Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Care Package from the Northeast

Recently, I had a contest for my 100th post.  One of the people who actually won something in that giveaway was a guy who has been spreading the vintage-card love around the blogosphere thanks to having put together both the 1971 and 1973 Topps sets -- Mark Hoyle.  He's a Red Sox fan, so he claimed the Xander Bogaerts Turkey Red card out of my "Treasure Chest."

What he didn't need to do was send me anything.  But he did that, and those cards were greatly appreciated. In fact, thanks to Mark, the cards I need to complete my 1971, 1972, and 1973 Topps team sets has gone from "just send them all, please" to needing less than 10 for each.

What did I get?  Let's start with ALL THE VINTAGE!

I love those powder blues from the 1973 and 1974 sets.  The Brewers used basically that same uniform (the hat logo changed, but not the jerseys and pants) until the end of the 1989 season.  So, that's the jersey I think of when I think of the Brewers playing on the road.

The 1972 set features a lot of misadventures in airbrushing -- I mean, Curt Motton's hat make it look like the Great Gazoo took over his cranium...not that the effort made to make the 1974 Clyde Wright fit in looks any better, though.  If a kid collecting cards only saw the Brewers on their baseball cards and not in other photos in that time, they might have thought that the Brewers wore some weird satin hat or something.

In going through these cards, I started to realize that my Brewers player collections are severely lacking in players from the first three or four years of the franchise -- I mean, the only guy in the cards that Mark sent that is a PC for me is Charlie Moore (who, along with Dave Nilsson, B.J. Surhoff, Ted Simmons, and Jonathan Lucroy, proves that I have a catcher fetish of some sort).

In response to this, I looked at the years each of my Brewers PC guys played and tried to see how many players I had from each season that the team existed as PCs.  As it turned out, the earliest player in my collection was Jim Slaton, who made his debut with the team in 1971, had a rookie card in 1972, was traded to the Detroit Tigers for the 1978 season in return for Ben Oglivie, then returned in 1979 as a free agent before departing after the 1983 season (again as a free agent).

So why is that?  Well, I based my PCs around three things.  First, do I like the player or have any remembrance about him?  That accounts for pretty much all of the PCs through the guys who were on the 1990 team.  Second, does the player hold any team records or is he in the top 5 or 10 in any major career categories?  Finally, did the player play for the team for a reasonably extended period of time?  Based on this final category, I added guys like Dave Nilsson, Jeromy Burnitz, and Jeff Cirillo to the PCs.

How does that explain things?  In the early years of the franchise, about the only guy who seemed to stay for any length of time with success but who was not around by the time I became a fan in the late 1970s was probably George Scott.  I thought about adding him, and I still might do that later.  But, otherwise, the Brewers were pretty much turning over much to most of their major league roster nearly every single season from 1970 through about 1973 or 1974.

Once 1974 came, then Slaton, Gorman Thomas, Charlie Moore, Don Money, and Robin Yount had all started with the team.  Local kid Jerry Augustine came in 1975, and second local boy Jim Gantner debuted in 1976 along with Moose Haas.  Those 8 guys stayed through the first set of "good years" that the Brewers had from 1978 through 1983.  Then the Brewers all got old at once and, perhaps more importantly, Paul Molitor missed the 1984 season with elbow problems.

The roster got turned over so that by 1987 a new group was there -- with Yount, Molitor, and Gantner, you had Ted Higuera, Bill Wegman, Rob Deer, Dan Plesac, B.J. Surhoff, and Chuck Crim, to name a few.

I've thought about adding a player from that time to my PCs, but I don't have strong feelings about anyone from them other than, perhaps, about the recently deceased Mike Hegan.  He was on the Pilots/Brewers from 1969 to mid-1971, went to Oakland and to the Yankees, then came back in 1974 through 1977 to finish his career with the Brewers.  The only problem I have with that is that Hegan really never played all that much for Milwaukee except in 1970 -- the year before I was born -- and I think of him more as a broadcaster...and for that, he is much more "Mr. Cleveland" than he is a Milwaukee guy.

Okay, so that was quite a digression there.  Back to the great cards Mark sent to me.

Mark also sent me a few oddballs and later cards in the PWEs.  Here are the highlights from those:

I needed the Ames Robin Yount for my Yount Player collection, so I really still need another one for my team collection.  It's odd, but other than the Yount, each of these guys was really close to being a PC.  Well, other than Darrell Porter, whom I still resent for being the World Series MVP in 1982 for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Otherwise, you have:

  • Bill Spiers, who was a first round pick for the Brewers in 1988 and is someone whom I get confused about whether I have a PC for him or not.
  • Pat Listach, who was Rookie of the Year in 1992 and among the AL leaders in stolen bases that year. He didn't make the cut because he had no longevity with the team.  
  • Larry Hisle, the first big free agent signing for the Brewers whose rotator cuff issues made his contract an albatross.  His injury problems in Milwaukee were legion, and he always seems to look forlorn in every photo from his time there.
  • Darryl Hamilton was very close to inclusion for his 7 years with the club.  He's another guy whom I might add later.
All in all, Mark did not fill in gaps in my collection.  It was more along the lines of pouring a foundation than it was filling a gap.

Thank you very much Mark!