Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Want-List Walks the Plank

They say patience is a virtue - they aren't wrong.

A little while back, Matthew of Bob Walk the Plank (always a good read) and I set forth the framework to a trade.  I was more than happy to unload my Pirates stash on him, seeing as I seem to be a magnet for Pirates cards, for some strange reason.  In the meantime, Matthew set about crafting the perfect return package.

Unfortunately, there were some delays (that were not of his causing) that kept me eagerly anticipating his return.  Apparently, Matthew used that extra time wisely because the envelope that eventually arrived in the mail yesterday that absolutely blew my away.  The particular care that went into putting this assortment of cardboard goodies was very much evident and, for that, I am eternally grateful.  It may have taken a few weeks longer than we anticipated; however, it was undoubtedly worth the wait.

For instance, this lovely relic was just the tip of the iceberg:

Oooooo look at that pinstripe!  Brett Jackson might have been a bust of a prospect but this card is a beauty.  As an added bonus, it's not even particularly evident that this card is unlicensed either.  I'll definitely be using this hit to represent Brett in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder, a binder which saw several cards added within as a result of this mailing.

In fact, this wasn't even the only hit; but, we'll cover that later on.

Speaking of that Cubs All-Time Roster Collection...

I was finally able to "Cubgrade" Aaron Miles.  This 2009 Upper Deck card featuring one of the most short-sighted and ill-conceived series of transactions of the previous regime's reign has been unusually difficult to locate.  Perhaps it's due to the fact that the release was plagued with legal issues?

Either that, or it's because Aaron Miles couldn't even crack the Mendoza-line after being signed to replace supersub and fan favorite Mark DeRosa, who was traded to finance the Milton Bradley contract.... that's just a big bowl of yuck.

Regardless, I'm still very happy to add Miles' only Cubs card to my CATRC binder.

Here are a couple of entirely new names to add to the CATRC - a pair of short-term relievers from around the most recent turn of the century.  If you blinked, you could have easily missed either of these men suiting up for the Chicago Cubs (Tatis - 56 games in 1997, Fyhrie - 15 games in 2001).

In adding their names to my binder, I am now just a Lendy Castillo (2013) card away from having everyone who's played for the Northsiders in the last 30 years - so, that's pretty cool.

So, while the recent history of the club is pretty well-covered by my collection, there is still plenty of growth to be had in the era of black & white photography.  In steps Charles Conlon:

               With Cubs from 1906-12, one of the last "significant"                                                       With Cubs from 1926-28
                                 players that I still needed.

               With Cubs from 1938-39, too bad he didn't play for the                                                         With Cubs in 1932    
                          St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League.

                                        With Cubs from 1922-27                                                                         With Cubs from 1931-32   

Bill Killefer was with the Cubs from 1918-21
This highlight card depicts a key play from the 1918 World Series.

All of these guys played for the Cubs at some point (Sheckard was even part of the World Series winning squads in 1907-08) and were new to my binder.  Hot damn.

There was one more Conlon card featuring a new arrival; but, I figured this told a story which deserved to be told.  This pitcher holds an undesirable and tragic record in franchise history as the only active Cub to have died during the season.

Hal Carlson was a local boy (Rockford, IL), a fixture in Major League Baseball and a workhorse in the Cubs rotation from 1927-29.  However, after being struck by a batted ball during a game in May of '30, Hal began complaining of stomach pains.  Tragically, before an ambulance could even arrive, Hal died of a stomach hemorrhage.

The defending NL champions were clearly shaken up by the ordeal and were eventually edged out by the Cardinals.  Manager Joe McCarthy was quoted as saying that the loss of Carlson permanently hamstrung the club, both on the diamond and mentally.

Hal as a Cub in 1929, image courtesy of the Retro Images Archive

On a happier note, Conlon Collection has probably been the most helpful product in my time chasing the Cubs all-time roster. I mean, it includes several people from the ancient days who otherwise never had a card made in their honor; meanwhile, even many of the ones who did have other cards, Conlon Collection has provided me affordable options. Conlon Collection is the real MVP.

Furthermore, some of my first cards came from Conlon and my very first purchase of a box of cards was Conlon (for $8 at K-Mart, back in the day).  Thus, the products are both productive and sentimental for me.

So, having already provided me with a nice, pinstripe-y hit, a long sought after "Cubgrade," and ten new names for my CATRC, Matthew could have stopped here and still left my jaw on the floor.  But, the next two cards that fell out of the envelope completely blew me out of the water:

To the untrained eye, this might seem like just an average, ordinary, retro-themed football card.  However, any card-carrying Cubs fan will recognize this name as the surprisingly productive extra outfielder that currently calls Wrigley home.

Matt Szczur was a legitimate NFL prospect during his time as a Wildcat receiver, enough so that the Cubs had to offer him a bonus to swear off football and take on baseball full-time.  I only just realized that "Szczur Salad" had a pre-rookie gridiron card and added it to my want-list no more than 2 weeks ago.  Thus, I was super surprised to end up with it so soon.  

I think that I'd like to start a collection of Cubs playing different sports - guys like Kenny Lofton and Tim Stoddard had basketball cards, Jeff Samardzija has some football stuff, Ernie Banks has a golf card, etc.

Anybody have these to trade?

Even after all of that, the last card was definitely the most unexpected and coolest card of the bunch, though.  Matthew really closed out this package with a thunderous bang.  The Brett Jackson relic was pretty cool and all, but this second hit really took the cake:

As a kid coming of age at about the same time as Mark Prior's emergence on the Major League scene, I can't help but have a soft spot for the guy - even if he was pretty much a bust.  The Kris Bryant-esque, uber-prospect was supposed to lead the Cubs out of the doldrums (and may very well have done so) until a series of bizarre injuries ruined his arm, i.e. colliding with Marcus Giles on the base paths in 2003 and the Brad Hawpe line drive he took to the elbow in 2005.

Then, of course, there's overuse by Dusty Baker too.

Anyway, Mark didn't see the Bigs again after 2006, but he sure kept trying, latching on with some club every spring until finally retiring with the Cincy org in 2013.

Boy, he looks weird in a Reds uniform.

It's funny that this card should show up when it did though.  I don't think that Matthew has a Twitter, but a week or so ago another collector was ranting about including Mark Prior in new products as an autograph subject (like this silver parallel, 2015 Archives Fan Favorite) was a silly idea, asking "who wants a Prior auto?"  I sheepishly responded that I do and, lo and behold, I now have one.

With that, we have finally reached the conclusion of this seemingly endless supply of needed and wanted cardboard.  You might say that Matthew made my want-list "walk the plank."  I can definitely say that this trade package left me beaming like a nincompoop for the rest of the day... and then some.

I'll have to get some more Pirates out your way!


  1. Why would you not want a Prior auto, guy dominated the league for a couple years. Conlon Collection is indeed the real MVP

  2. I'm glad you finally have those cards. They are well travelled! Sportlots can be great, but of course when I'm trying to find cards for other bloggers it failed me hardcore.