Monday, September 15, 2014

Old as Moses Monday - "Death to Flying Things"

*I bet you can figure out the concept of this feature; it shines the spotlight on the Cubs in my collection that time forgot a long time ago. We're talking pre-WWI here!*

That may very well be the greatest nickname ever bestowed upon a baseball player, nay, a professional athlete of all-time.

Who was the lucky SOB who earned that phenomenal alias?

Furthermore, how did he earn that phenomenal alias?  Was he a well-known threat to pigeons?

Well, it was none other than Bob Ferguson, a tough competitor from the earliest days of professional baseball.

The shortstop was so adept at snaring line drives at shortstop (in an era well-before gloves) that he was considered "Death to Flying Things" when he took the field.  It all makes sense now.

He begin his career in the old National Association and joined the National League upon it's founding in 1876.  He stayed through 1884.

With gambling lingering about as a constant temptation, Ferguson earned a reputation for being completely honest, with his passion for the game unrivaled.

But, he also had a bit of a temper.  Once, while serving as a temporary umpire in an NA game, he broke the arm of a player on the field with a bat during an argument.  Eat your heart out Jose Offerman.

Offerman going off his rocker

Bob spent one year, 1878, in Chicago as a player-manager - replacing Al Spalding as he ascended into the front office.  However, his tendency to scream and shout at his chargees on the field got him ran out of town after the mediocre 30-30, 4th place season.  Cap Anson seized that opportunity.

Obviously, Fergie here doesn't have many baseball cards issued today and the few that survive from his playing days would cost me my first born AND an arm to acquire.  So, what is this that you see before you?

Monarch Corona Printing is a company created by Allen Miller, Jr., a printer/designer and former sportswriter who produces small sets of baseball cards, often donated to benefits and fundraisers locally.

These sets usually have print runs of 200 or less.  There aren't a lot of these floating around.

His website states that he produces 2-10 cards every month, but it appears as though nothing new has come out since 2011.  Either that or he has a new URL that I am unaware of.

My new Ferguson comes from Miller's 2009 set of 16 cards, featuring mostly baseball players of yesteryear, plus Charley Pride & Johnny Unitas for some reason.

They all feature that wood-grain border, which evokes the designs of '62 and '87 Topps, type-written text, glossy finish and color photography.  Although, Bob's photo required some colorization and I'm not sure if Miller did that himself or not.

The original image used for the 2009 Monarch Corona card

The printing is top notch and the colors are vibrant.  Although, the aforementioned wood-grain borders make the Times New Roman font somewhat difficult to read.  

I personally would have chosen a different font, but that's just a minor complaint.

The back of this Monarch is also rather well-done:

As is true of all Monarch Corona cards, the player information is written in the present tense, as if the 1878 baseball season had just completed.  This is done to make the piece "more urgent and more interesting."

The layout is top notch and everything is easy to read.  Miller is obviously an ardent follower of KISS.

Not the band.  Well, he may be a soldier in the KISS army, I don't know; however, I was referring to the old graphic design refrain - Keep It Simple, Stupid!

KISS has an arena football team, why not baseball too?

In summation, I was happy to find this beauty for about a buck on Ebay.  A relatively rare oddball of a super old-school Cub without breaking the bank?  I'll take that any day.

Plus, after I discovered Bob's phenomenal nickname, I knew I had to have "Death to Flying Things" in my collection.

They just don't make 'em like that anymore.


  1. I do know that back in Feb. of 2013 Mr. Miller was undergoing chemotherapy. I don't know any more.

  2. Here's a set he put out called "Sons of Israel":