Summer of ’74 is Moving!

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I’ve decided to switch over to blogspot, so please click the super-cool new Summer of ’74 logo to visit the new home of my card blog. The wordpress site will remain up, but is now inactive. Thanks the memories.

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The All-time Brewers Project

I got back into collecting cards about 10 years ago, trying to build a sort-of master set of Topps flagship Brewers. I ended up expanding that quest to try to build a COMPLETE set of Brewers cards – as in one of everything ever – but I got lost in the 2000s, when a zillion different companies were making a zillion different sets that I really couldn’t care less about. Now that I am trying to refocus my collecting goals create some collecting goals, I’ve gotten away from the completist tendencies that had previously taken a lot of fun of the hobby. I want to rebuild my Topps flagship sets (decimated by my TTM habit) and built some Topps complete sets.

But I’ve still got that ‘collect ’em all’ bug. So, in a compromise with myself, I’ve decided to embark on what I’m calling the “All-Time Brewers Project,” in short, one card of every players who has ever appeared in a game as a Brewer.

I already had a good head start on this project, thanks to a 1994 Miller Beer promotion in which they issued stadium give-away sets of every Brewers player from 1970-1993. And, with a couple of late nights with a few cans of the sponsor’s ice-cold product and a stream of Simpsons eps on the TV, I manged to cobble together a set of about 640 of the roughly 820 players on the Crew’s all-time roster (these are rough estimates).

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I also made some cute little year dividers. I’ve arranged them by the year of their debut, according to the all-time roster I found on brewers.com. As you can see, the Miller cards are, to put it mildly, a bit hard on the eyes. I’m in the process of swapping them out with more standard-issues when I come across them. But they are excellent for providing cardboard of obscure or short-term Brewers, like Dick Schofield, who spent about ten minutes of his 18-year career in Milwaukee and appears on no other card as a Brewer.

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I’d also like to upgrade the binders I’ve got these beauties in. I stole was given these from an office job that was eventually laid off from.

Aside from the collector’s pride I feel in putting this thing together, it has already proven to be a pretty valuable research tool in getting me to more closely examine in the all-time roster. For example, I’ve learned that in their entire history, the Brewers have only had ONE African-American start a game at catcher. That would be Marcus Jensen, who had two tours with the team, in 1998 and 2002. Sadly, he does not have a Brewers card.

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I’ve also transfer my Brewers autograph collection in the all-time binders. Of the 600-some different player I’ve got, maybe 100 are signed. I’d like to work on increasing that number as well.

I have a list of the Brewers I still need on my want lists page. A big chunk of the remainders never had a Brewers card issued, and another big chunk only have team-issue cards with them in Brewers dress. Oddly enough, Pacific – the one card company that I truly loathed as a kid – is a pretty good source of Brewers cards that no one else bothered with in the 1990s and 2000s, including the only card of Julio Franco in a Brewers uniform.

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Mark Hoyle, who does not have a blog (at least I don’t think he does), but is on twitter as @markhoyle4, sent me a PWE of vintage Brewers that can in handy for upgrading the Miller cards. Thanks Mark!

There is a card show in the Milwaukee area on the 23rd, where I can hopefully find some more updates and autos and maybe knock a few names off my need list. But, as always, I’m accepting any unsolicited help.

A Warren Spahn Story and a Trade Offer

It was 14 years ago this month that Warren Spahn, one of the greatest lefties the game has ever known, passed away. Mr. Spahn was a pretty good TTM signer in his later years, and I had the good fortune to get him to sign a couple of items for me. One was a 1962 Topps All Star card, the other was a bit more… unexpected. Before I explain, let’s go to the photos!

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Here is Spahn signature on one of those old SSPC cards.

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And here is a very nice-looking sig on a 1958 All Star Card.

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Oh, and here is a rare item – a Warren Spahn autograph on a Yuni “Don’t tell Doug Melvin that I actually Suck” Betancourt card that was printed nine years after he died. a 1/1 indeed!

What sorcery is this?!?!

None, of course. When I sent Spahnnie the card, back in about 2001, I think, I had it in a old penny sleeve. He mistakenly signed the sleeve before he signed the card. So, I ended up with two sigs for the price of one (five dollars, if I recall). This is a pretty cool item in the sense that it turns any Spahn card, or any card really, into a signed card. Sort of like a much-less intrusive sticker.

Now, as someone who keeps my signed cards in a binder, this item is of little use to me. So if anyone wants to make me an offer for it – I’d much prefer to trade it – I’m all ears. I’ll admit that the sleeve isn’t exactly in top shape. There are no overly noticeable blemishes, but it’s not pristine, either.  I’ll also note that it is large enough for 52-56 sized Topps cards. What do I want for it? I dunno. I have my want lists up and up-to-date. I’m always interested in any Brewers auto that I don’t have. Or just promise to send me something equally as cool and worthwhile. Like this penny-sleeve, I’m flexible.

An Opening Day Story

In honor of Opening Day, I’d like to share a story I wrote for a local online newspaper some time ago, Involving one of my very favorite items from my collection:

I have to say, I nearly plotzed when I found this ticket on eBay. Full tickets for the old American Association Milwaukee Brewers are a tough find, particularly special event tickets for an opening day or playoff game (for an excellent blog on the Brewers and Borchert Field, check this out). But this ticket was the rarest type of all, one with a weird backstory and vivid historical significance. Milwaukee County Stadium (1953-2000) was a trendsetter among major league sports stadiums, publicly financed and located outside of the urban city center. The city of Milwaukee had been toying with the idea of a municipal stadium since the 1930s, following the basic idea put forth by Cleveland Municipal Stadium, a multipurpose facility funded by public bonds. Several sites were proposed, most either on the western edges of the city or on the lakefront. As early as 1935, the minor league Brewers were interested in using a city-financed ballpark to replace Borchert Field, an oddly shaped wooden park at Eighth and Chambers.

Borchert Field, home of the Brewers, 1902-1952

 

The idea lingered but got no real traction until the 1940s, when a site at Story Quarry was approved by city and county officials. By then, however, wartime shortages in building material put construction plans on hold. It was also around this time that the possibility of a Major League Baseball franchise moving to Milwaukee was raised. Milwaukee had been a charter member of the American League back in 1901 but had lost its poorly supported team to St. Louis. Now, the AL was trying to shift that same fledgling team, known as the St. Louis Browns, to a more promising location. Having been a hardy supporter of the minor league Brewers for decades, and showing real interest in building a new Major League-ready facility, Milwaukee was considered a prime destination.

Ground was finally broken on the new stadium in October 1950, and for the next two years, rumors flew over which big league team would get to call it home. Through 1950 and ’51, it seemed that the Browns would land in Milwaukee. Miller Brewing president Fred Miller was set to buy the team and move them north, reports said, with a complicated swap of the Browns’ home park in St. Louis to the NL Cardinals, who would then fold their minor league club in Columbus, allowing the Brewers to move to Ohio.

Other reports claimed that, as the parent club of the Brewers, only the long-suffering Boston Braves could move to Milwaukee. Fred Miller was supposedly in on this deal as well but also was eying other teams. It was reported that the Philadelphia A’s, St. Louis Cardinals (!), and Chicago Cubs (!!) were all candidates for relocation.

The backside of a 1952 Brewers season schedule, promoting their new home

Meanwhile, the opening of the stadium was pushed back due to construction delays. On Jan. 31, 1952, with Milwaukee backers still courting various teams, an opening date of July 24 was announced for the opening of the new park, with the Brewers taking on an American Association opponent. By the opening of the 1952 season, that opening date had been pushed back yet again, but the Brewers still planned on being the new stadium’s primary residents. A grammatically-muddled tagline of Watch for Brewer Opening in Milwaukee County’s New Stadium! appeared on that year’s pocket schedules. A program from late in the season featured an artist’s rendition of County Stadium, The Future Home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Borchert Field and County Stadium

 

In January 1953, a firm opening date of April 15 was set for the new stadium’s debut, with the Brewers set to take on the St. Paul Saints. Fighting off rumors that it was only a matter of time before a Big League tenant would be found for the park, forcing the Brewers to relocate, General Manager Red Smith told the press, “The Brewers will definitely operate in Milwaukee in 1953.” The team moved its offices into the new stadium, with correspondence going out on letterhead with a watermark of County Stadium. That spring, the team began to sell game tickets, including about 12,000 to the highly-anticipated opener.

That is to say, the opening of the Stadium was anticipated. The actual playing of the Milwaukee-St. Paul game scheduled for April 15 was a terrifying proposal to local baseball boosters. As teams prepared to head south for spring training, there was still doubt as to whether or not Milwaukee’s big league ballpark would have big league tenants. The Browns, now owned by former Brewers owner Bill Veeck, were ready to make the switch, but Boston Braves owner Lou Perini would not give up his Milwaukee territory, not unless the Brewers could shift to a market comparable to Milwaukee. Frustrated by the prospect of the Brewers opening in the new stadium, Clifford Randall of the Greater Milwaukee Committee told the press, “You can bet we didn’t spend five million dollars for a new stadium for minor league baseball.”

A ticket to what would have been the first game ever played at Milwaukee County Stadium. This seat would have been seven rows behind the visiting team’s dugout

Of course, it was Perini’s own Braves that finally made the shift to Milwaukee . On March 19, the move was approved by the National League and Milwaukee rejoiced. The phone lines at the Brewers’ County Stadium office were instantly alight with people wishing to buy Braves tickets. The skeleton staff at the Stadium wasn’t sure what to do, or even, at that moment, who they worked for. Down in Florida , the new Milwaukee Braves, with Bs still on their caps, took on the Yankees. Elsewhere in the state, a team took to the field wearing Milwaukee Brewers caps and jerseys, although no one was really sure what to call them.

After assembling an office in Milwaukee, the Braves announced that tickets would go on sale on April 1, with an opening date set for April 14 against the Cardinals. Before any Braves tickets would be sold, a team official said, Brewers opening day ticketholders would have the chance to exchange them for the April 14 opener. The official also begged Milwaukeeans to stop calling the old Brewers offices looking for tickets. Meanwhile, the Brewers began the process of shifting their operation to Toledo, where they would become the Mud Hens.

There was no word of what was to happen to the Brewers tickets that were swapped in for Braves seats. Presumably, they would have been destroyed, with a few maybe kept as souvenirs. It seems highly unlikely that anyone would have kept their ticket instead of trading it in, although some people might have been miffed at having to pay the difference in price (this $1.75 ticket would have needed an extra seventy-five cents to get the Braves seat). In the event this was a ticket that someone held on to, they would have missed a great game. Warren Spahn threw ten innings and was one of five future Hall of Famers to play in the game. Billy Bruton won it for the Braves in the bottom of the tenth with a walk-off homer that glanced off the mitt of Enos Slaughter and over the barely-completed outfield fence. The Braves would play for 13 years in Milwaukee, winning two pennants and a World Series.

Feelin’ 2013 – Courtesy of Bean’s

In one of my clean-up “blind trades” I made a week or so ago, I sent Kin at Bean’s Ball Card Blog some 1958 Topps All Stars in exchange for whatever he had for me. Today, I got a bundle of mostly 2013 Topps series one cards, a most of it stuff I needed for set building. A few of the highlights:

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This set has a number of really great photos. This one reminds me of that Kerry Wood/ Andre Dawson ad from a a few years back. WHAT YEAR IS IT?

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This was a nice gesture by Topps, honoring Adam Greenberg, who was drilled in the head by the first Big League pitch he ever saw back in 2005. The beaning left him with a concussion and he suffered from vertigo and terrible headaches for months afterward. He lingered in the minors for a few more years before ending up in an independent league. On the second to last day of the season in 2012, The Marlins signed him for a day so he could get an official at bat. He struck out on three pitches, but that hardly mattered in the end. His career MLB line is two plate appearances, seven years apart, and a solid .500 OBP.

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Also, this was the year that Topps had a “chase” theme, so they took the time to note that Greenberg was 4,256 hits behind the all-time record of HE WHO CANNOT BE NAMED.

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A couple more nice shots… they have the fun and gimmicky feel of SP variations, but are mere commons. I like these kind of pictures. They’re cheeky without being stupid.

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A pair of former Brewers, who are actually both still playing, looking sharp. That Aoki card made my list of the 25 coolest Brewers cards of all-time. And the Weeks is from a game honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1982 World Series. Did you know that 2012 was the only year that the Brewers neglected to host an anniversary event (10/15/20, etc) for the 1982 AL Championship team? Guess what they are doing this year, 35 years after the fact? I have ventured to declare that no non-championship team has been so often honored.

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Bart! And he’s so skinny! A word on the design here… I really like it. This is, I think, one of the best-looking Topps sets since the bluegeen-bordered 2001s (which doesn’t excite many people, but I really like it). I always thought 2003-2009 was one of the ugliest stretches Topps ever had. 2010-2013 was a nice bounce-back. It’s a clean look, bright and streamlined, and is better than anything they’ve released since.

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I love how the faces behind Rayburn run the gamut. R-L, we have the terrified woman, the amused girl, the Andy Dwyer guy who doesn’t even bother to put down his beer, the bikini-top (maybe?) chick preparing to bare hand it, and the young Meredith Palmer who seems to be disapproving of the whole scenario. And, of course, the doofus dudemen on either side reaching over the fence like they actually have a chance of catching the interfering with a live ball. If you go to a major league game, you will – at least once – see some dingus jokingly make those “oh so close” double extended hands over the rail at a ball that missed his deck by at least 150 feet. It’s the baseball equivalent of “Workin’ hard or hardly workin’???”

 

A March Madness Contest!

Not that I really care about basketball, or March Madness, but in my on-going clean-out, I found a couple of pretty cool items that I am sure someone out there will enjoy more than me.

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A pair of ticket stubs to a 1956 game at the UW Fieldhouse between the Badgers and Northwestern. For the record, the Badgers won, 76-70, to give them a 6-16 mark on the year. This was the final game of the season.

But, as I said, I have no use for these. If you want ’em, leave a comment. Tomorrow at noon, I’ll rando the names and sent these babies off PWE-style.

Doc, Fritz, and a gift from the Brewers

Although I’ve been satisfied with how I’ve been keeping up with the blog so far, I have been slacking a bit on my “Summer of ’74” theme. So, I’ve decided to start posting my 1974 Topps autos as I get them, while still doing the occasional in-depth review, as means of focusing a bit more on that original idea that got me into this in the first place.

And lucky me, I had a pretty decent mailday!

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First, we’ve got Doc Medich – who actually was a member of the ’82 Brewers AL pennant team, even getting a few innings of work in the World Series. We see him here as a Yankee, just coming off what was probably his beat season, in which he went 14-9 with a sub-3 ERA and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. Doc actually became an MD after his player career ended (he once resuscitated a man who had a heart attack at a spring training game), but later had his license revoked for prescribing controlled medications for non-existent patients.  He has since regained his license and is a practicing surgeon, according to the internet, in Pennsylvania.

 

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Fritz Peterson had some big years for the Yankees in the early ’70s, making an all-star team and once winning 20 games. Peterson is best known, however, for swapping families with his Yankees teammate, Mike Kekich, in 1973. A few years ago, there was reportedly a movie on the matter, called “The Trade,” in the works. It appears the project is still in development.

 

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Compared to Doc and Frtiz, Twins’ backstop Glenn Borgmann has lived a fairly conventional life. Hm…. Oh! In 1974, he had the 8th most sacrifice flies in the AL. Excitement! Borgmann was solid defensively, but didn’t do much with the bat. Although he did put up a devastating .352/.474/.511 slash line with the old Wisconsin Rapids Twins in 1971. I’ve decided to nickname him, “The Rapids Rocker,” in honor of this.

These three bring me to a total of 71 different 1974 Topps cards signed.

But that was not all the mail brought me today. I also got this peach courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers…

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That’d be Keon Broxton, Zach Davies, Ryan Braun, Junior Guerra, and Jonathan Villar, left to right, for those of you not on the Brewers’ “All the Way in ’17” bandwagon yet. It’s a nice item, and I’ll put it up as soon as I can find a little bit of wall space.

The 20 Worst Brewers Cards Ever

As a promised follow-up to my 25 Coolest Brewers card post, here is the ugly end to that stick… the 20 WORST Brewers cards I can find. I’ve widened my scope here from the original list, including off-brands and team-issued cards in the hunt, which so often produce the weird and ugly cards that make the hobby… let’s say ‘fun’ and ‘lively.’ And, to limit my own mental suffering, I’ve kept this list to 20 slots. On we go…

 

#20. 2004 Topps Brewers Team

Hey, team cards are way cool, right? So what’s the problem here? Well, aside from the framing of the card leaving the players’ head roughly the size of Dippin’ Dots pellets (THE ICE CREAM OF THE FUTURE!), there is that odd Brewers-branded fence running in front of the team. What’s the deal here? Is the coaching staff all hangin’ brain? No, this was a lame device used by Topps to cover the faces of the batboys sitting in front of the first row, and thus preventing from owning them any possible royalties for using their likenesses. Fun!

 

#19. 1992 Leaf Studio Bill Wegman

Leaf’s Studio series was actually a pretty cool idea: combine casual portrait shots of players in uniform with fun personal facts on the back! Wee! Being the early 1990s, however, we are left with an inordinate number of high school senior portrait-looking images like this one of Billy Wegman. According to the back, his favorite movie is Misery. It does not mention which one of his parents cuts his hair.

 

#18. 2010 Topps Corey Hart

Nothing wrong with this card… except that the picture is crooked as hell. What gives? His pose even gives the impression he is about to run uphill. And the bat at the edge of the photo looks like its has fallen out of his hand. I mean, Corey Hart sometimes played the outfield like he was running uphill, but this is nuts.

 

#17 (tie). 2008 Topps Bill Hall, 2015 Topps Archives Khris Davis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey fans, meet Bill Hall and Khris Davis! Although, you might know them better as Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez.

 

#16. 1980 Topps Paul Mitchell

Who didn’t spend hours as a kids drawing team logos in their school notebooks? Obviously, the boob who painted that deformed ball and glove logo on Mitchell’s big blue cap. The Brewers had acquired the pitcher half-way through the 1979 season and the folks at Topps didn’t have time to find a picture of his in a Brewers uni for the 1980 set, so this airbrushed logo is what collectors got. He fared better than Bob Fenwick, anyway.

 

#15. 2009 Brewers Police Todd Coffey

 

There are not many Brewers cards out there of Todd Coffey and, like all the Brewers police-issue cards, it has a special “quote” from the player on the back to kids. But how could they give Coffey a quote that LIED ABOUT THE ONE THING HE BEST KNOWN FOR? It’s like a Ryan Braun police card telling kids not to design their own line of t-shirts!

 

#14. 1987 Topps John Henry Johnson

Trivia time: Which one of the Sweathogs does he most resemble? I’d give the answer, but I can’t figure it out myself.

 

#13. 1996 Bowman Josh Bishop

Bowman was always a cool set to collect because they issues a zillion minor league guys with the regular Major Leaguers, meaning you got to collect the rookies of players several years before they made it big. It also meant you stuck with stacks of guys like Josh Bishop, middling prospects who never made it big and had their moments of cardboard glory while sporting bad facial hair and Butthead mouths.

 

#12. 1981 Topps Traded Pete Vuckovich

Teammate: Ugh. Who farted?!?
Vuckovich: You know who…

#11. 2007 Topps Ben Sheets

Yikes. Sheets looks like a kid being forced to pose in prom tuxedo by his parents. I mean, they couldn’t have tried any harder to get a decent shot of Big Ben? If you put a newspaper in hand, this could be a kidnapping “proof of life” photo. The text on the back should just say, “Ben Sheets exists.”

#10. 1982 Topps Rollie Fingers “In Action”

Topps used to issue these “In Action” cards back when most card photos were posed headshots, the idea being to give collectors a chance to see game photos of players. But this is action? He’s standing for crissakes! Unless you’ve been bedridden for five or more days, that is not action. Extra points, too, for Rollie’s rear end, which manages to be both flat and lumpy at one time.

 

#9. 1999 Skybox Thunder Marquis Grissom

A kind of cult-favorite among collectors, this set features reverse text written in a very unfortunate quasi-hip-hop prose. Of Grissom, the card states, “Our boy Grissom be runnin’ so fast, y’all might just miss ‘em! Man, you got more jets than the Air Force!” This set proves that rapping should be left to the professionals and elderly white women.

 

#8. 1992 Fleer Mark Lee

If this guy had a mustache, he’d be every one of my uncles in their prime. Anyone who tells you that baseball players aren’t athletes has probably seen this photo.

 

#7. 1996 Topps Finest David Hulse

The words “Finest” and “David Hulse” just don’t quite fit together. Furthermore, the design of this “super-premium” card feels like something out of Tron. Hulse actually batted .286 the year before this card was issued. Not bad for someone with the build of Mr. Burns.

 

#6. 2009 Topps Jeff Suppan

So, it’s like, a recreation of the final scene in A Clockwork Orange, only with Jeff Suppan and a gym mat instead of Malcolm McDowell and the naked woman? Which would make McDowell the gym mat and… Damn you, Topps.

 

#5. 1991 Leaf Studio Ron Robinson

Whoa! Those are some serious bedroom eyes for a baseball card. Another entry in the Studio series, this one reveals another flaw in the whole concept – that it tried to make these guys look waaaay too sexy. On the back, it reveals that Robinson likes rock music, Married, With Children, and collecting baseball cards. They should have called this the OkCupid set. Our match percentage would have been pretty high.

 

#4. 1995 Fleer Matt Mieske

1995 Fleer is sooooo grunge ‘90s, it ought to have a stat category in the back for number of nipples pierced. The set’s most X-Treme gimmick was put the player’s bio info on the FRONT! I bet Kennedy collected these. Anyway, this horrifying contept leaves us with cards like this… with Matt Mieske’s weight plastered across his ass.

 

#3. 1995 Pinnacle Antone Williamson

No, that’s not a young Wes Helms, nor is it a Division 2-A college softball player, a Sears activewear model, or a pioneer of Dadbod. That’s Antone Williamson, drafted fourth overall by the Brewers in 1994 – over Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko, and Jason Varitek. Williamson totaled 11 hits in 24 career games with the Brewers. In 2012, the spotting of a Williamson jersey at Miller Park was such a shock it inspired an entire blog post at fangraphs.com.

 

#2. 1971 Topps Dave Baldwin

Alfalfa is grown up, very drunk, and about to make an incredibly sexually suggestive remark to a complete stranger.

 

#1. 1992 Bowman Chris George

1992 Bowman is one of the all-time baseball card sets. The abundance of rookie and its low print run make it a classic, featuring debut cards of Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Mike Piazza, Trevor Hoffman, and Carlos Delgado. But being a pioneer in the “pre-rookie” card business, Bowman sometimes had to get “creative” with their picture, as many players featured had not yet appeared in major league games. Opting against minor league action photos, collectors got a plethora of weird photos staged in early 90’s semi-casual clothing with a vague baseball theme. So, this is how we get the rookie card of lefty Chris George, who pitched all of six major league innings, looking either like a candidate for Ozaukee County treasurer or an TV commercial actor about to tell you about how he cured his “low T.” So, if you ever imagined you lived in world without a baseball card featuring a player in wearing a denim shirt, wristwatch, and woven leather loafers, you need to find something else to believe in.

Mail Day! 2017 Topps

I got a very nice response to my call for trades from last week and, joy of joys, I got my first package in the mail on Tuesday. It is courtesy of Ryan, the Base Card Hero, in exchange for a stack of Topps inserts and parallels I had no use for. So thanks to him for populating a huge portion of my 2017 series one binder. Before I cracked a High Life and paged these mothers up, I picked a few highlights from the lot to share.

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Jose Berrios – A page one beauty! I am very impressed with the photography in this year’s set. Topps ditched that weird filter they used the past few years and eliminated the dead space that (in my mind) nearly ruined last year’s set. I got Berrios’s autograph last year TTM on a Heritage minor league card and might have to try again with one of these… it would look great signed.

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Thor and the Dark Knight – I’m not wild about these checklists. They still feel lazy to me, with the candid photos and same design as the base. A real pair of superheros, standing there like that.

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Daniel Murphy – Back to the awesome, here is one of the greatest cards with a Miller Park image I’ve ever seen. Nice low angle shot, much like the Berrios. Also, the name of my Alma-mater (UW-Milwaukee) is poking out of his ass.

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Addison Russell WS – I really like this year’s World Series recap cards except for the fact that they don’t include any Indians or recap any of the games that the Indians won. Maybe these are coming in series two? If I were an Indians collector I’d feel viciously cheated… particularly since they nearly won the damn series.

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Krap-Rod – Here is a card I’m glad to see because it shows this shitbag with a team that ain’t the Brewers. Francisco Rodriguez is a very bad person and I hated it when it was on my favorite team. And I hate it even more how sports fans and media are so quick to dismiss acts of violence against women, but harp on largely meaningless shit like performance-enchaining drugs like it’s the end of the world. Just get a load of this fawning shit from a local media outlet mourning his trade to Detroit. Fuck K-Rod and his apologists.

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Tyler Naquin – Ok, back to the awesome, again. This card is flat-out awesome, with a great shot of the final leg of Naquin’s bonkers walk-off inside-the-park homer from last season. Great use of the vertical design (which, I’ve just noticed, moves the placement of the position) and the classic rookie cup icon. One of the best cards in the set.

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Ryan Braun – Speaking of performance-enhancing drugs! I’m glad Braunie is still a Brewer. Sure, he did some lousy things, but he’s not violent and he can still hit. This card is also miscut, which is very clear with this year’s borderless design. I’ve actually noticed a number of these cards were miscut. Was this something that happened last year as well?

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Ben Revere – Another great shot of a big play from last season, this card both captures Revere’s robbery of Freddie Freeman and mentions it on the back – a throw-back to those years when Upper Deck gave game and date info for each of their photos.

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David Ortiz – closing out series one at card #350 is Big Papi, shown here in one of the 4,000 photo variations of this card. I prefer this pic to the more gimmicky ones. Classic pose and a nice way to close out his career.

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The Oldest Part of My Collection

When I was doing my recent collection clean-out, it dawned on me that the oldest part of my collection (meaning the thing I’ve owned the longest, not the oldest thing overall) was something that I never even considered to be a part of my collection at all. Indeed, this item might be the single solitary ‘thing’ of any kind that I have owned longer than anything else. Are you ready? Can you even handle this excitement?

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No, it’s not a set of 1987 Topps. It is the box that once held that set. Back in probably about 1990, my dad took me a card show at a local bowling alley (oh, those go-go ’90s!). One of the dealers was an old friend of his, a former co-worker at the Milwaukee Sentinel distribution building in Manitowoc (my hometown and YES that Manitowoc). My dad, being under the impression this hobby of mine could be something like an investment opportunity, asked the dealer for a set of cards with a good potential to increase in value and, it being 1990, he recommended the rookie-loaded ’87 Topps set. If I recall correctly, my old man paid about $30 for the set – a friend price, mind you – that came housed in this 800-count box.

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Oddly enough, I never bothered to put the set into pages, or ever to removed from this box. But I looked at it endlessly, filing through the cards and MARVELING at the Bo Jackson and Mike Greenwell and Will Clark rookie cards. I even kept a spare George Bamberger card in the box (with the Brewers checklist on the back), so I could pull up the Brewer cards without needed to search for them. I loved this set to death, literally, rounding the corners and denting them all to hell from the constant handling. I even wrote my name on the end of the box, just in case I took it out of the house and lost it or it was stolen during a robbery or a tornado tore the roof off our house and blew the set through a tree truck three blocks away. I was prepared for anything.

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Yes, I was even prepared to sell it. “50.00” firm, my man, no friend discounts here. I even decided to charge “5.00” for a “sneek peek” of my treasured cards. That’s right, folks, just $5.00 to LOOK at my 1987 Topps cards. I am sure I planned to end the sneak peek right before the Pete Rose manager card came up, just like the old peep shows that cut off right before the woman’s clothes started coming off. Another $5, of course, will get your all the way through the All Stars, I promise, maybe even to the Turn Back the Clocks.

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Some time after I got this, an uncle of mine who also collected cards gave me his 1987 extras (1,571 of them, if my math was correct… I’m sure my math was not correct), which I put into a couple of other boxes. That made this the “A” box and the others “B” and “C.” I was now building an ’87 Topps empire. Photo Mar 20, 11 20 23 PM

And still, I was fully prepared. I would be able to identify this as the A box from any angle, even it it was partially or mostly obscured. Even if I didn’t have my glasses. Even if the room was dark as pitch. Even if it were on the face of the goddamn moon!

The thing of it is, I don’t even remember what happened to the cards this box once held. I’ve considered throwing it out multiple times – that’s actually what I was thinking about doing when I realized that I’d owned this box for 27 years – or turning it inside out to lessen the embarrassment of all the stupid stuff I wrote on it. One old girlfriend, probably the first I’d ever had the courage to let see this box, used to mock me for it all the time. I’d get some cards in the mail  and she’d go, “Oh! Did you buy them or just get the sneak peek?” But I’m glad to still have it. It’s a beacon for my collecting goals. A reminder to keep what I like and forget about the rest.