Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Nothing Major

I've decided to start up a new collection; please allow me to explain it in a rather long-winded fashion.

For many moons, I've been fascinated with baseball cards featuring Major League players during their minor league years; it's an interest that's probably bubbled just under the surface since I started collecting way back when.  I think it has something about seeing well-known players in unfamiliar uniforms, at least partially.  

For instance:

Casey McGehee, seen as not much more than minor league depth, may have broken out as a Brewer, but he started out in the Cubs system and even received a September call-up at the end of the 2008 season.  In contrast, Corey Patterson was about as highly-touted as a prospect possibly can be... and we all know how that turned out.  That said, how can anyone not love a team named the Lansing Lugnuts?

I just picked up this Chris Valaika, who made a brief stopover in Chicago in 2014, from my LCS from a quarter box.  Truthfully, it was mostly to round my purchase up to a full dollar; but, again, what's not to love about a team known as the Dayton Dragons?

Neal Cotts never could consistently hold down a spot in the Cubs bullpen, riding the shuttle between AAA and the Majors for a couple of seasons after winning a World Series ring with our neighbors to the south.  

In the ensuing years, along with minor league Cubs, I've also set aside cards that show these athletes during their days in college and high school, as well  For a while now, I've had a binder going where I stash these curiosities:

That Scott Maine is a slightly over-sized oddball single from a set made to honor the University of Miami nine in 2005; I'm fairly certain it was team-issued, but I can't find any manufacturing information on or about it.  If anyone knows anything more about that Hurricanes issue, please let me know!

Meanwhile, we all know about Jeff  "the Shark" Samardzija's much-ballyhooed girdiron career for the Fightin' Irish; it's easy to forget that he played baseball for them too.  Additionally, I picked up this Bob Howry autograph dating from his days with McNeese State for fifty cents - can you believe that?

As far as high school goes, there aren't a lot in my collection; but, a few have found their way into my clutches:

Classic Four Sport was always good for a few varsity baseball cards, seeing as the sets were based pretty much entirely around prospects in several of the major sports. Here you can see future Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee taking a hack on a chain-link circled diamond near El Camino Fundamental High School in California.

On the other hand, while you see Serra HS graduate Dan Serafini holding a bat on this "limited," serial numbered, shiny offering from Classic, he eventually made it to the Majors as a pitcher, including 42 games for the 1999 Cubs.

All these cards you see above have long been set aside in a special place; I've even referred to the stack on this blog as my "Baby Bear" collection.  However, I've always felt that I could do more with this accumulation - I just didn't know what.

At the same time, I've also made a habit of hanging onto cards that feature future/former Cubs players participating in leagues from outside of the traditional Major/Minor system:

I've got Senior Leagues (which come from my original collection, as a gift from my late grandfather)...

...Negro Leagues....

....international leagues...

...independent leagues...

...hell, I've even got Little Leagues.  Again, these all catch my attention because they depict familiar faces in unfamiliar settings and digs.

Although, after showing off all of these slightly-jarring keepsakes, my absolute favorites in this loosely-connected family are cards that feature stars on the diamond competing in sports that are NOT America's pastime.

Cards like these: 

Like I mentioned earlier, much has been made about "Shark's" football exploits; but, did you know that this similarly difficult to spell name played collegiate football?  In fact "Super Szczur" required a hefty signing bonus to keep the wide receiver from entering the NFL draft when he was drafted out of Villanova in 2010.

Coincidentally, Delino DeShields was another future Cub, multi-sport star; he almost attended Villanova too, to play point guard on the basketball squad.  No doubt, Foot Locker and the NBA were aware of this when they invited the hyped youngster to compete in their celebrity slam dunk tournament in 1991, which also included names like Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Bo Jackson. Thank goodness a card set was produced by the shoe hawkers to commemorate this cross-sport overlap.

These are the only two like this, but there are a bevy more out there - Kenny Lofton and Tim Stoddard on the hardwood, Ernie Banks on the back nine, etc.

See? I'm not (entirely) crazy

Anywho, if you've made it through all of this rambling, congratulations - I'm finally about to get to my point.  I've come to the conclusion that the best way to show off, store and continue to build these half-baked accumulations is to merge them all together under one banner:  my "Nothing Major" collection.  The idea being that the collection is made up of cards of Cubs playing in the minors, prep, international and even other sports, but "Nothing Major" League Baseball.

I love a good pun.

So, if you have any cards of this vein lying around in your dupe/trade stacks, please drop me a line; I'm more than willing to talk trade!

Lord knows I don't already have enough projects...


  1. I've started a similar project but only for the WV Black Bears players. Good luck accumulating!

  2. Do you have a list of what you have already, or are you just taking whatever some of us might have to send? Because somehow, I ended up with a bunch of those CMC cards from the late 1980s...

    1. I haven't gotten a list typed up just yet - but I'm willing to take whatever comes my way in the meantime, provided they eventually played for the Cubs. Come to think of it, I only have a couple of the CMC's anyway. I'm sure I could whip up a batch of Brewers for you.

  3. I love minor league cards! So much fun to collect.