Twelve Questions Tuesday With…Wrigley Roster Jenga

Monday was Columbus Day, meaning no Cubs cards arrived as the USPS had the day off. In my opinion holidays should be like grade schoolers bringing treats to class: everyone gets one.

This week’s edition of Twelve Questions Tuesday chats up another inspiration behind the One Million Cubs Project.

Tony Burbs at Wrigley Roster Jenga is a collector and blogger and one of his projects is an All-Time Cubs Roster binder. This is a really cool idea that coupled with a couple other blogs inspired my own project. And now….twelve questions with Wrigley Roster Jenga.

1) How long have you been a Cubs fan, and what’s your first Cubs memory?

I guess it would be hyperbole to say that I’ve been a Cubs fan since the day I was born, especially since I may have donned a White Sox cap for a year while Michael Jordan giving baseball a go. However, I soon worked through that phase – we all have skeletons in our closet. Anyway, the first Cubs memory I have is taking the Red Line to Wrigley Field with my grandfather sometime in the mid-90’s. The man truantly made his way to Wrigley throughout the 30’s and 40’s and passed that passion for the Cubs down to me. It’s a little hazy at this point, as I was only 5 or 6 years old, but I know it happened.

2) Who is your all-time favorite Cubs player, and who is your current favorite?

My all-time favorite player would probably have to be Ron Santo. His on and off the field battle with diabetes and his bullheaded determination to not let that limit him has always been inspirational to me. Also, as someone who spent several years working in radio, his on-air charm and ability to entertain also made me quite the fan. Plus, he was a longtime favorite of my grandfather, so that didn’t hurt either.

As for my current favorite Cub… I’d have to say that title belongs to Anthony Rizzo. He’s the leader on the field, his arrival signaled the turnaround that eventually led to a World Series title, he doesn’t let cancer or rain tarps get in his way, and he’s extremely charitable off the field. He’s the perfect face for my favorite franchise.

3) When did you start collecting baseball cards?

It had to be shortly after that first game with grandpa. I remember getting a Mark Whitten Post single with a box of cereal as my very first card and it all kicked off from there. Then, I discovered that a local ice cream shop had a vending machine where you could get two ‘96 Fleer cards for a quarter. When my grandpa found out I’d be spending my allowance on that, he was miffed… but only because of the price point. Soon thereafter, he found a local card shop and bought me a grocery-sized grab bag of “junk wax” cards for a few bucks. I was hooked!

4) Do you remember your first pack, or your first Cubs card?

Well, my first card was a Card – that aforementioned Whitten – and my first pack probably came in that grab bag my grandfather bought me, but heck if I remember what it was. I don’t remember my actual first Cubs card but I do remember the first one that made an impact on me.

That Fleer vending machine once gifted me with a Jim Bullinger card and I was absolutely ecstatic to get one of the Chicago teams. In my excitement I ran to show my grandfather, who looked at the card, looked at me, and forlornly muttered, “I hate Jim Bullinger.” Turns out Jim had just blown a game for our beloved Cubbies and the heart on my grandfather’s sleeve was still a little broken. Twenty-plus years later, I can surely relate!

5) What’s your favorite Cubs card in your collection, and why?

Oh boy, that’s a toughie. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite kid… except I don’t have kids. So, that’s like asking my wife to pick her favorite cat (we have two of those)… it’s downright impossible! But, if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to go with my autographed 1973 Topps Ron Santo. Not only because it’s a signature from my favorite player of all-time, but because of the circumstances surrounding it’s acquisition.

In high school, I wrote about Mr. Santo in a paper about figures who had inspired us throughout our lives. That teacher, after reading my ramblings, made contact with a hairstylist friend of hers in Arizona who used to trim Ronnie’s hair (he may have famously burnt his toupee on the heater in Wrigley’s press box, but the hair on the sides of his head still grew). A few days later, that autographed beauty was given to me along with my graded paper. The fact that someone would go to all that trouble for me… that generosity makes it hard for me to place any other baseball card before it.

6) Do you have a story of finding a Cubs card you had been searching for a long time?

I have plenty of stories, but I don’t know that any of them are particularly interesting. With the way that I collect, trying to acquire at least one card of every man to suit up for the North Side franchise, I have hundreds of wants at any given time… often of extremely obscure and short-term players.

7) What’s the number one Cubs card on your want list?

Currently, the number one Cubs card on my want list is the 1967 Topps dual rookie card #576. It features longtime fan-favorite, Don Kessinger, but he’s not who I’m after here. Next to him, on this pasteboard, is longtime forgotten player, Norm Gigon, making his only cardboard appearance. It just so happens that this bad boy falls in one of the most notoriously difficult to track down high number groups and they often go for upwards of fifty bucks. However, I don’t have any other options for this one-season wonder, so I’ve been waiting for an off-condition copy to fall into my lap for a while now. Patience is a virtue!

Now, as far as pipe dreams go, I could think of many more exciting choices; but, I’m going to stay grounded here.

8) How do you acquire Cubs for your collection?

I have no methods that are truly out of the ordinary. Most of my cards come in through Ebay purchases, card shop purchases, blogger trades, pack-ripping experiences and in that order. After all, my needs are extremely narrow and focused – it’s tough to find help with guys like Kitty Bransfield or Pickles Dilhoefer (those are, in fact, real people).

However, that said, the generous folks of blogosphere have made many generous contributions to my collection over the years and I couldn’t be more thankful for their help. Some cards that I never would have pulled the trigger on for my self and stuff that I didn’t even know existed have made their way to me thanks to these selfless souls. It’s truly amazing to me that “strangers” on the internet will go to the trouble to physically mail me items that they think might help. It’s wonderful!

9) How many Cubs cards do you have in your collection?

I honestly do not have a full count because I’m bad at math and don’t like numbers. However, I can say that I do have 1,565 out of the 2,095 men to have ever donned Cubbie Blue represented in my marquee binder – the Cubs All-Time Roster Collection (CATRC). I’ve been working on this project off and on since I first started collecting and really started dedicating myself to it after the 2003 playoffs. It’s required a lot of patience and it’s certainly been a labor of love!

10) Do you collect anything else besides Cubs cards?

When it comes to baseball, not really. However, I do have similar, all-time roster-based collections going for the Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls, as well NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Baseball will always be the number one sport in my heart, but I have soft spots in my heart for these sports/teams as well. I don’t really know why I collect this way, but it does give me a goal and keeps me actively engaged with collecting.

11) What inspired you to start blogging?

In a previous job, I used to have work on Saturday mornings for five hours, but I only had about two hours of actual work (the rest, “my presence” was necessary). As a result, I spent a lot of time trolling the internet on my office computer. While searching for needed Cubs cards, I was surprised to find a healthy array of baseball card-themed blogs during these long hours of “work” – some of the earliest I recall coming across were Wrigley Wax, Dime Boxes, Night Owl Cards, and Waiting ‘til Next Year.

It was their writing that inspired me to add my own voice to this tight-knit community; I figured, if nothing else, it would make for an interesting way to track the progress of my collection, with detail, and keep my writing skills sharp. Lo and behold, it’s become a four-year strong hobby!

12) Who are your favorite trading card bloggers?

Well, as stated in the previous question, Wrigley Wax, Dime Box Nick, the Night Owl, and P-Town Tom were the ones who really hooked me on the whole blogging concept and their quality in content has remained topshelf. Additionally, I would also have to note that I rarely miss a post from The Lost Collector, defgav, Zippy Zappy, or Billy Kingsley, among many others – the list is long (just check out my blogroll for all of my favorites. Oh… and the mind behind One Million Cubs ain’t so bad either! But seriously, I’m sorry that I can’t shine the spotlight on everyone.

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