Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Difficult Man to Find

You know that feeling when you FINALLY land a card that you've been chasing forever?  I had felt like a greyhound perpetually in pursuit of a plastic, rabbit lure, going around in circles but never able to catch the bait.  Plus, I don't enjoy going around in circles either, as I have a tendency to get motion sickness and/or vertigo with the slightest provocation.

Alas, no longer must I give chase.  I've, at long last, captured my prey:  a 1967 Topps semi-high number (#489), featuring journeyman outfielder, Doug Clemens.

Landing this vintage need at a reasonable price was a bear of a task, one that I did not expect to take me over a year.  However, it is now mine and Clemens is resting comfortably in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.

As you can see from the above scan, there are some creases , rounded corners and some sort of black defect on the upper right; nevertheless, the price was right and my legs were tired from the chase.

I forgot to scan the back, but let's just swipe a picture from the internet:

As you can see, Doug was a Cub from 1964-65, blowing into the Windy City midway through the '64 campaign in a fairly significant transaction.  Upon his arrival, he was given the most playing time he'd ever see in his mostly-spare part career, earning the starting right fielder job in 1965.  Unfortunately for the respected pinch-hitter, his .221 batting average in 122 games did little to impress the Cubs brass.

Coincidentally, the Northsiders traded a pretty decent right fielder in order to secure the services of  Mr. Clemens.  More on that in a minute.

 Clemens, with the Cubs, circa 1965

Additionally, Doug wasn't particularly happy to pack his bags for Chicago, to begin with.  You see,  he was upset by the trade, mostly exacerbated by having to watch from the sidelines as several of his former mates in the Cardinals’ farm system, like Tim McCarver and Ray Sadecki) play in the 1964 World Series.  I suppose I'd be a touch bitter too - the Cubs of the mid-60's weren't too good.

Anyway, who was this player that the Cubs jettisoned to St. Louis for Clemens, Bobby Shantz and *hint* *hint*, Ernie Broglio...

Yup, that's right, Doug Clemens was intended to be the replacement in right for future Hall of Famer Lou Brock.  Also acquired in the infamous deal were the perpetually injured Ernie Broglio and reliever Bobby Shantz (who'd be traded again before '64 was out).  Just mentioning this trade triggers a subconscious gag reflex in Cubs fans everywhere.

Back to Clemens, after flubbing his opportunity to be an everyday player in Chicago, he was traded to his hometown Philadelphia Phillies (as seen in my coveted card) and hung around their bench as an extra, extra fly-chaser through the 1968 season.

So, Clemens might be a reminder of a not-so-great moment in Cubs lore; that said, a Cub is a Cub and must be included in my comprehensive CATRC binder.  This brings us back to the semi-high number I won on Ebay:

Somewhat surprisingly, after a career in the Big Leagues which lasted for nearly a decade, Doug only had one mainstream baseball card issued with his likeness - the card you see above.  As far as oddballs go, there is his 1967 Coke bottle cap appearance and a 1978 Reading Remembers issue; but, a bottle cap is not a card and the retrospective Reading MiLB set is almost a complete unknown.  Thus, I figured the 1967 Topps base card was the rational and simple target.

After sorting through stacks and stacks of '67s at every card show I've ever attended, this single just never reared it's head.  My LCS's were of no help either and the prices on COMC and Ebay were always way too inflated for my taste.  I never thought this would be such an issue.

These prices may be fair, but I'm not one to spend more than $10 on one card

As the old saying goes, patience is a virtue, and after a full year and some change of this card being a declared target, I was able to cross it off of my list for a pair of Washingtons and free shipping on Ebay.  Thank goodness!  I guess those semi-high numbers are harder to track down than I thought.

Another name off of the list.

Now, I'm left to wonder - was this experience unique?  Have you ever ended up searching for a seemingly common or non-descript card for a surprisingly long time?  Please feel free to tell me about your experience in the comments - I'd love to hear about it.

In the meantime, it's on to the next chase for me - Frank Secory, you and your '55 Bowman are mine!


  1. I chased a common card from 1994-95 Topps Embossed for about 16 years. It was the last one I needed to complete my set. I wrote about it in June, you may remember the post.

  2. I'm still on a wild goose chase for the last card I need to complete my 2007 SP Legendary Cuts "Legendary Americana" insert set -- Charles Lindbergh. I've been sitting at 99/100 on that set for almost two years now...

  3. Totally having writer's block right now. I'm sure there have been a few cards that should have been easy pick ups but eluded me for years. Just can't think of any right at this moment. Congratulations on picking up yours though.

  4. 1967 Wes Westrum. That son of a gun took me nearly a decade to track down (this was all pre-eBay and, pretty much, pre-internet, so it was shows or LCS...no other choices). I was working on a complete run of Topps Mets and, outside of the Ryan rookie and the '70 Ryan, had them all except Wes. Finally found him at a large show. Well, actually, no I didn't. I had brought a friend along who was getting back into cards. He found it. Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have. I don't know that I've ever been that out-of-control happy. I eventually got the Ryan rookie and the '70 Ryan, but that was always a matter of price--you could always find them, just couldn't afford them. Not 'ol Wes, though. He apparently lived in the land of unicorns.