Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One Of My Biggest Pet Peeves

While sorting through a great stack of cards that I received from Dustin of Coot Veal and the Vealtones today, I ran across this card.
Cap Anson of the Chicago White Sox. While this is marginally a true statement, it does present a problem that faces both White Sox and Cubs collectors. The Chicago White Stockings started as a National League club in 1876. Any good Cubs fan will tell you that 1876 is the same year that the Cubs joined the National League. The really good Cubs fans will tell you that this is the same team.

Yes, the Chicago Cubs started out as the Chicago White Stockings, then abandoned that name for the Colts in 1890. Then they abandoned that name for the Orphans in 1898, no doubt to reflect the retirement of Cap Anson. The Cubs name didn't start until 1903.

Meanwhile, in 1894, a team started playing in Sioux City, Iowa, named the Cornhuskers. In 1895, that team would move to St. Paul, Minnesota, and be known as the Saints, alternating between the Saints and the Apostles. All of this took place in a minor league circuit named the Western League. In 1900, the Western League became the American League, still remaining a minor league. Also in 1900, the St. Paul team moved to Chicago and adopted the discarded White Stockings name, since the National League club in the city hadn't used it in a decade.

In 1901, the American League became a major league. The White Stockings name would be used until 1903. After that, the shortened White Sox name was officially used.

Now that the history lesson is out of the way, I'll mention that players from the nineteenth century Cubs teams often get mislabeled with the current White Sox. It's something that I have learned to expect and usually laugh it off. I know my timeline and I'm familiar enough with the players to pick out a nineteenth century Cubs player and a nineteenth century Sioux City or St. Paul player, when they are identified as "White Sox" on their card.

Even though the "registered trademark" name of the White Sox is on the front, what irks me about this card is the back.
While mentioning Cap Anson's association with the National League team in Chicago, Upper Deck uses the modern Chicago White Sox logo. It calmly mentions that Anson played for twenty-four seasons, ending in 1897, three seasons before the American League would even be formed. That's just shoddy decision making for an otherwise nice card.

If they wanted to be historically accurate, the "Sox" on the from would be "Stockings" or the team would be listed as the Colts. There are even many examples of modern day clothing with the Chicago Colts logo appearing.
If Upper Deck didn't want to confuse the casual fans, they could have just as easily slapped a modern Cubs logo on the back and be done with it. Instead they chose to insult everyone from the people who purchased this product to the ghost of Cap Anson by displaying the White Sox logo that has been in use by the American League team since 1991.

I do miss Upper Deck being a part of the baseball landscape, but situations like this give me pause.


Dhoff said...

Great history lesson. And interesting to find out what a messed up card this is. Glad I sent something so inspiring/annoying: good fodder for a post.

What I've heard about Cap is that he was quite the racist, which is more annoying.

Steve Gierman said...

From everything that I've read about him, I would say yes. Cap's racism is one of the main reasons why the color line was originally drawn in the MLB.

This is a great card and a perfect example of how the two different Chicago White Stockings teams can still get interchanged. It made a wonderful post topic, so I can hardly complain about that!

I'm still sorting through the card you sent over, but I've already smiled multiple times while going through the stack.

Thanks! :-)

LoCoDe said...

Great lesson.

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