Thursday, July 2, 2015

Canada Day Was When Now?

So, yesterday was Canada Day huh?  Once again, I missed my chance to be fairly topical with some new acquisitions for my CATRC here on the blog.  My girlfriend will be the first to tell you that I always seem to be just a touch late to everything.

Nagging aside, I recently acquired two new cards of guys who stopped through Chicago much earlier in their careers and what connects them to our neighbors to the north is that they are pictured in Canadian garb - aka Expo and Blue Jay regalia.

Two days ago, I missed the mark early by showing off my 1983 Stuarts oddball of Mel Wright, which would have been perfect for a Canada Day post since it even features French text.  C'est la vie - thankfully, I still have one Great White North card to display:

OK - so it's hard to find excuses to show off a plain, ol' dime-a-dozen 1981 Donruss card with a trademarked blurry head shot.  Thus, I should have been more on my game yesterday.

Regardless, though shown here during his brief managerial career for Toronto, Mattick spent some time in Chicago many moons earlier.

The son of Chicago White Sock Wally Mattick, the native Iowan also began his MLB career playing for Chicago - but on the other side of town.  In 1938, he batted 1.000 for the eventual NL pennant winning Cubs - in one at-bat on May 5th.  The 22 year old also got one inning of action at short stop without handling a chance.

The reason the young rube was in the game?  The Northsiders were clobbering the Phillies 21-2 and they might as well have let the bat bot take a few cuts too.

Mattick got a Cubs card in TCMA's set dedicated to the '38 NL Champs,
despite only playing 1 inning - anyone have a lead on this set/card?

The next season, Bobby was given a fair shake and did well enough to impress Mr. Wrigley and Co.  In 51 ABs, he put up a respectable .281 average and played a capable shortstop.  The Cubs liked him enough to ship out the incumbent Dick Bartell to Detroit and hand him the starting gig.

It's important to note here that Bobby had been succeeding despite a pretty serious condition. In 1936, the youngster had been smacked by a foul ball, which cracked his skull above his right eye and caused double vision.  In more recent history, we Chicagoans have seen how much vision issues can derail someone's career through Mike Olt.

Too bad Bobby didn't have Mike's magic eye drops

These issues must have reared their ugly head in '40 because in what would be his only season as a regular, he batted a paltry .218 and the Cubs opted to move on.  After a couple more seasons as a sub in Cincy, Bobby's MLB career was done.

Bobby taking some hacks in 1939
Image courtesy of

However his career in baseball was far from over.  Managing in the minor leagues for a few decades, Bobby eventually found his way to the Toronto organization for their inaugural season in 1979.  After rising through their scouting department ranks, he was handed over the reigns to become the second skipper in franchise history after Ray Hartsfield was dismissed going into 1980.

In doing so, Mattick became the oldest rookie manager to start a season at a youthful 64.  Initially, be balked at the idea for a somewhat odd reason - he insisted on being able to wear business clothes, a la Connie Mack, in the dugout.  It took some convincing, but he eventually warmed up to the idea of a white pullover.

See? It's not so bad, now is it?
Image courtesy of

After two "successful" seasons of avoiding 100 losses, Mattick turned down an offer to continue and instead opted to go into the front office, where he played a key administrative role in scouting and development.  His work helped lead the Blue Jays to 5 ALDS wins and World Series crowns in 1992 and 1993.

So, I think it's safe to say his executive career was much more successful than his playing one, no?

Anyway, Mattick helped bring a lot of baseball pride to Canada and Canada Day seemed like a great time to give him a moment in the spotlight - so, it's too bad I missed it entirely.  However, as the old adage goes, it's better late than never.

In the meantime, I'm going to bring this post to a close so that I can run to Office Max and get myself a nice calendar. 

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