Monday, February 1, 2016

Walt Just Won't Play Ball

Just a quick post for today; the last few times out, I've put a lot of creative effort and thought into the posts (I hope that shows) and Monday has me feeling a little bit burnt out.  That doesn't mean I can't still show off a cool piece of cardboard though, right?

Allow me to unveil the newest addition to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection - Walt Lanfranconi.

Walt is one a few a relative few MLB'ers who was born in Vermont (38 total).  Though he was born and died in that state, he found himself all over the world in between.  Over the course of his life, Walt spent time in Switzerland (his parents' native land), England, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Cuba and Argentina.  His passport was definitely working overtime.

As far as baseball was concerned, he pitched in a total of two contests for the Cubs in 1941, including one start.  After his brief September call-up, Uncle Sam came a-calling and Walt served in the military for the next 5 seasons.  After hurling in the minors for a year, the Braves gave him one last shot at the Bigs for 1947.

As you see, the back of this card actually lists Walt as a Bravo, even though he's clearly pictured as a Cub on the front.  TCMA created a set of original Play Ball cards that mimicked the style of the original releases, but extended the series for a couple additional seasons.  In short, these are theoretically what Play Ball cards would have looked like in 1947, had they been produced.

As for what actually happened in 1947:

Mr. Franconi made the most of his second chance at the Show - not only making the club, he became a key part of the Boston bullpen.  Over the course of 36 games, he posted a 2.95 ERA with 64 IP and 13 games finished.  He must have developed some self-confidence in that time, as he was asking for a lofty raise (by that I mean slightly over league minimum) to come back in '48.

An artist's rendering of the Braves front office

As was common across baseball in the time of the reserve clause and before big contracts, the Braves balked at that; Walt was content to finish out his playing career in the old Pacific Coast League through the 1952 campaign.

In essence, Walt just wasn't willing to "pay ball" with Major League Baseball. *rimshot*

Also of interest was the choice of protective wrapping included in the PWE by the Ebay seller I won this from:

Looks like an index page from a rather old text book or reference book.  Do we have some disgruntled college professor ripping up archival books for use as packing materials?  Inquiring minds want to know.

In the meantime, I now know more obscure abbreviations that I ever thought possible.

I guess that's rather appropriate though, wrapping an oddball card of a super obscure baseball player in a thoroughly-aged page of an obscure reference book.  It all makes perfect sense if you stop and think about it.

Another name comes off of the CATRC need list and another Monday is almost crossed off of the calendar.  Just gotta hang in here for a few more hours...


  1. Very cool card. I wasn't aware that TCMA had "extended" the Play Ball series, but now I'm intrigued!

  2. Congrats on checking another name off the list!