Monday, May 12, 2008

Card of the Month - May 2008

1970 Topps - #630 - Ernie Banks

Card of the month for May is this 1970 Topps Ernie Banks. I started collecting Ernie's cards last year because he was one of the players that I idolized when I was younger. Banks' cards also come at a very reasonable price compared to other Hall of Fame players with similar numbers. He was appropriately nicknamed "Mr. Cub", which makes perfect sense to me as he is undoubtedly the single player that comes to mind when you think of the old school Cubs.

Ernie was the first black player to suit up for the Cubs, and he played there his entire career (first at shortstop and then eventually moving to first base). He became known for the saying "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame, let's play two!". Unfortunately for Banks, the saying could just as easily have been "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame, let's play 2,528 of them and never make the playoffs!". Yes, the Cubs were so terrible during Banks' tenure that he holds the record for most games played without a playoff appearance.

I can't imagine what it must've been like to be that great a player, play that many seasons, and never even get a shot at winning the World Series. If this happened it today's era, you'd probably see quotes from Ernie, demanding to be traded, splashed all over Chicago newspapers and SportsCenter. Maybe that's why I enjoy collecting his cards. It's refreshing in this day and age of high-pressure baseball and huge contracts to think of a Hall of Famer who loved the game and was perfectly content despite playing for a losing team for almost 20 years.

The reason I chose the 1970 Topps card is that it was on this day in 1970 that Ernie Banks connected for his 500th home run at Wrigley Field, a feat that only 23 players have accomplished so far (Manny Ramirez is just a few swings away from becoming the 24th).

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