By Todd Johnson
This has been a very enjoyable off-season when it comes to making cards. Somewhere around Christmas, I started making more modern templates for the cards rather than going with the classic 60s, 70s, and early 80s. Thanks to some much-needed time off in December, I updated my template library to include the ability to make cards from the 90s to 00s to the 10s.
There are a few cards made from pictures from last season, but most of the cards in today’s list are from the last six weeks of spring training. There’s no real theme to this month but there are several cards that would make any regular season card of the month list.
Rick Carlson captured a prospect unicorn in Fernando Kelli in spring training. I really like the picture but Kelli does have a weird finish to that swing. The second honorable mention comes from the Eugene Emeralds with a close-up of Miguel Amaya in a 1999 template. I also really liked this rare picture of Thomas Hatch in an away uniform. It was taken by Jen Nevius, a photographer who does work on the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Carolina League.
Coming in at number 10 is Yu Darvish in a card template I like to call the “John Arguello Special,” or a 1975 card, which was John’s favorite year of card. At number nine, Rikk Carlson found another unicorn for me in Mesa in 2017 draft pick Luis Vasquez. I love the light and how the blue reflects light while the crowd is somewhat muted in the background. Justin Hancock debuts in a 2007 card with a shot from Dylan Heuer and the Iowa Cubs. I’m a sucker for any picture of a pitcher with the ball flying towards the plate.
The Chicago Tribune’s picture of Javier Baez is great because of how the background fills the card. It’s rare to find a picture where the background fits the certain structure of certain words and labels on the card. It really does make the card without you noticing it. The Trib returns again at number six with an up close and personal look at Duane Underwood. What I like most about this picture and card are the many shades of blue in the uniform, frame, and background. And at number five, the Eugene Emeralds appear again with the classic shot of one of my favorite arms to watch, Bailey Clark. I really like the shadows mixing with the sunlight and the ball hurling towards the plate.
Starting on Monday last week, I bet I rearranged the top four cards five to six times. Coming in at number four is the newest man on Cubs 25 man roster, Victor Caratini. While he is decked out in blue, I like how the white and the red pop off the picture. For the number three card, he was number one at least twice during the week but I still love this picture of Wilson Contreras in the dugout. And at number two, the newly trimmed Kyle Schwarber is about as good an action picture of a player that you can get. Rikk Carlson captured the shot and I put it in a 2007 frame. And not surprisingly, it is one of my favorite cards of the spring.
He seems to be the cover boy of Cubs Central baseball cards. I just love everything about this picture from Daryl Sullivan of Blount County’s The Daily Times. I love how Trevor’s white jersey and red hat contrast to the kids beside him and perfectly captures his personality. Had I seen this picture last summer, it probably would’ve been the number one card of the year…easily
Now that spring training is over, I’m excited to start making cards. I am 900% sure that Rikk Carlson will be there taking pictures of the prospects in their new uniforms in South Bend and Larry Kave in Myrtle Beach. One of my favorite things about any new season is just seeing familiar players in new uniforms.
Make sure and bookmark our Facebook photo album page to keep up with the latest in cards. And come every Sunday, “The Weekly” will always have a card of the week.
I will be back tomorrow morning with my MiLB Preseason First Half All-Star Team.