Leo Must Go & Leo Must Stay Pins
There are thousands of baseball pinback buttons to collect. For the vast majority of them, we have no idea who made them or why they were made. Uncertainty is endemic to the hobby. If only we could absolutely pinpoint the source of a pin. It is exceedingly rare to do so. With two pins I have been able to do just that. But as is so typical, not completely.
Leo Durocher was manager of the Cubs from 1966 to half-way through the 1972 season. In 1969 the Cubs lead the National League East Division for much of the season before being overtaken by the New York Mets. The Cubs had a very fine team with four future Hall-of-Famers. A pair of 1.25” pins appeared late in 1969. One said, “Leo Must Go” and the other “Leo Must Stay.” But where did these pins come from?
I was able to locate the exact source. A novelty company in Chicago entitled “I. C. Sport Specialties” sponsored the pins. The address of the company was P.O. Box 491, Northbrook, IL 60062. A small flyer approximately 3” x 4” tells the story.
“Cub fans! Put in your 2 cents worth. We‘re neutral, but some fans say Leo Durocher is the best thing to hit Chicago. Others say he had all the ‘horses’ to be in this year’s World Series. As a public service, *I.C. Sport Specialties will conduct the ballot. Just send 2 cents! That’s right, only 2 cents each for the button you want that shows where you stand, Cub fans. (Remember friends, business associates, fellow fans, etc., when you order). Checks, money orders payable to I.C. Sport Specialties. *Incredibly Creative”
An envelope from the company lists “I.C. (Irv) Haag, Pres.” The envelope also states the company is “The creator of Chicago Cubs Song Hey Hey Holy Mackerel” and “Boosterrocks.”
The envelope has a June 1970 postmark. The cost of a first-class postage stamp at the time was 6 cents. Given the wording in the ad, it appears the buttons became available either after the World Series or after the Cubs were eliminated from contention. The thought of sending a check or money order for 2 cents (the minimum order) with the cost of a postage stamp being 6 cents (there is no mention that the buyer had to pay for postage or handling) is quaint by today’s standards. Mr. I.C. Haag was resourceful enough to turn his first and middle initial into the name of the company, but also a marketing slogan (“Incredibly Creative”).
This is truly a delightful story, one that I wish accompanied every baseball pinback button. But reality has a way of crashing into wishes. Alas, even this story is not complete.
These two pins also came in a larger size, 3.5”. No mention is made of them in the ad, and if Mr. Haag also sold these pins for 2 cents apiece, he would have lost money on every sale. I don’t know if the I.C. Sport Specialties Company made the larger pins, but the 3.5” pin is not just a larger version of the 1.25” pin. A careful inspection of the pins reveals the “Leo” and the “Go” and “Stay” fonts are the same (as is the exclamation point), differing only in size. But the word “Must” is in a different font. Also, in the larger version of the pin the underline ends before the exclamation point, but in the smaller version it extends partially under it. Even after you have established a pin’s identity, you discover there is more to the story.
Next up: The 1929 Chicago Cubs and Certified Ice Cream Pins