Friday, August 12, 2016

Ivy Frankenset Page 1

Buckle up, this is a long one!

In case you couldn't tell, I primarily collect Cubs cards. But I am nowhere near as disciplined as Paul over at Wrigley Wax who methodically adds team set after team set to his collection and avoids the siren call of packs of cards. I love opening me some packs.

And of course, when I came back into the hobby I dove in headfirst, went overboard and accumulated way too many cards that did not fit my collection. To right the ship, the deal I made with myself was that non-Cubs cards would have to find new homes unless they met one of two criteria.

The first exception were cards that were horizontally oriented. They typically make up a smaller percentage of a card set so it shouldn't be too overwhelming. A smaller hobby of mine is/was collecting autographs and a lot of time, this type of card showcases an autograph better, giving a player more space to sign.  And the action shots on the cards tend to be more appealing to me. A frankenset is in the works for this as well, but with specific parameters, it is taking a lot more work.

The second exception keeps a Cubs theme and features cards that have the Wrigley Field ivy in the background. In the first 35 years of my life, I had been to dozens of Cubs games but to Wrigley Field exactly one time. I have been to six games there in the past three seasons and plan to make it an annual pilgrimage.

I read somewhere once that back in the day a lot of photos for baseball cards were taken in Chicago and New York because they had a team in each league making it easier for photographers to capture more players. This was helpful in filling in some gaps but I noticed quite few sets and teams have chunks of ivy cards. 

I only made a few "rules" for this frankenset as to me it seems pretty self explanatory.

#1 - The card must show the Wrigley Field ivy somewhere in the background. Early season, leafless vines will count if nothing better is available.

#2 - As wrong as this sounds, for this set, non-Cubs cards will trump Cubs cards. I have used Cubs cards from my duplicates as place holders for card numbers where I don't have a non-Cub representative but if one shows up, the Cubs card gets the boot. I could probably do a Cubs only ivy set but don't get started down that path...

#3 - Ivy on card backs (think early Upper Deck) is acceptable, but front trumps back which trumps a Cubs card.

#4 - Inserts/Trade/Update sets that use letters as well as numbers are acceptable. The number portion is what will be used.

#5 - I would like to minimize the duplication of players and sets overall but especially within the same page. For page fillers, obscure Cubs will probably get the nod over bigger names like Ryne Sandberg who will have a ton of cards with ivy in the background.

Before I get to the pictures, I just wanted to point out I'm a big nerd. I like statistics and keeping track of things that probably don't matter to anybody else. If you followed my 2014 Topps blog once upon a time, you'll know what I'm talking about. At the end of this post I will have a whole slew of things I'll be tracking from this set from teams, to total different players to positions of the featured players, etc.


1996 Topps Gallery #1 Tom Glavine
Card #1 honors go to Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine. The card is from 1996 so I can assume the photo is from the 1995 season. The patch on his sleeve honors the Braves' 30th season in Atlanta, which was indeed worn in 1995. Glavine pitched three times against the Cubs in 1995, twice at Wrigley. On May 29th, he threw a complete game only allowing a solo home run to Sammy Sosa in a 2-1 victory. On August 27th, he won again, this time 3-1. He helped himself at the plate with an RBI single.

In his career, Glavine went 7-6 at Wrigley Field in 17 appearances with a 3.65 ERA.

1999 Bowman Chrome #2 Kerry Wood
I'm knocking out a fan favorite pretty early with this Kerry Wood set filler. I went with the Chrome even though the ivy probably shows up better on the regular Bowman card. In 1998, Wood went 13-6 on the season and earned Rookie of the Year honors but was an even more remarkable 9-1 at home in Wrigley.

Wood's career numbers at Wrigley consisted of a 37-35 record, with a 3.47 ERA and 21 Saves in 172 appearances.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #3 Shawon Dunston
A quick search of my Cubs cards with ivy backgrounds yielded another fan favorite in Shawon Dunston and two Ryne Sandberg cards. With a Sandberg appearance later this page, Dunston gets the #3 spot.

Unfortunately, I can't quite make out the opponent in the lower left corner that was forced into a double play so I can't get real specific on this game. Hopefully it's a Cardinal though.

In 1990, Dunston was making his 2nd All-Star appearance when Wrigley Field played host to the Mid-Summer Classic. He was part of 39 double plays at Wrigley that year/ I'm sure if I looked closer I could eliminate a few more based on whether he made the relay to first or fed Ryno for the assist. And that's assuming of course that this double play was completed. So I'll just leave it at that.

Love the flip shades and the eye black and the way the home pinstripes look against the ivy backdrop.

2016 Topps New Era #4 Joc Pederson
This was the card I was waiting on to complete the page to make this post. Because this card is more recent, I was able to pinpoint the game much easier and actually broke the card down just a little bit ago so I won't go into it again. Click here to read what I already said.

2003 Upper Deck Sweet Spot #5 Billy Williams
Billy Williams is the second Hall of Famer in the set and another Cub great. Maybe Wrigley Wax can pipe in with more information about this particular photo used by Upper Deck. It looks familiar and has probably been used on multiple occasions. Williams is sporting long sleeves and the ivy isn't anywhere near coming in yet so this is very early in the season.

The 6-time All-Star and 1961 Rookie of the Year played in 1116 games at Wrigley Field over the course of his career. He hit .306 and 231 of his career 426 home runs in the Friendly Confines.

2008 Upper Deck Timeline #6 Hanley Ramirez
I was out of the hobby in 2008 so I know nothing about Upper Deck Timeline. In 2007 Hanley Ramirez played in a 3-game series at Wrigley from May 28-30. He appears to be on second so I went to the boxscores to see when he was on second during the series

On May 28th, he was 0-4 but walked once in the 9th. Following his walk he was advanced to second on a single and stranded there. Could be.

On May 29th, he was 1-5, getting on base twice. He reached on an error and advanced to third on a Miguel Cabrera single. Didn't stop at second. Later in the game he singled with the bases loaded. He scored from first on a double by Josh Willingham, also without stopping at second. Nope, not this day.

On May 30th, he went 1-5 again, reaching just the one time. He singled in the 9th and advanced to second on a walk by Willingham. Maybe.

Tie breaker? Upon closer inspection, the game on the 28th was an afternoon game while the 30th was a 7:06 start time. The 9th inning of a night game wouldn't have as much daylight as shown on the card so I'm going with May 28th, final answer.

In his career so far, Ramirez has played in 30 games at Wrigley Field, hitting .263 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs.

1991 Donruss Highlights #BC-7 Ryne Sandberg
Another Cub and another Hall of Famer. Like the Dunston above, this card is from 1991, but the photo should be from 1990. That year, Sandberg became the first payer to win the All-Star Game Home Run Derby in his home ballpark. I thought for sure he was going to win his second MVP that season and couldn't even fathom when he finished 4th in the voting behind Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Darryl Strawberry. Sandberg had more hits, more runs, more home runs and a higher batting average than those other three. Not to mention the fielding records he set that are honored with this card (and a Topps Record Breaker card and a Fleer Highlights card, but whatever). I guess the Pirates making the playoffs helped Bonds and Bonilla there.

Sandberg played in 1091 games at Wrigley Field but 1990 was a career year there. He hit .357 with 25 home runs, 62 RBIs, 67 runs and a 1.082 OPS, all career highs for his home ballpark.

1991 Topps Traded #8T George Bell
Another Cub card from 1991 but this time the photo is actually from 1991. George Bell was an offseason pickup so he made the Topps Traded that year after having a Blue Jays card in the base set. It was an All-Star season for Bell, but it was his only one on the North Side, moving to the South Side in 1992.

All 78 games that Bell played at Wrigley came in the 1991 season as the rest of his career was spent in the American League before Interleague play existed. He hit .267 with 9 home runs and 45 RBIs at home.
1989 Upper Deck #9 Gregg Jefferies
Card #9 is the first time I had a choice to make as I have two non-Cubs cards jockeying for position.

In 1989, Gregg Jefferies was a top prospect and Upper Deck was another new kid on the block. Jefferies managed to garner Rookie of the Year votes (6th place overall) for the 1988 season despite playing in just 29 games.

Of those 29 games, two were played at Wrigley Field. It's not a realistic sample size by any means, but in those two games, Jefferies went 5-9 with a double, a home run, a walk, 4 runs and 2 RBIs. Over his career visiting the North Side, in 52 games, he hit a very impressive .360 with 5 home runs, 47 runs and 26 RBIs. That was by far the most success he had at any stadium with at least 50 games played.

The fielding shot is a little generic so it's impossible to pinpoint the exact game. Or is it? The Cubs started playing night games in 1988 so maybe I can have a tiebreaker like the Hanley Ramirez card above.

The two games Jefferies played at Wrigley were on September 7th and 8th. The game on the 7th was an evening game with a 6:30 start time while the 8th was an afternoon start time. While I would lean towards the day game on the 8th, it was still possible to have daylight as shown on the card during the 6 and 7 o'clock hours in Chicago.

Now on to the nerdy record keeping portion of the set. More stats will be added as the set grows.

Total cards - 9
Total Non-Cubs - 4/9
Percent of Non-Cubs Cards in Set - 44.4%
Total Cubs - 5/9
Percent of Cubs Cards in Set - 55.6%
Total Different Players - 9
Total Different Teams - 5
Total Different Cubs Players - 5
Hall of Famers - 3
Positions depicted on the cards
     Outfield - 3
     Pitcher - 2
     Shortstop - 2
     2nd Base - 1
     3rd Base - 1
Different Years Represented - 7
Different Brands* Represented - 9 
Different Sets** Represented - 9
Duplicate Non-Cubs Cards Not Used - 1

* For the purposes of this frankenset, Topps (and their parallels), Opening Day, Stadium Club, Archives, Heritage etc represent their own brands even though the are all made by Topps. The same will be true for all of the other card companies as well.

** For the purposes of this frankenset, brands from different years represent different sets. So 1991 Topps is different from 1992 Topps.

Bonus unused card:

1987 Fleer #9 Dwight Gooden
Despite Dwight Gooden being a bigger name than Jefferies, this card takes 2nd place at #9. No worries though as both Doc and 1987 Fleer show up later in the set.

I tried scanning the whole page so you could see them all at once but parts kept getting cut off all the way around. After several attempts this was the best that I got.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you can think of anything else I can track, let me know!


  1. This is a phenomenal idea! I'll have to see if I have anything that can help you out.

  2. I didn't know George Bell had a card in '91 Topps Traded. I own the boxed set, but it never dawned on me.

    I love all the stats at the end! The math teacher in me approves!

  3. Love this idea - and as a math prof, I love all the math even more!

  4. Great idea for a Frankenset. The ivy really gives the page a sense of unity despite all the different designs. So smart.

    I suspect you could prove the date on the Ramirez if you could find other pictures of the games, since they probably wouldn't have worn the black unis all three days.

    As for what you could track, maybe add different companies as well as different brands. Perhaps percentages of Topps, other major producers, and oddballs. But only if you WANT more work to do! B^)

  5. HELL YEAH!!!! For as much as those outfield weeds needs to catch on fire, great use of your ivy collection. Now I am more inclined to send you Wrigley background cards.