A hart is a deer or, more specifically, it is an old alternative word for a male deer or stag. As a result, it gets incorporated into place names frequently. For instance, both Hartland and Hartford are small cities near where I grew up in Wisconsin and both in the Greater Milwaukee Metropolitan area.
Those place names have a lot to do with the fact that the State of Wisconsin has a ridiculous number of deer. I mean, even after the very popular deer-hunting season there, the state boasted 1.2 million deer in 2010 -- and that was down slightly from the population peaks in about 1998 and again in 2007.
Surprisingly, for a team in an area so filled with deer and with Hart being a fairly common last name, Corey Hart is the only player in the 46 seasons of the Brewers/Pilots franchise to be named "Hart."
My mentioning Hart on this blog usually is accompanied by a comment about his 6'6" height, his awkward looks, and the fact that he is from Kentucky. The fact is that, when Hart was healthy, he had the ability to be one of the best players in the major leagues. He was an All-Star twice, hit 31 HR in 2010, had two 20/20 seasons in 2007 and 2008, and usually he got on base at a decent clip -- .334 OBP in his 3800 plate appearances in Milwaukee.
After the 2010 season, he signed a 3-year, $36 million contract extension, and it looked like a pretty good deal for the Brewers...until it wasn't. He was scheduled to play first base for the Brewers in 2013. His knees robbed him of that opportunity. After undergoing surgery in January for a torn meniscus and other damage in the knee -- including microfracture surgery -- he was slated to return no earlier than May. That turned into June.
Then, on rehab for the right knee problem, he hurt his left knee. He then underwent microfracture surgery on that knee, resulting in him collecting $12 million to miss the entire of the season.
The Brewers still wanted to keep him after the 2013 season, and they made him an offer of $4 million plus $2.5 million in incentives to return for 2014. Instead, the Mariners made him an offer of 50% more base salary -- $6 million -- plus an additional $7 million in incentives. Some of Hart's comments on the way out of town, specifically that guys like Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and Jonathan Lucroy did not reach out to him to make him feel wanted, left a bad taste in a lot of Brewers' fans' mouths.
Despite a little bit of hard feelings, Hart said in spring training this year that he still would like to return to Milwaukee eventually. After 13 years in the organization, it makes some sense. After his injury-plagued year in 2014, however, perhaps he would take a contingent $2 million, 1-year contract to come back now.
Or, maybe, the Brewers have moved on.
With his tenure in the organization and his abilities when healthy, he was a shoo-in for me to include him as a player collection. My card show gave me an opportunity to fill in some gaps in my collection cheaply -- after all, I paid a quarter for this post!
Thanks for reading!