Thursday, February 16, 2012

#510 Ernie Banks

#510 Ernie Banks
Back again so soon. Ed's dragging me to the finish line on this project, in this case spotting a pretty well-conditioned copy of this high-numbered Ernie Banks card at a hobby show for $20. It's the most I've paid yet, but I'd say it's worth the cost. Now the needs list is down to the Magnificent Seven!

Fun facts about Ernie Banks:

-Ernie was born in Dallas, TX and was signed by the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. He had two stints with the club sandwiched around a tour in the Army, and signed with the Cubs in September 1953.

-The young shortstop jumped right to the major leagues, starting for Chicago in a September 17, 1953 loss to the Phillies. As the first black player in team history, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, and batted .314 with a pair of homers in 10 games.

-Banks was runner-up to Wally Moon in 1954's N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. He played all 154 games for the Cubs, batting .275 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI. Only Hank Sauer (103 RBI) drove in more runs for the club.

-He broke out in 1955 with the first of 11 All-Star seasons, a third-place MVP finish, and a batting line of .295/.345/.596 with 44 homers and 117 RBI.

-Ernie had his greatest seasons back-to-back, winning the National League MVP honors in 1958 and 1959. In the former year, he batted a career-high .313 and led the Senior Circuit with 47 home runs (a record for shortstops at the time), 129 RBI, and a .614 slugging percentage. 1959 brought a .304/.374/.596 slash line, 45 homers, and a league-best 143 RBI.

-He won his one and only Gold Glove in 1960. The following season, the Cubs began transitioning him to first base, the position he played almost exclusively for the next decade.

-Banks played his entire 19-year career at Wrigley Field, where he was known as "Mr. Cub" and beloved for his production, leadership, and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this also meant that he never got the opportunity to play in the postseason.

-He hit three home runs in one game four times in his career: August 4, 1955 (part of a 7-RBI outburst); September 14, 1957 (nightcap of a doubleheader - let's play two!); May 29, 1962 (4-for-5 with a double); and June 9, 1963 (two off of Sandy Koufax!).

-He retired in 1971 with a .274 average and an even .500 slugging percentage, as well as 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI. His total of 277 home runs as a shortstop was a record that stood for over two decades before being surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr.

-Ernie was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977, collecting 321 votes out of a possible 383 (83.8%). The 62 voters who didn't choose him should be given severe noogies. He's maintained a close relationship with the Cubs throughout the years, even spending a few years coaching at the end of his playing career. His #14 was retired in 1982, making him the first Cubbie to receive that honor, and in 2008 a statue in his likeness was dedicated outside of Wrigley Field.
#510 Ernie Banks (back)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

#134 World Series Game Three: Mantle's Clutch HR

#134 World Series Game 3: Mantle's Clutch HR
That's 590 down and 8 to go! I might not get my hands on the Mick's regular base card any time soon, but a gen-u-ine World Series action photo beats some humpty-dumpty posed shot any day, if you ask me. Here's another card that I've bought off of Ed for $10.

To set the stage: it's Saturday, October 10, 1964. 67,101 fans have packed into Yankee Stadium to see if the Yankees can take a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series. 18-game winner Jim Bouton starts for the Yanks, opposed by veteran and fellow 18-game winner Curt Simmons of St. Louis. Simmons, making his first postseason start in his 17th big league season, runs into trouble in the second inning. Elston Howard singles, Joe Pepitone walks, and Clete Boyer plates the game's first run with a double. New York strands two runners in scoring position as Bouton flies out, and Simmons bears down and shuts them out for the next six innings.

Bouton is also on his game, allowing only six Cardinal hits in nine innings. He gives up a single unearned run in the fifth inning to tie the game, though. Tim McCarver leads off the frame with a single but moves up to second base as Mickey Mantle misplays it in right field. Dal Maxvill advances the runner to third with a groundout, and Simmons evens things up with a two-out single. This sets the stage for a tense ninth inning.

Still trying for the complete game, Bouton is betrayed by his defense once more in the top of the ninth. McCarver leads off again and reaches first base as shortstop Phil Linz boots a ground ball. Mike Shannon, who hit into a fielder's choice to leave the bases loaded in the sixth, bunts McCarver to second. Pinch hitter Carl Warwick walks, and Bob Skinner bats for Simmons and moves the lead runner to third with a flyout to deep center field. Curt Flood lines out, leaving St. Louis hoping for extra innings. But it's not to be. Reliever Barney Schultz surrenders the game-winning home run to Mantle, the first batter in the home half of the ninth. It is the 16th of an eventual 18 home runs hit by Mickey in World Series play, and the last of those to be hit in New York. It also proves to be the last home win for the Yanks in the Fall Classic until the first game of the 1977 Series.
#134 World Series Game 3: Mantle's Clutch HR (back)