Stories About Bill Bonham, Jim Bullinger, and Sammy Sosa

Another post from a Cubs baseball card mail day from the past week. This mail day is courtesy of Anderson in Georgia and Perry in Pompano Beach, Florida.


Anderson sent a box with more than 225 Cubs baseball cards along with a couple bobbleheads. The Ernie Banks bobblehead is new in my collection. Ironically, I had the Sosa bobblehead…but received the one I had just a week prior to this one. ​​

Speaking of Sammy Sosa, here’s a card that was in Perry’s box. From 2002 Topps titled, “America We Stand.” It commemorates the first Cubs game after the 9/11 bombings in which the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Cubs at Cinergy Field. Around that time was when Sosa ran onto the field with an American flag, and that still gives me goosebumps nearly 20 years later.


The early 2000’s are all kind of a blur to me…college and all. But, 9/11, and the ensuing months are etched in my memory. I can detail nearly my entire day from September 11, 2001, as a college sophomore. From waking up to my mom watching Good Morning America and telling me, “the World Trade Center is on fire,” to getting out of the shower and realizing it was more than just a fire. The entire day of classes at Black Hawk College where I was attending was nothing but World Trade Center talk. The rec room on campus next to the cafeteria typically had 10-15 students playing pool or watching TV. On 9/11, it was shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone huddled around a 27″ television watching the news.


After classes I went to work at my hometown IGA grocery store. It was just a three-hour shift, and of course it was a steady stream of customers buying bread, eggs, and milk. All the talk surrounded the mile long line to fill up with gas at the small town’s two gas stations. After work, myself and a few friends hung out at Joe’s Apartment. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Joe’s Apartment, my friend Joe kept his apartment about as clean (not clean at all – the cock roaches probably also talked). I digress…back to the Cubs.


In a previous life I worked in radio and had a morning show. One of the most popular segments of the show was call-in trivia called the Ron Elbe All or Nothing Daily Challenge, sponsored by a local car dealership. It was three trivia questions that my co-host and I made up. One stumper I came up with was naming a street in our city that shared the same name as a Cubs pitcher from the 1970’s. It was difficult because Bill Bonham was not exactly a household name, and Bonham Street was one of the shortest and least traveled streets in the city of Macomb, Illinois.​​

It was great news to hear Lou Piniella will be on staff for the Cubs new, upcoming Marquee Network. Piniella was one of my favorite Cubs managers. ​​

One more story before I go. Jim Bullinger pitched for the Chicago Cubs in the 1990’s and he was one of the alumni to return for the Cubs Convention. He was in the lobby waiting for some pizza on day one of the convention. He’s apparently a Lou Malnati’s fan.​​

In the autograph line, Bullinger was paired with Dave Otto. I was wearing my Cubs Card-o-Meter sign, and both Otto and Bullinger were very curious. I told them the story of my project, and they were very interested. Otto shared a story about owning a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle, but said he didn’t have the 1952 Topps Mantle.


Bullinger was equally impressed by this, and shared he has a friend that owns a baseball signed by Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, and Barry Bonds. It was a great conversation, and we could have talked for hours.


Stay tuned for more maildays as I continue to dig myself out of Cubs baseball cards that have been accumulating the past two weeks. 

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