contributions will leave you anything but "board."  Plus, he managed a true "Bush" leaguer who went on to make a large impact on our country (these awful puns will be explained soon):

This man has no affiliation with the furniture company nor is he the famous American Patriot.  I mean, he played ball in the 1930's and all, but he's not that old! 

This gem of a card is from the 1994 edition of the Conlon Collection, a brand that I will forever hold dear.  With my goal of filling out the roster for this ancient franchise in Chicago and as a baseball history nerd, it has been my favorite since I was 8 years old.

Back to Allen's card, it's an example of the "In Memoriam" subset, remembering players that had recently passed away by looking back at their best season.  It's also obviously one of the special glossy, burgundy cards that were issued, which add a perfect frame for Charles Conlon's excellent photography.

As for Allen himself, he came up as an outfielder with his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1926 for an 18-game cameo before earning regular playing time over the next three seasons.  He was traded to the New York Giants who traded him to Philadelphia.  Here he had the best year of his career in 1935, which this card celebrates, and placed 17th in MVP voting, with a slash line of .307 AVG/8 HR/63 RBI.

This caught the Cubs attention and in May of 1936, they traded future Hall-of-Famer (but well-worn) Chuck Klein and Fabian Kowalik for Allen and Curt Davis.  In his 91 games, he batted .295 and played solid defense, however it wasn't enough to push the defending NL Pennant winners back into the World Series.  He played just two more years in the Majors after being purchased by the St. Louis Browns.

But, Allen remained well-known long after his retirement as a player as the inventor of the Cadaco-Ellis board game All Star Baseball, a game he developed while sitting on the bench during ball games.  It entered production in the early 1940's and remains available, with few changes, today.

image courtesy of

Also, residing in the "Did you know?" file, Allen managed the Yale University baseball team after his retirement and among his players was a young first baseman by the name of George H.W. Bush.  Hey, those terrible puns from earlier are making sense all of a sudden...

Topps Baseball Card. “George Bush” (1990). Willie Morris Collection.

Tomorrow's post will cover the other card that I pulled out of my mailbox this afternoon.  That guy is a lot more recent, but still a lot more obscure.  Until then, I have celebrating to do!


  1. Great write-up! I'm also a huge, HUGE fan of the Conlon brand.

  2. What's not to love? Excellent photography, players who aren't often featured, simple but pleasant design that isn't trying too hard... it's been my favorite for years!