Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Mysterious Benefactor

For the second time now, a man that I'll forever refer to as Skokie Tom has surprised me with an unannounced and needed Conlon single for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.  To be completely honest, I am not even sure how Tom got my address so that he could bestow these mysterious gifts upon me; however, I am certainly not complaining about the situation.

Much like the Vic Keen piece before him, the player depicted here received their first ever baseball card, many years overdue, in the Conlon Collection, despite spending a fairly significant amount of time in the Major Leagues.  I guess that's what playing the bulk of your career during World War II, when most materials and production were diverted to the war effort, will do to ya:

Jim Gleeson was an outfielder who originally cracked the Big Leagues in 1936 for a brief trial with the Indians, as seen on the 1991 Conlon card seen above.  "Gee Gee" failed to break into the Cleveland outfield rotation and was sold to the Yankees after the conclusion of the season.  While with the Big Apple organization. Jimbo was buried even further down the depth chart and stayed trapped in the minors until 1939, when he was sold again, this time to the Cubs.

After blowing into the Windy City, Jim quickly became a semi-regular in the outfield, making his way into 111 games in '39 and 129 games in '40.  Rotating through the three positions, Gleeson had his career year in the latter, posting a .313/.389/.470 batting line, even earning some down-ballot MVP votes.

Jim Gleeson taking practice hacks with the Cubs, circa 1940

Unfortunately for Gleeson, the Cubs of that time were exceptionally mediocre; though, perhaps, that's why he was able to see such regular action.  In December of 1940, "Gee Gee" was swapped to the defending World Series Champion Reds, with Bobby Mattick, for Billy Myers.  Unfortunately for Jim, the glass slipper broke - his batting average slacked. his power absolutely disappeared, and his playing time decreased (.233/.340/.296 in 102 games) as the Reds drifted back to third place.

He got nine more games in 1942 before the Reds gave up on the 30 year old fly-chaser, trading him to the St. Louis Cardinals.  After serving our country for three years in World War II and sticking out six more campaigns in the minors, Jimbo would never again crack a Major League Roster.  However, that said, he would go on to have a long and respected career as a minor league manager, scout and MLB coach, mostly with the Yankees organization.

Now, I know more about Jim Gleeson, one-hit wonder extraordinaire, than I do about the man who forwarded this needed card to me, Skokie Tom.  he picture above is what I imagine this benefactor from the Chicago suburb to look like, all shadowy and mysterious and such.  Although, I do know that Skokie Tom must have a particular interest in the Conlon Collection sets, seeing as both of the cards he gifted upon me hail from those checklists.  So, I can say for certain that he's got excellent, refined cardboard tastes.

With the addition of Jim Gleeson to my CATRC, I currently stand with 1,479 out of 2,055 Chicago Cubs, for a 71.97% completion rate.  Thank you Skokie Tom for your generosity; if there is anything I can send back your way to return the favor, anything you collect, please let me know because I'd love to build you a return package.

In the meantime, I'm left to wonder...


  1. Very well written piece and love the photo. I worked in and around Skokie for many a year. I miss Browns Chicken terribly.

  2. Very cool that Skokie Tom is so thoughtful and giving. Rock on!

  3. Toms. From what I hear they're good people.