Friday, May 30, 2014

Mr. Zero Goes to Chicago

Yesterday, I hinted that my post today would have an international flavor to it.  That international flavor?  Japanese (and Korean).

The Cubs have not really had much success when it comes to Japanese-league imports.  Kosuke Fukudome turned into a screw driver every time he came to the plate and Kyuji Fujikawa hit the DL immediately upon landing in the states... OK, it wasn't THAT quickly, but it sure did feel like it.

Recently, there was one other former NPB star that the Cubs brought over, but he didn't come with nearly as much fan-fare and he wasn't actually Japanese - Chang Yong-Lim.




"Mr. Zero," as he was known in Japan, was well-past his prime by the time he landed in Chicago on a two-year deal.  In fact, at age 36, he was coming straight off of his second (!!!) Tommy John surgery when he was inked as a free agent going into 2013.  Not exactly a promising set-up.

He spent several years starring in his native South Korea in the KBO as a reliever.  Lim even generated some MLB buzz with his sidearm fastball, which has been credited as the fastest sidearm pitch in baseball history (peak 99 MPH), but he stayed put.

That is, until the Tokyo Yakult Swallows came a-calling in 2007, looking to stabilize their bullpen.  After jumping countries for the first time in his career, Lim rose to the challenge: 3.00 ERA and 33 saves in 51.0 innings.



Lim in his "Mr. Zero" days
Courtesy of The Korea Times


He began the 2009 season by going several months without giving up a single earned run, thus earning him the title of "Mr. Zero" and an All-Star berth.  However, it was all downhill from there.

Wear and tear caught up with Lim and, two TJ surgeries later, he was seemingly washed up when the Cubs signed him.  Still, there was a glimmer of hope that he could return to form.

He was not expected to contribute at the major league level that season, but he forced the issue.  After beginning his rehab assignments, he rocketed through the system by going 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 39.1 innings across four levels.  Not "Mr. Zero," but "Mr. 1.83" just doesn't have a ring to it.



 Lim pitches against the Pirates last September
Courtesy of The Daily Herald


The Cubs could not ignore those numbers and called him up to the Bigs in September; unfortunately, he wasn't as sharp.  In 5 innings stretched across 6 games, Lim gave up 3 earned runs and walked 7 men.  However, he was unscored upon in 4 of those 6 games and didn't allow any home runs, so it wasn't all bad.

Lim was non-tendered in the offseason, but signed him shortly thereafter to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.  Alas, he was just as inconsistent in Arizona and was given his walking papers near the end of March.

Where is he now?  He's back in South Korea and he seems to be doing just fine for himself: 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 12 saves in 17 innings for Samsung.  It's just too bad he couldn't post such numbers in Chicago.

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Finding a card of Chang Yong-Lim was a test of patience.  His time in the MLB was so short and insignificant that he never had a card issued as a Cub.  Plus, his minor league stints were so brief that he didn't end up in any of their team sets either.

Inconvenient for sure, but since he was a star over in Japan, his cards must be relatively easy to find right?

It seems he only had a handful issued in Japan and his KBO cards are pretty much out of the question.  So, I had to wait several months before one showed up on eBay a couple weeks ago.  When it finally showed up, I wasn't even annoyed that I had to overpay to get it.

It's a nice piece and it looks like it comes from a retrospective set of NPB stars.  Perhaps the NPB Guy over at Japanese Baseball Cards could fill me in on the specifics?

In acquiring Lim, I'm getting ever so close to completing my side-quest of collecting a card of every Cub who has played since 1980:


Gene Krug - 1981

Bill Johnson  - 1983-1984

Johnny Abrego - 1985

Mike Maksudian  - 1994

Ramon Tatis - 1997

Steve Gajkowski - 1998-1999

Richard Barker - 1999-2000

Raul Gonzalez - 2000

Mike Mahoney - 2000, 2002

Mike Fyhrie - 2001


Jeff Beliveau - 2012

Lendy Castillo - 2012

Chang Yong-Lim - 2013

Hopefully I can knock off a few more of these without having to import my baseball cards from another country!  But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't like to obtain cards from distant lands.  That said, tomorrow's post will be focused back in the United States, but back in the distant past.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Back From the Dead

Well then.  I could post some long-winded, rambling excuse for why I've been absent from Wrigley Roster Jenga for so long, but I don't really have one.  I've honestly just not felt inspired enough to write about my baseball cards lately.  Perhaps it has something to do with the dreadful state of my team and the ham-fisted, ineptitude surrounding the renovation of Wrigley Field.

It's a shame that I can't get into hockey as much as I do baseball; the Blackhawks are certainly the best franchise in Chicago and one of the best in pro sports, after all.

No matter, it's time to resuscitate this blog because I have definitely pulled in some really interesting and odd cards that I feel inspired to show off and write about.  But, I'll warm things up with some more conventional vintage cardboard that I purchased in a (relatively) recent trip to my LCS.






This small, Chicagoland chain has a branch in Plainfield - right next store to my home in Crest Hill.  It has served me oh-so-well in the past few months, providing the best access to both vintage and new products at pretty decent prices.

But, I'm not an advertiser, so I'm going to stop tooting their horn... it's all about ME and MY stuff!!!!

*ahem* I mean, I'm not selling out.

Anyway, in their back room, the shop has big boxes of single cards from every Topps set from 1954 through 1985 (or thereabouts; it's been a few weeks since my last visit and my memory is hazy). This is a set collector's dream; but, it certainly has proved helpful to me in locating forgotten and semi-stars from bygone years.

For instance, these beauties from one of my favorite sets of all-time:



It might not be fair to call Bobby Thomson a role player, but his best years were definitely behind him when he arrived in Chicago.  In his two seasons (1958-59), he posted a .274 batting average with 34 homers.  Not bad for an aging slugger, but not exceptional either.  However, I'm very happy to finally have a "Cubs" card of the man behind "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  I have a few of his NY Giants cards, but no others in Cubbie blue.

In the days before the MLB draft, Chick King was signed right off of the Memphis State campus by the Tigers in 1951.  A tall, lanky outfielder, Chick's main calling cards were his glove and his swift feet (he was also a track star at Memphis State).  However, they did not translate well in the majors and his complete lack of power was a problem.  By the time he got to the Cubs in 1958, he was completely washed up and he received only 14 at-bats over his two seasons in Wrigley.

 Chronologically, the next card that I scored from these boxes was from another phenomenal set and was pretty much a God-send:



Get it? It's because he's an Angel!

Okay, so I'm no comedian...

Archie Reynolds came up with the Cubs just as they were starting hit their stride in the late '60's.  He was drafted in 1966 down in the 38th round, but he came rocketing out of the gate to start his pro-career.  Archie dominated Rookie ball, going 9–3 with a 2.13 ERA, earning a promotion straight to double A in 1967. There, he went 13–2 with a 2.19 ERA and earned his first call to the major leagues in August of 1968.

Unfortunately, he never really hit his stride in the bigs, but he also never got an extended chance.  Getting into only 7, 2 & 7 games with the North Siders from 1968-70 respectively with an ERA of 5.80 in 35.2 innings.

The Cubs traded him to the Angels for a seasoned veteran arm in Juan Pizarro as the Cubs tried desperately to get over the hump.  They never did get over the hump and Archie never did get a real audition; he was out of the Majors completely by 1973.

This "high number" (#672) has eluded me for some time now and therefore I was prepared to spend a couple bucks on it.  However, the clerk was kind enough to drop it in my bag for free because of the crop job.  Hey, that's fine by me!

Let us now fast-forward two years to uncover my next find:



1974 is a set that I can go either way on; depending on the team's assigned color scheme, I either love it or loathe it.  This Twins example falls under "love it," as the red and blue blend well with the background in the photo and the Twins jersey (as it should).  Plus, Mike Adams was also a Cub!

Adams' career wasn't very noteworthy; he spent his entire career as a backup outfielder on some pretty "meh" teams, including the Cubs from 1976-77.  His slash line in Chicago was an anemic
.129/.325 /.194; he wouldn't even crack today's Cubs outfield!










Also, he might share his name with a certain Phillie reliever, but he bares no relation.  However, his father Bobby played around the infield as a Cub for a few seasons in the '50s and his uncle Dick was also an MLB infielder.



Mike's father also resides in my collection.  But, alas, it is a reprint.

Thus concludes my rather productive trip to The Baseball Card King (three new Cubs players and a Cubbie Update) and my first post back on Wrigley Roster Jenga in some time.

Don't call it a comeback!

No, really.  Don't.  It just calls attention back to the fact that I've been a lazy POS and didn't feel much like writing anything.

But, I will definitely be back tomorrow with some international flavor.  You can count on that!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Garage Sale Junkie

OK.  I admit it.  I might have a problem...

I think I'm addicted to garage sales.

Just one week after my adventures through Coal City's city-wide garage sale, I set aside the weekend to scrounge through Midlothian's (my hometown) annual resale day.

Is there a twelve-step program for digging through people's junk?

It's the thrill of the hunt that always pulls me in; plus, you really just never know what you are going to find.  Unfortunately, Midlothian must not have many card collectors because I could only find one house with any cardboard squares.  While my Coal City exploration required two posts, this one will barely fill one.

Two bucks brought me the only ones that I could find:









At least it starts out with a Hall of Famer.  Granted, I only collect players related to the Cubs, but I took it as a good omen.

Unfortunately, most of this Ziploc baggy was junk wax in it's purest form.  That said, I could still take some joy in what I found.




I have always thought that the 1990 Topps set was one of their most garish and clunky; however, I've certainly not kept it secret that the 1989 Cubs are one of my favorite teams of all-time and all four of these men were members.

Courtesy of a VHS tape I bought from the local video rental store discount bin about ten years ago, "The Boys of Zimmer" were introduced to me.  This motley crew of one-year wonders and over achievers made a surprising run for the playoffs during my birth year.  I guess I'm good luck.



Thanks Family Home Video!
Image courtesy of eBay, my tape is in the shed somewhere


Aside from the normal junk wax, this bag also contained a few cool new oddities for my collection.  Honestly, who collects baseball cards and doesn't love oddities?




I wish that I could still find baseball cards in my box of cereal; the only thing I ever find these days is the bottom (because I'm a glutton for Cap'n Crunch).

Although these two guys aren't depicted as Cubs, they still make my binders for their brief stints on the North Side.  Joe Carter came up to Chicago as a top prospect in 1983 and was included in the package to land Rick Sutcliffe as the Cubs entered "win-now" mode the next season.  It was a win-win trade I'd say.

HoJo had many great seasons as a Met; but, he had only one season as a Cub - and it was terrible.  He wrapped up his 14 year career in 1995 by hitting .195/.330/.355 with just 7 homers in 87 games.  This All-Star went out as just another in the long line of crummy third basemen in between Ron Santo and Aramis Ramirez.



The MooTown Snackers set was completely new to me.  Until I pulled this "Hawk" I had never even known this set existed.  I do like the layout of the card, but I really have to wonder why they designated the set as "Autograph Series."

I certainly would not have found this card in a Ziploc bag at as garage sale in the south side of Chicago had this series lived up to it's designation!

Finally, I've saved my favorite oddity (and favorite card in the bag) for last:




Another fun set that got completely by me as a child.  The Baseball Enquirer was an unlicensed set that made the rounds in 1992, right in the thick of the junk wax era.  Confex put this out to poke fun at MLB stars and to cash in on the craze.

On the reverse side of the card was a satirical "interview" with the unnamed player which lampooned certain aspects of his game, personality or in, some cases, got kinda vicious with their personal lives

The only Cub that was included in the set was George Bell.  I'm calling this a Cubs card because it certainly looks like a Cubs jersey from the time and his one season as a Cub was the previous season.

As you've probably guessed, George was getting hassled about his lack of fielding ability.  The slugger was a DH during his time in the AL for a reason.

This is the sort of thing that I'll never tire of finding.  I love good satire.  I love baseball cards.  What else could I ask for?

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Thus, I'd say that yet another day spent searching through other people's castaways was well-spent.

I may not have found any crazy deals or new players for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection, but I did get to add some interesting new oddities to my binders.

Also, if you hear rattling around in your garage later tonight, I promise that its DEFINITELY not me....

Monday, May 12, 2014

Old as Moses Monday: "Kid" (No, Not That One....)

I can only wish that Gary Carter had put on Cubbie blue pinstripes at some point in his career.

Alas, I guess Jody Davis was a pretty good catcher for the Cubs throughout most of the 80's.

Also, I'm entirely aware of the irony of featuring a player who is nicknamed after youthful inhibition in a feature that celebrates how the Cubs franchise is old as dirt.  I love me some good irony.

The "Kid" to which I'm referencing is this one:




Don't worry; I haven't gone completely out of my gourd (though I'm probably mighty close thanks to this years hitless wonders), I'm well aware that this card clearly lists some guy name Mal as an umpire.

But, before Mal was an umpire, he was the "Kid" and he hurled fastballs before keeping count of them.

"Kid" Eason could have used some better teammates though.  Despite having a career ERA of 3.42 from 1900-06, Eason went 36-73 over the course of his career - eat your hearts out Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza!



These guys feel your run support-based pain Mal!
(Too bad Spellcheck isn't sporting a throwback as well)

But, it all started out so well for Eason; in his MLB debut with the Cubs, he pitched a complete game W while allowing just one earned run.  The Cubs put up four runs for Eason that October day; who knew he'd go on to have less support in his career than a 20-year old desk chair?
 
On the strength of that late-season win, the Cubs inserted the "Kid" into their rotation for the 1901 season.  In 27 appearances (25 starts), he posted a 3.59 ERA over 220.2 innings with a lowly record of 8-17.  Granted, his ERA was a touch high for the Deadball Era, but it certainly didn't help that the then Chicago Orphans allowed well-over 100 more runs than they themselves scored (578-699).


"Kid" Eason sporting his youthful exhuberance
Image courtesy of BaseballHistorian.com



Unfortunately for Mal, the Chicago franchise was stuck in an awkward phase between their 18th century dominance led by Pop Anson (who retired in 1899, hence the "Orphans" moniker) and their Tinkers-Evers-Chance heyday.  They won 65, 58 and 68 games from 1900-02.

After just one start in 1902, the Cubs gave Mal his walking papers.  He went on to bounce around with the Beaneaters (Braves), Tigers and Superbas (Dodgers).  Through 1905, he lost as many as 12 games three times, bottoming out with a whopping 21 for the 1905 Brooklyn Superbas.  

 In 1906, it was really more of the same - despite posting a 3.25 ERA, he lost 17 games for Brooklyn.  However, in what must have been a reward from the baseball gods for having played for just one winning team in his career, Eason tossed a no-hitter against St. Louis in what was ultimately his final season.  

Though he was through as an active player, "Kid's" love for America's past-time kept him involved in the game.  From 1910 through 1917, he called games for the National League - probably because he was used to not having the support of the players around him.  Hey-o!



Umpire Mal Eason looks a touch bitter in this photo.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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When Conlon Collection released their famous, retrospective 1992 card series, they chose to represent Eason in the umpire subset rather than relive his frustrating days as a pitcher.

I have made it rather obvious on this blog that I absolutely love everything about the Conlon Collection. Shining the spotlight on such forgotten names as Eason is just one of the many reasons that I've treasured this set since my Uncle Louie gifted me my first sampling back in 1996.

Eason was not a part of that initial collection.  Although, as you can tell from how beaten up this card is, it came into my grubby hands shortly thereafter, thanks to a box I harassed my mother about throughout the aisles of K-Mart.  I was only 7, after all.

And, as the late, great radio host Paul Harvey would say, "now you know.... the REST of the story!"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Short Stay Sunday: Zach Putnam

It's been one week since you looked at me...

Or, rather, one week since I've looked at Wrigley Roster Jenga. Sorry that you now have Barenaked Ladies stuck in your head though.

This is what happens when you move and your Internet service is going through growing pains, or your apartment complex has lead walls - one of the two.

But, no matter; let's get right back at it.

Last night, my girlfriend and I chaperoned a children's charity outing to the White Sox game.  Now, I love free baseball, no matter what side of town it's being played on, and I'm always willing to volunteer some time to a good cause.

In yesterday's game, I learned two things: 1) The South Side offense is almost as anemic as the North Side, almost 2) this guy is back in the Major Leagues:




I'm not going to lie, I didn't even know he was still in organized baseball at all.

This journeyman reliever (pictured in his college days) has played with Cleveland, Colorado and  the White Sox, but I'll always remember him for his time as a Cub.  He wasn't here for long though, hence his appearance on Short Stay Sunday.

A fifth round draft pick by the Indians in 2008, the power reliever made his major league debut there in 2011.  He lasted 8 games, giving up 5 runs in 7.1 innings.  Unimpressed, the Tribe traded Putnam to the Rockies for Kevin Slowey in the offseason.

With the Rockies, he was completely unscored upon in all of his appearances.  Unfortunately for Zach, that was only 2 innings stretched across 2 games.  That's a bit strange, since the Rockies were almost single-handedly responsible for keeping relievers employed.  13 pitchers made 15 or more appearances out of the bullpen in 2012.

At the end of the year, the Rockies tried to sneak him through waivers; the Cubs were perched and waiting.  They took him and then, when he became a free agent, signed him on Christmas Day.  As a Cubs fan, this gift was sorta like that generic off-brand toy that your aunt bought on the way to your house at the last minute.



 Look! Darth Vader has Sammy Sosa disease!
Image courtesy of CollectorsQuest.com


Like said toy, Zach broke almost immediately after the Cubs got him.  He was called up to the bigs around Memorial Day.  After 5 appearances, he found himself on the disabled list with elbow problems.

Not that it was a huge loss.  After a three pitch, scoreless 1/3 inning in his debut, Putnam gave up 4 ER on 6 hits in just 1 inning against the Diamondbacks and it was all downhill from there.

After hitting the DL, he underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow.  Zach later admitted that he had been pitching through pain for quite a while.  Thus, his performance on the North Side.



Jeff Samardzija James Russell Zach Putnam pitching in spring training, 2013.


I thought that this marked the end of his career.  The road to stardom is littered with pitchers in Zach's predicament.  But, as it turns out, he signed with the White Sox in the offseason (which I failed to notice) and has now become a key member of their bullpen.  Drat.

In fact, he even pitched 2 perfect innings at Wrigley, getting the win in relief against the Cubs in the Crosstown Cup.  The Cubs just can't catch a break.

I wish Zach all the best, despite my bitterness.  After all, I'm only bitter because I wish he were a part of the other Chicago bullpen, the one that couldn't hold a lead if it had handles on it that were soaked in super glue.

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As for this card itself, it comes from Upper Deck's 2010 World of Sports set.  It shows him pitching for the University of Michigan... 2 years after he had already been in professional baseball.  But, I'll cut them some slack, as UD was still trying to figure out what to do with their baseball cards after losing their MLB license and the trouble surrounding their unlicensed 2009 set.

But, I do enjoy cards that depict MLB players in their bush league days, so one that goes all the way back to their collegiate days is even cooler!

Side note -  I hope Zach washes his hat more often now, look at those sweaty salt deposits!

At that, I must be on my way.  I'll be back tomorrow with Old as Moses Monday - I shan't be disappearing for weeks on end anymore as I think I finally have my internet kinks straightened out.

However, since you have probably had this stuck in your head throughout the entire post:


Good luck with those lyrics though!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Short Stay Sunday: Tarrik Brock

Brock is an infamous name in Cubs history.  Every Cub fan still cringes at the thought of the dreaded Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio trade made 50 years ago.  However, Lou was not the only Brock who made a brief cameo on the Cubs roster.




However, Tarrik is of no relation and is of far lesser consequence.  Drafted in the second round by the Detroit Tigers in 1991 with much hype, he languished for several seasons in A ball, a level at which he had a career .228 batting average.  As for his ballyhooed legs, he never stole more than 25 bases in his six seasons with the Tigers organization.

After spending some time in the Mariners and Rockies organization, he found his way to Chicago by trade in 1999.  In 54 games for AA West Tennessee, he batted a paltry .217, stealing 9 bases.

Despite these weak numbers, Tarrik finally made a major league roster for the first time as the Cubs opened their 2000 season in Japan.  He even singled in his long-awaited first MLB at bat off of Rich Rodriguez, pinch hitting in the 7th inning.

But, that's where the magic ended.  Over the course of his 13 games (16 PAs), he was only able to muster one other hit. This earned him a ticket back down to AAA and would mark the end of his major league career.

That is to say, his career as an active player was over.  After spending several seasons as a roving base running coordinator in the Marlins organization, Tarrik is no back in the big leagues.  He's currently serving as the first base coach in Houston under another former Cub in manager Bo Porter.



Tarrik coaching first base with the Astros

In addition, in his personal life, his family consists of plenty of other athletic talent.  His wife, Kanika, was a sprinter at USC and currently serves as a coach at Encino Crespi High School in California.  One of her star charges is their son Tarrik Jr., who last year ran the fastest 100 meters in state history for a freshman.
He won his heat in 10.57 seconds. As a former track pseudo-star myself, that's pretty flippin' fast!


The card that I have representing in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection comes from the 2002 edition of Line Up; the subject of these sets was the Venezuelan Winter League.  Obscure/forgotten player, oddball card, off-the-wall set basis... sounds like my kind of thing!

Thus concludes today's edition of Short Stay Sunday on Wrigley Roster Jenga.  I hope you enjoyed it, but Imust get going; I have a concert to get to!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A New Cog in the Machine

Well, Ryan Sweeney just can't seem to stay healthy.  In yesterday's game, it looked like he pulled his hamstring while chasing down a fly ball (he still made the catch, what a trooper).  This appears to be a recurrence of the injury that robbed him of a significant portion of spring training.

So, he joins fellow outfielder Justin Ruggiano on the DL.  In the meantime, the Cubs have called up a former NL ROY to fill his spot on the roster:




Coghlan hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire in AAA, but since Matt Sczcur has been banged up and Brett Jackson is Brett Jackson, Chris seems to be the best option.

Thus, now Chris Coghlan has been officially added to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  Since I treat my card collection much like a boy scout treats his badge collection, I'm always prepared.  I set aside this shiny 2010 Bowman when the Cubs signed him to a minor league deal this offseason, just in case he happened to make the big league team.

Here's hoping he can return to the form that made him the National League's top rookie in 2009!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Ars Longa Returns

About a week and a half ago, I sang the praises of Ars Longa, a new company that specializes in producing art cards that evoke the tobacco era and feature players of that same time.  As of now, they are only available on eBay and are a tad pricey, but they are unique and depict players that are just waiting to be added to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.

I was so happy with my "Wild Bill" Hutchison, that I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on another long-forgotten name, one Marty Sullivan.  However, this time I opted for a card from another one of their series - Pioneer Portraits.

Pioneer Portraits features players and baseball dignitaries from 1875-99 in a portrait format.  They take inspiration from the studio portraits & carte de visites (CDVs).  All in all, they make for a quite classy baseball card:




                                             2014 Ars Longa                                                   1887 Original

Beautiful colorization on the black and white photo; compare the Ars Longa to an original tobacco card which used the picture.  As someone who had to do this many times my college photo editing classes, I can say that making it look that natural is very much a pain in the butt.  

Plus, another excellent job with the advertisement on the back; it really adds a lot to the aura.  These truly are "art" cards!


As for the player depicted, there's not a lot of information available about Mr. Sullivan.  What I do know is that he was an outfielder in the NL from 1887-91.  He broke in with the Cubs (then White Stockings) as an everyday outfielder with Anson and Co.  In 115 games in '87, he batted .284 with 7 HR and 77 RBI as a key offensive piece. 



The 1887 Chicago White Stockings; can you spot Marty?


However, he fell off the next season, batting .236 with 39 RBI through 75 games, though he still matched his home run total.  But, it wasn't enough to keep his roster spot and he found himself in Indianapolis in 1889.

After stints with the Boston Beaneaters and Cleveland Spiders, he was done with Major League Baseball by 1891.

And that, my friends, is all I can dig up about Mr. Marty Sullivan.

In conclusion (now this feels like a high school English paper), I recommend adding at least one Ars Longa art card to your cardboard collection.  If for nothing else than the novelty factor; they are really cool to look at after all!

Note - they're only produced in limited runs.  You can check out which cards they are currently selling right here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Take a Chance on Me

Don't worry, this post has nothing to do with ABBA.  Besides, I totally don't like ABBA at all.  Why would you even ask that?  OK, maybe they have a few good songs... OK, maybe you caught me.

Oh, hey, look - a distraction! 

The reason I chose that song title for this post is that I recently took a chance on a novel newish product that I recently saw on Target shelves.  I say newish because I have no idea how long they've been there, I'm not known for my observation skills.  Has anyone seen these boxes before?


Yea, I ripped it open before I took a picture of it for the blog.  I'm not known for my patience either. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!... Crap, there's ABBA again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this box from re-pack specialists Fairfield Sports offers three packs of baseball cards and guarantees either a relic or autographed card.  I like where this is going.

Although, it was a tad pricey for such a gamble - $11 and some change.  If I happened to pull a Billy Herman bat card or an Andre Dawson signature as the box flaunts, then it would absolutely be worth it.  However, I'm sure there's plenty of Felix Pie junk laying around the repack office.

But, I'm a sucker for such things, so of course I grabbed one.

I got a pack of 2012 Topps Opening Day and two other packs whose contents were so uninspiring that I no longer remember what they were.  The only Cub connection in any of the three was this guy:


Right before he took a year to tour Japan.  Casey McGehee was a middling third base prospect and the Cubs gave him a cuppacoffee at the end of 2008, mostly as an award for being a good organizational guy.

Soon after the season ended, they lost him on a waiver claim and no one though much of it. Who knew he'd go on to be a (mostly) useful player?

He's back stateside now with the Marlins, Godspeed Casey!

But, I still had the relic/auto card to look forward to at this point, so who care that the packs were uninspiring.  So, who and what did I get?



Hmmm.  Well, I'd rather pull this than a sweated on jersey swatch from Jason Dubois.   Walker was a huge fan favorite in Chicago, mostly with the ladies, and played a decent second base.  The journeyman batted .285 with 23 HR and 138 RBI over 333 PA in 3 years in Cubbie blue; not earth shattering, but pretty decent numbers.

He might have been a part of some really disappointing teams (2004-06), but I'll always remember him fondly for his hustle.  Plus, his Cubs career began shortly after I went from "Oh, I like baseball" to rabid Cubs fan during my high school years.

Donruss made a pretty cool looking card too.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's all nice and shiny and the design evokes the Wrigley Marquee; excellent touch.  Even if it is a sticker autograph and the top edge came somewhat nicked up, this card easily becomes my first-string Walker card.

Now, I would have rather gotten more for eleven bucks than a Casey McGehee base card and a Todd Walker sticker auto, but it certainly could have been worse!

With that out of the way, I'm definitely not going to go and spin my S.O.S. and Dancing Queen 45s while singing along poorly.  Why would you even think that?



*Sigh* I'll leave my man-card on the table...