Monday, December 31, 2012

Dennis Eckersley

I mentioned in yesterday's post, that this Dennis Eckersley card is the second Hall of Fame addition to the ATCRCS collection. And though this card was the 34th received, it is the 35th shown. With the HOF distinction, I wanted to save it for the last day of the year so I bumped yesterday's Steve Ontiveros post up a day. 

I really like the signature on this one, big and bold. While it is not exactly legible, it does have a lot of flair and I think you can make out enough of the letters anyway.

As far as lopsided trades go, the one that sent Eck to the A's in 1987 is one of the most under rated. The Cubs sent Eck and Dan Rohn to Oakland in exchange for Brian Guinn, Dave Wilder and Mark Leonette. Unfortunately for the Cubs, those three never made it to the majors and Eckersley went on to a career as a Hall of Fame reliever that included a 1992 season where he won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards. As usual, hindsight is 20/20.

Of course, the Cubs had a (should be) Hall of Fame closer at the time in Lee Smith. And I'm not sure if it was Tony La Russa's genius idea to make him a closer but somebody deserves some credit there.

As part of the private signing, I also sent in an ice cream helmet for my Cubs of disinction collection. And though his "distinction" came after his time with the Cubs, I thought I would add him too.  I'm not as thrilled with this signature as I am with the card but with a big last name on a tiny, cramped item, I don't know what I really expected. It might be a little tough to tell from the photo (the helmets are tough to take photos of), but there is some smearage. One of these days, I might get around to adding a tab showing off my ice cream helmets too.

Happy New Year everyone! Hope your 2013 is healthy and prosperous!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Steve Ontiveros

These Steve Ontiveros cards have been out to a private signing since about mid-summer. Things happen but the good news is it all worked out in the end. Much like the Brian McRae deal I took advantage of, there was a special on cards and a better deal on a "bulk" order.

Ontiveros played for the Cubs prior to Donruss and Fleer so aside from an oddball Kelloggs and SSPC, he only has 3 Topps cards as a Cub. 

1978 Topps, 1979 Topps, 1980 Topps

Some of you may remember a card show I went to over the summer where I picked up a set of 1990 Senior League cards for $2.00. It was shortly after this that I sent in for this signing so I had the Ontiveros card handy and it brought me up to 5 cards to qualify for the further discount. I won't be trying to complete this set but I may try for some of the former Cubbies.

Steve Ontiveros Senior League
And of course, my ATCRCS card. I can tell this is one of my earlier cards because the player photo doesn't take up enough room on the card. If I was making it now, I would have made Ontiveros larger and probably had him cropped at the waist rather than the knees. Still a nice addition to the collection!

Tomorrow's year ending post features another Hall of Famer on an ATCRCS (first being Fergie Jenkins). 

Any guesses?

Hint: Not in the HOF as a Cub.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Closing Out the 2012 Team Set

With 2013 coming up quickly, I figured I would go ahead and finish off the 2012 Team Set. Once the season ended, motivation on getting these done slowed to a halt. I've been fiddling around with some designs for the 2013 versions but nothing is set in stone yet.

James Rowson, Interim Hitting Coach
James Rowson was named the Interim Hitting Coach following the the dismissal of Rudy Jaramillo in June. The interim tag was removed in October making Rowson the official Hitting Coach heading into 2013. Does this photo scream, "What have I gotten myself into?!?" to anybody else?

Alex Hinshaw
Alex Hinshaw was the last remaining player I need to complete the set. Thus, every player who made an appearance in a game for the Cubs has a card made. All franchise record 53 of them. The Cubs claimed him off waivers from the San Diego Padres in late August. In his first appearance, he induced a fielder's choice that allowed a run to score. In his second appearance, he started the 9th inning with a walk, a single and back-to-back-to-back home runs before being pulled. So his two appearances netted 1/3 of an inning and 5 runs on 4 hits.

Hinshaw was promptly DFA'd, cleared waivers and was a free agent at the end of the season. He has since been picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays. This photo was the least horrible of my options and I will probably have to reuse it when I get around to making the ATCRCS version of his card. That will need some serious spinning for the blurb. According to the caption, this is his reaction after giving up the 3rd consecutive home run.

Last, but not least, we have the Len Kasper & Bob Brenly card. Seeing as they've been together since 2004, this was a surprisingly tough card to find a photo for. This is the only card from the set not to feature a photo taken in 2012. Oh well.

I've heard mixed reviews about this duo over the years but I, for one, enjoyed them. I just wish they would go back to showing more games on WGN so I can watch them down here in Virginia. I've also heard good things about Jim Deshaies (Brenly's replacement for next season) so bring on 2013!

I am still in search of usable photos for former hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bullpen coach Lester Strode and bullpen catcher Andrew Lane. I have the posed Photo Day photos for Jaramillo and Strode but they're vertical rather than horizontal and that's almost cheating anyway.

I hoped you enjoyed seeing this set progress as much as I enjoyed making them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

ATCRCS Update and So Taguchi

At the beginning of the year, I had grand plans to make and send out a couple hundred of my ATCRCS cards in hopes of having at least a hundred back by the end of the year. One a day didn't seem too daunting.

Then reality set in. I did in fact make a couple hundred....fronts. I could do those while multi-tasking (like watching TV) and not risk making a mistake. The backs of the cards were a different story. Compiling the statistics as well as researching then writing the blurbs takes just as long, if not longer, than cutting a player from the background for the fronts of the card. Plus, I also had to pay more attention to avoid careless mistakes and risk the Wrigley Wax Wrath now faced by Upper Deck and Panini!

I continued to churn out fronts during the year before I realized I had almost 250 but only about 50 backs. And that was with the distraction of my 2012 Team Set, the newly dubbed PASS set and the creation of this blog. Since I already have a ton of the fronts made, I will keep my goal of getting 100 signed for the year going into 2013 PLUS roll over the remaining 65 from 2012. That's right, I'm shooting for 200 by this time next year.

With that math, I have 35 cards signed for the set so far. I have posted 32 so far, recently got back two more and expect one more back from a private signing either Saturday or Monday.

In case you couldn't tell by the title, today's feature is So Taguchi. This card is a little bittersweet for me and not because he is more known as a Cardinal and was even part of two World Series teams with them. OK, maybe a little but not just because.

I don't read Japanese so I'm assuming he signed the English version of his name followed by his jersey number 99 and then his name in Japanese underneath it. But for all I know, it could the Japanese version of a bible verse. Hopefully, he's not still bleeding Cardinal Red and it says something like Cubs Suck!

The private signing fee was about twice what I wanted to pay but after realizing Taguchi doesn't sign through the mail anymore and probably lives in Japan again, I bit the bullet. Didn't want to be kicking myself a year or two down the line when I couldn't get him. It wasn't the most I've paid for the set but definitely the highest cost-to-production-for-the-Cubs ratio. He spent most of 2009 with the AAA Iowa Cubs before getting a September call-up. Speculation is/was that he was signed as a teammate for fellow Japanese player Kosuke Fukudome.  As you can see by the back, I didn't have much to go on for the back blurb. No game winning hits or RBIs. His run wasn't of the game winning variety either. But once a Cub, always a Cub.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brad Peacock

I mentioned last week that I received another card in my prize package from Jeff over at 2 By 3 Heroes. Maybe I don't enter enough contests, but I found it hard to believe the prize contained two cards I've put in my ebay cart at one time or another but didn't pull the trigger on either. Fate? Christmas miracle? Who knows!
2012 Brad Peacock Golden Moments Autograph
So I teased last week that why would a Cubs fan be interested in a card of an Oakland A's player that never played for the Cubs or their affiliates? Well, it's not really that big of a deal. Just sentimental, I guess. Prior to his Major League debut, Peacock played for my local minor team, the Potomac Nationals in 2010. He had moved on to the Double-A Harrisburg Senators before the end of the season when Potomac won the Carolina League Championship that year.

Fast forward to 2011, Peacock was an impressive 15-3 between the Double-A Senators and Triple A Syracuse Chiefs with a 2.39 ERA. No surprise he got a September callup. He made three appearances, a rocky relief  blown save to begin his career but followed with two solid starts to thus far have a career record of 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA. His first start, depicted on the back of this "Golden Moments" card, was one I remember watching on TV (so another sentimental reason).
2012 Brad Peacock Golden Moments Autograph Back
Last off season, Peacock was one of a couple of prospects sent to the Oakland A's in exchange for Gio Gonzalez. Considering Gonzalez was in the Cy Young hunt this year, I would say things worked out for the hometown team. Peacock spent all of 2012 with Oakland's Triple-A affiliate the Sacramento River Cats. He has not yet played for Oakland, temporarily making this a Zero Year Card.

I'm guessing this has something to do with the MLBPA and licensing (blah blah blah), but why feature a guy on an insert card for one team (that he hasn't played for yet) when his accomplishment talks about being on a different team? And the autographs are on stickers! Why not save them for a later date? Maybe Topps was expecting another September callup?

It is probably no big secret that Topps uses Photoshop (or something like it) to make cards for a traded player or free agent signing. I was a little surprised though, that Topps actually used a photo from the game featured as the Golden Moment on the card. According to the caption for this photo from Getty, it was indeed from the September 14, 2011 game:

And that ends my "too much research for a non-Cubs player" post.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Larry Biittner

Really cramming a bunch of these in at the end of the year, aren't I? This Larry Biittner card comes with a little help from a member over on who routinely works with the Bob Feller Museum on events they host.

In addition to the heroics noted below on the back of my card, Biittner gave fans something to cheer about in the Cubs 1978 home opener. The Cubs started 3-3 in a pair of road series before coming back to Wrigley against Pittsburgh. After the Cubs tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Biittner led off the bottom of the 9th with a walkoff home run.

This card brings my total up to 32 signed in 2012.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

And the winner is...

In what turned out to be a pretty tight race, my new set will be called Please Autograph Sweet Spot  or "PASS" for short. This title was suggested by Macey225 so send me your want list, Donnie!

I have really enjoyed making this set and love the flexibility it gives me with other teams and sports. The name suggestions were all pretty good and gave me some ideas for other designs to tinker around with so thanks to all for participating!

Here are a few more I threw together just for fun.

Kirk Cousins is decent TTM according to so I might try to send these out before the end of the season. I'm not a Redskins fan persay but I live outside of DC in Virginia so work is always a bit easier on Mondays when the Redskins win. It was funny to listen to the outrage when Cousins was drafted so quickly after RGIII and now the about face once he stepped in with a big win last weekend in RGIII's absence.

As a Patriots fan this guy kills me. But also as a younger brother with a big shot older brother that casts a long shadow, he gets my respect. I also had made a Peyton but for some reason I can't find the file to post. Oh well.

Last but not least (and to keep this blog on target), a Cubs legend. Although, when he gets the call to Cooperstown next year, he'll probably go in as a Brave. Booooo! Haha.

I have also added a new tab at the top that showcases all the cards together that I have posted here so far. So check it out in case you missed any along the line.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Birds with One Stone?

Well, one Byrd and one Peacock anyway. And one stone is more like 5 songs. Semantics, I tell you.

I tend not to enter a lot of the contests around the blogosphere. While "random drawing" is probably the fairest way to distribute prizes, there's something to be said for trivia contests, where first one with the right answer gets the prize. And not just silly trivia where a google search provides the right answer within seconds.

Jeff from over at 2x3 Heroes was doing just that last week with a couple of giveaways. Some lucky winners guessed the closest serial number to win some boxes of cards. I, however, put my random musical knowledge to use deciphering the 5 songs in a 45-second mashup clip. I saw the original post while I was at work (where I couldn't listen to the audio clip) and forgot about it until he posted some hints the next day.

After I gave it a listen, I knew 3 of the 5 immediately. I knew the artist of another one but had to bust out my own ipod to pin down the song title. I must have played through one of the songs 10 times before my wife comes in and says, "Are you trying to make the Ramones your ringtone or something? Why do you keep playing KKK Took My Baby Away?"


I mistyped 'Baby' with 'Body' in my answer but Jeff was nice enough to give me credit anyway. Good thing he's not Alex Trebek. I would have gotten the condescending head shake/grimace.

Anyway, the prizes came yesterday. A card I couldn't bring myself to actually purchase after being traded away last season was this Marlon Byrd Golden Moments Autograph card. Now that it is here though, I'm very happy to have it as part of my collection! Thanks Jeff!

Byrd's "Golden Moment" was throwing out Big Papi at second base in the 2010 All-Star game. He also scored from 1st on a bases loaded double by Brian McCann but since he was neither the tying or winning run, that doesn't qualify as "Golden" enough. I guess the headline that reads "Byrd Wings It" counts as punny word play.

The Brad Peacock card will have to wait another day but I was very interested in acquiring that one too. Now there's something to ponder. Why would a Cubs fan be interested in acquiring an autographed card by someone who hasn't played for them or one of their minor league affiliates??? Hmmm....

And speaking of prizes and contests, don't forget to vote on my poll in the upper right hand corner of the blog. This poll determines the name of my newest custom design with the winner getting some cards from their favorite teams and some custom cards as well! Help someone ring in the new year with some great additions to their collection by voting now!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Name that Set Poll

Ok, time's up on submissions! Glad I put up a reminder yesterday because the submissions about doubled and we ended up with a nice round 10. The poll is now live on the upper right corner of the blog.

Just the names are in the poll but if you follow this link back to the original post, most of those who submitted a recommendation left a brief explanation of their choice in names.

I have set the poll to end at the end of the day Friday (11:59 PM). In the event of a tie, I will have a runoff poll.

Thanks and good luck to all participants!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Name That Set Contest - Last Call

Like the title says, this is a last call for a chance to Name That Set. Check out the link to last Saturday's post and leave your own submission. There are some good ones already but still room for more!

Remember the winner will get a small lot from their favorite team including "real*" cards and some of my customs.

I will be away for the weekend for a wrestling tournament for my sons but hope to have the final poll posted sometime on Sunday.

*Real cards limited to baseball as that's all I have but I'll do my best to make customs of any sports team.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chris Speier

Right on the heels of a few new signed ATCRCS cards comes this one signed by former Cubs utility guy and current Reds Bench Coach Chris Speier. Another collector on advertised that he was going to RedsFest and I took him up on his offer by sending in ATCRCS cards for both Speier and another Reds coach/former Cub Billy Hatcher. Unfortunately, Hatcher managed to evade him.

I am very happy to add another card to this collection (up to 31 now) but I will say this is one of those rare occasion that the scanner makes this card look better than in real life. The signature is nice but Speier managed to sign right over the darkest part of the card, his dark blue sleeves. Luckily the scanner picked up the difference in colors nicely. With the card tucked away in a binder and this scan added to my Father's Day gift, it works out though.

Speier spent two seasons with the Cubs. I'm not a big fan of the Utility label for a position but I thought it was the best way to go for him seeing as he played 81 games at shortstop and 84 games at third base. Most of his shortstop games came in 1985 which was also the year the Cubs were transitioning from Larry Bowa to Shawon Dunston. The next year, he platooned more at third base with Ron Cey and Davey Lopes. Speier is also credited with 20 games at second base, backing up future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. So Utility it is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brian McRae Part II - ATCRCS

As promised yesterday, here is my ATCRCS card for Brian McRae.

There is a small blue smudge in the upper left corner but overall I'm pretty pleased. I wouldn't call his signature legible necessarily but it is definitely better than some players that just sign their initials with lines.

This card makes number 30 for the autographed ATCRCS collection. My original goal when I started these at the beginning of the year was 100 but I really slacked off on sending these out TTM. I had a little too much fun breaking boxes and making other designs. I'm going to have to tighten this ship up in the coming year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Brian McRae

I had an opportunity to send in for a Brian McRae private signing a few weeks ago and just recently got my cards back. At first I was just going to send in my ATCRCS card but there was a special that if I paid for 4 cards, I'd get a 5th one free. I know, I'm a sucker. But the price point was pretty reasonable and I believe the money was going to a charity of some sort too. So it's all good.

I have about a dozen McRae cards where he is featured on the Cubs. I don't need or want them all signed like I did with Jerome Walton so picking the four wasn't super easy. I've always been a fan of Topps so I narrowed it down to that brand.

1995 Topps Traded Brian McRae

First off we have a 1995 Topps Traded. McRae was traded to the Cubs from the Kansas City Royals in early April 1995. There was still a strike going on so the season didn't start until later that month. By then, the Topps set was already produced for the year and they weren't doing two separate series yet. So his first Cubs card through Topps had to wait for the Traded set.

1997 Topps Base Brian McRae

Skip ahead past 1996 to 1997 and we have another Topps Base card. I have no recollection why I passed on the 1996 and opted for the 1997 card other than this one looked cooler. He looks like he may be about to steal home or score on a passed ball or something fun like that. From the blurred out batter, it doesn't look like a sacrifice. Any amateur sleuths want to find that game??

Another Topps branded card although not from its flagship product is this Bazooka release from 1996. Not sure what's going on in this play either and the player in the background doesn't really help by looking at first. If McRae was stealing the base, I doubt the fielder would be looking towards first like that. Did he break up a double play? I imagine if it was a successful double play, the fielder would be up in the air or otherwise avoiding the contact . Plus his right arm still looks half-cocked like he's thinking about making the play btu deciding against it. Or he could be safe altogether...

Another one for the amateur sleuths I guess.

1996 Topps Laser Brian McRae

And for the final card in today's post (ATCRCS tomorrow!) we have one of my favorite cards I received in a trade a few months ago from Jeroen (AKA The Dutch Card Guy). Take a favorite card, slap an autograph on it and it becomes even cooler, right? Pretty much!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Name that Set Contest

I've been referring to my newest custom card design as, well, my newest design. The problem with that is I'm always tinkering around in photoshop so there will inevitably be a "newest design" hanging around.

Since I started my blog, I've debuted several sets. First we have the ATCRCS (All-Time Cubs Roster Custom Set). I pronounce it "atcrocs" for those wondering. This is my baby and will probably be my biggest set. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different cards will be made.

As seen in the header, I have three other designs that I frequently use as well. This one I've dubbed the 2012 Team Set since naturally, I used it to make a card for every player and coach in a Cubs uniform from 2012. I will probably use the design again in the future for something else but that's the name I'm going with.

The newspapery one is titled "This Day in Cubs History" so that's the long name. I label the files on my computer "tdich" and whatever the players name is so I lovingly refer to this set as T-Dish. That's its hip hop name. This is the smallest set so far because, well, because they're the Cubs. Here's to next year!


But this "newest design" stumps me for a name. I'm going to tweak the Define the Design theme Night Owl has used and run a little contest with it. I'm asking you to help name this latest set for me. Leave a comment with a name suggestion. I'll let the comments accumulate (Hopefully! Don't be shy! Enter more than once!) for a few days and then run a poll for everyone to vote on. I'll put together a package for the winner that will include a few customs cards of their favorite players/team as well as some licensed cards.

Here's a recap of a few I've done already that might inspire you. Keep in mind it doesn't have to be Cubs related since I'll be using this set for other teams/sports.

So help me out! Please and thank you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chris Rusin & Brett Jackson

Way back in September, I had the opportunity to go to a Cubs game when they came to play the Washington Nationals. My 2012 custom team set was still fairly new and I had a great time getting some signed. One that didn't come out that great was from rookie pitcher Chris Rusin. Not his fault, the Sharpie dried out while waiting.

The Original

I mentioned yesterday that I had a little help at the Mounted Memories Sun Times show and Rusin was one of the VIP guests. The price was right so I printed out another copy and sent it off. I also included my newest design. Amazing what a good pen will do for an autograph!

New & Improved!

Brett Jackson was also a guest at the show. His 2012 team set card came out great from September and he was a little pricier than Rusin so I just sent in one of my newer design. Its worth noting that Jackson has a pretty nice signature for a player in this day and age. 

These are the first two from this design that I've gotten signed and I must say I'm very pleased with how they came out. This design was also printed out on photo paper rather than the glossy cardstock I've previously used. I don't think this will be a finite set but rather an ongoing one and make whoever I think I can get one signed from. I bet they'll look good in a binder.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oscar Gamble

I added another ATCRCS card to the collection with a little help from Macey225 over on and the Mounted Memories Sun Times Show out in Chicago. He also got a few other things for me but this was the only ATCRCS card so I'm saving the others for another post.

Most of you probably think of one of these photos when you think of Oscar Gamble:

But after a little bit of searching, I found a photo of Gamble from his rookie campaign as part of the 1969 Cubs. When someone only played in 24 games 40+ years ago, finding a usable photo is not always an easy task. The white spot on his forehead and white line that runs across his face are flaws in my scanner not, the card.

And for good measure, here is the back that I made up for the card:

Gamble was traded to the Phillies following the 1969 season. I imagine the first photo was pretty early on and by the second one, you can see he was already sporting the legendary 'fro.

As far as I know, Gamble doesn't have any mainstream cards showing him with the Cubs although Wrigley Wax did showcase a card produced for and issued at the 1998 Cubs Convention a few weeks back that Gamble shares with Larry Bowa.