Sunday, September 24, 2017

Now, Can You Believe This?

The 2017 Cubs season has had more than it's fair share of exciting games.  This weekend's epic, extra-inning, see-saw battles against the Brewers rank near the top of the heart palpitation-inducing list, as does Mike Montgomery's near no-hit, pitching duel against the Tampa Bay Rays in the previous series.  Furthermore, last weekend's three-game sweep over the perennial nemeses known as the Cardinals certainly spiked my blood pressure levels.  All in all, while the 2017 edition of the Chicago Cubs hasn't been quite as dominant as last year's edition, they've certainly been entertaining!

All things considered, out of all of thee must-watch contests of 2017, I think the most exciting game of the season came against the Toronto Blue Jays last month - a game which completed another three-game sweep over a team named after a species of bird.

In fact, the game was so intense, that I actually felt compelled to purchase the Topps NOW card released to commemorate the madness that took place at Wrigley Field on August 20th, 2017.

For frame of reference, this is only the second NOW card to enter into my collection and the very first one which I have purchase myself (granted, through a third party).  The first, a card celebrating Jake Arrieta's second no-hitter with the Cubbies, was acquired via trade with Addiction as Therapy.  Generally, I find the price point on these instant cards to be too much for my wallet to swallow - $10 for a single card and even $6 through most secondary markets is a bit steep for my penny-pinching ways.  That should tell you how much this game affected my senses.

My other NOW acquisition

Plus, it doesn't hurt that, courtesy of his walk-off single, this special release becomes Alex Avila's very first Cubs card.  What a way to earn it!

 The back provides a brief write-up on the trade-deadline acquisition's heroics on surprisingly shiny cardstock (why is this rainbow finish on the back and not the front?).  But, even still, this card barely scratches the surface on just how insane this ballgame turned out to be.  Please allow me to set the scene.

The Cubs held a 3-2 lead over the pesky Blue Jays going into the sixth inning, in the middle of a claustrophobically tight divisional race.  Of course, old friend and recently exiled catcher, Miguel Montero, thwarted his former club by driving a game-tying homer into the bleachers.  Having lead 3-0 at one point, that hurt.  The Cubs offense continued to remain silence into extra innings and, come the tenth, the Blue Jays broke through for two, big runs.  One of those runs, came as a result of Avila himself, when he botched a toss back to the pitcher's mound:

I mean, when's the last time you saw THAT on a Major League diamond?  No one knew at the time, but that was far from the last bit of weird baseball to rear it's head on that afternoon.  The rest of the damage was done with some shaky pitching from Koji Uehara and Al's fellow former Tiger, Justin Wilson.  Everything was shaping up to be a deflating loss for the hometown club.

Then, the bottom of the tenth happened.

With shutdown closer, Roberto Osuna on the mound, all hope seemed lost, especially so when Kyle Schwarber led off the inning with a K.  But, fortunately, former Cubs catcher Raffy Lopez couldn't handle the delivery and Schwarbs reached on the dropped third strike; then, a Ben Zobrist double and then a wild pitch would plate Kyle's run.  Thanks to a pair of mistakes, the Cubs were suddenly back in the game.  A groundout by Rizzo moved Zobs to third and brought free-swinging Javy Baez to the plate.  As fun as Baez is to watch at the plate, his strikeout seemed almost inevitable.  But, then, weird baseball reared it's head, once again:

Another dropped third strike!  And this time, Lopez checks the runner at third... and somehow completely forgets to throw the ball to first base!  What in the heck was Raffy thinking about??  I'm fairly certain that I've never seen that on a baseball diamond, at any level, whatsoever.

How could this game possibly get any crazier?

Just a few pitches later, Javy-Air stole second base on the Osuna/Lopez battery and Jason Heyward got hit by a pitch, affording the opportunity for Alex Avila to redeem himself and be the hero of the day:

Exactly as they drew it up, I'm sure.

So, in summation, that tenth inning featured one miffed throw by the catcher to the mound, two dropped third strikes, one major mental gaffe by the other catcher, a wild pitch, a hit by pitch, a stolen base, and five total runs scored.  Talk about total insanity, right?  Needless to say, with all those dropped thirds, the forgetfulness, and the wild pitch, the Toronto backstop and 2014 Chicago Cub, Rafael Lopez, did not have a banner evening.

All told, since it eventually amounted to a immensely exciting Cubs victory, it instantly became one of, if not, my favorite game of the 2017 season.  There was just so much happening at the Friendly Confines in that tenth frame.

Inevitably, I knew this game would be deemed NOW worthy by Topps and, when it officially hit the virtual shelves, I tracked down a third-party vendor on Ebay hocking a copy for six bucks.  Still pricey, yes - but, seeing as it was such a kooky, unique game and also just so happened to be Avila's first Cubs card, I pulled the trigger.  The souvenir finally showed up in my mailbox yesterday and Alex's wild celebration looks wonderful as his representation in my CATRC - I regret nothing!  That said, I still won't be making NOW purchases a regular habit; but, they do make for a nice, once-in-a-while treat.

With this tight-playoff race coming to a head (and hopefully a deep October run on the horizon), here's hoping that the Cubbies aren't done making things interesting and exciting - let's create a few more Topps NOW-worthy moments, boys!  Also, here's hoping that my poor heart can take it!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Sauer Patch Kids

You may have heard of Hank Sauer - aka, "the Mayor of Wrigley Field."  From 1949-55, Hank manned left field at the Friendly Confines and carried one of the biggest bats in the National League.  One of the era's premier power hitters, Mr. Mayor cranked 37 home runs and 121 RBI to lead the league in both categories in 1952, paving the way for his selection as the NL MVP.  The two-time All-Star was regularly showered with packets of his favorite chewing tobacco by bleacher bums, upon returning to his spot in left field after having gone yard.  All told, Hank Sauer was one of, if not the only, bright spot on those dismal Cubs teams in the post-WWII era.

However, this post isn't about Hank Sauer; but, it is about another Sauer who played for the "Lovable Losers."  Unlike Hank, this Sauer played for a Cubs team good enough to take the National League pennant, although he was not in the running for the prestigious "political office" his similarly-surnamed peer held for Chicago.  Without an official title, Hank's little brother Ed also called the Windy City home, from 1943-45.

A few days ago, I came across this ultra-vintage beauty on Ebay.  Ed, being a marginal player during the War Era, doesn't have much of a cardboard presence and, thus, adding him to my CATRC binder has proven to be a challenge.  When I saw this oddball pop up in my saved searches, for less than an Alexander Hamilton flash card, I immediately pounced.

Back in 1947, Signal Oil partnered with the original Pacific Coast League (which then nearly rivaled the MLB in popularity) to produce a large set of baseball cards featuring the League's stars. 
These unnumbered sets consists of five of the eight PCL Teams as part of the promotion. Thankfully for me, the Cubs-affiliated Los Angeles Angels were one of the five teams who participated.

As for the cards themselves, they are black and white and measure a bizarre 5-9/16" x 3-1/2" on thin, sepia-toned stock. The front shows drawings of the player and some personal and career highlights in cartoon form. meanwhile, on the back, we have player bios, an ad for Signal Oil and an ad for the corresponding radio station, which carried each clubs broadcasts.

In my experience, I rarely see these bad boys go for anything less than $25.  Oftentimes, the ultra-vintage oddities run up price tags up above $50, especially when they are in as good a shape as Mr. Sauer here.  Therefore, seeing that Ed was a needed Cub and doesn't provide many other alternatives, there was no way I was ignoring this deal.  Plus, it's just a unique and wonderful-looking card - it's like the comics on the back of 60's Topps sets, except all over the card!

Said comics and the brief biographical snippet on the back provided a few tidbits of trivia on Ed - apparently he was quite the superstitious fellow, a versatile athlete in his youth, and was a multi-talented musician.  But, perhaps it's time to learn a little more about little Sauer's baseball career.  To the internet!

'45 Cubs Sluggers: Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko & Sauer - photo: William Greene

Despite being the younger of the two, Ed's Cubs tenure came before that of the elder Hank; during Ed's three years with the team, Hank was busy being a star in Cincinnati.  Unfortunately, the two brothers never got to play with one another, as by the time Hank was traded to the Second City (for Harry Walker and Peanuts Lowrey), midway through the 1949 campaign, Ed had moved on to St. Louis.  Much like the Patterson brothers, the Hungarian brothers missed each other by a few years... they could have been the "Sauer Patch Kids!" Well, Sour Patch Kids weren't a thing 'til 1985, but still...

Ed and Hank - the "Sauer Patch Kids."

Signed in 1940, out of Elon College in North Carolina by the Yankees organization, the younger Sauer brother made his way to the Cubs chain during the 1941 season.  He rose through the ranks with a reputation as a slugger, and made his Big League debut in 1943.  For the next few seasons, Ed would serve as a substitute in the outfield and as a pinch-hitter off of the bench, never earning a regular role.  For his Cubbie career, he saw action in 86 games over the course of three seasons, plus two World Series contests.

Of course, significantly, the last season of his Cubs stint lined up with the last World Series appearance the Cubs made in the 20th century.  Ed ultimately snuck into two October tilts against the Tigers, as a pinch hitter (games 5 and 7), but struck out each time against Hall of Famer, Hal Newhouser.  Nevertheless, until recently, being a Cub who saw World Series action was a rare accomplishment!

Unfortunately for Ed, those two at-bats proved to be his last in a blue uniform.  After the Series, Ed was demoted back to the minors, where he spent three seasons as a regular with the Los Angeles Angels (as the card which starts this post indicates) in the OTHER Wrigley Field, before brief trials with the Cards and the Braves in 1949.  After the close of his MLB career, Ed played for a few more years in the PCL, through 1951, to wrap up his time in the game of baseball.

Ed's older brother Hank, 1954 Topps

There you have it - the 411 on the younger half of the "Sauer Patch Kids."  Ed may have never risen to the rank of Mayor of Wrigley Field, but at least he got to bring home a pennant with the Boys in Blue.  That's a promise that they Mayor was never able to deliver on.

Now, Ed gets to join his brother in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.

All in all, I'm thrilled to be able to add this superb 1947 Signal Oil PCL single to my CATRC binder.  First of all, any time I'm able to add a new name to those pages is a happy feat.  Second of all, rarely am I able to find such obscure players for such a reasonable price.  Third of all, super-vintage cards like this one are always a joy to uncover, no matter what.  FOURTH of all, this is the second card in a row to enter into my CATRC that could be classified as "super vintage" - my Johnny Hudson 1940 Play Ball addition was chronicled yesterday.  Obviously, it's been a good week for the Cubs collection.

Ed and Hank - they may be Sauer, but then they're sweet additions to my CATRC.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Drunk History

One of the most popular web series to ever hit YouTube is Drunk History.  Started by the ever-popular Funny or Die group, in each episode, an inebriated narrator struggles to recount an event from history, while actors enact the narrator's anecdotes and also lip sync the dialogue.  The concept proved to be hilarious and generated enough clicks to convince Comedy Central to adapt it into a full-blown television show in 2014 with celebrity narrators and actors.  The leap from web series to TV series has proven to be successful, as Drunk History's fifth season will begin airing sometime later this year.

I know what you're thinking, "what does any of this have to do with baseball cards?"  All in due time, young grasshopper.

First, please allow me to introduce you to the latest addition for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder, Mr. Johnny Hudson:

As you can plainly see, this 1940 Play Ball single has seen some better days.  This 77-year old piece of pasteboard has creases criss-crossing it's surface like a road map of Indiana, heavily rounded and fuzzy corners, and some very mild paper loss.  On the other hand, there are no tears, the printing is still fairly vibrant and clear, and I was able to score this bad boy for just $1.73 on Ebay.  So, despite it's somewhat poor condition, it's kind of hard to turn down a needed card from the World War II era (and an iconic set, at that) when it costs you less than a single, standard pack of Stadium Club.

I'll make that deal every day and twice on Sunday.

All I really knew about Johnny Hudson before I made this purchase was that he was ever-so-briefly a Cub in the 1940's and that he had yet to be represented in my CATRC.  The backs of the 1940 Play Ball set are famous for their detailed write-ups; so, the flipside proved to be quite informative:

This proved to be a great jumping off point in my research on the man that was a "happy thought" for his manager, Leo Durocher.

Johnny Hudson was not a large man (5'10', 160 lbs); but, what he lacked in height, he made up for with his glove.  The diminutive utilityman was a spry, athletic player, who was well-respected across the league for his fielding.  Durocher once said that he never saw a second baseman “get as smart as fast as Johnny…Johnny is a born ball player…he has baseball sense."  That's high praise from an ornery man who rarely gave it out.

On the other side of the baseball, Johnny was never known for his bat (.242 career BA), but he did earn the moniker "Mr. Chips" due to his pinch-hitting ability in tight spots, when the proverbial chips were down.  With that in mind, Hudson was a coveted asset across MLB and was often the subject of trade rumors.  The Dodgers finally acquiesced and dealt Johnny in May of 1941, along with Charlie Gilbert, for baseball's best second baseman, Billy Herman.  All told, the Cubs traded a sure-fire Hall of Famer for a utility infielder and a Quad-A type outfielder.  No matter how you draw it up, it was a terrible trade for the Cubbies; how did this happen?

Alcohol.  That's how it happened.

You see, Herman always had his eyes set on the manager's chair and Herman was miffed that he wasn't being considered.  Brooklyn GM, Larry McPhail, pounced after catching wind of the growing rift between Herman and the Cubs.  McPhail then met with the Chicago brass in a Second City hotel and proceeded to get them liquored up.  Said Leo Durocher, "he had kept emptying his drinks into flowerpots, toilet bowls, and any other handy receptacle. 'And every time they were pouring for me (McPhail), I was pouring for them.'"  By the end of the night, the Cubs management team was so inebriated that they traded their Hall of Fame second baseman for a utility infielder and a third-string outfielder.

Let this be a reminder, baseball fans - drink responsibly.

The man who accompanied Johnny to Chi-Town

Otherwise, you end up doing things you might regret later.  I'm sure that no one reading this can relate, in any way, right?

After the booze-fueled trade to Chicago, Hudson lasted a scant 50 games on the Northside, playing out the string in '41 and posting a miserable .202/.225/.242 line as a reserve.  No amount of glove work can make up for that anemic bat.  That winter, his contract was sold to the Cubs' American Association affiliate, the old Milwaukee Brewers, and he wouldn't make it back out of the bushes for several more years.

Come 1945, the Giants brought Hudson up to serve as infield depth and he played the last 28 games of his Big League career that season.  After a few more years as a player/manager back in the minors, Johnny came back to the Giants and spent the rest of his life, until his death in 1970, as a scout for the organization.  Johnny Hudson was truly a baseball lifer.

Also, for the record, Billy Herman did eventually get his chance to manage with the Pirates and the Red Sox, but never won more than 64 games at the helm.

Hudson with the Cubs in 1942, image courtesy of Mears Monthly Auctions.

And so, that's the story on Johnny Hudson and how getting a bit tipsy led to his "Brock for Broglio-esque" trade to Chicago.  Without the proper lubrication, that deal might never go down, Johnny's baseball career continues uninterrupted, and the 1940 Play Ball single which kicked off this post is never needed for my binder.  Never underestimate the power of alcohol and the influence it has on human history.

Selfishly, I'm kind of glad that it all happened, so I had the excuse to track down this super-vintage gem for chump change.  Welcome to the CATRC, "Mr. Chips!"

All in all, this blog post sort of turned out like an episode of Drunk History in reverse:  a sober narrator telling the story of how a couple of drunk idiots affected history.  Perhaps the story behind the Herman for Hudson trade would make a good, traditional episode of the popular Comedy Central program?

At any rate, please take this opportunity to watch noted Cubs fan and beloved Chicago-native, Bob Odenkirk, drunkenly stumble through the tale of Steve Dahl's Disco Demolition.  Thanks for stopping by and make good choices!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September Roster Expansion

When it comes to baseball, the month of September may be the stretch drive in the race for the playoffs, but it's also significant in it's special roster rules.  As you probably know, MLB clubs are allowed to expand their active roster to include as much of their 40-man as they would like to include, as a way of reinforcing a tired club, an opportunity to look at prospects, or acquiring complimentary pieces, et al.  As such, the benches and bullpens quickly become bloated during the first month of fall, as teams  would be foolish not to take advantage of this quirk. 

However, the rosters of Major League Baseball aren't the only rosters being reinforced this September; st least. not on Chris Sutherland's (from The Collector) watch! 

"The Pedestrian Writer" contacted me about a week ago to let me know that he could help me out with my various roster collections and, just days later, a thick, bubble mailer showed up in my mail.  Seriously, the thing barely fit in my apartment complex's mailbox - the mass may have done some damage to the mail-carrier's shoulder.  No matter what, it definitely did some damage on my want-lists, though... and in various sports, too!

Since it's football season, let's start with the gridiron:

The Bears might be unbearable (see what I did there?) to watch again this season, but these former Bears were quite the happy sight for me; they may not be in the proper blue and orange uniform, but all needed representation in my Bears All-Time Roster Collection.  Jonathan Quinn and Danny Wuerffel illustrate just how historically "wonderful" the "Monsters of the Midway" have been at the quarterback position and Marion Barber is most remembered in Bears history for two critical miscues in a game against Denver in 2011 that essentially cost the team a playoff berth.  On the other hand, Blake Brockermeyer had a decent, unheralded, three-year stint as an offensive tackle for the team..., it's not all bad!

Although, this pun is gloriously bad. The worse the pun, the better it is!

Vinny Sutherland played in exactly one game for the Bears and it came during the 2002 season.  Against the Lions, he returned 3 kickoffs for an average of 16.3 yards a return - he was released a few days later.  However, at least he stuck around the Bears long enough for Chris to be able to send me his card and make that joke!

Lastly, while he wasn't totally new to my binder, a jersey upgrade of Glyn Milburn was also included in the stash.  As nice as those old school Broncos uniforms are, I prefer my orange and blue every time. 

That about did it for the Bears roster portion of Chris' exceptionally generous trade package; but, we're far from through with this yellow, padded mailer.  It's time to turn the thermostat way down and take a shift over on the ice rink.  Hockey season is just around the corner and Mr. Sutherland decided to commemorate the occasion by assaulting my Blackhawks want-list, as well.

I'm not being hyperbolic when I use the term "assault" either:


For those keeping score at home, that's nine new additions to my Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection binder, including one of the few players from the current dynastic period which have eluded my grasp (Jeremy Morin), some beautiful, vintage O-Pee-Chee (Wayne Van Dorp), and a sweet, gold-bordered parallel (James Wisniewski).  See - this assault is coming on stronger than a Daniel Carcillo check into the boards!

...and yet, it's not quite done:

Another pair of jersey upgrades close out the hockey portion of the trade package. 

Gerald Diduck might technically be listed as a Hartford Whaler on the 95-96 Leaf single that Chris forwarded my way, but, with all that's 90's holofoil and tiny text, the photograph dominates that pasteboard.  And what uniform is Gerald wearing in the photo?  Thus, it's a Blackhawks card, to me.  Meanwhile, I can't help but get a kick out of the fact that Phil Russell is depicted in almost the exact same position at the exact same angle, in photographs that were taken about a decade apart.  Plus, that 02-03 Fleer Throwbacks single is gloriously simple and slick.

That pretty much covers the hockey portion of the mailer.  As you can see, Chris' trade offering is already hard to top and speaking of hard... there was still a hardwood section yet to be seen.

For good measure, Chris tossed in some basketball cards, of which Charles Oakley was needed for my Bulls All-Time Roster Collection.  He may be a New York Knickerbocker here, but 90-91 Skybox is such a fun and iconic set that I'm not at all bothered by that fact.

Now if all that you've seen in the post above wasn't enough, Chris further continued his assault on my trading card stocks by graciously including a hefty stack of Cubs cards which had gone unclaimed in his 50/50 giveaway a few weeks ago.  Is this guy not a gem or what?

In that stack, there were...

...90's gems...

...recent needs...

... a significant pre-rookie...

...a couple more pre-rooks, featuring Jonathan's brother and a potential future addition to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection...

...and minis!  Normally, I honestly don't care much for mini-cards, as they play too many games with my near-obsessive compulsive storage and organization of my card collection.  However, as a counterbalance, I absolutely adore oddballs and this shiny Panini sticker is an eye-catching one.  Furthermore, the Starlin Castro on the left is the first time I've seen one of these 2011 Topps Kimball Champion minis in real life and they are gorgeous.  If a tobacco card and a piece of fine art could have a baby, it would look like these Kimballs.

With that, we've finally reached the end of Chris' seemingly bottomless bubble mailer of goodies.  All told, his exquisite trade package netted me 5 new Bears (plus a jersey upgrade), 9 new Blackhawks (plus two jersey upgrades), and 1 new Bull for my various roster collections, not to mention a bunch of fun, new Cubs cards.  How's that for September roster expansion?!

Thank you Chris - this package was easily the highlight of my week and I'll make sure to get an equally generous return package in the mail, ASAP, stuffed with Red Sox and Devils (my Packers stocks have been completely depleted, though).  Also, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for anything featuring former Bears OL Todd Burger.

September roster expansion - it ain't just for the Big Leagues!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting High Off the Sweep

The Cubs may have wet the bed in the key series against the Brewers two weekends ago; but, since that dud of a three-game set, the Northsiders have absolutely been on fire.  They have come home victorious in the last six straight, including a total beat-down of the Mets and a sweep of the Cardinals that may very well have finally slayed the beast.  The Redbirds have been taken to the mat several times this year; however, like Rocky Balboa, they just kept getting back up.  That said, after this weekend's sweep, the Cards sit six games back with only 13 games left to play.  One step closer to bringing home another NL Central crown!

In the midst of my excitement over the sweep, I decided to celebrate by opening some of the latest baseball product to hit the shelves - Heritage High Numbers, which is to Heritage as Update is to Flagship.  I mean, I was already in Target anyway, as the Cubbies were wrapping up their victory on Sunday, and there are a small handful of cards in the set which I need; so, why not?

Plus, I'm not going to lie, the hanger box packaging kind of drew me in, as well:

I don't normally spring for anything more than a loose pack or two (maybe a jumbo pack if I'm feeling feisty), but how could I turn down that majestic home run cut by Kris Bryant?  You got me here, Topps.

Plus, like I said, there are several cards from this set that I would like to add to my collection - a rarity, these days, when it comes to modern product and my ultra-niche collecting habit.  High Numbers features the first and only card of the failed experiment known as Brett Anderson in a Cubs uniform.  Of course, this is just a week after I blogged about how he'd never get such a card - thanks for making me look silly on the internet, Topps!  Furthermore, the checklist also includes Mike Montgomery's first mainstream Cubs card (he has a Topps Now entry, I believe), Pierce Johnson's first, true Major League card and a couple of other interesting singles.  Thus, I figured that a 35-card hanger box would likely contain AT LEAST one card I needed.  Trigger = pulled.

So, I know you're wondering how I did with my little celebratory gift to myself - was the box befitting of such a glorious situation?

Well, maybe not quite; but, I'd say I walked away as a satisfied customer.

As you can see above, I pulled the recently DFA'ed Johnson's rookie card from the 35-card cello-pack contained within.  As of today, Mr. Johnson stands as a one-game wonder for the Cubbies, making his lone appearance on May 19th.  Will this be his only Major League card with the Cubs (maybe at all)?  I suppose we'll find out soon enough. Anyway, when it comes to my CATRC binder, I definitely prefer Major League products over Bowman, when applicable; thus, this HHN single will slide in to represent "Flow Bro" and his glorious mane.

Accompanying Pierce was my first un-Photoshopped card of Koji Uehara in a Cubs uniform.  Previously, Koji has appeared in the Topps Factory Team Set sporting Northside duds, as you can see above, indicative that he will likely show up in the Update checklist, as well.  Regardless, this High Numbers single marks his first non-digitally altered appearance in the best looking uniform in MaJor League Baseball and I also prefer my cards as authentic to reality as possible.  Thus, like the Johnson card before, this too will be sliding into my CATRC, replacing this Factory Set single that previously resided in his pocket.

That wasn't all for the Cubs quotient in this pack either.

I don't think a Cubs card which is emblazoned with "World Series MVP" will ever get old to me; not for Ben either, look at that grin!  Plus, I almost never pull a Cubbie insert from pack purchases, so this was a welcome sight in my stack.  The Award Winners are a pretty basic insert set, design-wise, which is appropriate for a product which is attempting to mimic 1968.  I bet this insert template would look even better with a Royals card though; doesn't that crown/shield thing in the middle look an awful lot like the KC logo?

That did it for "traditional" Cubs cards in the hanger box - three Cubs out of 35 actually isn't too terrible and one of them was one of my stated targets.  I'll take that.  Meanwhile, the fun wasn't complete over yet; as for non-traditional Cubs cards:

Here we have a pair of Cubs of a Different Color - Andrew Cashner and Dan Straily.  As I've mentioned on the blog before, I collect all cards of guys who've played for the Cubs, even if it depicts them with a different team.  I collect a bunch of these in a binder I call "Cubs of Different Color" (Wizard of Oz nod).  Into that binder Cashner, aka the man who was traded for the great and powerful Anthony Rizzo, and his Texas Rangers getup will go.

However, the man who colorman, Jim DeSaheis, refers to as "Straily Dan," (♫...are you reeling in the years?..♫) shall not be joining Cash in that three-ring binder.  Instead, he'll be inserted into my main Cubs All-Time Roster Collection.  Why, you ask?  Well, this is the first post-Cubs card of Dan that I've acquired and since the back makes note of his Cubs tenure (as inglorious as that might have been) it gets first dibs at that slot.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Straily's time at Wrigley was quite brief and he never did receive a properly blue card.

Bonus Cubs tie-in: former Cub Juan Pierre appears in the trivia question

With that, there are no more Cubs connections to be had in my euphoric box of Heritage High Numbers; that being acknowledged, there were still a few interesting cards, worthy of being shown off on the ol' blog;

As far as gimmicks go, I didn't end up pulling any of the error, color-swap, gum-stains, action, or whatever other variations are part of the goofiness; but, I did end up with one of the short prints (which are saddled with 1:3 pack odds) in the form of Dallas Kuechel.  All I can say is that I'm ecstatic that none of the SP's are Cubs!

Additionally, the only other "special card" that I drew was the Rookie Performers insert of Christian Arroyo, on the right.  Ironically, the Giants top prospect hasn't really performed all that well for the cellar-dwellers, posting an anemic .192/.244/.304 slash in 135 PA's.  Still, I'm digging the groovy, sixties background on this set.  Far out, man.

I also pulled this bad boy - can I retire now?  I'm honestly amazed that Cody wasn't one of the short prints, this year.

Here's another rookie that caught my attention and who's story I've been following this year.  For those who haven't heard, when Gift Ngoepe was called up for the first time, earlier this season, the South African native became the first African-born player in MLB history.  Signed by the Pirates in 2008, Gift's arrival was certainly anything but what his name might indicate - he had to slowly claw his way up the chain.  I don't know about you, but I can't help but find myself rooting for such a trailblazer... even if he plays for a divisional rival!

Here's a couple of images which caught my eye.  On the left is a gigantic Seth Lugo, among the clouds, which is where the Cubs launched a few of a his pitches in their most recent series against the Metropolitans.  On the right, we have a clearly constipated Jered Weaver, who just recently announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.  Seriously though, get that man some Ex-Lax, stat!

And there we have it - the contents of my impulse and jubilation-fueled Heritage High Numbers hanger box purchase.  All in all, I ended up with three Cubs cards (two of which were binder worthy and the other of which was a cool insert) two Cubs of a Different Color, and a handful of other interesting cards which will make for great trade fodder.  It's not the best box that I've ever busted, but it sure did make for a great way to wrap up a great weekend.  That said, if anyone has pulled extras of the Brett Anderson or Mike Montgomery card, I know an interested trading partner!

Meanwhile, the Cubs head to Tampa Bay for a three-game set with the Rays before a four-game tilt with their other divisional foe, the Brewers.  Here's hoping the Boys of Maddon can wallop on their manager's former club and then bash Brew Crew's playoff hopes.

Fingers crossed that, come the end of next weekend, I'll want to celebrate with some new cards again!