For this week's edition of "Old as Moses Monday," we shine the spotlight on one George Frederick Graham, otherwise known as "Peaches."
Graham, shown here on Topps' ode to the old T205 tobacco cards from 1911, was the ultimate utility player.
Throughout the course of his 7-year career, the guy started at catcher, second baseman, outfielder, third baseman, shortstop and even attempted a career as a pitcher as well. He was a regular Bert Campaneris in his day.
He was a Cubbie double-dipper as well. His first stint in Chicago lasted just one game, during his aforementioned attempt as a moundsman. In his only start, he allowed 3 runs in 5 innings, downright disastrous in the Deadball Era. It would be his only MLB pitching appearance.
After bouncing around the diamond for the Boston NL club for several seasons, Peaches was traded back to the Cubs in the middle of the 1911 campaign, for long-time catcher Johnny Kling, among others. This time, he stayed exclusively at the other side of the battery, catching 36 games.
He wasn't much of a catcher though, he led the league in passed balls in just 75 games in 1908 and then booted 22 errors in 92 games behind the plate during the next season. No wonder he kept bouncing around the playing field.
My only other Peaches card documents his time in Boston.
It comes from Renatta Galasso's reprint set of 1911 Turkey Reds
He was traded again in the off-season, this time to the Phillies, where he closed out his career with 24 more games behind the dish.
More importantly than his statistics though is just where in the world did he get such a cool nickname? Allegedly, while playing in Colorado Springs during his minor league days, George ate an entire bucket of peaches on a dare from teammate Bunk Congalton, himself a future Cub. Well, Bunk did say he triple dog dared him after all...
Graham then went and rapped out 9 hits in a four-game series. As superstitious as ball-players tend be, especially in the early 20th century, from then on "Peaches" ate a peach before every game as he sat on the bench, convinced that they were good luck. Turk Wendell had black licorice, George Graham had nature's candy.
The man who indirectly gave "Peaches" his moniker, on a real tobacco card which I do not yet own.
Image courtesy of VintageCardPrices.com
As for the card, it hails from Topps 205, just as the company was realizing that super-retro based sets were money-makers. Topps 206 was released a year earlier to surprising success; so, to follow up, the first series of Topps 205 was released in July 2003.
Just like the original 1911 T-205's, there are separate designs for the NL, AL and minor league players. The first third of the checklist consists of current Major League players, the second features prospects and first-year players, and the last features various "reprints" of some of the original T-205 cards. Obviously, the Graham cards comes from the latter third.
At least UD gets it with their Goodwin Champions set and so too did TriStar when Obak was sitll a thing... sigh.
This is something that Topps eventually strayed away from when it comes to their old-timey sets. No longer can we find players from the eras being honored in sets like A&G, Gypsy Queen and the like. I'm just saying, we have enough cards of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez - a little nod to the players of yore would add a little spice to these increasingly repetitive releases.
Anyway, that about does it for this week's edition of "Old as Moses Monday." Now, I have to go and watch as Jake Arrieta (hopefully) continues his run of dominance against those damn Redbirds.