After pouring over the wildly popular articles detailing the special baseball card sets produced for the Cubs Conventions held in 1996 and 1998, you may have wondered whether the Cubs have ever issued any other cards for distribution to conventiongoers. The 2020 Cubs Convention is the most recent incarnation of the event, held just months before COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns were mandated in Illinois. Much in the same way Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour waited 22 years to issue his solo follow-up to About Face, the Cubs issued cards at the 2020 Convention for the first time since 1998.
While there is always some fun discourse regarding what constitutes a “card,” this three-card set offers an odd size (2 ⅞ x 4 ¾), a full-bleed lenticular front, and a back that contains only the Cubs Twitter handle. The cards are not numbered, and no biographical information or stats are provided. In fact, the players depicted on the obverse are not even identified.
The cards were given away (along with emoji-like keychains) in the Cubs’ Social Media room, placed individually on a table for anyone to grab for free. The set’s checklist is small: Yu Darvish, Javy Báez, and a combo featuring Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo.
Manipulation of the cards offered instant familiarity: each card depicted a memeified moment from the 2019 season that had been shared millions of times via social media (nice job @Cubs social media team!). Minimal research was needed to identify the game where each depiction originated.
Presented chronologically, the Yu Darvish card was taken from a reaction by Darvish that occurred during the Cubs’ game at Miami on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, 2019, a 7-2 victory for Darvish and the Cubs. (The first clue to determine the date of this game was quite easy to decipher because the top portions of the “42” on Darvish’s jersey were apparent.)
Although it is not clear precisely when this reaction by Darvish occurred during the game, it was turned into a WTF-style GIF used to represent disbelief:
The second card is Javy Báez sliding into third base on May 9, 2019, during a game against the Marlins at Wrigley Field—another win for the Cubs, 4-1. In the bottom of the first, Báez drew a (rare) base on balls and went from first to third on a single by Kyle Schwarber, where “El Mago” made this smooth-as-silk slide into the bag.
Jon Lester/Anthony Rizzo
The final card is interesting in that it depicts opposite angles of a celebratory hug between Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester, which occurred after Rizzo’s third-inning grand slam in the Cubs’ rout over the Pirates 17-8 on September 13, 2019. The two-out blast came off Steven Brault and scored David Bote, Albert Almora, and Lester, who was waiting at the plate for Rizzo. (The card also shows Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant in the background during the celebration.)
These cards are an awful lot of fun, especially because the action depicted on each can be traced to a specific game/event in the 2019 season. Hopefully, the Cubs will continue issuing similar cards once the Cubs Convention is cleared to resume!
Cards in Action
“Wildly popular” has been used liberally in the article, above.