Saturday, March 22, 2014

Brewers Police Cards

I have mentioned the Milwaukee Brewers Police Cards before in this blog.  In working on my Robin Yount and Brewers collection, I started paging through an old "What's Brewing?" magazine, which was (and may still be for all I can tell from the Brewers unhelpful website) the "Milwaukee Brewers Official Magazine." The magazine was printed on cheap newspaper stock, so it has yellowed over the 32 years I've had it, but I kept the May 1982 issue because this issue was autographed:


That issue featured a story not about how long-time Brewer Charlie Moore (who is fifth all-time in appearances in a Brewer uniform behind Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, and Cecil Cooper) was going to learn to throw left-handed but how he transitioned to being a right-fielder after being a catcher for his entire major and minor league career.  It also featured an interview with "Brewers-Pepsi Fan Club Captain" Paul Molitor about his third or fourth new position in just five years in the majors -- this time to third base.

For all the fun and nostalgia that those articles brought about, it was a story on the then-upcoming release of the first-ever set of Milwaukee Brewers Police cards that caught my attention:


The first Brewers game I consciously recall attending was the May 8, 1982 game between the Brewers and the Twins.  I think I attended one game before that one when I was about 4 or 5 years old and my brother went with his Cub Scout Troop in about 1977, but I have no real recollection of that.

Anyway, I was surprised a bit by the quantities of cards that were printed even for year one of the program. I mean, 40,000 cards is a lot of cards to give away, even if the Brewers succeeded in giving out 10,000 sets at the first game.  In part, I believe this accounts for the relatively low prices for which these cards sell.

After that first game in 1982, going to baseball card day became a family tradition for us.  When I got to be over 14 years old, we started taking my younger brother to the games -- he was born in 1983, so he was guaranteed to get a set of the cards whether they gave me one or not.

The beauty of baseball card day was that the giveaway gave all the kids an immediately usable medium on which to obtain autographs.  When I was going through my old cards from when I was a kid, I was surprised a bit to see how many Brewers police cards I had and, even further, how many were autographed.

So, first the autographs.  I believe that I got all of these in person at some point, though I'm not sure about the Doug Jones:

Doug Jones was on the 40-man roster for
the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers in the Spring










Some of those cards are yellowing a bit -- the card stock was white and very flimsy, and my mother smoked for many years as well.

1982 was the only year that Harry Dalton, then the General Manager, got a card. Harry was a true gentleman who presided over the Brewers system from 1977 through 1991.  Before that, he had helped build the Orioles team of the late 1960s and early 1970s -- indeed, his first order of business as Orioles GM was to pull the trigger on trading Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Robinson.  He didn't do the trade immediately -- he tried to get another player from Cincy.

The trade helped lead the O's to the 1966 and 1970 World Series titles and the 1969 and 1971 AL pennants, and his underlings there included John Schuerholtz (the architect of the 1990s and 2000s Braves) and Joe Maddon, current manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.  In Milwaukee, he had both Sal Bando (his eventual successor who successfully plunged Milwaukee straight into the toilet) and Dan Duquette -- current Orioles GM and past GM of the Expos (1991 through early 1994) and the Boston Red Sox.

But I digress.

The most fun thing about Brewers police cards in the 1980s are the number of police departments which apparently gave these cards out.  The scans below shows just the varieties that I have collected through the years:



As I mentioned in a previous post, the police/safety cards have continued in Milwaukee into recent years:



Chasing all of the set variations from the 1980s especially is probably a foolish idea.  I still want to do it.  I call it a pipe dream of mine, though, because it really isn't clear how many police departments or which police departments had these printed up, the numbers that were printed, or who printed them.  But, if you happen to run across some of these cards, I'm very interested in them and would love to see what you have.

5 comments:

  1. Wow those are very cool. If they still make and release these cards, then do Brewers players still sign them?

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    1. I think that the Brewers and at least some of the local police departments still hand out these cards. The only thing recent I've been able to find is a link from Cardboard Connection noting that Manitowoc (about 1 to 1.5 hours north of Milwaukee) would be handing out cards to youth in 2011 and that "Brewers Police sets are an annual event in various Wisconsin communities." http://www.cardboardconnection.com/wisconsin-police-hand-out-brewers-baseball-cards-to-local-youths

      I even corresponded via e-mail with a guy I tracked down through eBay and an old message board post (I happened to buy Yount stuff from the guy) who had a fairly complete list of the departments who handed out cards between 1982 and 1993. But I'm totally in the dark for the time period after 1993 and I don't have any from after 1993.

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  2. Very cool. I love oddball cards like that. You can email me at swingandapopup AT gmail DOT com.

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  3. I came across 36 cards. Several duplicates from Elm Grove PD. I would be interested in their value. Where would I find that info? Please email me at randarsreptiles@att.net

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  4. I ran across 36 cards from the Elm Grove PD. I'm curious as to their value if any. Thanks

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