Saturday, April 9, 2016

C is For (Mother's) Cookies

So yea, Schwarber is out for the season and the Cub lost a heart-breaker last night; I wasn't the happiest of campers.  That said, there was one baseball-related highlight for me on the gloomy/snowy/rainy/haily/sunny/cold/moderate day (that's Chicago weather for you):  my latest vintage, obscure Cubs player card came in the mail!



Fred Richards signed with the Chicago Cubs organization in 1946 at the age of 18 and spent six years of climbing the minor league ladder, starting all the way down in D ball, Throughout the first sacker's slow ascent through the bushes, it was apparent that you could count on "Fuzzy" for double-digit homers, a slugging percentage in the .400's and a batting avg around .270.

This caught the eyes of the Chicago brass, who were in a time of transition at first base in 1951.  Longtime first baseman and fan-favorite Phil Cavaretta had been relegated to part-time duty on the downswing of his career and a man by the name of Chuck Connors was given the first crack.  He, of course, was just one year away from transitioning from first baseman to Rifleman.




There was also another prospect, by the name of Dee Fondy.  More on him later.

That September, Richards was given a shot to audition for the position, as well.  Ironically, after five years of solid production across various levels, his sixth year was, by far, his worst campaign as a professional to that point.  In 120 games for Des Moines and Springfield, Richards' numbers bottomed out with an anemic .233 BA, .311 SLG line and just 3 home runs.  Yikes.

Nevertheless, the Cubs had an opening at a key spot, Richards was still one of their top prospects at said position and the MLB club wasn't exactly in contention (62-92).  Thus, that September the struggling busher got the call.


Fred Richards swinging for the cameras in Sept of 1951
Image courtesy of John at Baseball-Birthdays.net


"Fuzzy" made the most of his trial.  In starting 7 games with some PH appearances, he did put up a .296 BA in 30 trips to the dish.  However, his power was completely lacking, with just 2 doubles and no big flies.

While that production might have slipped him ahead of the future TV star on the depth chart, it was not enough to supplant the aforementioned Fondy.  Dee posted a minor Richards-like stat line (.271 BA and .388 SLG) in a 49 game trial, and was thus given the starting nod for 1952.  Phil Cavaretta became the player-manager (emphasis on manager) and both Chuck and Fred were demoted.


Dee is one in a long line of above average Cubs 1B


Unfortunately for Fred, that would be the only shake he'd get in the Bigs.  Dee stuck around as the Cubs starter for most of the 50's and Fred was out of the Cubs org (and pretty much done with baseball) by 1955.  Of course, this is a tale as old as baseball itself.

However, before he called it a career, "Fuzzy" played two years ('52-53)for the storied, old Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.  The most recognizable name from the "near Major League" circuit was owned by the Wrigley's for many years and served as a Cubs affiliate.  As such, he was included in the ever popular Mother's Cookies PCL baseball card set.


Good cookies and some of the best oddball cards 


Mother's Cookies was a name in baseball cards until the turn of the millennium and the 1953 set was just their second venture.  The brightly colored, slightly under-sized slips of paper were included in their packs of cookies and distributed all over the west coast.  Baseball cards and cookies... that's a match made in heaven for me.

Thanks to their recognizable name, attractive look and inclusion of several future MLB'ers, these old cookie cards are kind of tough to find and expensive when they do show up.  I've seen a few of these Richards go in the range of $20-50, before shipping, based on condition - too much for one card to this cheapskate.





However, thanks to a tiny, barely noticeable crease and stain on the bottom left corner, this one fell right into my Ebay wheelhouse ($5.50 + shipping).  Heck yes!  Another obscure, short-term player added to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder - I'm quickly approaching 70% of the players in franchise history.

Coincidentally, I feel like I should also mention that shortly before I pulled the trigger on this fresh-baked, morsel of oddball goodness, Mr. Richards passed away on March 24th - he was 88.  RIP Fuzzy.

With that, it's time to call this post a wrap.  I have the sudden urge to open up a bag of cookies and go to town.  It's just too bad that no baseball cards will be coming with said bag of cookies.  I guess if I want trading cards with my junk food, I have to opt for a less than satisfying frozen pizza.  However, hopefully, if that's a success, we'll see more food issue oddities just like the days of yore.

Until then, where's that package of Oreos?...





5 comments:

  1. Even with the minor flaws, it seems like you got that card for an amazingly low price. Even though I still don't have any cards from this set, it is still one of my favorites.

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  2. $5 for that card in that condition is cherry.

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  3. I hate coming off like a jerk--I really do--but the nickname was "Fuzz", not "Fuzzy" (yes, I know that Baseball-Reference has it wrong also, but check any autograph he ever signed). And, according to his obituary, Fuzz passed away on March 18, not the 24th. (http://www.tributes.com/obituary/show/Frederick-C.-Richards-103415079).

    That said, you continue to impress me with your resourcefulness in this ongoing project. And, oh yeah, Schwarber was a rather high pick for my fantasy team this year, so I was pretty bummed about that development myself.

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  4. Vintage Mother's Cookies cards? It doesn't get much better than that. Congratulations on the newest addition to your Cubs PC.

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  5. The mothers cookie is a beauty

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