For the first time in this series, I'm using a scorecard image. Why? Because other than the Ernie Banks picture on the 1977 scorecard, the 1981 card featuring a Cub wearing No. 12 is the only time between 1949 and the sale of the Cubs after 1981 to have a representation of a real player.
The 1981 card honors Steve Macko, a fifth-round pick of the Cubs in 1977 who, though he wasn't that great a hitter, did know how to take a walk (.361 OBP in the minor leagues) and who might have become a decent utility infielder through the 1980s.
After playing 25 games for the Cubs in a couple of late-season callups in 1979 and 1980, Macko was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the 1980-81 offseason. He died November 27, 1981, aged just 27.
Macko's dad Joe played in the Cubs farm system from 1957-64 and was the clubhouse manager for the Texas Rangers from 1973 through 2001.
The 1981 scorecard was identical to the one issued in 1974, except they changed the number to honor Macko. (Though No. 9 was on the '74 card, it wasn't intended to honor any specific player, even though Steve Swisher wore that number that year.)
Just wanted to bring a small part of Cubs history to this year's spring countdown. While we look forward to potentially an historic Cubs season, we should never forget those who have come before.