Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cha Cha Graph

During my high school years I used to regularly go to Cardinals games on Sunday afternoons with my father.  We'd drive downtown to Busch and check out the early-mid 1990s Cardinals which were some of the worst teams in the history of the franchise.  Gussie Busch died at the end of the 1989 season leaving his son, August IV, in charge of the team.  The Cardinals became cheap and indifferent to the product on the field.

The pitching staff was led by such notables as Bob Tewksbury, Omar Oliveras, and Rene Arocha, and while I love Ray Lankford and will argue you non-stop about him deserving to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, he had very little help.  Mark Whiten was decent, Pagnozzi was a nice defensive catcher, but there were too many players like Tripp Cromer and Scott Cooper on the roster.  

In the end my father and I often spent time watching players on the team shine against the Cardinals and I also got a fair share of stories about the Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s that my father grew up watching.  That included lots of stories about Musial, Gibson, and Brock.  Other notable names got tossed in there too like Roger Maris, Julian Javier, Mike Shannon, and Ken Boyer.  

Then there was Orlando Cepeda.  There was only one Cha Cha story that my father ever told and it came out every time someone hit a long home run.  I think I first heard the story at some point in late elementary school after Jack Clark launched a ball to the back of the bleachers.  Basically, the first game my father went to in Busch Stadium II, the cookie cutter one, was a pitchers dual that was decided on a Cepeda home run.  

Supposedly the home run landed in the home deck of Busch, straight down the left field line, near the top of the second deck.  There is no video of the dinger, but there are news stories....

While I have spent time and money chasing down autographs of a lot of the players from those Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a few players who have escaped me.  I actually have a Cepeda autograph, but it is with the Giants.  I am sure that most people who saw Cha Cha in person probably remember him better as a member of the Giants, still he won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1967 and won a National League Championship with the team the following year in 1968.  Pretty good stretch before he was traded to the Braves for Joe Torre.  

There have been a few Cepeda autographs in a Cardinals uni over the years, but I have never tracked one down until last week.......

The 1968 Topps are not my favorites, I am a fan of the burlap sack comparisons, but that was a good year for the Cardinals.  Very happy to add this nice Cepeda autograph to the collection.  Maybe I need to find the other Cardinals autographs in this year's Heritage set....there are a few more nice ones....

1 comment:

  1. Cool story about your father and the home run. I could definitely see myself building a collection around it, if that were me. As for the card itself... that's a sweet signature. Year in and year out... I'm always on the lookout for Heritage on-card autographs of hall of famers.