Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Cub Grew Into a Bear

Are you ready for some football?!

The anticipation is palpable here in Chicago as the Bears get ready to open their season against Buffalo at Soldier Field tonight.

Despite some big moves (signing Jared Allen, extending Jay Cutler, etc.) the pre-season lead to more questions than answers about this team and whether or not they've actually improved.  The defense and special teams have been dubious at best.

But, this is a Cubs baseball card blog - why are we talking about the Chicago Bears?

Well, not too long ago, I obtained a card of the only man to play for both franchises.  I figured what better day than Bears opening day to spotlight this new arrival?

John "Paddy" Driscoll was a Hall of Fame quarterback in the early days of the NFL with the old Chicago Cardinals and the Bears from 1920-29.

In his career on the gridiron, the Northwestern grad had 18 passing TDs, 25 rushing TDs, 4 receiving TDs and was known for his drop kick and punting abilities. In 1924, he recorded a 55 yard drop-kicked field goal and in 1925 holds a tied NFL record of 4 drop-kicked field goals in one game.

He could beat you several different ways and because of that was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 1965 and the College Football HOF in 1974.

A young Paddy Driscoll

But before any of that, he dabbled in professional baseball as well.

Multi-sport athletes were much more common before today's super-specialized era.  Especially in Paddy's time, as many other pro sports were just getting off of the ground and leagues were much more loosely organized.

Long before Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders - Jim Thorpe, George Halas, Chuck Dressen, Cliff Aberson and several others appeared in both the NFL and MLB with varying degrees of success.

I'll bet Jeff Samardzija or Russell Wilson would have loved to have played in that era.

Good ol' "Spellcheck" certainly had the potential to succeed in both arenas
(Notre Dame card created with Rookies App)

That said, "Paddy" Driscoll's baseball career was nowhere near as prolific or successful as his football exploits.  In fact, it was barely a blip on the radar.

In 1917, he was called up for 13 games as a utilityman, in which he received 32 plate appearances.  In those appearances, he batted an anemic .107 with 1 double, 2 walks and 2 SB.

He also saw brief action with the Cubs top farm club, the LA Angels of the old PCL, two years later before focusing on the pigskin.

I don't think he'll ever add the Baseball Hall of Fame to his otherwise impressive resume.

The only baseball image of "Paddy" to be found - 1919 Zeenuts, for LA

Not surprisingly, Driscoll's career was so short that he only appeared on one baseball card (pictured above). Honestly, I'm surprised there's even been one - let alone one from his tenure in the minor leagues.

But, since a classic 1919 Zeenut card is well out of my budget for the foreseeable future, I was forced to battle my OCD tendencies and introduce a football card to my CATRC.

It'll make an acceptable place-holder until I strike my fortune and can afford his baseball card - or that's what I tell myself anyway.

Besides, that 1989 Swell Greats card is a pretty "swell" piece of cardboard itself and at least it depicts him as a member of a Chicago team.  That counts for something, right?

In the meantime, I'm going to kick back and listen as the Bears whip the Bills.  I hope.

Bear down!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Wish today's outcome would have been better. Thankfully It wasn't on here in NE Iowa (stupid Vikings) so I didn't see it.