Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Praying Matusz Gets His Wish

Stop me if you've heard this story before:  

A highly-touted arm that was drafted in the early rounds of the amateur draft by the Orioles is rushed through the minor leagues.  Once he reaches the Bigs, it turns out that although said pitcher has a million dollar arm and plus velocity, he has a hard time with his control.  After being jerked back and forth between the Majors and the Minors, the pitcher never really settles into a groove and is later jettisoned out of frustration.  You can almost hear the Orioles saying, "here, he's your problem now!"

Last time we heard this tale, Jake Arrieta ended up headlining one of the most lopsided trades in Cubs history, eventually posting Deadball era numbers on his way to the Cy Young Award.  All it took was a little bit of tweaking in his delivery, courtesy of Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and permission to dust off his cutter and just be himself.

Here's hoping that the reclamation project taking the mound for the Cubs today has a similar turnaround:

Brian Matusz (pronounded Matiss) was pushed on the Braves in a salary dump by the Orioles and was promptly DFA'ed.  The Cubs later signed him as a free agent, buying in on his potential.  Since then, he's been biding his time in the minors, "praying" for a chance to prove that he can make the adjustments needed.

Get it?  A Praying Matusz! *crickets*

Anyway, the former first round draft pick has never been able to get everything to click at the Major League level.  Here's hoping that a little "Bos-mosis" has even half as much of an effect on the lefty as it has Jake the Snake.

With his debut tonight, he becomes the 2,046th Cubs player in history and must be officially added to my CATRC binder.  Luckily, when he was initially signed on June 14th, I pulled my Matusz cards from my Orioles trade fodder for potential inclusion:

Not a lot to choose from, but a couple is better than none.  As much as I enjoy Triple Play for it's novelty factor, I have to go with the actual image of the man found on his 2010 rookie card for my prestigious binder - this is serious business, after all.

Here's hoping that Brian pitches well enough that he earns a true Cubs card in Topps Update later this year.

Anyway, this move comes at a fairly peculiar time.  The Cubs are fresh off of the break with an off-day coming up soon, yet they feel inclined to insert a sixth starter for added rest right now?  I suppose since the staff came limping into the All-Star Break, a little extra rest could pay big dividends in stretch run.  That's not to mention the fact that he's pitched quite well at AAA Iowa - 2 starts with a 1.93 ERA and 3.67 strikeout to walk ratio in 9.1 innings pitched

Matusz also started one game for the AA Tennessee Smokies
Image courtesy of Mark Harris, the Tennesse Smokies and

However, I think the fact that this surprise bit of roster maneuvering comes the day before the big trade deadline has piqued the interest of spectators.  Is he being showcased to included in a deal?  Are the Cubs seeing if he'd be a capable replacement for a soon-to-be-traded asset?  We shall see.

Regardless of the motivation, it probably doesn't hurt to see what they have in Brian.  Worst case scenario, they DFA him and move on (no more minor league options).  Maybe he can prove to be a capable lefty arm in the pen or, best case scenario, take to the Bos-mosis like Jake did.

In order to accommodate this little showcase, Theo and crew had to make another tough roster decision, based strictly on roster rules, much like they did in optioning Tommy La Stella to activate Chris Coghlan from the DL a few days ago.  Justin Grimm had to be optioned to AAA, strictly because he has options remaining; his performance does not dictate this move.  He'll definitely be back, in September (when the rosters expand) at the latest.

Or, perhaps both of these men will be in the pen after another trade deadline blockbuster shuffles the the proverbial deck - who knows?

At any rate, the lead up to August 1st is going to be quite interesting here on the North Side of Chicago.  In the meantime, here's hoping the Brian Matusz can give a respectable performance on national television tonight against the Mariners.  After yesterday's absolutely gut-wrenching loss, a series win sure would make everyone feel a little better.

We're praying, Matusz.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


As a music fan in Chicago, there's no bigger event on the summer agenda than the annual Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park.  What once started out as a spotlight for alternative music in the mid-90's has now become an all-encompassing, pop music explosion in the middle of Chicago's summer.  Many of music's biggest names mark this weekend on their calendar - for instance, this weekend will see Lana Del Ray, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and much, much more blow into the Windy City.

That said, this local music buff has never had the chance to make it to Lolla.  Unfortunately, college, money and work have always seemed to be preventative.  However, I have been lucky enough to make it to an official after-show or two - Jane's Addiction and Franz Ferdinand are killer live.

Anyway, in honor of Chicago's time in the musical spotlight, I decided to re-imagine the alt/indie/pop music festival as a tribute to Chicago's time in the baseball spotlight, with some of the biggest names in the industry paying tribute to baseball's best team - the Chicago Cubs.

So, who did I get to play for this new Cubs-apalooza, which I imagine would be held on an off-day within the Friendly Confines.

Ok - relax, this is just the opening band.  I realize that none of you have probably heard of Manic Sewing Circle, but who is ever really aware of the opening bands at a show/festival?  Anyway, MCC is a local ska/pop punk band who made a name for themselves on WGN, performing covers of the fight songs for our sports teams.

Before the 2008 season, hopes were riding high as the team came off a division title.  So, MCC decided to take Steve Goodman's ubiquitous ode to the Northsiders into the recording studio.  Since we can't get Mr. Goodman himself to perform, Manic Sewing Circle will have to do.

Taking the stage next will be cult-favorite The Mountain Goats - their low-fi, folk recordings have become the stuff of legend in the indie music scene.  With a loyal, but relatively thin fan base, they should make for a good second act.  Many people should at least recognize the name.

The song that earns them a spot in this coveted bill is called "Cubs in Five" -  a tale of all the things that will happen in the world before the John Darnielle's protagonist will fall back in love with his estranged lover.  Hey John - you're time might be coming soon!

Next up on the schedule, we have a pair of classic rock stalwarts who should definitely catch the eye of any music fan:

The Ides of March and the Beach Boys are both still going strong today and both have recorded tribute songs for the "lovable losers" over the years.  The Ides' 1998 tribute to Slammin' Sammy and the boys was a project of passion, as guitarist/vocalist Jim Peterik is a Chicago native and noted baseball fanatic.  

 Here's  couple of the guys that Peterik and crew namechecked

On the other hand, the Beach Boys re-purposing of Barbara Ann was probably purely business, contracted by WGN for broadcast use just before securing Goodman's popular tune.  At any rate, both recordings are catchy as hell and, if today's concert business proves anything, classic rock still sells tickets.

The Gin Blossoms are 90's alternative survivors known for their earworm-y, jangly power pop sound.  After a few years away from the music scene, the band returned to the recording studio to release Major Lodge Victory (obviously a play on MLB) in 2006.  

The reunion record included this Ernie Banks-inspired cut, using Mr. Cub's famously optimistic quote to inspire a jilted lover to return to the narrator.  Apparently, somebody in this band is a baseball buff; I bet they'd be honored to play Cubs-apalooza.

Also, a little bit of foreshadowing here, this isn't the only song on the set-list inspired by the face of the franchise.

We've got one more local alternative option to take the stage before we get to our big headliner - The Fold.  Active since 2006, the Chicago-based outfit has reached over 20 million views on their YouTube channel and even been nominated for a Grammy along the way.  The Tooth & Nail recording artists were also asked to record an anthem for WGN's summer Cubs broadcasting schedule.

Local and trendy, the Fold should make for a perfect lead up to our big headliner... a name you probably could have guessed before you even opened this post:

Of course it was going to be Eddie Vedder.  Pearl Jam's lead singer is one of the club's most prominent celebrity fans, showing up to several games a year and countless team functions despite a incredibly hectic touring schedule.  Not to mention, his yearning, acoustic ode to the day when the team finally does win it all is the only Cubs-themed tune to come close to matching Steve Goodman's staying power.

He even get's his own Cubs baseball card

This tear-jerker is perfect for a beer bottle toasting, arm joining and lighters flaring, "Hey Judge" like sing-a-long at the end of the night.  Everyone goes home satisfied.

But wait - there's more!  No concert would be complete without a bonus encore:

What better way to finish of the night than with an actual Chicago Cub taking the stage.  Carmen Fanzone was not much of an heir to the third base throne upon Ron Santo's retirement, but he was and continues to be a helluva horn player.  He was even once given the opportunity to perform the National Anthem before a game.

So, Cub-apalooza with conclude with a lively rendition of his Grammy nominee wife's jazz number "Baseball," the recording of which features Carmen on the flugelhorn.

You blow, Fanzone!

Thus concludes the first annual Cubs-apalooza, I hope you all enjoyed the show!

In the meantime, I'm going to go drown my sorrows about not being able to make it to the real McCoy... yet again.  Although, I guess I'm not TOO bummed about it - the lineup this year is remarkably weak, as far as depth goes.  Beyond the headliners, there's not many bands who pique my interest.

But, my Cubs-apalooza though... that's a festival where I'd pay to see every band in the lineup, if I do say so myself.  Hey Cubs marketing department - let's make this happen

Rock on, blogosphere!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Waiting For the Siren's "McCall"

There is really only one, regular card show in my neck of the woods.  By local, I'm defining this as within half an hour drive of my residence - anything farther than that and the commute starts to feel more like a road trip than a quick jaunt, at least in my mind.  Anyway, like I said, within those parameters, there is truly only one game in town.

This show is held monthly, usually on the last or second to last Sunday, and is just about 20 minutes from my house.  As such, with it being so close and my only easy option, I can feel the convention's siren-like call pulling at me each and every month.

Unfortunately, the timing of this Civic Center event is frequently terrible and seemingly never lines up with my schedule.  I've been actively trying to fit this show into my calendar since January; however, there's always a birthday party, family function, date night or what have you on that Sunday.  With each turn of the calendar, I can hear that siren's call getting louder and more powerful as my desire to browse through cards that aren't the same 20 items found at my LCS grows.

Well, this past Sunday was the day I've been waiting for since there was snow on the ground.  My fiancee was at work, the family was out of town and I was finally able to wedge an opening in my schedule.  Huzzah!

Now, was the show going to be as enjoyable as that wistful siren song made it seem? After all these months of building it up in my head, would it even be worth the time that had, to this point, been so elusive?

I was quite astounded by how many people were packed into this mid-sized hall, I'd never seen it this busy; there people shoulder to shoulder at seemingly every table.  So, to bide my time, I spent a good chunk of my first 30min flipping through a quarter box in the front corner of the room.  In said box, I was able to come across my first cards of a couple of key prospects.  Now, I'll be ready if and when they make the ultimate ascent.

Also found within were these prospect cards of guys who have already scaled the Major League mountain - they'll slot nicely into my newly declared "Nothing Major" collection.  The trade of D.J. LeMahieu to Colorado represents a rare misstep in the Theo administration.  That said, with the signing of Ben Zobrist, the emergence of Javy Baez and the later acquisition of fellow quarter box find Addison Russell, Chicago is pretty well set up the middle.

Speaking of young talent, the last baseball card to come out of this initial dig featured another one of these young studs; but, it was something that confounded me:

This was a fun little oddball to find in a discount box - bonus, it's numbered to only 500.

Anyway, after some diligent research once I returned to my dwelling, I've discovered that the One Star Chewing Gum Company is the brand name of one Matty Yerkes, a custom card maker who does personal orders and also seems to do a lot of work with "Topshelf Breaks," a popular case/box breaking site.

Unfortunately, I can't find anything information about this card in particular.  My best guess is that this was a collaborative promo issued in conjunction with last year's National.  I have to say, this is rather expertly crafted with sturdy card stock and a plus design.  I especially love the Chicago skyline on the back.

As I said, that was the last "baseball" card I was able to dig out of the quarter box; however, it wasn't the last card entirely:

Marko Dano was supposed to be a young, budding superstar when the Blackhawks acquired him from Columbus in the much-maligned Brandon Saad deal; he was supposed to help us get over the loss of "the Saad-father."

Not so much - that said, he was eventually included in the trade that brought Andrew Ladd back to town.

Last time I was at this show, this gleaming, shiny card was protected in a top-holder with a $3 price sticker on it's front.  This time, it was sitting loose in a discount box with the peasant cards - I feel very much vindicated for being patient on crossing Dano's name off of my needs list for my Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection.

By the time I had finished combing through the quarter deals, the hall appeared to have thinned out a touch, enough for me to feel comfortable moving from table to table.

Sticking with hockey, the next table I hit up had another bunch of quarter boxes.  Unlike the previous one, which was a mish-mash of cards from any and all sports, these were much more organized.  I was thrilled to find one each dedicated solely to Blackhawks and Bears singles.

Jaroslav Spacek was a short-term, fairly un-notable Chicagoan, but I still needed a card of him for the aforementioned Hawks collection.  On the flip side, Steve Montador might be name you all recognize.  It was his tragic suicide just a couple of years after he finished his NHL in the Windy City that really brought the concussion issue to light in the hockey world.

R.I.P. Steve.

As for the Bears box, it too yielded some new names for my All-Time Roster Collection of the Chicago NFL entry.

I didn't have to search very hard to find that Grasu card - you could see that obnoxiously yellow Oregon jersey from ten miles away with squinted eyes.  I think it might be so ugly that it's cool.  Also, I honestly had no idea that Wizards of the Coast produced a gridiron version of MLB Showdown for the NFL.  Even better, like Showdown, it was detailed in it's player selection, providing cards of oft-forgotten players like Holdman.

That wasn't it for my football collection though.  Just a few rows over, there was a quiet, meek vendor with a binder full of miscellaneous singles from the past 40 years, including a mess f 1977 Topps.  Again, everything contained within was a mere 25 cents.  This truly was the quarter show.

All four of these names were new to my Bears All-Time Roster Collection.  Even better, all four of these were priced at a buck a pop at my LCS - who doesn't love a 75% decrease in price?  Also, can we just take a second to appreciate old Soldier Field in the background of that Adamle card?  Nowadays, the former landmark looks like a spaceship crash-landed on top of it.

Unlike everything seen up to this point of the post, this 1958 instantly became the oldest football card in my burgeoning Bears collection.  Of course, when we're talking about a piece of vintage-y goodness of a highly collectible team, a quarter wasn't going to cut it... right?

That's because it was FREE!  A vendor across the aisle was clearly itching to get out of there and was slashing prices left and right.  After flipping through a couple of his $1 stacks, he urged me to just go ahead and take the Dooley.

Um, hot damn - thank you kindly clearance vendor!

So, at this point, I was able to scrounge up some pre-rookie Cubs, a never before seen oddball, 3 new Blackhawks and 9 new Bears for my collection (one of which was everyone's favorite price)... I think it's safe to say that this show definitely turned out to be worth my time, even if I had walked out right then and there.  However, as they say in all those late night infomercials, "but wait!  There's more!"

My Cubs All-Time Roster Collection is my bread and butter and has been since the day I rebooted my collection in 2004. As such, any new additions I can make to that binder will instantly become the highlight(s) of my day.

What we have above is a "Cubgrade" purchase that I was able to make.  While that Topps Gallery card of "Highpockets Kelly" truly is a piece of art, I think that his "only" Cubs card  ever produced makes for a much better inclusion - I'm a Cubs man, not a Giants fan, after all. 

I have "only" in quotation marks because the All-Time Greats card on the right is an early parallel, courtesy of TCMA.  While that set was initially released in 1973 as a full-sized set of postcards, this one is shrunken down to nearly the size of a standard card; however, it's just a tad skinnier and taller.

Being able to narrow in on a short-term Cub's only "proper" card is a pretty momentous occasion in my book.  Even still, there was one find that absolutely blew everything else out of the water, a "gray whale" that I've been chasing for a long while now:

Woot!  Bob "Dutch" McCall's 1948-49 Leaf issue - not only is this the one year wonder's only Cubs card, it's his only baseball card period.  

As I was making my final lap of the room, out of the corner of my eye, an image I'd long seen in my Ebay followed searches caught my attention from a seller's "good stuff" rack.  Rarely does a 67 year old card from an iconic set fall into my cheapskate price range.

The top loader it was in carried a $25 price tag - way, way, way to steep of a price for me to bite on.  But, there's no harm in asking about it anyway right?  After a little bit of hemming and hawing, we settled on a price that was much more me - six bucks.  Trigger pulled.

How was I able to negotiate such a decrease?  Well, we just have to flip the antique over to find out:

Holy paper loss, Batman!  Clearly some youngster pasted this into an album of sorts, way back when.

That sort of defection doesn't bother me in the least.  After all, the front was almost pristine and that's really the most important side of the card, isn't it?  Besides, without a few bruises, these kind of cards will never wind up in my price range.  I love it just the same.

The only down side is that I know next to nothing about Mr. McCall, who pitched in 30 games for the '48 Cubs as the franchise entered their most pitiful years.  Obviously, this card didn't shed much more light on the subject and the internet is sorely lacking as well.  So, here's the back of the card as it's supposed to look, so you too can know all I know about this obscure hurler:

Thanks, COMC!

Anyway, that made for quite the exclamation point on my long-awaited card show experience.  I even remarked to that McCall vendor that he pretty much made my show.  I'm sure he was quite honored.

And so, the siren's song that had long been tempting me to skip out on responsibilities and make my way to this show turned out to be a pure one - it did not lead me to certain death on obscured rocks or other undersea danger, as the legends and epics warn; in fact, it lead me to a multitude of wonderful discoveries in a land that, as it turns out, I had not actually romanticized at all.

Ok - that's an awful lot of flowery language; bottom line - the show was awesome.  Gotta love it when an event not only lives up to expectations, but actually exceeds them.  Has anyone else had this happen to them at a card show or similar event?  What about in the opposite manner, where they proved to be quite underwhelming?

Now, the only question is how long will it be before I can make it back again?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Gift That Keeps On Giving - AKA a Giveaway

My family recently went on a week-long vacation to Wisconsin Dells to visit the land of tourist traps, water parks and exceptionally good cheese and fudge.  In their absence, my fiancee and I kindly volunteered to watch their pets while they gallivanted across state lines.  For that week, we were in charge of three dogs, three cats, a turtle, a bearded dragon and a tarantula... a veritable zoo.  Hell, we should have opened up the doors and charged admission!

Anyway, on their way home, my "Burb-herd" stopped at an antique mall.  Yes, they consider going second hand shopping a vacation-worthy adventure - where do you think I got my thrifty ways from? While they were there, my mother kindly decided to pick out a gift for each of the pet-sitters, as a thank you for having to buy crickets, clean up urine and, in general, not killing their animals.

Here is what my reward was:

Sweet!  Everyone knows baseball cards are the way to go when it comes to gifts for little ol' me.  I honestly don't know if I've ever had the honor of unwrapping a wax pack of 1987 Topps.  Lord knows I had plenty of singles in my childhood collection, but those were largely obtained secondhand and in re-pack grab bags that my old card shop provided.

Who knows - maybe I'll be lucky enough to win a trip to 1988 Spring Training??  Fingers crossed.

Let's see what pack one contained:

Hey - he played for the Cubs!  In fact, Willie was Hector Rondon before Hector Rondon - he was selected in the Rule V draft and came out of nowhere to be an excellent relief ace.  Too bad he truly blossomed after the front office traded him away for Dick Ruthven.

There we go - a Cub by name and by uniform.  Scott Sanderson was a reliable, above average rotation arm for Chicago during the 80's and was lucky enough to be part of both the 1984 and '89 NL East Champion clubs.

Hey - a Cubs hot pack!  This was to be "the Penguin's" last Topps card as a Chicago Cub.  The third baseman was clearly on the decline at this point in his career and would soon find himself traded to Oakland to complete his final season.

Also, I know this might infuriate Night Owl, but I always think of Cey as a Cub first and a Dodger second, owing to his being the starting third baseman of that aforementioned 1984 team, which broke a 39 year postseason drought and are still beloved on the North Side.

Speaking of Cubs playoff teams, Terry Mulholand found himself on such a lucky squad as well; however, it wasn't until 11 years after this card was issued.  The 1998 Cubs snuck into the NL Wild Card spot in it's first year of existence, largely on the strength of Sammy Sosa's 66-homer campaign. Terry was a valuable swingman on a questionable at best pitching staff.

ANOTHER playoff-related Cub?  Jeeze, this pack must be trying to tell me something.

"In Dusty We Trusty" was a popular slogan in Wrigleyville during the 2003 season - you know, that year where they very well SHOULD have made the World Series?  Ugh.  Anyway, Baker was the skipper that left Mark Prior in to explode in Game 6 of the NLCS and later let his and Kerry Wood's arms explode as well with massive pitch counts.

Furthermore, Dusty sure does look weird as an Athletic, doesn't he?

Oh, and as for the gum, I dared my sister to chew it for a quarter.  Upon spitting it out in disgust, she uttered, "jokes on you, I'd have done it for free."  My response - "you just did," and I walked out without handing over a 25 cent piece.  In other words...

Anyway, that does it for the Cubbie contingent in that pack.  Honestly, as fun as that was, I'd like to celebrate my 400th post on Wrigley Roster Jenga (that's a whole lotta talkin' about nuthin') by giving away the final two to the first commenter to correctly answer a bit of Cubs trivia:

Who is the only Cub to have ever batted over the storied .400 mark (because this is post 400 and all) in the history of the franchise?  I'll give you a hint, he was featured in a very recent blog post.

The winner will receive those two unopened packs of 1987 Topps and I'll include a team bag's worth of bonus cards based on their team preference as well. 

 Good luck!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WRJ's I Love the 1870's

While flipping through my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder the other day, I was taking in the extensive history of the Chicago National League ballclub.  Within this binder, I have baseball cards of men born before the American Civil War slotted next to cards of those who are barely men and are younger than I.  It's really quite crazy to think about how a singular sports franchise could last as long as the Cub have thus far.

As such, I thought it might be fun to break my collection down by decade as a reoccurring feature and take a look at the players representative of each ten-year period within my collection.  Think of it as VH1's "I Love the 70s/80s/90s," but with baseball cards and the same amount of music as your average VH1 program.

Without any further ado, let's begin with the very decade in which the Chicago "White Stockings," as they were then referred to by the media, were founded - the 1870's (technically 1869, but they didn't begin play until 1870).

This decade is a bit tricky, seeing as none of Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs include the pre-Chicago Fire White Stockings as part of the franchise history.  So, I'm breaking this decade up into two parts.

Chicago White Stockings, 1870 - 1871:
N/A players, N/A acquired - N/A%

 2016 Wrigley Roster Jenga "Beaten By a Cow" Customs

Here we have a pair of customs featuring players from the earliest days of the team.  In fact, manager/second baseman James Wood was the very first player inked to a contract by the club. Tragically, he would later lose one of his legs after an abscess caused serious health problems. Meanwhile, Bub McAtee here was one of the players whose career and personal life was suddenly uprooted as a result of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which burned the team's home field, uniforms, records and put the franchise on temporary hiatus until the 1874 season.

To their credit, the initial incarnation of the Chicago Baseball Club won the National Association title in 1870 and finished second in their fire-disrupted second season before their hiatus.  Not bad at all.

Unfortunately, I have no official, non-custom cards of any players from this time period, seeing as it's basically been ignored.  However, you can see my full set of "Beaten By a Cow" customs at the following link.

Okay - for the rest, we pick up where Baseball Reference begins.


Chicago White Stockings, 1874-1879:  
62 players, 15 acquired - 24.19%

Notable names:

2014 Rookies App Custom                                            2006 Allen & Ginter #316

Davy Force and his (1874) contract hopping in the pre-NL days was reportedly the inspiration for the infamous "Reserve Clause" upon the League's founding, which kept players unfairly bound to their clubs until the days of Curt Flood.

Adrian "Cap" Anson (1876-97) was a member of the club from their inaugural NL season nearly until the dawn of the 20th century.  He lead the club to six NL pennants as a player/manager and was the first MLB player to reach 3,000 hits, punching his ticket for the Hall of Fame.

            2011 Tristar Obak #55                                           1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #26

Ross Barnes (1876-77) smashed the first home run in National League history on May 2nd, 1876 and was the first batting champion in the league, posting a .429 batting average in that first season.

Al Spalding's (1876-77) The Hall of Famer's playing career was nearly done when he came to Chicago; however, he quickly rose to the rank of the club owner and went on to found a sporting goods company whose name might sound familiar to you to this day.

Some teammates of Cap, Ross and Al on that inaugural NL squad:

                                              2012 Infinite Baseball Card Set #140                         1888 Goodwin  #76 (Reprint) 

                                   1994 American Archives Origins of Baseball                                    2011 Tristar Obak #32

1977 Bob Parker More Baseball Cartoons #15

The 1876 Chicago White Stockings captured the very first National League pennant in 1876, posting a phenomenal 52-14 record along the way, finishing six games ahead of their nearest competitor - the Hartford Dark Blues. As you can see, the franchise certainly got off on the right foot. However, the rest of the decade would be plagued by mediocrity, never finishing higher than fourth or closer than 10.5 games back. It wasn't until the next decade that the team truly came into their own.

Some more notables from the latter portion of the 1870's:

2014 Rookies App Custom

George Bradley (1877) twirled the first official no-hitter in the history of professional baseball; although, of course that otherworldly feat was achieved as a St. Louis Brown Stocking in 1876.  After changing his Stockings for the next campaign, he we went 18-23 with a 3.31 ERA wearing White during his only season in Chicago.

                                                        2011 Tristar Obak #46                                   2015 Ars Longa Pioneer Portraits I #32

Joe Start (1878) spent most of his career in New York and Providence, but lead the league in hits during his only season in the Windy City.  Additionally, the first-sacker is widely credited as the first to play off of the bag, in the modern style.

Herm Doscher (1879)  had a playing career that spanned from the old National Association days through the rough and tumble years of the NL.  However, he is best remembered for having become a colorful but no nonsense umpire for the league, once he hung up his cleats.

Notable names missing from my collection:

Fred Waterman (1875)

Member of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional team.

Fred Andrus (1876, 84), John Glenn (1874-77) and John Peters (1874-77, 89)

Members of the first nine fielded by Chicago in National League play.


There you have it, the decade of the 1870's as it stands in my CATRC binder.

As of right now, there's not a lot of hope for me to keep adding to this decade, unless I uncover some more reprint sets.  The great majority left do not have cards and those that do are about a million and a half times out of my budget; they're more like museum pieces than they are baseball cards/collectibles.

Maybe some day, when I strike it rich...

We'll close things out with a popular song from the time period, as performed by someone from the not quite as distant past: