Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Exhibit V

If you're wondering why I've started with "Z" and what happened to exhibits A-Y then relax; you're definitely thinking too much.  Don't worry, I'll get to it.

First, today is a day of celebration; it's Soler Day!  Cubs fans across the country are rising up in praise of Theo and his plan, for it is coming to fruition!

In other words, if you haven't heard, top prospect Jorge Soler will be making his MLB debut in right field this evening, wearing #68 and batting fifth.  Make us proud Jorge!

But, back to our regularly scheduled blog post. As promised, today I'll be showing off all of the great many vintage oddballs that I've picked up over the course of my hiatus:

Well, as it turns out, my memory ain't so hot and those great many oddballs actually amounted to one.


However, it is a pretty darn nifty card though, so I can't stay disappointed.

The fella you see turning a double play here is second baseman Emil Verban and this card is what those in the know refer to as an Exhibit card.  Hey, now that title makes sense!

What is an Exhibit card?  Well, they are not attached to museum exhibits as I once naively thought.  In fact, you might say they are attached to the city of Chicago - right under my nose all this time!

Exhibit Supply Co. was a Chicago-based arcade game operation.  This is obviously well before the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders - their focus was on collectible, postcard-sized pictures of famous people.

In the early to middle part of the previous century, Exhibit began releasing annual sets of cards featuring the most popular athletes, movie stars, politicians, musicians, etc. that one could purchase from a vending machine for a penny or two.

Why can't we find card-filled vending machines in our local arcades and corner stores anymore?

From 1947-66, Exhibit placed various baseball sets into their machines - with only subtle differences between each yearly release.  For instance: production info placement, signature color and placement, text on back, blank back etc.  But, they all used the same sepia coloring with full bleed photography.

Because of this, it is rather difficult to determine from which year my Emil Verban card dates.  Even checklists and price guides simply lump all the sets together into one giant 1947-66 checklist.

A quick glance of BBref indicates that Verban played for the Cardinals (boo!), Phillies, Cubs (duh) and Braves from 1944-50.  That appears to be either a Phillies or Cardinals jersey to my untrained eye.  Any Philly or St. Louis fans that can provide clarity?

Either way, this card dates to the late 1940's, so it is antique at this point in time.  Who doesn't love some pre-Topps era cardboard?  As you can see, it's in pretty good shape too.

I found this beauty in the discount bin at one of my LCS, marked even further down to half-price.  For $7 bucks, I got an uber-vintage "Cubs" card of a player I needed for my All-Time Cubs Roster Collection in good condition that is valued at over 3x that amount;  I'll take that any day - and twice on Sunday!

Emil Verban with the Cubs in 1948.

While we've dug into the history of the card itself, we've barely mentioned the man depicted on it.  Who is Emil Verban?  He has a bigger tie to the franchise today than you might expect.

"Antelope" was an immediate success when he came to the Bigs in 1944.  He earned a ring in that first season with two WS RBIs and was twice an All-Star ('46 & '47) as the starting second baseman for the Cardinals and then the Phillies with speed and a decent stick, Emil seemed to be heading towards a long career.

It wasn't to be.  He got off to a rough start in 1948 and was plucked off waivers by the floundering Cubs.  From there on out, he was never much more than a utility man in the majors.

He soldiered on with the Cubs until the 1950 season and finished up with a brief 4-game stint on the Braves later that season.

While his career didn't turn out the way he'd wanted it to, Emil had earned the respect of the fans and peers with his hard work, determination, fierce play and honor on the field.  Some years later, that respect would rise again.

What does Hillary Clinton have to do with Emil Verban?  Keep reading!

In 1975, a group of Washington big-wigs, whose hearts belonged to Chicago, were plotting something.  While I'm sure this happens daily in D.C., these rumblings were all in good sport.  They started a "secret" society of Cubs fans in our nation's capital as an outlet for their Cubby-Fever (or shared misery, for that matter).

It was decided that the name for their society must symbolize the typical Cubs player; an obscure name who's passion exceeded his talents, but came to the ballpark ready to give 110% day in and day out.  Who's name embodied all of qualities?

Why, Emil Verban of course!  Heck, they might have been the Ryan Theriot or Mike Fontenot Society if they formed today.

 The "Cajun Connection" will live on in our hearts forever!

Thus, the Emil Verban Society was born and since that fateful day, their roll-call has come to include such names as Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney, Rahm Emmanuel, John Paul Stevens and many more.

Political opinions aside - those are some power players indeed!

For the record, Emil strongly resented the honor, as he felt it was a jab rather than a sign of respect.  It took a personal meeting several years later with President Reagan himself to fully convince him.


So, there you have it.  I was only able to offer one vintage oddball - but I sure did fill up some space!

I hope you enjoyed reading up on Exhibit cards and good ol' Emil Verban, maybe you even learned a thing or two along the way.

At any rate, I know that I certainly learned a lot through this pickup; such is the wonder of vintage cardboard.  In this way, every vintage card is really it's own "exhibit" card, isn't it?

Oh jeeze... that's not melodramatic now is it?  Speaking of melodramatic:

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