Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hump Day Hits

As I've been sorting and scanning cards, I realized I have a bunch more relics and autographs (your typical cards considered the "hits" of the pack). I love me some alliteration so to help get through Wednesdays of the offseason, I've come up with Hump Day Hits where I'll show off a random hit from my collection.

A few weeks ago, an eBay seller was clearing out their Chicago sports collection that included dozens of relics and autographs from the Cubs, Bulls, and Bears. Some of the listings had Buy It Now prices but many more started at just $.99. I think I did pretty well, picking up 24 new pieces for just about a buck and a half apiece after shipping.

For some reason the Hall of Fame ballot for 2014 was "released" yesterday. Maybe I'm a bit more computer savvy but I thought this information was widely available on Baseball-Reference and even the Hall of Fame website for years. I'll tie this together by starting this new theme off with a big name from the list.

In 2005, Greg Maddux was in the midst of his second stint with the Cubs and had already more or less cemented his Hall of Fame status. I haven't known the Braves to wear pinstripes so I can reasonably assume this is at least from a Cubs uniform. In fact, I'll willing to believe that this is from the actual jersey that Maddux wore in 2004 when he secured his 300 career victory. Ok, probably not.

I never really thought about how many swatches a company could manage to get from a game used jersey. This card is numbered to 250, which sounds like a lot. Even for a Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval jersey. But these squares are probably less than one square inch so I guess it's possible.

Maddux is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame and I can't think of any reason not to vote for him. He's gotta be as close to unanimous as it gets. Especially to reach the milestones he did that included 10 seasons with the Cubs!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jason Marquis

The Cubs signed Jason Marquis as a free agent following the 2006 season. He was coming off a season where he led the National League is Losses (16) and Home Runs Allowed (35). He also led the Majors in Earned Runs Allowed (130). Oddly enough, he did that for the World Series Champion (gag) Cardinals.

League leader and World Series champ? Sounded good enough on paper for the Cubs brass!

Luckily for the Cubs, Marquis would right his ship (at least a little) and go 23-18 during his two seasons in Chicago as well as lowering his ERA about a run and a half from his 2006 numbers.

He didn't make an appearance during the 2007 NLDS that the Cubs were swept out of by the Diamondbacks. And he made a one inning relief appearance in the 2008 NLDS in a game that was already out of hand in another three game sweep, this time by the Dodgers.

Marquis did hit three home runs during his time with the Cubs, including a grand slam on September 22, 2008 against the Mets. He had 14 RBIs with the Cubs in 143 plate appearances. I don't have any statistics to back it up but it seems fairly decent for a pitcher to have an RBI in every tenth plate appearance or so. It obviously depends on the game but I would think a lot of situations would call for a pinch hitter. Maybe I just have low expectations of pitchers hitting.

Marquis spent 2013 with the San Diego Padres and this card was signed with a little help from an SCN member when the Friars came through their home stadium.

This brings me up to 96 ATCRCS cards shown off here on the blog.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

2013 Topps Opening Day Josh Vitters

As I've been compiling my checklists of haves and needs, I've been also doing quick eBay searches to knock off some one-sies and two-sies when possible. That was the case when I decided I should probably knock off 2013 Topps Opening Day before the 2014 version hits the shelves.

Despite a poor 2012 late season call-up performance for Vitters, the card was double digits in price (with shipping) back when it was released. I'm glad I waited though because I was able to pick it up for just a few bucks.

The photo used was from the same play as the one used on his 2013 Topps Series 2 card, just earlier in the sequence. 

Photo by Brian Kersey (courtesy of Getty Images)

And as I previously mentioned when dissecting that card, I belive this is the Joaquin Arias groundout in the 7th inning of a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on August 31, 2012.

And for anybody interested, I tacked on these other autographs from the same seller for a pittance. Both are up for grabs. Neither are big names but I have to imagine there is a Rays or Dodgers fan that would be willing to take either off my hands.

Friday, November 22, 2013

1991 Fleer Andre Dawson

The other day I hinted at another card thrown into the package by Marcus from over at All the Way to the Backstop. Or maybe I should say from Marcus over at Yellow Cardboard? He runs two blogs, the first revolving mostly around the Padres while the second one, as you may have guessed, the 1991 Fleer set.

At first glance, the card is nothing really to get excited about. I've seen this card a hundred times as 1991 was right in my heyday of card collecting as a kid. You can barely see Andre Dawson's face, although I'd recognized the batting stance even if I'd never seen the card and his face was fully obscured.

Unlike the cards of today, where Topps culls their photos from the Getty Images files, I have no idea where this photo originated. But I thought I saw enough clues within that I could use to try to figure it out.

Starting with Dawson's uniform, this design was exclusive to the 1990 season. In 1989, the Cubs were still using the pullover, V-neck blue jerseys on the road and in 1991, the font changed to a taller version. See below.

Imge courtesy of

You'll also note that you can see the patch on Dawson's right arm. In 1990, the Cubs hosted the All-Star game at Wrigley Field.

Image courtesy of

So, Cubs road game in 1990. That narrows it down from 162 to 81. Dawson probably played in most of them so I'm going to have to look for other clues. I don't know stadiums very well so the outfield wall wasn't any help to me. But the glimpse of the catcher led me to believe that he was from the Padres. My limited Padres knowledge from the early 1990's put Benito Santiago behind the plate. But with the little bit of the last name that we can see, I'm able to rule him out. So I headed over to to see the Padres roster from that year and they list three catchers that season, Santiago, Tom Lampkin and Ronn Reynolds. I was thinking the last two letters on the back of the jersey was an "OS" but between LampkIN and ReynolDS, "DS" it is.

Now, Ronn Reynolds only played 8 games that season for the Padres. Hopefully, only one against the Cubs!

No such luck. Not only did Reynolds appear in two games against the Cubs, both games were two of his three complete games on the season. Dawson played in both of the games Reynolds played in, so unfortunately that is as far as I can narrow it down.

Dawson had 4 plate appearances on June 29, going 0-2 with two walks. He was credited with an RBI in one of his at-bats when he reached on an error with the bases loaded. The Cubs would go on to win 3-2.

On July 1, Dawson went 2-3 with two more walks in an 11-10 win. So either day at the plate was pretty good for the Hawk.

Thanks, Marcus, for throwing in this extra card. It gave me a chance to take a deeper look. And it may be the only appearance for Reynolds on a card as a member of the Padres so you might have to pick up another for yourself if you don't already have one!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anonymous PWE Bomb?

So I came home yesterday to a PWE with no return address and an illegible postmark. Someone who has my address and knows what I collect only limits this to about 50-100 possible candidates. Maybe somebody I myself bombed last week with my "pay it forward" post? Or maybe somebody starting a war who does not want retaliation. Hmmm.

Regardless, I would like to thank my mystery donor publicly since I can't do it personally. Thanks for the Target Red parallels!

We've got a trio of Rookie Cards including one of the best cards of the year below in Blake Parker. I'm starting to think about going after the rainbow on this one.

And a fourth Target Red parallel, this one from Series 2.

An added bonus is that all four cards were new to me. I had a few Reds from Series 1 but that was it. Putting together these parallel sets might get me through the rest of the offesason.

Thanks again, mystery donor!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cody Ransom

The Cubs selected Cody Ransom off waivers from the San Diego Padres in mid-April of this year, replacing Brent Lillibridge on the roster. Just two weeks later, when the Cubs came to DC to play the Nationals, I was able to knock out my 2013 custom team set card in person. Those cards were easier to make than the ATCRCS cards, plus there weren't many usable photos of Ransom as a Cub yet. The one I ended up using for the team set went better with that set. The Cubs are coming to town over the 4th of July weekend next year so I'll have more time to get put together cards than I did with their early season visit this year.

Ransom isn't much of a power hitter, but my clearest memory of him playing this year was a three run homer on June 9th that broke a 1-1 tie against the Pirates. I had to go to Baseball Reference to verify the date but I remember the hit. Even with the Cubs showing fewer games on WGN, I could still count on Sunday games as an out of market fan and it was definitely one of those lazy Sunday afternoon games. When I eventually make the back for the ATCRCS card, I'm sure that will be the highlight of the blurb.

Unfortunately for Ransom, he was designated for assignment in early September and ultimately released on September 16th. This card was sent out to a fellow collector in Seattle that was a big help during the Mariners-Cubs series in late June.

As a refresher, here is one of the two team set cards I got signed back in May:

Ransom did have two previous stints with the Iowa Cubs (Triple-A affiliate) back in 2005. He signed with the Cubs in January 2005, was purchased by the Texas Rangers in March, released in May and re-signed by the Cubs two days later. He played 65 games in Iowa before being granted free agency at the end of the season. He was part of the 2005 Iowa Cubs team set but as far as I know, he didn't have any "real" 2013 cards and certainly no other Cubs cards.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All the Way FROM the Backstop

Over the weekend I got a nice Cub-filled bubble envelope from Marcus of All the Way to the Backstop fame. Last week, he busted open a box of 1993 Fleer Ultra Series II and in the package was a nice collection of Cubs from the set. I had quite a few of these already from my childhood collecting days but lots of them had gold foil pieces missing or edge chipping. Since these were box/pack fresh, ALL of them were upgrades. Nice!

Tommy Shields is a nice I haven't thought about in a long time! And since Marcus was nice enough to throw in the checklist that not only had Rey Sanchez on it, but also the Cubs set checklist, I know I'm only Mike Harkey away from completing this checklist. Bonus!

It also looks like he busted open some 1994 Score Rookie Traded because he sent a 5-pack of cards from that set too. A pair of Rookies and a pair of Tradeds.

And not one Anthony Young, but also a Gold Rush parallel. I remember these from 1995 Score but I don't know if I knew about these from 1994. Now, I have go do some research!

There was another card in the package but it'll get it's own post at some point. 

Thanks Marcus!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dioner Navarro

I'm about to show you how much I pay attention to the rest of the league outside of the Cubs. Before he came to Chicago as a free agent last off season, I had never heard of Dioner Navarro. Yes, the same Dioner Navarro whose debut season with the Cubs was his 10th in the Major Leagues. He was even an All-Star in 2008 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays where he batted 4 times after entering the game in the 7th as a pinch hitter. What?!? Oh yeah, that's the game that went 15 innings because we couldn't have another tie game debacle.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he played a more than capable backup catcher role for the Cubs in 2013. He finished batting an even .300, one of just two Cubs to reach that mark in 2013 regardless of at bats. Out of a team record 56 players on the roster. Yikes. He also threw out 26% of base stealers, just below the league average of 28%.

One of his most notable game with the Cubs came on May 29, 2013, when he went 3-3 with a a walk. And oh, his three hits all happened to be home runs, including two from the right side of the plate and one from the left. His six RBIs helped the Cubs defeat the crosstown White Sox 9-3.

Navarro is currently a free agent as of about two weeks ago. Starting catcher Welington Castillo just underwent knee surgery, so who knows where the Cubs stand at catcher in 2014.

The ATCRCS card above was signed during that Seattle series in mid-summer along with a bunch of others I've already posted. Not only that, but here's a signed 2013 team set card, something I haven't shown off in a while either.

With the offseason here, I'm going to have to sit down and figure out who I have and who I still need for both the 2012 and 2013 sets. Then maybe I can knock out some more during Spring Training.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Never In My Lifetime...

Now that it is the offseason, I feel comfortable with the statement in the title, that I won't be jinxing the Cubs anytime soon. Never in my lifetime have the Cubs been no-hit. In fact, the last time they were was 13-ish years before I was born and it took somebody the caliber of Sandy Koufax. But the time before that was just three weeks prior on August 19, 1965.

And thanks to the blog Bleed Cubbie Blue, I (and you) can now watch the last 3 innings of said game. In color! It took 10 innings of no-hit baseball to beat the Cubs 1-0 in spite of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Maloney issuing 10 walks and hitting a batter.

I'm adding the youtube link but you should check out the article at the link above, too.

Yes, I took the hour and watched this whole thing. It was pretty amazing to step back in time.

I stopped about 10 minutes in and decided to sort of "live blog" it by making the list below. Some of these things I remember from games as recent as the 1980s, but if you don't have time for the video, here are a couple things I found interesting.

  • The camera angle from behind and to the left the catcher and right handed batters and only showing the now prevalent center field angle for lefties.
  • Ernie Banks struck out swinging, made an error at first and grounded into a game inning double play. Not the best outing for Mr. Cub.
  • Watching the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose start off an inning by attempting to bunt for a single.
  • Speaking of small ball, I saw at least five players in the 8th and 9th innings with bunt attempts. Four sacrifice attempts in addition to Roses's attempt to get a hit. One of the sacrifices even ended up as a hit. That would be crazy these days, even late in a tie game.
  • Cubs pitcher Larry Jackson, tagged up from second on a fly ball to center and was safe. While wearing his jacket on the basepaths. In August.
  • I don't know why I didn't think it possible (not that I thought it was impossible), but it was still weird to see the wind at Wrigley was a factor even back then.
  • This was the first game of a double header. With no night games at Wrigley until 1988, this game must have had a morning start time.
  • One commercial during the commercial breaks. With a break every half inning, that's five commercials in the one hour of game time shown in the video. And three were for Hamm's.
  • With two outs in the bottom of the 9th and runners on first and second, Cubs pitcher Larry Jackson was not pinch hit for. Granted, he ended up walking but what manager would do that today?
  • Seemingly after every pitch, Reds catcher John Edwards walked the ball out to where the dirt met the grass before throwing it back to the Maloney.
  • During the start of the 10th inning, it is announced that Maloney had thus far thrown 173 pitches, including 13 3-2 counts. What?!? Crazy. He'd run a 3-2 count one more time in the 10th and ended with (I think) about 187 pitches. 
  • The broadcasters had Maloney doing an interview, literally within 30 seconds of the game ending out. Talk about quick.
I don't know if this make sense but the game seemed both a lot more casual but also more expedient than today. No human rain delays in the batter's box. Quick pitches. But also things like the umpire throwing the ball to the pitcher instead of passing it off to the catcher, balls in the dirt kept in play, batters picking up the catcher's mask and handing it to the catchers, and the player on deck kneeling and taking practice cuts with two bats on the way to the plate instead of, you know, while on deck.

I still have never seen a no-hitter all the way through live. Usually, I'll get wind of it in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning and catch the end. I've seen a few from the beginning get lost in the 8th or 9th, but never a full one live. I probably would have watched this whole video even if it hadn't been the end of a no hitter. It was such a different time.

Sorry I couldn't 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2013 Topps Series 2 Josh Vitters

Topps had high hopes for Josh Vitters going into 2013. He had an autograph card in Opening Day and was one of the three Cubs featured in the Spring Fever promotion which included a base card and another autograph. He also had Million Dollar Chase autograph, as well as a wrapper redemption autograph. Whew! I wouldn't even doubt that I'm even missing a few more.

I think I was putting this one off, waiting for Vitters to make his 2013 Cubs debut. That never happened, so here we are. Aside from that, the card itself is pretty good. Tight, well cropped shot. You got some eyeblack and an interesting, though not completely embarrassing tongue biting facial expression. 

Photo by Brian D. Kersey (courtesy of Getty Images)
The caption for the photo only states that Vitters is making a throw to first base on August 31, 2012 against the San Francisco Giants. Not much help narrowing down the play but at least I have the game. How many plays does a third baseman make in a game anyway?

In the top of the second, Vitters started a double play off the bat of Hunter Pence but threw to second, so not that play. Joaquin Arias led off the seventh inning with a groundout to Vitters. And in the bottom of the 8th, with runners on first and third with 1 out, Hunter Pence hit a weak ground ball to third base again and was out at first.

Based on the sequence of photos also available from that game, I'm going to say this is the Arias ground ball from the 7th inning. Another photo shows Vitters on the infield grass throwing the ball to first base, something more indicative of a weak ground ball. And you'll notice the Getty Image numbers is several hundred numbers higher leading me to believe it came later in the game.

Same photographer, different location.
The Cubs would win 6-4 for their 51st win of the season.

The back of the card shows a lot of minor league experience for Vitters. You can see why he got the call with the numbers he put up in Iowa in 2012, but unfortunately, it didn't quite translate to the Major League level. We'll see what 2014 brings the Cubs at third base. Maybe Vitters will get his 100th career at-bat.

It had to be hard for the guys at Topps to pick Career Chase stats for guys with a just a handful of games worth of experience. I don't think Tris Speaker has anything to worry about with his doubles record.

Friday, November 15, 2013

2012 Panini Prizm Red Tony Campana

Just a quick update today. I've been waiting on one of these to be listed again. The first few went for $5-$10 shipped which was a little out of my price range for something not serial numbered or otherwise limited. Little did I know they would essentially drop off the planet (or eBay, at least). Surprisingly, when this one popped up, it had the cheapest start price and I was the only bidder. Must be the offseason...

The only difference on the back from the rest of the cards is the bottom right corner which designates the card as part of the "Red Prizm" set. This leaves me just the blue one short of the complete rainbow.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fiddlin' Around

I've been fiddlin' around on Photoshop again trying to find a little inspiration. While I generally try to stay away from blatantly copying other designs, I really liked the Gold Futures inserts from 2012 Topps so I used it as my starting point. The Strasburg below is the base insert but they also came as jersey cards where a swatch would replace the team logo.

As most of you know, I collect Cubs cards and will try to get them signed when I can. So I tweaked the design a bit to make an autograph-able version. But sometimes I give myself too many options and can't make a decision, which is where I hope you come in.

Below are twelve different versions of the same basic card. Three border choices, with four different backgrounds within each. I've added a facsimile signature to show how a blue sharpie might clash or coordinate with each combo. At the end, there is a tiled grid that will give them to you all together instead of having to scroll back and forth.

First up we have the black border, most similar to the original. But the swatch area has been replaced with a signature area and the position and jersey number have moved down to join the name. The left card has a black and white background behind Starlin Castro. The right side maintains the original color background.

Below, the left side tints the background blue, while the right side tints it red (both Cub colors). 

Next up, I tried to differentiate it a little more from the Gold Futures cards by changing the outside border to Cub blue and you'll see a little marbling to give it some texture. The backgrounds are the same as above, black & white, original color, blue tinting and red tinting.

Thinking it might be a little too blue, I also tried a Cub red outside border with the same four backgrounds. I tried changing the gold border to red with the blue borders and blue with the red borders, but I still liked the gold better.

And the tile. If I did this right, you can click on it and it will blow it up to your full screen.

The easiest to do would be the original color background (first column of the grid). The other three backgrounds all require the same amount of effort, more but not horrible. I don't want to taint anybody's opinion so I'll wait to get a little feedback before I let you in on which one(s) I favor.

Because it is so similar to an existing design, this more than likely won't be my 2014 Cubs team set, but I'll probably still use it for random stuff. Thanks for looking!