Thursday, February 11, 2016

#ThrowbackThursday - College Daze

Last week on #ThrowbackThursday, we got all nostalgic and took a look through my cards featuring future Cubs, back when they were just lowly minor leaguers.  I thought about maybe showing off some more such cards; but, in the end, I decided to up the ante (or rather back up) a little bit more.

My little sister just signed her letter of intent to join the cheer-leading squad at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL - my alma mater.  As such, I'm feeling just a touch nostalgic for my days spent as a scholarshipped athlete on the cross country and track programs for the Fightin' Saints.

Thus, let's jump into our way-back machine and take a look at some cardboard depicting future Northsiders during their wild and crazy college days.  Don't worry, these pictures are limited to their time on the field - no keg-stands, dorm parties or late night munchies runs will be shown.  This blog is family friendly, after all.

Wooo college!:

Here's former Cubs reliever Scott Maine in a slightly over-sized set produced to honor the University of Miami's entry into the College World Series, of which, Maine was the ace.  They sure did catch him at a flattering moment, didn't they?

Here's a collegiate ace that actually panned out in the Majors.  College is a time of experimentation and curiosity for young people and "the Shark" sure did his share of that.  Don't worry, I'm not talking about anything "Animal House"-esque; by that, I mean that spent his time at Notre Dame trying to figure out which sport he wanted to pursue - baseball or football.

Well, we all know how that turned out, don't we?

Kevin Orie was one in a long line of "the next big things" to try and succeed Ron Santo as the Cubs franchise third baseman.  Before he flamed out there, he was just a college boy out of Indiana University, where he was a standout for the Hoosiers baseball team.

Then, he was drafted in the first-round by the Cubs in 1993 and the rest is history.

Oh hey, another third base flameout.  Mike Olt showed big power at the hot corner when he starred on the University of Connecticut baseball squad.  Of course, some head/eye injuries have kept him from fully-developing that power on the Major League level.

Here's hoping that something finally clicks for Mike this year, even though he's currently under contract with that OTHER baseball team in Chicago.

Darwin Barney, the very definition of an all-glove, no bat middle infielder.  During his time in Chicago, he set the franchise and NL record for errorless chances at second base, came just a few innings from setting the MLB record, won a Gold Glove in 2012, but just could not hit enough to maintain his value.

Meanwhile, during his time spent at Oregon State University, Barney was actually the Beavers' shortstop; he wouldn't switch to second until his call-up to the Majors, making his defensive prowess all the more impressive.

Michael Tucker was another first-round draft selection, coming out of the Longwood University Lancers nine.  Fun fact, Tucker is the only Lancer to have ever made the Major Leagues from the NCAA program - guess they made their one showing count with a first-rounder, eh?

Oh hey, here's a pretty big name.  This may officially be a minor league baseball card; but, I'm including it here because he's pictured in an air-brushed Texas Christian University uniform.  I know this for two reasons:

  1.  A quick Google image search confirms the match
  2. When this set was released, Jake the Snake had yet to make his pro debut, hence the generic MiLB logo where the normal bush league team affiliation would be.
Thus, it's a college card in my mind's eye; my blog, my rules!  Also, I must note that their team nickname at TCU is the Horned Frogs - how awesome is that?

I showed this card off on the blog once already; but, this post would seem incomplete without it in my mind.  Can you believe I scored this pre-rookie John Hancock of long-time Big League reliever Bobby Howry at a local card show for the low, low price of 50 cents?

This isn't some nobody from McNeese State University afterall, this Cowboy went on to pitch in the Majors for 13 years, including time spent on both sides of Chicago and as a key bullpen arm for the 2007-08 NL Central champion Cubs.  You'd think it'd at least run a slight hometown markup, right?

Meanwhile, here's another pitcher who's alma mater is a big-time Texas University; Brooks Raley is shown here sporting the uniform of the Texas A&M University Aggies.  Raley's brief Major League career has thus far amounted to nothing more than some injury-replacement innings for the 2012-13 Cubs - so, I really don't have much else to say about him,

On the other hand, some college athletes were so notable, they were invited to represent their country on Team USA:

Oklahoma State University Cowboys

Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets

Louisiana State University Tigers

University of Southern California Trojans

California State University Fresno Bulldogs

California State University Fullerton Titans

All of these players eventually found their way to the Cubs with varying degrees of stardom.  Since they all played for Team USA's Collegiate National Team, these cards are grouped along with the rest of my collegiate cardboard, even if they're not shown in their school colors.

There you have it, the extent of my "collegiate collection."  As you know, I love minor league cards for their influx of unrecognized teams and baby-faced future stars.  So, cards that feature players still trying to figure out their major are even cooler in my book.

That'll do it for this week's edition of #ThrowbackThursday.  Tune in again next week for a peek back even further into the past, to the days of proms, Friday night football games and emo music.  That's the natural progression of this feature, after all.

Alright - time to start securing little league cards for after that.

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't buy them in bulk, but I do like seeing college uniforms on cards every now and then. It's hard for me to imagine ace pitchers like Shark or Arrieta lounging on a college campus just like me.