Last week I blogged about jumping into a rabbit hole that led to a shopping spree on eBay. It all started with a Bobby Brownlie search that led me to an eBay seller with a Brownlie Bowman autographed card, and many other Cubs prospects that missed from that era. Not only that, he had a Ryan Gripp bat relic for sale. Gripp was another player from that era that I followed closely.
When it was all said and done I had 19 cards in my shopping cart. Since it was a couple days before the end of first quarter, I held off payment awaiting an end of quarter coupon. After about 36 hours I was itching to get payment out when a 15% on $50+ coupon was announced. Fantastic…but wait. My 19 cards added up to just $44 and I had 25 minutes before the coupon expired.
The easy answer here is to add $6 in cards to get me to $50, and with the 15% coupon, those additional cards are free. Problem: With less than 25 minutes, I would need to request a combined invoice. I quickly typed a message to the seller fully expecting a response after the deadline. Ten minutes passed by, and the seller responded. And with less than 10 minutes I needed to find a few cards to bump me up to $50. I added four cards to the cart to get me to $51, got the invoice, and submitted payment with two minutes to spare. Victory!
Of the 22 cards, there is a mix of autographs and relics of both veterans and busted prospects. Jersey relics are among my least favorite “hits,” though I really do like them when done right. Not the bland plain white jersey swatch in Topps Heritage. Only the 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Aramis Ramirez jersey relic below is on the blah side for me. It was also one of my quickie adds that was essentially free. The other five look great. Allen & Ginter does it right with their mini framed relics. These just look really cool, even though these 2008 Allen & Ginter Carlos Marmol and Aramis Ramirez are plain white, there is a lot of character here. The second of the Marmol relics is a mini framed 2010 Topps 206 with a gray swatch, and the third a 2010 Topps 60. The Carlos Zambrano 2010 Piedmont mini framed relic is interesting as the jersey swatch is yellow.
A few months ago I bought a 1996 Leaf Signature Series Bob Patterson autograph. This was very early in the certified autographs, and I don’t see too many come up, though they are pretty common. I was able to grab a Rodney Myers and Todd Haney from this set.
Whenever I hear the name Brant Brown, I hear Ron Santo’s voice screaming: “Ohhhhh noooooooo! Nooooooo!”
Brant Brown dropped a fly ball in left field late in the 1998 season against the Milwaukee Brewers when the Cubs were chasing a playoff spot. Fortunately, the Cubs won a one-game playoff against the Giants to earn the National League Wildcard.
David Kelton was a top prospect for the Cubs after getting drafted in the second round in 1998. He played 18 games in Chicago registering a .136 average with three hits in 22 at-bats. He struck out eight times and never drew a walk.
The man that led me down this eBay rabbit hole was Bobby Brownlie. I was always enamored by Brownlie. Around 2001 and 2002, I was really getting into the MLB Draft and following minor league baseball thanks to my Baseball America subscription.
After starring at Rutgers, Brownlie was an early favorite to be the number one overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft. Then he suffered an injury and slipped. He slipped to the 21st spot held by the Cubs. Brownlie never panned out, but did reach the Triple-A Iowa Cubs by 2005. When this 2004 Bowman Chrome autograph arrived I was pleasantly surprised that it was the refractor autograph.
Freddie Bynum was never a top prospect, but he did play 71 games with the Chicago Cubs in 2006. Here’s a 2006 SP Authentic autograph 594/999.
“Zudoo.” Julio Zuleta is one of those players that is remembered more for his quirkiness than his play. Pretty easy when your big league career spans all of 79 games. But Zuleta went into Cubs lore in May 2001, when Skip Bayless wrote about Zuleta’s “zudoo” in the Chicago Tribune on May 20, 2001.
“So during Saturday’s game, Julio Ernesto Zuleta of Panama City took the bat of each player in the lineup and stuck them handle-first through the fencing guarding the dugout. This way he could preside over their bulletless barrels.
Zuleta set fire to newspapers–this column surely was the first to burn–and waved the flames under the bat barrels. He set cans of deep-heating balm among them. He rubbed discarded chicken bones on them. He waved apples, bananas and oranges over them. He kept twisting them as if they were acupuncture needles. He pleaded with them, chanted over them, summoned their magical powers.”
Zuleta played just 79 games with the Cubs. That was 79 more than Nate Frese. He topped out at Triple-A Iowa in 2003 after five years in the Cubs organization.
Mike Meyers also never made the big leagues. No, not that Mike Meyers, though the Cubs version is also from Canada just like the Austin Powers version.
The baseball Mike Meyers played collegiately at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois which was just down the road from where I grew up. It’s also a school not known for producing professional baseball players.
A pair of 2002 Upper Deck Future Gems were a part of this purchase and both are dual colored jersey relics featuring a blue pinstripe on the white jersey swatch. Both Matt Clanton and Luke Hagerty were a part of the Cubs 2002 MLB Draft class. This was supposed to be the group that helped end the Cubs drought.
The franchise had eight of the first 96 picks in this draft. Only one of those eight players made the big leagues, and Billy Petrick logged a whopping eight games in Major League Baseball. That’s an ouch of a draft. Among players the Cubs could have drafted with their eight picks between number 21 (Bobby Brownlie) and number 96 (Matt Craig): Matt Cain, Joe Blanton, Jeremy Guthrie, Joey Votto, Jon Lester, Brian McCann, and Curtis Granderson. Double ouch.
Ryan Gripp was another prospect I followed due to a semi-local connection. He grew up in Iowa and played in the Midwest League with the Lansing Lugnuts. I didn’t realize he was an Iowan until I was autographing the Lugnuts after a Quad Cities River Bandits game. How did we find anything out before the Internet? I love bat relics, and was shocked that Ryan Gripp had a bat relic from 1999 Bowman’s Best. Most bat relics are boring with the plain wood-grain swatch. I found a few different varieties of the Gripp bat relic, and this Cubs logo relic was really neat.
Here’s an example of the plain wood-grain swatch from a 2002 Topps Tools of the Trade Moises Alou.
And another unique play on the generic wood grain, as the bat swatch is in the shape of a “P” on this 2004 Bowman Prospect Premiums Ryan Harvey.
Finally, another veteran. Marlon Byrd is a nearly forgotten Cub as he only played two seasons in Chicago out of his 15-year career. One of those seasons was an All-Star year for Byrd (2010) when he hit .293 with 39 doubles and 12 home runs.
After earning some first quarter eBay Bucks and a little bit left on my eBay gift card I may be going on another Cubs shopping spree this week!