There are thousands of trading card collectors scattered throughout the world and each and every one of us has our own method of collecting; some collect sets, others gather all the cards they can find of a specific player. Meanwhile, still others build mini-collections based on specific characteristics of the cards (mis-cuts, pitchers at the plate, bunting, etc.) and some build up their stock on the value attached to their relics and autographs. In short, there are different collecting strokes for every kind of collecting folk.
That said, I have yet to encounter another who collects in the same method that I do (except for one notable exception), in that they are attempting to acquire one card of every player to have played for their favorite team.
Look mom, I'm unique!
This challenge wouldn't be too difficult for a more modern franchise like the Diamondbacks, the Marlins or even the Mets. However, as a fanatic of the world's oldest continually operating sports franchise (to have stayed in the same city), I have plenty of players to chase from the earliest days of professional sports.
Another well-aged and beloved on the blogosphere franchise is the Dodgers, who were formed way back in 1883. If a Dodgers collector were to pick up my mantle, you would think it would be an equally daunting task to amass one card of every Brooklyn/Los Angeles player, right? Especially obscure and oft-forgotten players like Charlie Gilbert (on your left), a utility infielder for the Dodgers, Cubs and Phillies during the 1940's.
You see, back in 1990 as part of their 100 years of being in the National League celebration (they were originally founded as an American Assoc. club), the Trolley Dodgers got together with every suburban white woman's favorite hangout - Target - to create an anthology card set to mark the occasion. The content of this corporate sponsored checklist was filled up with every player to have donned the Dodger blue since that time, creating a massive 1,144 card set, which was distributed in perforated sheets at Dodger Stadium.
Of course, with any set that large, errors were made. For instance, that is not the same John O'Brien pictured that played for Brooklyn (1891) and Chicago (1893); rather, that is John "Cinders" O'Brien who played in the Bigs at the same time, mostly for Cleveland.
Furthermore, a few obscure names were forgotten and that's not to mention the fact that the set ignored the first 7 years of the franchise's existence. Nevertheless, this has proven to be one of my personal favorite sets and quite useful or my CATRC - after all, there are several men who wore both shades of blue on the diamond who would have never appeared on a baseball card otherwise, or at least one that I can afford.
Unfortunately, these mini-oddballs don't show up in my neck of the woods very often, so I called out for help on Twitter. Luckily, one of the most preeminent Dodger collectors on the world wide web answered my call, Stealing Home of All Trade Bait, All the Time. Coincidentally, he had just dug up up a few sheets of the Target Dodgers and was more than willing to assist me.
I really can't say enough about how invaluable his help has been - like I said, many of the subjects simply have no reasonable alternative and, without these Targets, I'd have gaps that could never be filled.
For instance, the people designing the set couldn't even locate a picture of Cozy Dolan in baseball garb, instead opting for a super formal head-shot. Well, okay, there are actually plenty of photos available of him on the diamond, he did have a 11 year career after all (two each with Chicago and Brooklyn). Tragically, Cozy's career and life were both cut short after a bout with typhoid fever during spring training in 1907.
The father of the Joe Schultz who went on to manage the ill-fated Seattle Pilots played for several teams in first half of the 20th century. In fact, Schultz Sr. played for every National League club, with the exception of the New York Giants. He split the 1915 campaign between our two spotlighted teams (only seven games with the Cubs; talk about obscure).
Continuing on the theme of photography, another added benefit to such a vast-reaching set is getting to see the old-timey uniforms. I mean, can you imagine today's players wearing such a collar as George Magoon is sporting? Hell, half of them don't even button the top two buttons these days. Although, that kind of design feature might be useful when playing at Wrigley in April (brrrrrrr).
Also, Jesse Petty gives us a good, clear look at the National League's 50th anniversary patch, which was sported by teams during the 1925 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Senior Circuit. Additionally, it appears as though someone started to obliterate the background of the reliever's photo, but quit halfway through.
Furthermore, seeing as the set is chock full of long-forgotten names from the annals of our national pastime's history, it provides a nice jumping off point to learn about some characters of days gone by. For instance, Chicago native Roy Henshaw was lucky enough to come straight out of college and onto the Major League roster of his hometown club, despite his diminutive 5'8", 155 lb stature. You just don't see many fun-sized moundsmen.
Unfortunately, it was that lack of build that kept Henshaw from ever claiming a full-time spot in the pitching rotation, due to lack of durability. As Chicago's spot-starter/long reliever from 1933-36, Roy found his niche. Eventually, Roy was traded to Brooklyn for Lonnie Frey.
With that, Stealing Home and his Target Dodger finds were able to add seven new names to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection; that's the most I've added to my CATRC binder at one time in many, many moons.
Even still, Stealing Home's generosity still had not run out. As an added bonus, he threw in some extra Cubs goodies:
Some glossy, "premium" releases from the middle portion of the 90's. I've always had thing for the Flair sets...
...some singles from the over production era...
...and some true, blue vintage in the form of a 1982 Topps single featuring short term Cub Joe Strain (25 games in 1981). Who doesn't love bonus cards?
Anyway, while I love the Target Dodgers set for all the help it has provided me towards fulfilling my collecting mission, I don't know that I would actually want a set in the same vein for the Chicago Cub. After all, it would kind of invalidate all of the work I put into my collation of Cubs, right? Not that there's any talk of that happening... just a thought. For now, I'm just happy that the Dodgers and Cubs have so much cross over!
My thanks go out to Stealing Home for helping a fellow collector in need. Hopefully, you find your return brick of Dodgers to be at least half as fun to go through!
Even after all of that, there are still so many gaps that I can fill in my binder with Target Dodgers. If anybody reading has some that they are willing to part with, I have a comprehensive want-list posted (link at the top of the page) and would be ecstatic to talk trade.
I think there are a few of Dodgers collectors on the blogosphere, right?