Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fuji Sends Brewers Autographs & Relics

I went to one of my local card shows today. As usual, I found some good deals -- some of which will be spread around the blogosphere, and others of which will be finding their way into my collection.  Part of my reasoning for going to the show was to try to find cards to pay off on my contests from earlier this month.

One of the winners of the contest was old reliable blogger San Jose Fuji. I hope he likes what I got for him at the show today with the $10 I spent on him.

I call him "old reliable" because he seems to have more material to blog about -- including some great flea markets that I envy greatly -- than I do. Perhaps it's because I'm not as much of a collector. I mean, Fuji collects a lot of different things and, further, he also buys to sell sometimes.  

Still, he also has accumulated a lot of great cards over the years. I recently received a bubble mailer from him unexpectedly with some great Brewers autographs, relics, and serial numbered cards.  Let's get to them!

This Leaf 2013 "Memories Buyback" is serial numbered 1 of 5. Leaf does something right here that I wish Topps's buybacks did -- they tell us how many of this card there are available in buyback form.  On the other hand, I find this buyback weird for a couple of reasons. 

First, this card is from the height of the junk wax era -- 1991. Why are there only 5 of these? Second, what is so memorable about a card that is twenty-two years old? Not 50, or 40, or 30, or 25, or 10, or even 5 -- but 22?  That's just kind of weird. 

Maybe they just wanted to dump 5 sets they found in a storage bin in their offices.

Still, this is not to disparage the fact that I have one of the five gold-foiled Jim Gantner cards stamped in 2013. That fact is pretty awesome.

This card is great. No, actually, it's better than great -- it's Magnifico!

Enough with the puns, though. With the Brewers in full rebuild mode and having hired a GM who was born when I was in middle school and who was just starting kindergarten when I graduated from college, I am going to have to turn a little bit into Zippy Zappy and get excited about the Brewers farm system and prospects. 

One of the guys who emerged some this year was Damien Magnifico. Magnifico was a 5th round draft pick in 2012 out of the University of Oklahoma. He was a starter through 2014 with varying levels of success. He transitioned to relief at Biloxi this past season and looked impressive -- 4-1, 20 saves, 1.17 ERA. He impressed enough as a bullpen arm throwing BBs to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this fall -- probably based on his 100 MPH fastball. And, he impressed enough to be added to the Brewers 40-man roster last week to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

From a guy who may never make it to a guy who's made it, missed a year, and was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.  I'm happy for Fielder that he's healthy again. Missing a year might be detrimental to his career numbers, but here's hoping he stays healthy for many years to come.

On to a guy who was great when healthy but whose health failed him. It would be nice for the Brewers to develop a pitcher out of the minor league system like Sheets or Yovani Gallardo -- if only to avoid mistakes like 4 years of Jeff Suppan or Matt Garza.

With recent trades and roster moves, it's pretty likely that Jean Segura will become an ex-Brewer sooner rather than later.  It's possible, though, that Scooter Gennett will be jettisoned before Segura. At that point, Segura might switch to second base. Or, Segura may be on the way out with the addition last week of Jonathan Villar from the Astros.

In any case, we're just waiting for Orlando Arcia to be ready -- which is pretty likely to come at some point next year after his .307/.347/.453 slash at the age of 20 (he turned 21 on August 4) in the Double-A Southern League.

Robin Yount wants to know what is taking Arcia so long. Yount turned 21 in September of 1976 -- his third year in the majors.

Will Ryan Braun be traded this offseason? If the Brewers can find a taker and get a decent return, the answer is yes. That "return" part is the issue. I mean, Braun is older than his general manager and is rehabbing after back surgery. This is after Braun has had to undergo regular cryotherapy sessions on his right thumb to address a nerve problem.  Also, another major issue is whether Milwaukee will pay some of his remaining contract. I'm okay if he stays, and I'm okay if he goes.

The last cards in the package from Fuji are a part of baseball card history. The 1996 Leaf Signature Series was the first set to offer an autographed card in every pack of the cards.  I bet there were some unhappy collectors when their autograph was Ricky Bones rather than Jim Thome, Carlos Delgado, Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, or Mariano Rivera.

Still, I'd love to find a box of this to open today...though at $400 for 48 cards (12 autographs), it's a bit pricy.

Fuji, thank you very much for this package. I hope you enjoy the rewards from the $10 I spent today at my card show...that package should go out tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Meet The Brewers #17: Marty Pattin

I'll be the first to admit that, when I decided to start introducing Brewers players in the order that they debuted, I did not think it would take me over four months to finish with the players from Opening Day 1970!  But, finally, I get to move on to game two.

Marty Pattin started the second game of the season for the Brewers. He went seven innings, allowing seven hits, two earned runs, and a walk and notching just one strikeout but still was hung with the loss in a game the Brewers lost 6-1 thanks to relievers John O'Donoghue and Bob Locker allowing 4 runs.  Pattin pitched in front of 7,575 fans who took advantage of the beautiful spring weather (high of 69 degrees) to watch a game.

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers
I can say without reservation that Marty Pattin was the best pitcher on the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, and he was the second-best starter in 1971.  He was an All-Star for the 1971 Milwaukee team -- yes, that is like being the tallest midget -- but he did not appear in the game in which only Vida Blue, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, and Mickey Lolich appeared for the AL All-Stars on the mound against Dock Ellis, Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins, and Don Wilson for the NL.  

Pattin was truly a rags-to-riches story.  Well, rather, he overcame a ton of adversity in his life to get where he did.  As Jim Bouton wrote about Pattin in Ball Four (and quoted here):
I had a long talk with Marty Pattin on the bus. He's had a tough, interesting life. He's from Charleston, Illinois, and his mother and father were separated when he was a baby and he was shipped off to live with his mother's folks. He was still a junior in high school when his grandfather died, so he moved into a rooming house and tried to work his way through the rest of high school. It was there that he met a man named Walt Warmouth who helped him get through school -- not only high school but college. Warmouth owned a restaurant, and Marty worked there and got his meals there, and every once in a while he'd get a call from the clothing store in town and be told he could pick up a suit and a bunch of other stuff and it was all paid for. They never would tell him who had paid, but Marty knew anyway.  "The guy was like a father to me," Marty said. "And not only to me. He must have sent dozens of kids through school just the way he did me." Marty has a degree in industrial arts, and when he can he likes to help kids. That's why he signed up for the clinic.
What a terribly lonely life Marty must have had. Hell, it was a traumatic experience for me just going away to college and living in a dorm with a bunch of other kids. And here's Marty, still in high school, living in a rooming house. Not only that, but he goes on to become an All-American boy, complete with all the good conventional values. Like he was telling the kids at the clinic that sure it was difficult to throw a ball well or be a good basketball player. It was difficult to do a lot of things, but that they were all capable of doing a lot of difficult things if they were willing to work hard and practice. I guess he ought to know. 
Normally, I wouldn't quote such a long passage, but man -- that just sums up Pattin's childhood well.  

1971 Topps
Pattin earned his college degrees -- undergrad and master's -- both from his hometown school of Eastern Illinois University.  The Angels drafted him in the seventh round of the 1965 Draft. The team assigned him to El Paso, and after his drive there with his wife, he was upset. As he said in 1971, "[m]y wife and I pulled a trailer all the way from Charleston, Ill., to Texas, and by the time I got there, I was more than a little upset. I thought seriously about quitting the whole thing. Luckily, Rollie Hemond, then the Angels' farm director, talked me out of it."

He made the majors at the age of 25 in 1968 and pitched mainly in relief over 52 games that year, but he walked 4.0 per 9 innings. Perhaps because of his wildness, the Angels left him available in the expansion draft and the Pilots scooped him up.  

He repeated his wildness in 1969 but then suddenly in 1970, the light went on. Or, perhaps, he stopped trying to strike everyone out. Or, more to the point, he made a change in his delivery. Again, from the 1971 newspaper article, "I'd been fighting myself all of my career, and I kicked over more than my share of water buckets. But I finally controlled [my] emotions and turned myself around by shucking my no-windup delivery for a regular windup. I was able to drive at the hitters more, my slider came around -- and most important, I gained confidence."

In any case, his strikeouts per nine went down by 1, but he walked 1.3 fewer batter per nine innings as well, leading to a 14-12 record with a 3.39 ERA over 233-1/3 innings with 161 strikeouts. In 1971, he did similarly well -- 14-14, 3.13 ERA over 264-2/3 innings with 169 strikeouts.  

Those two years made Pattin a man in demand. The Brewers took the opportunity to flip Pattin in the blockbuster trade in which Tommy Harper and Lew Krausse (Brewers 3 and 1, respectively) were sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Jim Lonborg, Don Pavletich, and George Scott.  

After just two years and a 32-28 record (3.73 ERA, 3.60 FIP), the Red Sox decided to trade him. The Sox were trying to get Marichal or Gaylord Perry, but settled instead for Dick Drago and traded Pattin to the team he is probably best remembered for today -- Kansas City Royals. He became entrenched in Kansas -- probably because it isn't that much different from his Illinois upbringing.

1994 Miller Brewing Milwaukee Brewers
Pattin's post-career life has been filled with baseball as well. He called it quits after the 1980 season because no one was offering him a major league contract. But then, the next August, the University of Kansas came calling and named him the head baseball coach for the Jayhawks. He left KU after the 1987 season and became a pitching instructor in the Blue Jays system. Then, in 1991, he spent ten months coaching pitchers in Korea.  

He came back to Lawrence, Kansas, after that stint, where he still resided as of 2011.

You can see the three Pattin cards with the Brewers that I have above.  I'm missing the Mike Andersen Postcard from 1970, the Dell Today's Team Stamp from 1971, the 1971 Milwaukee Brewers Picture Pack, and the 1971 O-Pee-Chee.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Meet the Brewers #16: John Morris

The final player that Dave Bristol used on the first Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day in 1970 was John Morris. Morris came into the game in the top of the 8th inning with the score standing at 11-0.  He promptly allowed a double to Jim Fregosi, who then took third on an error by rightfielder Steve Hovley. Shortly after that, Morris uncorked a wild pitch to allow Fregosi to score.

Morris settled down after that initial double (and the walk to the next batter, Bill Voss). He induced Jay Johnstone to ground into a double play and struck out Jim Spencer to close out the 8th.  Morris then cruised through a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers

Same card, just autographed. It was autographed when I bought it.
Like a few of his fellow 1970 Brewers, Morris appeared with the Seattle Pilots for a few games in 1969. He was signed initially by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960 out of high school. He kicked around Philadelphia's minor league system -- appearing everywhere from low-D Johnson City in the Appalachian League to Elmira, Des Moines, Magic Valley, Chattanooga, Arkansas, and San Diego before finally making the major leagues in 1966 for 13 games.  The Phillies were not impressed, apparently, as they did not pitch him in the majors in 1967 and then sent him to the Baltimore Orioles as the PTBNL for Dick Hall.

The Orioles gave Morris a 19-game shot in 1968, and he put up surface stats that looked good -- 2-0, 2.56 ERA, 6.3 K/9 -- was only in 31-2/3 innings and, more worryingly, he walked 4.8 per nine innings.  The Orioles deemed him surplus to requirements and left him unprotected in the 1969 expansion draft, where he was not selected until pick 52 (out of 60 total) by the Pilots. Morris was not exactly a major part of that team either -- he gets mentioned in Ball Four only for when he gets sent down at the end of spring training and, then, immediately called back up when Bill Henry retired a couple of days later.

1971 Topps #721
Morris's time in Milwaukee -- including the 6 games in 1969 with the Pilots -- comprised over half of his time in the major leagues. Still, it was a time of unfulfilled promise. Only 27 at the start of the 1970 season, he pitched out of the bullpen for the first month. He was not happy as a relief pitcher because, as he said after his second start, "it called for too much concentration. A relief pitcher has to always have pinpoint control to be effective, and I knew I didn't always have it."

But, just as he started pitching in the rotation and looking like he might provide a good lefty option, he started to struggle with his stamina and his health. Next thing you know, he's being treated for a kidney ailment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He spent a month there as the doctors figured out what the problem was and treated it, but he did not make his return to the mound in Milwaukee until after the September roster expansion

1971 was not much better for Morris healthwise. He was penciled in to be the only lefty in the starting rotation, but elbow pain shut him down in spring training -- a bone spur.  The newspaper story about his elbow mentions that he was going to see a "specialist in Los Angeles" -- wonder if that was Dr. Frank Jobe? At any rate, that was 3 years before Tommy John underwent the ligament transplant surgery that now bears his name (and I'm guessing that Morris may have had the early stages of the type of elbow trouble that leads to UCL tears), so Morris rehabbed and came back in mid-May as a reliever, starting just one game and even saving a game.

1994 Miller Brewing Milwaukee Brewers
At the end of 1971, Morris was traded to the San Francisco Giants. The trade made big news in Milwaukee for a trivial reason that says a lot about the early days of the Brewers. When he was traded on October 20, 1971, Morris was the final remaining member of the Brewers 1970 Opening Day team and one of just two men from the Seattle Pilots expansion draft still in the organization at that point -- Skip Lockwood, who was in the minors at the start of the 1970 season, was the other.  

Despite a career that featured 132 appearances over 8 different seasons, Morris only has 8 entries at the Trading Card Database (and one of those -- the Miller Brewing set -- was added this morning after I asked for it to be added!).  I have the four shown here (I count autographs as separate items), and I am missing only his 1970 Mike Andersen Postcard, his 1971 Dell Today's Team Stamp, and his 1971 O-Pee-Chee card.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Browns QBs Have Lots of Kids

Work has been kicking my ass lately. By that, I mean that I get into the office around 6:30 AM and I leave around 6:15 to 6:30 PM.  It's made it difficult for me to find the inspiration or the time to write about cards or put any packages together to send out.

I'm hopeful that next weekend will be better, because tomorrow I'll be going into the office pretty early again and probably staying most of the day. Yup, that means I'll be missing my monthly card show at one location, but I have to do the work to be ready for what I have going on Monday and Tuesday.  I should be able to get to the other location of the card show next week, though.

Still, I've been sitting here without writing about the great pack of cards that I received from my Canadian pal Angus in Ottawa.  Angus is a Cleveland Browns fan.  To celebrate that, let's talk about some of the quarterbacks that Cleveland has had play for them in the time since they came back into the NFL in 1999.  

1.  Tim Couch

Tim Couch was the first overall draft pick in 1999. He played in the Air Raid offense run by Hal Mumme when Mumme came to Kentucky from Valdosta State University.  Mumme won fewer games at Kentucky than he had recruiting violations, and people in the NFL learned quickly that Couch was more Andre Ware (a system quarterback) than he was Peyton Manning.  Of course, Couch ended up a backup to Brett Favre for a year in Green Bay, so I can't hate on him too much.

On the other hand, Couch is married to former Playboy Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar. Quarterbacks always get the girls.

Relating to nothing I've just talked about, here are a couple of O-Pee-Chee cards that Angus sent my way:

The 1978 Sixto Lezcano is just awesome.  Sixto was always a favorite, but he declined pretty quickly when he was traded away in that big trade after 1980 in which Milwaukee picked up the next two American League Cy Young winners -- Rollie Fingers and the Cardinal-clad Pete Vuckovich.
Let's not forget the gingerbeard man, Roy Howell.  The man had hands of stone at third base and a bat made of licorice.  What a great free agent acquisition that was.

2.  The Ex-Packers: Doug Pederson & Ty Detmer

Tim Couch was hurt frequently and ineffectively even more frequently during his time in Cleveland. Backing him up were two former Green Bay Packers.  Couch's first year in Cleveland, it was Ty Detmer. Detmer started two games in 1999.  The next year, Doug Pederson. 

Since we're talking about wives and families and all, here's Ty Detmer with his family.

Not to be left out, while dad Doug is the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, son Drew is a quarterback at Samford University in Alabama.  

Yeah, I don't know what's going on there on his upper lip either.

Once again, in the realm of nonsequiturs, this is one.  Here are a few more O-Pee-Chee gems from Angus.

And these four cards go right into their respective player collections.  I just wish that O-Pee-Chee would have translated the word "Brewers" into French as well -- like the recent "Cerveceros" uniforms for the Latino.  Plus, the word is brasseurs, which sounds a bit like a porn website.

But don't click that link. Or ask why I know that.


Let's move on.

3.  Spergon Wynn


4.  Kelly Holcomb

Kelly Holcomb -- like Doug Pederson -- is the product of a non-SEC southern football program (Holcomb is an MTSU Blue Raider, Pederson was a Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. Apparently, being the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns leads to large families as well. You see Ty Detmer's four daughters in the photo above; he's an underachiever compared to Kelly Holcomb and his wife's six children -- including twins born in 2009.  Holcomb is now a volunteer high school football coach back in Murfreesboro, TN, at the high school his daughter cheers at -- Riverdale.

Which O-Pee-Chees go with Kelly Holcomb? Well, there is a such thing as a sort of mediocre but still acceptable OPC.

Mediocre but acceptable O-Pee-Chee would describe these from 1991.  O-Pee-Chee got lazy on us, or, perhaps, Topps got more difficult to deal with and required OPC to use the Topps logo on the front. The only thing differentiating these from Topps is the cardstock used (white) and the bilingual backs.

5.  Luke McCown & Josh McCown

O Brother Where Art Thou?  If you're a McCown brother, the answer is probably Cleveland. In the tradition of Browns QBs, the McCown brothers are prolific in having many children. Josh and his wife Natalie have four children -- two boys & two girls -- while Luke and his wife Katy have six children -- four boys and two girls:

So, if you're keeping track, that's what -- twenty kids from four Browns QBs? Must be the Cleveland weather.

To go with this, how about a few more O-Pee-Chee?

Rob Deer goes right into the player collection.  Rollie Fingers -- well, actually, that might be an extra one of this card.  And Tiny Felder.  He was cool.  I mean, look at his wristbands with his number prominently displayed.  I actually asked Michael Felder a/k/a "In The Bleachers" one time if he was any relation to Tiny -- since they share a name and Tiny did play for the Astros for a little while.  They aren't related as far as Michael knows.

6.  Johnny Manziel

You would have thought that Cleveland learned its lesson in drafting SEC Quarterbacks with Tim Couch...or signing former Auburn Tiger Jason Campbell...or playing former South Carolina Gamecock Connor Shaw.  But, no. They went out and drafted Johnny "Football" Manziel.

Even better for this blog, Manziel is a party animal who has successfully parlayed his quarterbacking ability into getting women far hotter than any weasel-looking guy should get. 

Like Lauren Hanley.

Or Colleen Crowley:

Or Sarah Savage:

I mean, really. I get that the guy has money and is reasonably famous and loves to party, but he is not a good looking guy.

Anyway, for Browns fans like Angus, I hope Manziel can turn it around. For every other reason, I really hope Manziel fails in the ways that he has failed already on many occasions.

What's left to show off?  How about more O-Pee-Chee? No? You're tired of it?  Okay.

Topps Tribute of two PC Guys in Warren Spahn and Paul Molitor will do just fine!  

Angus, as always, you have blown me away with your generosity. I hope your Cleveland Browns collection multiplies in ways reserved usually for Cleveland Browns QBs!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mathews in an Oddball Wonderland

In my post about the Harvey Kuenn cards I added to my collection from COMC, I mentioned that I had loaded up on both Ryan Braun and Eddie Mathews cards on COMC.  

I didn't scan all the Braun cards that I added -- I'm now at 513 Ryan Braun cards/items.  Braun has ascended rapidly up the numbers chart and is now my second largest collection behind Yount, and I think rightfully so.  Even if the team were able to trade him at this point, his mark on the franchise is indelible at this point -- especially considering he's now #1 in franchise history for home runs with the team.  

Still, if he were traded, I would not collect his non-Brewer cards. I guess it's the Brewers fan part of me. Really, I cringe when I add cards of Paul Molitor as a Blue Jay or a Twin to my Molitor collection. He should never have been allowed to leave Milwaukee -- Selig should have ponied up -- but, at the same time, perhaps in that counterfactual world he decides to quit playing 3 or 4 years and 500-800 hits earlier, thereby making his Hall of Fame candidacy less of a no-brainer.  Who knows?  

On the other hand, because I didn't grow up thinking of Eddie Mathews as one of "my" favorites, I'm more easily able to move my own biases aside and say, "hey, that card of Mathews with Detroit is pretty cool!"

Speaking of pretty cool, in the time that I have been back in the hobby -- just over 18 months now -- I have started a Mathews collection.  Thanks to recent COMC purchases -- they're coming below -- I'm now up to 163 Eddie Mathews cards/items after starting with about 1 or 2 when I got back into collecting.  

I promised an oddball wonderland, so here goes:

Not an oddball, but Mathews as the Atlanta Braves manager when former teammate Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run was pretty cool.  Mathews angered some folks when he sat Hank one game in 1975 in Cincinnati to try to let Hank hit 715 in Atlanta. In fact, Mathews wanted to sit him for two games.  Hank took an O-fer in the game he played, then teed off on Al Downing in Atlanta.

A 1980 SSPC Baseball Immortals card is next. I had it already but called it an SSPC HOF card on my list thanks to Trading Card Database. Oops. Guess the other one can go into the Milwaukee Braves team collection.

Another SSPC card.  This one is from 1985, has no numbering, and has two sides that are perforated.  Anyone have the story behind that?

A 1984 Sports Design Products "The Doug West Set Box Set" card is next.  At least that is how COMC described this card. A quick Google search shows that Doug West did the artwork for this set, and that Sports Design Products was owned by a Mr. Charlie Mandel -- who may still be alive at the age of 98 in Miami.  Or, perhaps he's not.

A tip of the hat to Wrigley Wax for providing the best back story for this 1986 Sports Design Products J.D. McCarthy set. McCarthy was a Detroit-area photographer who supplied the photos for the set.  

More TCMA. I wish I'd paid closer attention to TCMA in the 1980s. I would have loved those cards.  This one is from the 1987 set called TCMA Baseball's Greatest Teams 1957 Braves.

If it's an indistinguishable blob with a lenticular coating, then it must be Sportflics -- the 1986 "Decade Greats" card of Mathews, to be exact.  You can see an "A" on his hat.

Let's close tonight's festivities with this Renata Galasso from 1984. As a kid, my mom ordered my sets each year from 1983 through 1988 from Renata Galasso. She did this because, frankly, Galasso had the best prices even with shipping costs of anyone.  

I miss the days when dealers would issue sets on their own and no one would sue them and people would buy them.  Those were great days.

Thanks for stopping by.