Friday, January 31, 2014

Mark Grace

I don't know why Blogger isn't posting these right away. This was supposed to post yesterday and by the time I noticed, I decided to just save it for today. Maybe it was user error, wouldn't the first time. Anyway...

The other day when I showed off my Leon Durham additions, I alluded to his heir at first base. So today I have the Cubs second baseman from 1988-2000, Mark Grace.

I don't know where they rank in the grand scheme of things but my favorite double play combo of all time has to be Shawon Dunston-Ryne Sandberg-Mark Grace. They played together from the mid/late 1980s-early 1990s and were Boys of Zimmer teammates. It doesn't hurt that Grace led the league in hits for the entire decade of the 90's. 

I was disappointed when Gracie moved on to Arizona in 2001, but couldn't have been happier when he got his World Series ring later that year. The ATCRCS card above is from his younger days, while the color version below represents his more veteran status. 

These cards were signed with a little help from an SCN member during the Arizona Fall League where Grace was helping out.

The ATCRCS card was the 100th I received but is the 100th I've shown off. This puts me somewhere about 10-12% of living former/current Cubs. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 Topps Series 1 Cubs Wants/Needs

Small update today as I get ready for the full launch of my other blog on Friday. I removed tabs up top regarding last year's needs until I find time to combine the lists. And today, I also added a new tab for my 2014 Topps Series 1 Cubs needs/wants.

I picked up a complete set, a complete Cubs team set and the Red Foil parallel team set. I need/want everything else Cubs related so far. I'll be leaving comments around the blogosphere if I see something I like!

I plan on picking some more packs up and will post what's available soon.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Leon Durham

As promised yesterday, here are a few more Leon Durham autographs.

I have about two dozen Leon Durham cards in my collection so it may or may not surprise you that I went with two customs and a shared card in addition to yesterday's record instead of a more mainstream Topps/Donruss/Fleer issue.

But until I have one, the obvious choice for me to start will always be an ATCRCS card.

Surprisingly, there weren't a lot of great pictures of Durham to choose from when making this card. But the chain, the hair and the glasses are the epitome of a Leon Durham card from the 80's.

Next up is a color photo I found. Again, not necessarily the best photo but for 30 year old color photos, I'll take what I can get. And the effect I gave the type of custom gives him a creepy stare. Oh well, I still love it!

And not but not least, the shared card. This has to be one of my favorite cards (that I didn't make) in my collection now. 

The Jenkins autograph was obtained almost 2 years ago and I was waiting for a Durham signing to come up. Not only do the autographs look pretty good, but the card itself is in great shape for 32 year old cardboard. I would like to see Topps do something like this again, rather than the league leaders.

The ATCRCS card puts me at 99 shown of here on the blog. Number 100 will be a pretty big fan favorite and Durham's heir to first base!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Men in Blue

Quite a few years ago, I picked up an old 45 record. I don't even recall the circumstances. It may have been a card show, but it may have also been a flea market. Whatever the case, during my big reorganization in 2013, I came across it again and moved it into it's rightful spot in my Cubs collection.

I'm almost positive that I don't have anything in my house that can even play a 45. I had a couple of records growing up but mostly cassette tapes. And by the time I was in middle school, CDs were the next big thing. Now, with my trusty mp3 player, I can't even tell you the last time I listened to a CD.

But thanks to good ol' youtube, I can transport myself back to the mid 1980's when this song would have been all the rage:

It wouldn't have won any Grammy Awards but its got a nice, catchy upbeat tempo. And not only is the song about the Cubs, but it was performed by some Cubs. These five Cubs from the 1984 team to be precise:

And aside from just being awesome that 30 years ago these guys put out a cheesy song, I'm bringing this up because I recently sent my copy of the album in for a signing with Leon Durham. I haven't been able to find an album cover, but I hope to get all five to sign it and maybe frame it up with the cards above or some kind of photo.

The signature bled a little into the grooves but I'm still pretty pleased with how it came out. And still plenty of room for the other four signatures.

I did not scan the reverse side but it has another song called Good Ol' Time Tonight, by the same five Cubs. I couldn't find it on youtube, so without a record player, it will remain a mystery!

And as you might imagine, I sent in a few cards for Durham, too, so you'll see those tomorrow.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chris Volstad

First off, I'd like to thank everybody for the support I've received, both in the loss of my beloved dog, Hope and in my newest endeavor, the 2014 Topps Blog. Although I've never met any of you, this is a wonderful community.

I've got about 30 signed ATCRCS cards from 2013 that didn't end up getting a post so I'm going to try to catch up with these without boring you guys to death.

Chris Volstad is a former first round draft pick (2005) of the Florida Marlins. He was traded to the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano, who had worn out his welcome in Chicago, prior to the 2012 season. He started 21 games for the Cubs that year and had numbers consistent with the teams horrible record. He went 3-12 with a 6.30 ERA. In fact, the Cubs lost his first 9 decisions and Volstad didn't pick up a win until his 14 start. In his 12 losses, the Cubs was were shutout once and held to one run six times. Tough to get the win with that kind of run support, no matter who you are.

Volstad was claimed off waivers following the season by the Kansas City Royals but DFA'd the next month. He then signed on with the Rockies for 2013, where he spent most of the season with their Triple A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. With a little help from an SCN member, I was able to knock out another Cubs short timer on both the ATCRCS card above and the 2012 custom card set below.

He signed a minor league deal with the Angels in November but is currently listed as a pitcher with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Welcome 2014!

I know I'm a few weeks late welcoming the new year, but if you read my post from yesterday, you'd understand.

However, I'm not just welcoming the year, I'm also celebrating the arrival of 2014 Topps. Because not only am I coming off a nearly two month break from this blog, but I'm jumping in full steam with a second. I teased it a little before, but essentially I will be breaking down each card from the 2014 Topps set, much like I have done with Cubs cards from last year. I still have to do the Cubs from 2013 Update so you'll likely see a little bit of cross promotion over the next month or so.

The new blog, the simply named The 2014 Topps Blog, is live now with a welcome post that goes into much more detail on what you can expect. The set officially releases on Wednesday but I've seen a couple of posts already that suggest it is available now. I have a busy day of errands but I'll be sure to do a local search and if possible, buy a couple of packs, or maybe even a blaster to get the scanning and research started while I wait for my pre-ordered set to come in. Please check out the blog as I'll be running a contest for followers, too.

As for Once a Cub, despite my hiatus and the new blog, I remain committed to providing near daily content here as well. Between the Cubs as a team, their baseball cards and the customs that I make, I should have plenty of ideas for posts. Of course, it helps to have had a few weeks off and Spring Training right around the corner.

I have a bunch of stuff in the draft folder, so I'll go finish off a few posts now. It's good to be back!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Been a While...Part 2

This will go off topic for a bit, but I'll be back tomorrow with an all new Cubs/baseball card post! I'm going to pull the curtain back on the Once a Cub household.

Shortly after I vowed to comeback strong to blogging in January, my nearly 16 year old Cocker Spaniel, Hope passed away. I turned 35 two months back so she had been with me nearly my entire adult life. Aside from my parents while growing up and my wife, there's nobody I've seen more often. I didn't think I'd be the kind of guy to be thrown for such a loop when she was gone, but boy, was I wrong.

My wife and I got Hope before we had either of our sons. Before we were married even. She lived in Virginia with us, Alaska, Maine and Virginia again. About two years back, we noticed Hope was slowing down. She couldn't hear or see as well. Stairs started getting tough for her. We took her to the vet, where nothing was wrong with her except the aging process. My wife and I talked about getting a second dog, to keep Hope company during the day and maybe help rejuvenate her a little too.

I expressed my interest in a bigger, more masculine dog. Something I could go for runs with and help get myself back into shape. Something with shorter hair or at least shed less. But to me, this was just speculative talk. I wasn't really expecting to get another dog anytime soon. But later in the week, I came home from work one day to a Morkie, which is a Yorkie/Maltese mix. Essentially, a purse dog.

Suffice to say, I was not happy. But she grew on me pretty quickly and as a consolation, I even got to pick the name. There aren't too many feminine names associated with the Cubs so it didn't come quickly. She was the wrong color to be called Sandy (for Sandberg). Grace was in contention, but that was the name of a close friend's daughter. Funny that the new Cubs mascot is named Clark because I almost went with Addison. For those who don't know, Clark and Addison are the cross streets where Wrigley Field is located.

Ultimately, the name Ivy was approved (haha, you thought I actually had FULL say on the name?). As unprepared as I was for another dog, Ivy has been a great companion dog. Hope was noticeably irritated at first by the young whippersnapper but adapted quickly. Most times in the past two years, Hope wouldn't even notice when the family would come home from work/school but Ivy would go get her and let her know. Same thing when it came time to eat and go outside.

While we almost expected 2014 to be Hope's last year, it all happened pretty quickly. Maybe it was denial, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. She had lost almost a quarter of her body weight between Thanksgiving and New Years, something we didn't see because of her winter coat growing out. And with two dogs, we didn't necessarily notice any uneaten food. She had a much harder time getting up, something we attributed to the colder weather and her age.

Hope hadn't been real active in the past year so not a whole lot has changed in our daily lives the past few weeks. But at the same time, there is still a huge hole. Thanks for letting me vent a little. And like I said, tomorrow, I'll be back with a new card/Cubs related post.