Saturday, December 4, 2010

Team colors: Cubs

I've been out of commission for the last 36 hours. Just way too insanely busy to pontificate about cards.

So, I'm just getting around to Ron Santo's death and what it means to me. But, outside of being sad that someone so beloved by a certain fan base is gone, it doesn't mean much.

I am not a Cubs fan. I live far from Chicago. Santo's career ended an instant before I started paying attention to baseball, and those players who retired in 1973/74/75 existed in a vacuum for me for years until I started to get a handle on that period of baseball history.

Also, WGN was not available on the cable systems where I resided until the last decade. I never heard Santo broadcast a game. Santo isn't even an excuse for me to rail at people who vote for Hall of Famers (besides, I'm more a critic of the system than the voters). Santo does deserve to be in the Hall. I just can't get outraged by that stuff like others do.

So, why write about him?

Well, for one, I wanted to show this magnificently miscut 1975 mini card. It is one of the extreme examples of miscutting in my collection. I have had this card since I was 9 or 10. Aside from the severe angle problem the card has, it is in remarkably good shape compared with the rest of the cards I have from when I was that age. The corners are almost sharp.

For me, this is what I thought of when I heard Santo's name. Strangely miscut cards. Also -- and I know this will irk Cubs fans -- I pictured Santo as a White Sox player for probably the first 20 years of my collecting life. All I knew about him was this card. But at least it got a laugh out of me. I'm not sure if his broadcasting would (if you turn around Santo's 1975 card, the player mentioned in the cartoon is Ken Harrelson. Two homers on one card).

Later, when I began collecting the cards of my childhood, I properly placed Santo in a Cubs uniform in my mind. That was thanks to this card.

I still think this is one of the strangest horizontal cards that I've seen. Santo looks like he's been cut-and-pasted into the photo. This also is one of the first cards I ever featured on the blog.

I still don't have many Santo cards. Maybe 9 or 10. Almost all of them are part of complete sets or an attempt to complete a collection.

But I think I owe it to Santo and Cubs fans (no, this doesn't mean I like the Cubs any more than I do) to remember his passing in a more fitting manner than a miscut White Sox card.

So it's team colors time!

Santo wore a whole bunch of blue in his career, and I would guess that Topps featured blue with his cards for most of his career.

But in true Topps fashion of that era, the color that Topps used most with Santo on sets in which it selected colors based on what team it was featuring -- drum roll, please -- is:


For four straight years, and then again in 1971, orange was the color of choice for Cubs cards. Silly Topps.

Let's see if Topps recovered in the years following Santo's retirement, shall we?:

1964: red, yellow and black
1965: red, yelllow and blue
1966: orange
1967: orange
1968: orange
1969: orange
1971: light blue and orange
1972: pink, light green and yellow
1974: pink and blue
1976: pink and blue
1977: blue, yellow and red
1978: blue and yellow
1979: red and yellow
1980: red, purple and yellow
1981: red and blue
1982: blue and pink
1983: blue and purple
1984: purple and yellow
1985: blue and red
1986: red
1987: red
1988: blue, light blue and red
1989: blue, light blue and red
1991: blue, light blue and red
1992: blue, light blue and red
1993: light blue and red
1994: red, yellow and blue
1998: blue and red
2000: blue
2002: blue and red
2003: blue and red
2004: blue and red
2005: blue and red
2006: blue and red
2007: blue and red
2008: blue and red
2009: blue
2010: blue

It took until 2010 for blue to emerge as the overall color leader but it finally did.

Cubs team colors: blue and red.

What Topps thinks are the Cubs' team colors: blue and red.

Topps finally straightened it out. But for old times, here is a little orange with the blue:

RIP, Mr. Santo. Sorry about that White Sox thing. But I think the miscut card is great.

(The tally: Blue-23, Red-22, Yellow-9, Light Blue-6, Orange-5, Pink-4, Purple-3, Green-1, Black-1)


  1. Santo wasn't the TV guy - he was the radio color guy. So there's no reason that you could have heard him. But WGN has a wide signal, so us midwestern folk heard him plenty.


  2. Yeah, see? Out of the loop on Santo.

  3. Interesting color analysis. I always wondered why Topps was so hung up on the orange for the Cubs (and the Sox too). Wouldn't it have made more sense for the Giants and Orioles to be orange?

    A Dodger fan should appreciate this..take a look behind Santo on the 1974 card and you'll see the bald head of Cubs manager (and former Dodger and Giant skipper, too) Leo Durocher.