Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Wright State of Mind

So, day three of "3 Concerts in 3 Days" kinda wore me out.  I was so tired from rockin' out to the Plain White T's on Sunday that I just couldn't muster the energy or brain power to post until today.

Nah.  In all reality, I just didn't feel like it.  You've heard of "hitterish?"  Well, I wasn't feeling "bloggerish."  Work has been stressful, I had a lot of housework to take care of... I wasn't in the correct frame of mind.

However, looking through my scans reminded me that I have some kinda cool stuff to show off (at least cool to me); so, I feel some inspiration coming on.

Excepting new acquisitions and call ups, I'm at the point where pretty much all additions to my CATRC have to come from oddball sets - Topps flagship missed quite a few guys and, y'know, didn't always exist.  But, that's a-ok with me because I adore such variety.

For instance, this Canadian snack company issue from 1983 is phenomenal - Expos, French AND English player information and obscure baseball lifer.  Mel coach for the Expos at the time; but, he also had a brief playing career as well - appearing in 58 games with the Cardinals (1954–55) and Chicago Cubs (1960–61), going 2-6 while surrendering 119 hits in 84 IP, and compiling an ERA of 7.61.

You can see why his career was so brief.

Mel during his days as a Cubs coach
Image courtesy of ootpdevelopments.com

After that, he stayed on with the Cubs org as a coach, surviving the craziness of the College of Coaches and rising up to pitching coach under Leo the Lip in 1971.  After stints with the Pirates and Yankees, Mel spent his last season in Montreal.

Sadly, it wasn't his last by his own choice - Mel was hospitalized one week into the '83 season and died of heart failure on May 16, in Houston, Texas, at just 55.

So, here we have Mel Wright's last (and only) baseball card, a final tribute of sorts.

On a less depressing note, here we have a "Diamond Greats" card of Bill Voiselle. The set itself was put together by a card collecting photographer named Jack Wallin,  The budget was pretty low for this home-grown set, as evidenced by the simple design and blank backs.

Also, as you can see, Mr. Wallin was pretty liberal with the term "greats," as Bill's career stat-line on the bottom-front of the card is almost the definition of mediocrity.  It's likely that Wallin targeted players he knew who's rights would be cheap to obtain rather than actual greats.

That worked out for me though; ol' number 96 doesn't have a lot of cards floating around. Sporting the highest number ever used until fellow Cubs Mitch Williams took #99, Bill burst onto the scene with the Giants in 1942 by leading the NL in innings pitched and strikeouts, a career-high 21 wins and making his only All-Star appearance.

 Several decades later, fellow Cubs pitchers saw Bill's #96 and outdid him by 3

After that debut, he regressed back to the mean and became a serviceable mid-rotation type.  However, by the time the Cubs got a hold of him in 1950 in a trade for Gene Mauch, he was unable to record a win in 19 appearances, which were to be his last in the Bigs.

More interesting than his career was why he wore such a high number. It was a tribute to the tiny town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina where he was raised and spent most of his life.

image courtesy of seriousjammage.com

So concludes today's edition of Wrigley Roster Jenga.  I hope this pair of vintage oddballs were as intriguing to you as they are to me.  After all, the major companies have put out some pretty cool sets; but, you need some oddballs mixed in there to spice things up, right?

I wish we could see more like these today but I'm sure Topps current stranglehold on the market puts the kibash on that real quick-like.
Oh well.

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