Saturday, March 14, 2015

You Don't Know Jack!

No, really, I bet you haven't heard of this obscure baseball player who went by the name of Jack.  I wasn't trying to be a smart-ass... this time anyway.

I found this black & white, regional oddity on the eBay for cheap, so I followed my impulses and took the plunge.  It's a reprint of the 1955 full-color set of Kansas City Athletics produced by Rodeo Meats.  Their motive was to commemorate the first season of the A's playing in Kansas City and, of course, gain some exposure for their business.

In 1976, a company (maybe?) for which I can find no further information on that is referred to as JDM on the back of the card reprinted this set, but without the color.  This is the sort of thing that happened all the time as a cash grab during the junk wax boom of the late 80's/early 90's, but this is before cards were seen as an investments.  Strange - at least to me.

But, back to the player pictured:

Courtesy of  jacksbiggestfan on

Though he was an original Kansas City Athletic, he was also later to become a Chicago Cub and, thus, this card has been cataloged into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.

Jack was a minor league lifer who played from the day he signed with the Red Sox organization in 1948 until he retired from the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves in 1962.  In that time span, he made a few brief cameos at the Major League level.

The shortstop got the proverbial cuppacoffee for the Philadelphia edition of the A's in 1952 and 1954 and followed the organization west to Missouri for his first extended bit of action in 1955.  It didn't go particularly well: in 37 games and 76 PA's, he only managed a .200 average with just 1 XBH and 4 walks.

The A's played in Kansas City? It sounded so weird to childhood me
Courtesy of

One can easily excuse his lack of production that season, as he had to deal with a devastating and life-altering loss; his wife was killed in a car accident the year before and he was left to raise his two young daughters on his own.

Somehow he found the strength to keep playing and ended up in the Cubs organization by 1957 and, unfortunately, things went even worse.  He batted .190 in 164 PA's over 61 games with 43 K's. Actually, those numbers fit in quite well with the Cubs of the 50's.

This famous Rockwell scene was published in 1948, but it's close enough to the 50's and is still fitting.

The Cubs told him to hit the road Jack right on back to the PCL and he was never to reemerge from the bushes again.  But, as stated earlier, he continued to make a living playing baseball for several more years as a baseball nomad.

Since his time in the majors was so brief, the only cards that seem to exist of Jack are the reprint and the original edition of the card spotlighted here.  Therefore, I am rather satisfied having been able to find one of these for a rational price.

That said, I will be keeping my eyes open for a copy of the original beauty; however, being a oddball piece of 50's vintage, it will cost a pretty penny.

In honor of Jack and the Kansas City A's, I leave you with this:

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