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).

Photo Apr 05, 2 33 44 PM

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.

Photo Apr 05, 2 33 23 PM

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.

Photo Apr 05, 2 33 11 PM

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.

Photo Apr 03, 7 10 40 PM.jpg

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.

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.

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!

Photo Mar 27, 2 30 59 PM

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.

 

Photo Mar 27, 2 30 43 PM

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.

 

Photo Mar 27, 2 30 51 PM

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…

Photo Mar 27, 2 30 32 PM

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.

The 25 Coolest Brewers Cards of All-Time

A while back, I counted down the 25 coolest Brewers cards of all-time for a local alt weekly publication here in hometown of Milwaukee. Since much of the card blogging community probably doesn’t have chance to grab the Shepherd Express, I thought I’d rerun the article here. For this, I stuck to the base sets of the big companies. I have a companion piece on the 20 WORST Brewers cards as well, which I’ll also post in due time.

25. 1981 Donruss Sixto Lezcano

25

Sixtoooooooooo Lezcano was a major part of the team’s emergence in the late 1970s as a contender and put together one of the best offensive seasons in team history in 1979. This card actually came out after he had already been traded to St. Louis (the back actually mentions the trade), but is a solid and simple example of cardboard badassery. Sixto’s scruffy beard, boss hat, and fierce scowl work very nicely with old Comiskey Park in the background.

24. 1983 Donruss Gorman Thomas

24

Speaking of fierce! If league home run leaders had official portraits commissioned like outgoing US Presidents, this would surely be the image of Stormin’ Gorman best suited to capture his legacy. Ornery, sweaty, and haggard, you can almost feel the breeze from the mighty hack Gorman is about to unleash. It almost doesn’t even matter if he makes contact or not.

23. 1997 Topps Jeff Cirillo

23

The late 1990s are a kind of lost era for the Brewers. Third baseman Jeff Cirillo was one of the few bright spots of those years. This card neatly encapsulates his times, with Cirillo tear-assing around third in a hideous uniform (with a Milwaukee sesquicentennial patch!) in front of a wide patch of empty seats.

22. 2012 Topps Nyjer Morgan

22

If this looks familiar, it’s because it is the exact same photo that appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated back in August 2011. Like the Cirillo card, this one perfectly captures the feel of a time in Brewers history – albeit a much more exciting one – when the Brewers were world-beaters, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were MVP candidates, and T-Plush was our own resident shit-starter.

21. 1975 Topps George Scott

21

The late George Scott was the Brewers’ first real superstar and one of the league’s top hitting and fielding first basemen. This card illustrates him in his prime, mutton-chopped and adorned in his shark-tooth necklace (he always claimed they were teeth he had knocked out of second basemen).

20. 1973 Topps Bill Parsons

20

Good action shots are pretty rare on baseball cards from the 1970s. Here, we get to see young Parsons about to fire one home with second baseman Ron Theobald cheating in and a good crowd in the bleachers. The players at the rail of the outfield wall watching from the bullpen and the huge beer mug on the scoreboard complete the scene.

19. 1998 Upper Deck Doug Jones

19

“I call this turf ‘n’ turf. It’s a 16 oz. T-bone and a 24 oz. Porterhouse. Also, whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.”

18. 2009 Upper Deck CC Sabathia

18

Although he won’t be remembered as a Brewer, CC Sabathia gave the greatest three months of a great career to Milwaukee. This card shows a pitch from the August 31, 2008 game in which he came oh-so-close to no-hitting the Pirates. It also commemorates the final year Upper Deck produced licensed baseball cards.

17. 1978 Topps Paul Molitor

17

Now, this one might actually cost you a few bucks. As the rookie card of both the Hall of Famer Molitor and the should-be Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, this is one of the landmark cards of the 1970s. As I’ve blogged about before, Molitor was a very late addition to the Brewers 1978 plans and, had Robin Yount not been waffling on his future as a ballplayer, Topps might not have bothered to include Molitor’s ill-lit face on this rookie shortstops card.

16. 1979 Topps Paul Molitor

16

Now THIS would be a beautiful rookie card. Substantially cheaper than his 1978 card, the ’79 shows the 21-year-old Molitor in the sunlight at County Stadium in a beaten-up batting helmet grinning the grin of a kid who had suddenly found himself as an every-day Big Leaguer. I haven’t mentioned card design yet on this list, but I really like the 1979 look. Simple and bright, this card borders on art.

15. 1982 Donruss Harvey Kuenn

15

This is another that falls into the presidential portrait category. Huddled at the batting cage and with a plug of chaw in his cheek, the image just is Harvey Kuenn, the Milwaukee-bred former AL batting champion who (of course) led the Brewers to their only World Series. Kuenn is depicted here as the Brewers batting coach, but he would be promoted to manager just over a month into the season. It’s the only example of a Brewers coach ever being given his own card. Donruss issued a few coach cards in 1982, mostly of former star players, in addition to the more traditional managers cards.

14. 1971 Topps Mike Hegan

14

1971 Topps might be the most beautiful trading card set every produced. The mod font and crisp black borders meet with some of the best photography of the decade. This is actually the first Brewers card set ever produced. Their shift to Milwaukee occurred so near to the opening of the 1970 season that Topps had already printed their cards as the Seattle Pilots. Anyway, a great shot here of one of the Brewers early stars at old Yankee Stadium.

13. 1976 Topps Kurt Bevacqua Bubble Gum Champ

13

Kurt Bevacqua spent two undistinguished seasons with the Brewers, save for his triumph in 1975 Joe Garagiola/Bazooka Bubble Gum Blowing tournament. The final match with Johnny Oates of the Phillies (from which the photo was taken) was held before game 3 of the 1975 World Series and broadcast nationally on NBC. If you want to watch it and see grown men talking way too seriously about bubble gum, check out parts one and two on youtube.

12. 1993 Topps Pat Listach

12

When I was a kid, that little golden All Star Rookie cup was of unimaginable importance. And not only was Listach an All Star Rookie, but he was the reigning Rookie of the Year when this card – with its awesome broken-bat photo – was issued. Of course, Listach didn’t meet expectations, but this card – part of a very nice looking set – captures a moment when the sky was his limit.

11. 2011 Topps Carlos Gomez

11

Carlos Gomez is probably one of the most exciting Brewers players of all time and this card does a good job at framing the intensity he brought to Miller Park. It helps that the picture comes from a game against the Pirates who would, in time, come to love the sight of Gomez running full-speed so much that they could not stand to see him jog.

10. 1983 Fleer Gorman Thomas

10

If his ’83 Donruss card was fierce, Gorman’s ’83 Fleer issue is downright horrifying. Deranged hobo? Confused biker? Thoughtful Mountain roadie? With all apologies to Rollie Fingers, this is a premier use of facial hair on a Brewers baseball card.

9. 2010 Topps Ryan Braun/ Prince Fielder Checklist

9

Forget the stupid “Bernie’s Bash Brothers” tag in the corner, Brewer fans can easily recognize this scene as the aftermath of one of the most important Brewers home runs maybe ever. It’s an odd use of the photo, especially in 2010 and without mention of the context, but memorializes one of the greatest Brewers games I’ve ever watched.

8. 1986 Fleer Pete Vuckovich

8

This is card is cool for everything that is so terribly wrong about it… the wildly dopey look on Vuke’s face, his Corky St. Claire haircut, the fact that his baby blue uniform melts into the background and borders. In spite of all that, Vuke looks like he’s ready to go fire a few fastballs. He was just four years removed from winning the AL Cy Young Award in this picture, but had managed only 25 starts in that time. He would throw only 32 more innings in 1986 before retiring.

7. 1994 Upper Deck Greg Vaughn

7

Vaughn’s Valley was the section of bleachers at County Stadium where leftfielder Greg Vaughn deposited a lot of home runs in the early 1990s. Vaughn was not really a major star or nationally known when this card came out, so it was a nice bit of work by the Upper Deck people to pay tribute to a local hero. Huge plus for the inclusion of all those pasty-white ‘stallis bleacher folks, too.

6. 2013 Topps Nori Aoki

6

I really can’t decide what is better here – the pure joy on Aoki’s face as he trots home or the welcoming arm of third base coach Eddie Sedar guiding him in. This was a big homer, too. It gave the Brewers an 8-7 lead over the Nationals in a wild 2012 game that featured five homers. The Nats ended up winning 11-10 in 11 innings. Plus Nori even took the time to scribble his name (I guess?) on my copy!

5. 1976 Topps Record Breaker Hank Aaron

5

This is easily the best of the few cards that feature Hank Aaron as a Brewer. His 1975 card shows him in a badly airbrushed cap and his regular 1976 card makes him look about 500 years old. This would be his last card as an active player to show him in action, as he takes a hack in a very blue Brewers road uni with some very gold socks. It commemorates his breaking of Babe Ruth’s all-time RBI record, which is a surprisingly little-remembered event in baseball history.

4. 1993 Upper Deck Darryl Hamilton

4

With an understated design and vibrant photography, 1993 Upper Deck is up there with ’71 Topps as one of the most beautiful card sets ever. The Brewers of the set are are highlighted by this fantastic issue of Darryl Hamilton. One of the fan favorites of the post-Yount/Molitor era, Hambone always seemed to look good on the field, with smooth defense and a sweet lefthanded swing. Sadly, Hamilton was killed by his girlfriend last year in a murder-suicide.

3. 2010 Topps Prince Fielder

3

There seems to be a tiny sliver of the baseball fan populace who feels that, for some reason, baseball should be fun. And this widely-derided “bowling ball” walk-off homer celebration was fun. And this card commemorating it is a whole lotta fun! As it turns out, Prince was merely a pawn in all of this. Bill Hall and others devised the celebration, and  left it up to the next Brewer to hit a walk-off to act as the ball to his teammate’s pins. You also notice that Prince has his jersey untucked, a post-win practice started by centerfielder Mike Cameron as a tribute to his working-class father who untucked his shirt after a day’s work. The bowling ball stunt earned Fielder a ball in the ribs in a game against the Giants the following spring training, to which the nation’s grumpy old white men nodded in silent approval.

2. 1975 Topps Robin Yount

2

This is the iconic Brewer card. Rockin’ Robin at just 18 years old, posing in his crisp Brewers whites in Spring Training… the curly blonde hair, the grin, the “Rob Yount” signature. There really isn’t all that much I can add to it. But at #2? What could possibly outrank the classic Robin freaking Yount rookie card??

1. 2012 Topps Nyjer Morgan NLDS Game 5

1

In the end, I had to go with fun. And even though he wasn’t the best or most exciting or most valuable player on the 2011 division champions team, Nyjer Morgan was easily the most fun. For his annoyance of the Cardinals and their fans alone, T-Plush could have taken that title, but for that one incredible summer, everything he did was loud, fast, and entertaining. Here, we get to see him just after the franchise’s biggest hit since Cecil Cooper willed his line drive to get down against in the ’82 ALCS. It was a “Beast Mode” kinda summer, and this one defined it.