Friday, October 9, 2015

When is a Cub Truly a Cub?

This is a question I've been dealing with for the past couple of days.

As a reward for going to the dentist and having been very brave (does anyone really like going there?), I treated myself to a trip to my former LCS from when I had lived in that neighborhood. Gotta dangle a carrot out in front of my face... of course, if it were carrots I was dangling, maybe I wouldn't have had to go to the dentist in the first place.   Anyway...

It was a very productive trip, netting three new, vintage players for my CATRC, a Cubgrade and a few other odds and ends.  However, it was one of these new guys that forced me to ponder about the titular question:

As you can see, Mr. Sammy Drake here is sporting a classic Cubs road jersey, as Ernie will model for us here:

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Even though we can tell what uniform he's wearing, the photo is purposely cropped tightly and he is lacking a hat so that Topps had the ability to easily alter the team affiliation on their card if need be.  As we all know, 1962 Topps is somewhat notorious for the amount of these types of images found in it's checklist.

Of course this came into play.  Drake had two auditions at the MLB level in '60 and '61, betting a combined .050 in 28 games, mostly playing 2B and 3B.  Well, the Cubs already had a young, budding star in Santo at third and a promising prospect by the name of Ken Hubbs ready to come up at second; needless to say, Sammy and his almost non-existent bat were more than expendable.

So, with the New York Mets coming into existence, the Cubs left Sammy out to dry and unprotected for the expansion draft going into the 1962 season.  So, as you probably already noticed, the team that Sammy is listed with on the above card is, in fact, the Metropolitans.

Sammy wasn't long for NY either
Image courtesy of Centerfield Maz

After 25 games, he managed to raise his batting average all the way up to... .192; so, he was quickly shipped out of town, too anemic for even an expansion franchise.

But, back to the question at hand, since his time in Chicago was so brief and unsuccessful, he never had a baseball card produced with his likeness that officially listed him as a Cub.  That's a bummer for me, since I want to collect at least one card of every Cub that depicts them as such, at least as far as I can.  

Thus, can I count this card as a Cubs card since it so obviously pictures him in a Chicago uniform, even though it commemorates his time in New York?  #FirstWorldProblems

Before we close out this post, Drake was actually a part of some interesting trivia during his short MLB tenure.  He and his brother Solly, himself a former Cub who played just three seasons, were the first african-american brother combination to both make the big time.  They also both played in the Cubs farm system concurrently, but not crossing paths.

Baseball is just chock full of familial ties

Anywho, back to the business at hand, when is a Cub truly a Cub?  Is it when he's shown in the right uniform, like my Drake?  Does he need to be listed as a Northsider?  Or does it have to be both and have all our bases covered?

I leave it to you, the reader to decide for me because I am far too indecisive.


  1. The answer is.......whatever you think it is. I think we've all faced that question at one time or another. In the same 1962 set, we have Don Zimmer. And not only is Don clearly wearing a Mets uni, he's got the Mets cap on with the "NY" emblem clearly visible. But, by then, Don had been traded to the Reds and the card identifies him as being with Cincinnati. So is Don a Met? Heck, yeah. I don't even have to think about it. He's certainly as much a Met as such luminaries as Wynn Hawkins and Dick Kenworthy, both of whom have cards identifying them as Mets though neither ever played for them in the regular season. Which begs the question...are Wynn Hawkins and Dick Kenworthy Mets? Absolutely. Why? Because I say so. It's MY collection after all. Ironically, Don Zimmer also appears in the 1963 Topps set wearing a Mets uni, identified this time as a Dodger, and that card I do not consider a Mets card. Its completely arbitrary but, collection, my rules. And we don't need no stinking rules.

    1. I'm a loose canon cop who doesn't play by the rules... not even my own. But, in all seriousness, that's about as good of a take on the subject as I've read. Well put!