Friday, June 6, 2014

The Ivy Collection - 1989 Upper Deck #55 Paul Runge

I recently launched a new series I'm calling The Ivy Collection. I probably have hundreds, if not thousands of Cubs cards that feature ivy in the background, but this separate collection will focus more on visiting teams. You can find a link to the cards I already have in my collection in the right hand side bar under the Niches heading. If you come across any I don’t have, I’d love to add them to my collection.

I came home to a yellow bubble mailer Thursday evening and to my surprise, it was from PWE aficionado Jeff of 2x3 Heores fame. I'll go through the two team bags a little more thoroughly in a later post (spoiler: lots of Cubs, horizontals and ivys!) but one jumped out at me right away.

Only when I came to write this post that I noticed the other two cards I've written up were also from 1989 Upper Deck. Oh well! I wonder if Upper Deck had a Chicago based photographer?

1989 Upper Deck #55 Paul Runge
Back in 1988, the Braves were oddly in the National West while the more westerly Cubs were in the NL East. Each team hosted two series for a total of twelve games. Despite playing in a career high 52 games in 1988, Paul Runge would only play in three of the six games at Wrigley Field. 

Luckily for me, not only does this card show the ivy, but it also features a mustachioed Cubs cameo by Rafael Palmeiro. Hopefully, a play at second will help me narrow this down even further. How often can that happen? What are the possibilties? A stolen base? A double? A fielder's choice/breaking up a double play? It doesn't look like Runge got off a throw to complete a double play and is applying a tag so probably one of the first two options.

On May 24, 1988 the Cubs and Braves split a double header. The Braves took the first game 3-0 while the Cubs won the second 2-1. Runge played in game two. Let's see how Palmeiro did.

So Palmeiro went 3-4 and I didn’t include it in the screenshot but two of those hits were doubles. Uh-oh. First game and we’re already running into trouble! Let’s look a little closer and see if any would have resulted in a play at second.

Leading off the second, Palmeiro doubled to short left center. That could easily mean a play at second with no other runners to worry about. In the 3rd inning Palmeiro grounded out. In the 6th

…he doubled to third base. That’s a phrase you don’t hear very often. Sounds like a hustle play where he just kept running on a fly ball that didn't get caught. Still could have resulted in a play at second.

In the 8th inning, Palmeiro singled which was followed up with a double play ball off the bat of Vance Law. But as I said, it looks like Runge was applying a tag, not trying to make a throw to first so I’m going to rule this one out as a possibility.

Runge got the start the next day (May 25, 1988) as well but Palmeiro went 0-3 with a sacrifice.

Fast forward all the way into August and the Braves return to Wrigley. Runge and Palmeiro both played in the August 21, 1998 game.

Palmeiro went 1-3 with a walk and a stolen base. Sounds like at least one play at second.

Palmeiro flew out in the second but singled in the fourth.

But the next batter single as well and Palmeiro went from first to third, so no play at second.

In the bottom of the 6th, Palmeiro walked and stole second base. Definitely a play at second kind of thing. His last plate appearance was a lineout to left field.

So we have three possible plays in two different games. In the past, I’ve been able to use the ivy in the background to justify an early season vs late season decision. However, this time, late May ivy can be just as lush as August. They were all day games (even game 2 of the double header) so that’s no help. There’s got to be something to help make the choice between a double and a stolen base.

Some of you may have caught this right away, but I tried to slow play it for dramatic effect. A closer look at the card gets you this:

Palmeiro is holding his batting gloves. I’ve never seen a player take off his batting gloves while running out a double which leads me to believe that this photo was taken in the bottom of the 6th inning on August 21, 1988. Final answer.

And since I’ve made a habit of showing the backs of these, here’s the one for this card.

D’oh! Another ivy shot!

He’s wearing a different jersey than the front so I thought I could rule out the August 21st game but then I remembered this was before the “alternate jersey” era. Back then teams had Home jerseys and they had Away jerseys. Only very rarely did they have a throwback jersey, and not that I can recall, an alternate jersey.

I don’t know Braves uniforms very well but I’m guessing this is a warmup jersey? If so, this could be any of the three games at Wrigley I previously mentioned. In fact, if it was just pre-game warmups, it could be from before any of the six games that the Braves played at Wrigley. Everybody warms up, right?

Still, this is great card that double dips into the niche collection. Thanks, Jeff! And as I said, I'll get back to the package after I scan more this weekend.

On a final note, Paul Runge did not retire and become the umpire with the same name like I may or may not have thought as a kid. The umpire Paul Runge was actually around long before the ballplayer Runge. Back then, I thought former players could become umpires just as they became coaches or broadcasters. Not that they can’t, but its still funny when I remember that.

1 comment:

  1. Take your time. I might have a few more ivy cards for you. :) Man - UD sure loved sending a photographer to Wrigley.