This past Saturday was one of those mornings. Of course, we still had to purchase three mother's day gifts (mom, mom-in-law, step mom-in-law), two graduation gifts (sister and sister-in-law both graduating from high school), find a cute outfit for the wife to wear to the ensuring parties, and take in a hearty breakfast... But, yea, otherwise it was a lazy morning, perfect for strolling up and down the local Goodwill. Our though process was that maybe we'd find some of those things we needed, except for the breakfast.
Well, we found some stuff...
...and none of it was productive.
What I'm holding here is a trivia game called "Cub Mania," which is basically a Northside baseball-themed Trivial Pursuit expansion pack. Printed up in 1985, in the afterglow of the surprise NLCS appearance from the previous season, the "trivia game for die-hard Cub fans" can be played as a standalone game or "can also be played with trivia board games!" I wonder which trivia board games they might be referring to... there are so many, after all...
As a lover of useless trivia and the proud owner of a brain stuffed with far too much knowledge of the frivolities of Cubs baseball, there was absolutely no way I was going to pass over this test of noggin power, especially with it's two dollar price tag. No way, whatsoever.
- The Early Years, 1876-1939
- The years from 1940-1959
- The 1960s on up to the 1984 Cubs
- Player personnel - front office, trades, etc.
- Numbers - from uniforms to records
- Miscellaneous - organ players to nicknames
Outside of my "trivial" find, we didn't have much luck at the Goodwill and we still had some time to kill. Thus, we decided to continue our secondhand shopping adventure and travel just a few more miles down 159th street to the local Savers. We were on a mission.
This time, my wife was fortunate enough to track down a cute sun dress, validating our time spent at the two thrifty locations. Meanwhile, as she was flipping through racks, I was completely dumbstruck by what I saw resting on one of the checkout counters:
Then I looked around and saw that there was a similar basket on EVERY checkout counter:
Ooooooo boy - I was simply overwhelmed with cardboard choices. Clearly, some poor sap had decided to divest himself of his entire baseball card collection and dumped his former treasures on the doorstep of the Orland Park, IL Savers. Their loss was my gain, as there was no way this "basketcase" was leaving that store without at least a sampling of this repack overstock.
In the end, I decided to go with a collation from the first basket, seeing as I'd also be getting some Ultra Pro, nine-pocket pages to go along with my card findings.
This unknown donator must have collected in the early to mid 2000's, as most of the cards came from that time period. They were sorted by team, so I grabbed a cello pack that showed all Cubs on the front. As further evidence that they were accumulated in the mid aughts, names like Aramis Ramirez and Dusty Baker are sorted with the Cubs, despite appearing in different uniforms.
Let's see what gold that the plastic wrap held, shall we?
A nice selection of some stalwarts of any self-respecting card collector's Cub selection, from that particular era. It made me irrationally happy to find both the 2002 Donruss Fan Club Sammy Sosa and it's chromed up Best of... parallel.
Also among the gems were some forgotten brands and inserts from forgotten brands that hail from that black hole of a time period that is the first half of the first decade of the millennium. I swear, sometimes it feels like Y2K was real and the bug actually just swallowed up all of the baseball cards printed around that time.
The 1938 World Series program is probably the best of this here bunch - however, a shiny Nomar is always a good way to get into my good graces. Also, the Spotlights insert of Corey Patterson from Topps Stars has me completely thrown for a loop - I've never heard of the brand or it's corresponding inserts, at all.
My absolute favorite card of the whole thrifty repack was the above "Who Would Have Thought" Sammy Sosa, from the subset found within the puke-bordered 2002 Topps Flagship checklist. Crosstown crossovers have always fascinated me, as men who have played for both Chicago franchises are few and far between. Furthermore, like many a young Windy City native who grew up with the home run race on the television, my mind was blown to bits when I first discovered that Sammy Sosa was once a South Side rival. After all, at the time, Sammy Sosa WAS the Cubs, like Walter Payton was the Bears or Michael Jordan was the Bulls.
Honestly, seeing as I wasn't really collecting at the time, I had no clue that a card existed to commemorate Sammy's transition. A whole set based around similar crosstown crossovers, in Chicago and other MLB cities, would be an excellent idea, in my humble opinion.
As I mentioned, the collector who jettisoned their collection had their pages sorted by team. While the cello pack I picked up showed Cubs on the front and back, there were a few stray Angels pages hidden within, as well. That's okay though, as these bonus Angels provided me with a new card of short-term and forgotten Cub, Ramon Ortiz, courtesy of 2004 Topps. The former Angels starter found his way into 22 games (mostly from the bullpen) for the pre-rebuild, 2011 Cubs, in the penultimate stop of his MLB career.
Ortiz also appears on the 2004 Fleer Tradition "League Leaders" card on the left, as he led the 2003 Anaheim squad in pitching wins. Accompanying the surprise ace is a baby-faced John Lackey, who led the staff in strikeouts. In my mind, Lack has always been a surly, salty veteran, so it's jarring to see him so young.
That about did it for the Ultra Pro packaged repack - a bunch of early to mid-00's cardboard and a handful of nine-pocket pages. All in all, not a bad deal for five bucks. That said, even still, that was not the highlight of my thrift shopping adventure.
Whenever I go into a Savers, Goodwill, or what have you, I always like to check the athletic wear section of the men's department. As a runner, I know that good running gear can be quite expensive; therefore, I like to keep an eye out for a good deal on dri-fit and technical running shirts. This day was no exception. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to come across any such tees that fit my figure. Fortunately, I was able to find something much, much better:
I was stunned to find a game-used, minor league Windy City Thunderbolts jersey sitting on the racks, among the glut of hastily abandoned Jay Cutler jerseys. Granted, the Crestwood, IL based club is an independent (Frontier League) team that plays, roughly, at the level of Low-A; but, you can't tell me that it isn't cool to find such memorabilia at the local thrift shop. It was even in my size - how fortuitous!
As an added bonus, the jersey features the greatest number in Chicago sports, worn by such luminaries as Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Devin Hester and 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye. There's some seriously good Chicago mojo in the number 23. Now I just have to figure out which Bolts player sported that number in the south suburbs. I've had no luck in figuring that out yet, as neither team records nor Baseball Reference make not of the uniform numbers worn by the indy league's athletes.
Believe it or not, between the local Goodwill and Savers, this is the third time I've found a game-used minor league uniform at a thrift shop. The most recent time before this, the uni top was even autographed by a former Major Leaguer.
With that, the jersey made for the perfect way to close out to the thrift shopping experience. On that note, let's revisit that trivia card from the beginning of the post and find out just how much you know about the Chicago Cubs:
When my wife read me the questions on this card, the only one that I got wrong was number two, where I incorrectly guessed Ronald Reagan. I don't know if she was more impressed with my vast amount of useless knowledge or horrified at how deeply insane that I am. How did you do in answering these bits of trivia?
To conclude, I had myself one heckuva day in the thrift shops AND we even finished up all of our gift shopping in a timely manner thereafter. All in all, I'd say my Saturday was well-spent!
You just never know what treasures are going to pop up at the second hand shop.