Friday, September 5, 2014

"Cubgrade" - A Definition & Examination

What the heck is a "Cubgrade?"

There goes Tony again, makin' up words and such.

Well, I've never really made much sense in my life, so why start now?  I reject your reality and substitute my own.

Unlike "fetch," I'm going to make this term happen.

Did I just reference Mean Girls?  *Sigh* Where do I turn in my man card?

Cubgrade (kʌbˈɡreɪd) verb - to improve the condition of a baseball card in my CATRC by replacing a card that depicts/lists a player as a member of a different team with one that depicts/lists said player as a Cub.

Got that?  There'll be a quiz later.

In my blogging absence, I was able to make several "Cubgrades" that I'd like to share with you now, in no particular order:

Man, Scott just does not photograph well.  On the left, it looks like he licked a lemon right before the pitch.  On the right, it looks like a pitch took his arm clear with it.

Maine was a failed reliever on the minor league shuttle from 2010-12 before being lost on a waiver claim to Cleveland (it wasn't much of a loss: 5.09 ERA in 40.2 innings).

I picked up this card issued by the College World Series on Ebay a few years ago because you don't see many cards that feature Major Leaguers in their college duds.  I'm not going to lie, I was kind of sad to replace this one in my master binder; but Cubbie Blue is much better looking that green and orange.

Emilio's 2014 Heritage issue was gifted to me by our good friend Stubby in a trade package a few months ago.  I guess Heritage was already in production when Boni was cut by the Royals way back in February.

Boni wasn't here for long, but I'll forever remember his insane 9 for 12 start to the season.  When he was traded in July with James Russell to Atlanta, I figured he'd never have a Cubs card.

But, Donruss Series 2 was on the case!  In fact, he was the only Cub in all of series 2.  While at the LCS, a fellow collector bought a box of Donruss and I offered him a quarter if he found this card.  Well, he obviously found it.

Also, sweet throwback uni appearance on a retro-inspired set.  Those 1914 Chicago Federals jerseys didn't even have logos for Panini to airbrush out; good idea guys!

Jason Hammel was part of a strategy that the Cubs have employed since the start of their rebuild:  buy low on a still young but struggling pitcher who once had success, fix 'em up and flip them for some prospects.  For reference, see Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman.

Thus, he was only around for half a season before being shipped to Oakland with Samardzija to get Addison Russell (!!!).  His 2014 Topps Series 2 appearance will be his only piece of Cubs cardboard.

For a top 7 prospect, I think I can live with that.

Alright, now we're starting to get a little older.  Sandy (or Angel, depending on his mood) had a moderately long career as a backup catcher, including a Cubs stint from 1998-99.  He was one of 3 catchers on that improbable Cubs Wild Card/Sammy Sosa-fueled team of 1998 and was behind the plate for Kerry Wood's legendary 20 strikeout game that April.

Otherwise, his Cubs career is very easily forgotten.

Luckily, Fleer didn't forget about Sandy in their 1998 Ultra series and even featured a somewhat unique shot of him firing back to his pitcher that spring.

Moving on, you should bust out your Member's Only jackets and leg warmers- we're jumping back to the 80's:

Dan Briggs was a weak-hitting first baseman that the Cubs brought in as a backup for Bill Buckner in 1982 after 5 lackluster seasons in California, Cleveland and San Diego.  He couldn't hit for average (.125 in 50 PAs) and lacked any sort of power (0 HRs or XBH).  So he was cut loose and never saw the Majors again.

So, this 1982 Donruss card doubles as his only Cubs card and as his "sunset" release.  

He might not have done anything in the batter's box or on the field worth mentioning for the Cubs, but he sure did grow a sweet porn star 'stache for them.

Bob Molinaro is one of an exclusive list of players to have played on both the North and South Side of Chicago.  However, unlike say Steve Trout or Kenny Lofton, he was never very good on either side of town.

The spare outfielder was featured as a Cub in this team issued set during his only year as a Cub - 1982.  The full-bleed set was sponsored by Red Lobster and is otherwise noteworthy for featuring the very first baseball card depicting Ryne Sandberg in blue pinstripes.

Ryne totally stole Bobby's thunder... or not...

There's an awful lot of mediocrity in this post; how about we discuss a player of a little more substance?

Alright, there's a star for ya!  Joe Carter was originally a Cubs farmhand but was traded in '84 as part of the Rick Sutcliffe deal.  Though Carter went on to stardom and World Series heroism, "The Red Baron" anchored the pitching staff for many years.  Too bad we couldn't have both.

If that card on the right looks familiar, it's because the Cubs 1983 team-issued set is essentially the same as their '82 edition; just updated players and a new sponsor - Thorn Apple Valley.

Meanwhile, the card it's replacing in my CATRC binder hails from my original childhood collection and is one of the earliest cards I remember pulling; so, it holds a special place in my heart.

Sidenote - I've yet to track down a reasonably priced copy of Carter's 1984 Donruss rookie card, so this Thorn Apple Valley will have to do for now.

While he may not have been a star, Henderson did have a long and productive career as a pinch-hitter and fourth outfielder from 1977-88, including a 2 year stint coming off of the bench for the Cubbies in 1981-82.

This "Cubgrade" actually came from within my collection.  At some point in my collecting adventures, I picked up his 1982 Donruss release and threw it haphazardly into my doubles bin, where it sat for an unknown amount of time in card purgatory because I incorrectly assumed that I already had a Cubs card of him.

Well, I finally noticed that he's definitely sporting a Mariners jersey in his '85 Fleer issue.


Finally, I have to show off one last card that was"Cubgraded".  It's a Hall-of-Famer and it comes from one of my favorite sets of all-time:

"The Duke of Tralee" saw 2 games of action in 1900 with the Cubs and then later wrapped up his HOF career (largely with the Giants and Cardinals) from 1913-15 in Chi-Town.  He even served as player-manager for the last of those seasons.

Replacing a vintage card in my collection like this 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats is always a rough go, but who can say no to those early 20th century Cubs uniforms?  Look at that hat; I think he's pulling the hidden ball trick with it.

This switch actually just occurred yesterday after a routine trip to the LCS uncovered a box of 1992 Conlon Collection.  I was very enthused!

A set made up of entirely players from the early portion of the last century could very well fill several gaps in my collection.  I'll have a detailed post about the contents of the box on a later date.  It was certainly an exciting break, for me anyway.

In the meantime, I'm getting tired, dinner is ready and my eyes are strained from staring at my laptop for too long, so it's time to wrap this post up.

If nothing else, today you can hang your hat on the fact that you learned the meaning of the word "Cubgrade."

Now don't you feel special? 

Oh and in case you didn't get the reference I made earlier about "fetch"...


  1. When I saw cubgrade, I guessed it was a scale from 1 to Ernie Banks. Your definition is even better though.

    1. On a scale from 1 to Ernie Banks, several of these players would definitely be 1's!

      Not a bad guess at all though.

  2. Hey, a Sandy Martinez sighting! I still remember him as the catch who caught Kid K's 20-strikeout game in '98. Fun times!