Monday, December 22, 2008

A Cubs Snowfall - Thanks, Night Owl!

Here is a news just snowed Cubs in Michigan. Actually it seems like it has been snowing here in the Ann Arbor area since late July, but the snow fall I'm talking about came from Greg at the Night Owl Cards I had sent him some 1986 Topps to help with a set he is building. He returned the favor by sending me some recent Cubs cards. The only set that I am actively building is a 1964 PSA Graded set. I also add PSA Graded vintage Cubs to my collection. My other interest is a few boxes Cubs cards that I have collected through the years. I like to add to this collection as the opportunity presents its self.

I am sure that I am no different than many collectors. Almost any stack of baseball cards will bring back great memories of seasons past. Most of the cards that Greg sent were from the past three or four years, so the memories that surface were of the efforts that the Cubs organization to bring a pennant and World Series Title back to Wrigley Field. The team that is being built on the northside with Zambrano, Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, Theriot and Dempster will eventually get the job done.

There were at least two older cards of interest included in the package. A 1991 card featuring Dave Smith was included. Smith had his great years with the Astros (probably several great games at the expense of the Cubs). Smith was a 2 time All Star with the Astros while saving 199 games (2nd only to Billy Wagner). Smith died recently (age 53) after a battle with cancer. Smith played two seasons for the Cubs near the end of his career.

The second interesting card actually commemorates one of the dark times in the Cub's history - 1993 Topps #183 - Greg Maddux. In a move remembered sadly by most Cub fans, Maddux was granted free agency in October 1992 and signed with the Braves in December of 1992. Cubs fans just wish that the picture of Greg in a Cubs uniform on the 1993 card was true. But after 95 wins for the Cubs, Greg moved to Atlanta to continue his Hall of Fame career. Of course, Maddux did return to the Cubs in 2004....just in time to win his 300th game.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1964 Topps #557 Leo Burke - Upgrade from PSA 7 to PSA 8

I was able to upgrade this high number card recently from a PSA 7 to a PSA 8. This not only helps my 1964 set but also my 1964 Cubs team set.

Leo Burke was a utility player who played for four different teams during seven major league seasons. He played both infield and outfield. He even caught in three games near the end of his career. Burke was signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Orioles in 1957. He was drafted by the Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft but was purchased by the Angels less than 30 days later. He also played for the Cardinals and Cubs later in his career.

His career stats include 165 games with 301 at bats. He collected 9 home runs and 45 RBIs with a batting average of .239.

The difference between a PSA 7 and PSA 8 can be seen in these two scans. While the centering is slightly better on the PSA 7 card, you can clearly see that the corners on the PSA 8 card are superior.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Two Favorite Shortstops

I won a great photograph on EBay earlier this month. I think I like this photo because it represents the greater part of my personal baseball history. If only Rico Petrocelli were standing between Aparicio and Banks, it would be complete. It would also be very unusual to find Rico Petrocelli in this picture that was most likely taken around 1960. Petrocelli only became a fulltime player for the Red Sox in 1965.

When I was 9 or 10 living in central Indiana, I began to follow the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox had many heroes on the roster - Early Wynn, Jim Landis, Nellie Fox, Sherm Lollar and Billy Pierce. But my favorite player was Luis Aparicio. When I saw my first major league game at Cominsky Park around 1960, Aparicio hit a home run to win the game. I am not certain which game was my first major league experience, although it is much easier to narrow this down as Aparicio only hit 83 home runs during his 18 year career. I have most of his cards during the White Sox years plus a couple of autographs in my collection.

As a high school student, I switched my allegiance to the Red Sox. Yaz, Rico and Sparky became my favorites. This lasted for a few years until I met the love of my life and married in 1969. My wife's father was a die hard Cubs fan. I attended a number of Cubs games during the mid to late 1970's. Unfortunately, I never did get to see Ernie Banks play ball in person. I soon switched my allegiance a final time. I have followed the Cubs since the 1970's. "Its a beautiful day for a ballgame, lets play two" not only represents everything that is great about baseball but just is a great attitude to carry with you every day of your life.

So as you can see, this photo depicts Luis Aparicio which is the beginning of my love of baseball. Ernie Banks is the other end as I now follow the Cubs avidly. This photo will take a place of honor on the walls of my office.

Friday, November 21, 2008

1970 Milton Bradley Ernie Banks - PSA 8

Today I am going to take you down a little rabbit trail. This blog generally is about graded 1964 Topps baseball cards that I am adding to my PSA Registry set. But I guess if I talk about something else that interests me, you just have to live with it.

One of my other interests is a Graded Ernie Banks Master set. I have just started this set and have quite a way to go. I currently have 5 of the 93 cards that make up this PSA Registry set.

I have just been able to add a PSA 8 copy of the 1970 Milton Bradley Ernie Banks card. The thing that is challenging about some of these PSA Master Set is that some of the cards that are included are rather obscure and difficult to obtain in high quality condition. This 1970 Milton Bradley Ernie Banks card comes from a 1970 Milton Bradley Baseball board game. This game is sometimes on EBay as a complete game but if in reasonably good condition, will go for a fairly high price. The picture that I have added shows a complete game that was auctioned on EBay. If you are only looking for a single player like I was, you then have to hope that the particular player is in gradable condition. Otherwise, you must wait until someone puts up a single card of your player.

A total of 88 1970 Milton Bradley Ernie Banks cards have been graded by PSA. Of these 75% have either been graded as a PSA 9 or 10. So my copy is not particularly great, but since this card has a relatively low weight in the master set, I will watch for a better deal but not dwell on obtaining it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

1964 Cubs Team Set Progress Update

With the addition of the 1964 Topps #424 – Dick Bertell, my 1964 Cubs team set is 92.86% complete. I have 26 out of the required 28 cards included in this set. Currently, I have 11 of these cards as PSA 8, including:
#29 Lou Brock
#220 Dick Ellsworth
#237 Cubs Team Card
#309 Paul Toth
#336 Andre Rodgers
#359 Jim Schaffer
#424 Dick Bertell
#451 Joe Amalfitano
#469 Rookies
#510 Lindy McDaniel
#578 Glen Hobbie

In addition, I have 14- PSA 7 and one (#55) Ernie Banks as PSA 6.
The two cards that I am still missing are #175 Billy Williams and #550 Ken Hubbs – In Memoriam. #175 has been particularly difficult to find in NRMT – MT condition with good centering. #550 is harder to find just because it is from the high number series.

I will continue to have dual goals regarding this set. First, I am searching for the two cards that I am still missing and second I will continue to try to upgrade the cards that I have. My set currently has a weighted Grade Point Average of 7.347. The current GPA of the highest rated set is 9.13. The highest possible GPA for a set at this time is 9.173.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Cub Down - #424 Dick Bertell PSA 8

I have added another 1964 Cub to my collection. This card helps with two different graded sets (1964 Topps and 1964 Topps Cubs Team set).

1964 Topps #424 - Dick Bertell - PSA 8

Bertell was originally signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 1957. His first MLB game occurred on September 22, 1960. While he was hitless in his first game, he did knock in a run with a sacrfice fly in his first at bat.

In 1961, Bertell was platooned with Sammy Taylor and Moe Thacker. He also was platooned during 1962, 1963 and 1964. By 1964, he was seeing more playing time than any other catchers. In 1964 he had career highs for doubles (11), triples (3), home runs (4) and RBIs (35) but only batted .238. Bertell started the 1965 season with the Cubs but was traded along with Len Gabrielson to the Giants in May for Harvey Kuenn, Ed Bailey and Bob Hendley. He saw limited playing time with the Giants. Tom Haller was the primary catcher for Giants in 1965. A knee injury kept Bertell from playing in 1966. In 1967 Bertell was traded back to the Cubs for Don Bryant. Bertell played in just two games before he was released by the Cubs. Randy Hundley had secured the starting catcher's position for the Cubs in 1967.

Bertell died in 1999 at the age of 64.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two Great Old Ernie Banks Cards

Periodically, you may find that I discuss something different than the 1964 Topps Baseball set. I did check my rules for this blog and found that it is OK to digress from time to time.

One other set that I am building in an Ernie Banks PSA Master set. This set covers various cards that were issued during Ernie's playing career (1954 through 1971.). There are a total of 94 different items required to complete this tough set. I use the term items because some of the required items are coins issued in various years. If you interested, this link will take you to the PSA web page that details the Ernie Banks Master Set

I sent two Ernie Banks cards to PSA for grading recently. Both came back with high grades for card of their age.

1956 Topps #15 Ernie Banks PSA 8.5

The first card that I sent in was from the 1956 Topps set. Card #15 in the 1956 set featured Ernie in his 3rd year. This card is a whiteback and a double print. To date PSA has graded 1374 of this particular card. Of those cards that have been graded by PSA only three have recieved an 8.5 and 12 have recieved a grade of 9. The Sports Market Report lists the value of a PSA 8 at $315.00 and the value of a PSA 9 at $2500.00. The ultimate value of a PSA 8.5 will probably be closer to that of a PSA 8 than a PSA 9.

1958 Topps #482 Ernie Banks - All Star PSA 8

The second Ernie Banks card that I got back from PSA was from the 1958 Topps set. This card featured Ernie Banks as an All Star. PSA has graded 788 examples of this card with 162 receiving a PSA 8. There have only been 12 graded higher than PSA 8. The SMC value of a PSA 8 of this card is $115.00.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

1964 Cubs - Relief Pitching

Lindy McDaniel - 1964 Topps #510
The closer for the Cubs in 1964 was Lindy McDaniel. McDaniel had been signed in 1955 by the St. Louis cardinals as a bonus baby. In October of 1962, McDaniel was traded to the Cubs along with Larry Jackson and Jimmie Schaffer. The cardinals got George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker in the trade.
McDaniel spent three years with the Cubs as a relief pitcher. During that period (1963 to 1965), Lindy appeared in 191 games and saved 39 games.
In December of 1965, McDaniel was traded to the Giants along with Don Landrum for Randy Hundley and Bill Hands.
Other relief pitchers for the Cubs in 1964 were:

Don Elston - 1964 Topps #111
Elston was signed by the Cubs in 1947 and played his first game in the majors in 1953. He was traded by the Cubs to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. After playing one game with the Dodgers he was traded back to the Cubs in 1957.
Elston played in 449 games for the Cubs. During his time with the Cubs, he won 49 and lost 54 while saving 63 games. Elston was released by the Cubs in 1965.

Wayne Schurr - 1964 Topps #548

Wayne was signed by the Giants in 1959. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 1963 Rule 5 draft. Schurr's only season in the majors was for the Cubs in 1964. During that season, he pitched in26 games (48 innings). He did not record a win, loss or save in 1964 (or in his career). He was traded to the Angels in 1966 along with Chris Krug for Mike White and Don Furnald. Neither of these players ever appeared in a Cubs uniform.

Bobby Shan
tz - 1964 Topps #278 (Pictured as a Cardinal)
Bobby Shantz had a 16 year career in the major leagues. He had two outstanding years with the Philadelphia A's (1951 and 1952). He was the AL MVP in 1952 posting a record of 24 wins and 7 losses. During his career, Shantz won 119 games and lost 99 games.
Shantz came to the Cubs late in his career in the 1964 trade with the cardinals that sent Lou Brock to his HOF career with St. Louis. Shantz served as a relief pitcher for the 1964 Cubs from June 15 to August 15. He was sold to the Phillies in August of 1964. He pitched his final major league game for the Phillies on September 29, 1964.

Freddie Burdette - 1964 Topps #408
Burdette was signed as a free agent in 1954 by the Cubs. He played in the major league during parts of three years (1962 to 1964). During his career he played in 30 games and a total of 34 innings. He won 1 game, lost none and recorded one save.

Friday, October 3, 2008

1964 Cubs Starting Pitchers

The 1964 Cubs had three pitchers that started more than 20 games and won more than 10 games. These three pitchers started 2/3's of the Cubs games in 1964.

Larry Jackson
1964 Topps #444

In 1964, Larry Jackson had the best year in his career for wins when he won 24 and lost 11 with and ERA of 3.14. Jackson was originally signed by the Cardinals in 1951. He pitched for the Cards from 1955 through 1962. The Cardinals traded Jackson along with Lindy McDaniel and Jimmy Schaffer to the Cubs for George Altman, Don Cardwell and Moe Thacker. In three full years with the Cubs, Jackson won 52 games. In April of 1966, Jackson was traded to the Phillies along with Bob Buhl for Adolfo Phillips, John Herrnstein and Fergie Jenkins.

Bob Buhl
1964 Topps #96

Bob Buhl was originally signed by the White Sox in 1947. He was awarded free agency in 1948 and was then signed by the Boston Braves in the same year. Buhl played for the Braves in nine seasons and won 109 games before being traded to the Cubs in 1962 for Jack Curtis. Buhl appears in one of the famous variation cards in the 1962 Topps set. #487A has buhl wearing a Barves cap. #487B is the same picture but the Braves emblem has been airbrushed out. #487B is the rarer and more valuable variation. Buhl won 15 and lost 14 with an ERA of 3.83 in 1964. While both Jackson and Buhl were efffective pitchers for the Cubs, many would say their greatest contribution to the Cubs was being traded to the Phillies in the deal that brought Fergie Jenkins to the Cubs.

Dick Ellsworth
1964 Topps #220

Dick Ellsworth was originally signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 1958. He pitched in eight different seasons for the Cubs and won a total of 84 games. His best season was 1963 when he won 22 and lost 10 with a 2.11 ERA. His ERA 1963 was second best in the National League to Sandy Koufax. As a result, Ellsworth also appears on 1964 Topps card #1 - NL ERA Leaders. In 1964 Ellsworth won 14 and lost 18 with an ERA of 3.75. Ellsworth was traded to the Phillies in 1966 for Ray Culp.

The other two primary starting pitchers for the 1964 Cubs were both pictured as Cardinals in the 1964 Topps set. These two pitchers were Ernie Broglio (Card #59) and Lou Burdette (Card #523). On June 2, 1964, the Cubs traded Glen Hobbie to the Cardinals for Lou Burdette. Later, on June 15, the Cubs traded Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and Doug Clemens.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

1964 Topps Baseball #55 Ernie Banks

The first player card for the Chicago Cubs that I have in my 1964 collection is #55 Ernie Banks. This is also one of the first graded 1964 cards that I picked up. As one might expect, the Banks card is one of the most expensive 1964 Cubs to collect. This PSA 6 card carries a book value of about $35.00. A PSA 8 Banks card has a book value of $110.00. I plan to upgrade my Banks card to at least a PSA 8 some time in the future.

By 1964, at age 33, Ernie had been moved to 1st base. Ernie's last game as shortstop was in 1961. Other than a few games in the outfield and at third base after 1961, Ernie played 1st base until he retired after the 1971 season. Ernie's offensive capabilities remained strong , but he also showed that he was a very capable 1st baseman. Ernie played over 1200 games at 1st base with a fielding percentage of .994. In 1964, Ernie batted .264 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs.

Building Graded Cubs Sets

I mentioned earlier that I got back into collecting baseball cards when I put together Chicago Cubs sets for my son. At the same time, I was also collecting Cubs sets for myself. I have partial and complete Cubs sets as far back as 1948. However, as my interest has turned to graded cards, I am also building some graded Cubs sets. Right now I have focused on 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1968. I will start more as time and money permits.

As you might expect, my 1964 graded Cubs set is the most complete of the Cubs sets. My 1964 graded Cubs set is about 82% complete. I have 23 of the 28 cards that are required to complete this set.

The 1964 Chicago Cubs were not very good. They finished with a record of 76 Wins and 86 Losses. However, this team had three of the Cubs all-time favorites playing that year.......Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. In the next few postings I will present the 1964 Cubs as depicted by the Topps Baseball card from that year.