By Stan Carlberg | Guest Commentary
As baseball celebrates the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, I thought I’d reach into the cardboard archives to see how card companies captured baseball at 1060 W. Addison Street through the years.
While it can be a challenge to tell if a photo was taken at spring training, on the road, or at a team’s home turf, Wrigley has some very distinct features that are hard to miss. The ivy-covered outfield walls, for instance, are pretty obvious. So is the hand-turned centerfield scoreboard and clock, a Wrigley fixture for more than 70 years.
While the card above has yet to arrive in 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter, the following cards represent the folklore and ambiance that make Wrigley Field one of baseball’s all-time great stadiums.
15. 1974 Topps #378 Burt Hooton: In just his fourth Big League start, “Happy” tossed Wrigley’s first no-no since Ferguson Jenkins’ gem in 1969. This card shows Hooton waiting for the umpire’s call as the centerfield bleacher fans look on.
14. 1995 Upper Deck #200 Michael Jordan and Harry Caray: This card pictures two Chicago legends. During a 1994 exhibition game between the Cubs and their cross-town rival White Sox, the recently retired basketball legendary drove in a pair of runs against the South Siders. The Hall of Fame announcer was there to capture all the fun and excitement.
13. 1989 Score Highlight #652 First Night Game at Wrigley: After hosting Cubs games for more than 70 years, Wrigley finally gave in to night baseball. This card captures that historic evening, lights and all, from a panoramic view behind home plate.
12. 2013 Allen & Ginter’s Wrigley Field outfield brick relic card: For 125 lucky collectors, Topps offered some genuine brick pieces straight off Wrigley’s famous outfield wall. An odd collectible for some, but a definite must-have for any die-hard Cubs fan.
11. 1968 Topps #60 Ken Holtzman: In 1969, Holtzman become the first left-hander to toss a no-hitter at Wrigley. Several Holtzman cards feature him in the Friendly Confines, but this photo was actually used in at least four different Holtzman cards in the late 1960s.
10. 1993 Upper Deck #415 Denny Neagle: Interestingly, this rather strange card doesn’t even include a Cubs player. Just four years after the release of Field of Dreams, Pirates pitcher Denny Neagle does his impression of Shoeless Joe emerging from the Iowa cornfields, magically appearing from Wrigley’s sacred ivy-covered outfield wall.
9. 1937 Goudey Wide Pen Premium Gabby Hartnett: Considered by many as the best National League catcher of his day, the burly Hartnett set many offensive and defensive records for catchers. In 1938, Hartnett blasted the famous “Homer in the Gloamin’” to help the Cubs to their fourth NL pennant in 10 years. This card captures a pre-Gloamin’ Hartnett basking in the Chicago sun.
8. 2013 Topps #209 David DeJesus: This is one of the better action shots at Wrigley. The journeyman outfielder is shown making an incredible catch as he crashes into to brick-layered ivy wall. That’s got to hurt.
7. 1971 Topps #240 Fergie Jenkins: During his eight seasons with the Cubs, Jenkins strung together a franchise record six consecutive 20-win seasons from 1967-72. This card pictures the 6-foot-5 Hall of Famer standing in front of Wrigley’s grandstands in the middle of his memorable run.
6. 1999 Topps Season Highlights #204 Kerry Wood: Wood brought excitement to Wrigley that fans hasn’t seen since Ryne Sandberg. His record-tying 20 strikeouts in a game goes down as one if the stadium’s all time memorable games. This card pictures Wood ready to mow down another helpless victim.
5. 2002 Upper Deck Day at the Park #6 Sammy Sosa: Sosa’s relationship with the team may still be strained but nobody can deny the excitement Slammin’ Sammy brought to the team in the late 1990s. On this subset card, the Cubs most recent NL MVP is shown in front of the ivy wall, where he patrolled right field for 13 seasons.
4. 1968 Topps #366 AS Ron Santo: The nine-time all-star third baseman and longtime broadcaster was a fan favorite and Wrigley Field fixture for decades. This subset all-star card pictures Santo in front of the famous centerfield scoreboard.
3. 1993 Upper Deck #175 Ryne Sandberg: Watching Ryno nab nine straight Gold Gloves along with more than 280 dingers made him a daily highlight reel for Cubs fans over two decades. This card captures him defying gravity as he robs a hitter of a base hit.
2. 1961 Topps #141 Billy Williams: Williams raked up some of the biggest offensive numbers in Cubs history, and for him, it was never too soon to get started. Smack in the middle of his NL Rookie of the Year campaign, this card depicts a young Williams about to embark on his memorable Hall of Fame journey.
1. 1960 Topps #10 Ernie Banks: Nothing says Wrigley more than a young Ernie Banks. This card depicts a youthful Mr. Cub in his prime, fresh off of back-to-back MVP seasons in 1958 and 1959, gazing up at the bleachers with many more great years and accomplishments still ahead of him.
Did I miss any? Feel free to share your favorite Wrigley card …