I’ve been collecting the Chicago Cubs since I was a teenager, beginning with my first favorite player: Sammy Sosa. I started a Sosa collection somewhere around 1995, before he became SAMMY. Then 1998 hit, and that pile of 90 Leafs I had accumulated for $2 a piece suddenly didn’t seem so ridiculous. Thus began my obsession with baseball cards. The hobby, for both me and the rest of the world, has ebbed and flowed over the years. Pretty much every extra dollar I had during my teenage years was spent on cards. Then college came and I didn’t go to the card shop quite as much, briefly toying with a Corey Patterson collection that went nowhere. Like so many other collectors, I was young, married, and broke during my 20s, so buying cards became an easily dismissed luxury.
But bit by bit, the hobby pulled me back in. I still had a big chunk of my old collection, and I started sending some of them to be graded. My 83 Topps Sandberg, the one I bought from the local card shop when I was 17, hit a PSA 10. I started filling in some holes in the collection, looking to go vintage, discovering names like Gabby Hartnett and Three-Finger Brown. Then in 2012 the Cubs traded for some guy named Anthony Rizzo, and in 2014 I was at the game in Cincinnati when Rizzo confronted the entire Reds dugout on his own because he thought Aroldis Chapman threw at Nate Schierholtz intentionally. For the first time since Sammy, I had a guy.
When Ernie Banks passed away in 2015, it spurred me to get a little more organized with my collection. I had picked up a lot of notable Cubs rookie cards, but my question became, what are the notable Cubs rookie cards? Who have I missed? I started reading about the old Cubs teams of the past and using advanced stats like Wins Above Replacement to put together a list of the players I needed to have in the collection. It started with a top 20, then quickly expanded to about 50 or so, but I kept discovering names that were left out. How did I not have a Kiki Cuyler card yet? Who is this guy Don Kessinger who has almost no WAR but over 7,000 at-bats? Do I collect him or not? What about all these 19th century guys with the handlebar mustaches?
This website is the answer to all those questions and a hundred more. I know people will disagree with the rankings. I know some of these names stir up emotions because we watched these players when we were 15 years old, whether that’s Alfonso Soriano or Andre Dawson or Andy Pafko. But it’s not so much about the ranking. That’s just a tool to organize the thing. It’s about the players, and the cards. It’s about realizing that this team that’s famous for perpetual losing has known a lot of great players that deserve to be remembered. This is my attempt to celebrate those players, and share a collection that started with a wild and wonderful Dominican outfielder. This is twenty-five years of collecting and studying All the Cubs.