Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Grab Bag of and from Peoria

P-Town Tom -- named for his hometown of Peoria and proprietor of the Cubs blog Waiting 'til Next Year -- has become a regular trading partner of mine over the past few months. Recently, an envelope arrived from Tom with the following note inside:

With such hospitality coming from Peoria, I felt like the best way to showcase the cards that Tom sent to me would be to highlight some of Peoria's main attractions and things to do according to TripAdvisor (and others).

#10: Jukebox Comedy Club

Comedy legend Richard Pryor was born in Peoria in what can only be described as dire circumstances -- growing up in his grandmother's brothel where his mother was a prostitute.  Wow -- it's already edgier than I thought in Peoria.

At any rate, with that comedic background, it seemed appropriate to highlight Peoria's comedy club where, on April 2 through April 4, Saturday Night Live legend Tim Meadows will be playing. 

Now, what does this have to do with any cards?  

Bernie Brewer makes me smile, even if I think it's an atrocity that he no longer slides into a foaming-over mug of beer to release balloons when a home run is hit.  Remember kids: beer makes people happy.

And, this Topps Heritage Minor Leagues card of Orlando Arcia should put a smile on anyone's face.  Just a 19-year-old kid having fun playing a game and getting paid well to do it.  He even had a pretty good season at Brevard County last year -- for a kid over 3-1/2 years younger than the average Florida State League player, he slashed at .289/.346/.392. He's got a better glove at second than at short (in limited playing time, mind you), but he's got some development time to go.

#9: Riverfront Museum
The Riverfront Museum is basically the history museum for Peoria.  People mentioned Beanie Babies and Pez dispensers being on display as well as a room dedicated to the IHSA -- the Illinois High School Association -- which coordinates and regulates high school competitions in the state.

Were there cards appropriate for a museum? Of course:

These Panini Classics certainly would like someday to be considered as museum-worthy.  I needed these for either player collections or my team collections, so they went into my own version of the museum -- my Brewers binders (still a work in progress).

#8 Luthy Botanical Garden

The first TripAdvisor comment is that this is a beautiful place -- a "beautiful oasis of beautiful plants and flowers in the middle of a not so beautiful urban area and park."

Some people just can't be pleased.

But, to be fair, Tom sent just the cards that fit that description:

These wrapper redemption blue slate cards are just awesome looking cards.  Considering the mundane design they arose from, I consider them the collecting equivalent of that can't-be-pleased-completely commentator.

#5 Forest Park

One reviewer called this the "Best Kept Secret in Peoria." Be careful, though -- no dogs allowed!

For many years in the 1980s and early 1990s, Paul Molitor was among the best kept secrets in baseball. Other than playing in the World Series with the Blue Jays in 1993 and winning the World Series MVP, Molitor was known probably only for his 39-game hitting streak in 1987.  Injured often with Milwaukee, he blossomed later in his career once teams recognized his best position was hitting four times a game and watching the rest of the proceedings from the bench. 

I wonder if he'll bring up the end of that 39-game hitting streak when Boston plays Minnesota this year.  After all, Red Sox manager John Farrell was the pitcher who shut down Molitor in the 40th game.

#4: O'Brien Field -- a/k/a Dozer Park
The home of minor league baseball in Peoria, Dozer Park -- thank you corporate sponsor Caterpillar -- is the home of both the Bradley Braves and the Peoria Chiefs.  The Chiefs are the Cardinals Single-A affiliate in the Midwest League.  

Of course, now's the time to highlight the other "prospect" cards in the package:

David Goforth played against Peoria in 2012 as a member of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Clint Coulter played in the Midwest League for 33 games at the age of 19 in 2013, then played the whole season there last year, slashing .287/.410/.520.  His biggest problem to development is that he will not stay as a catcher -- he played right field in the instructional league, there's talk of him moving to third base as well, and he actually spent half a year as a DH in 2014.  His bat can support the moves, so the hope is that his glove won't hold him back.  Indeed, he might push Ryan Braun to first base in a year or two.

Now, for two guys who may play in Peoria this year or next:

Diaz has played in short-season ball the past two years.  He doesn't have much pop, but he does walk a reasonable amount. He almost certainly will find himself in Appleton for the summer with the Timber Rattlers, and, as a result and health willing, he'll see if he can hit at the Dozer.

Here's a guy that got a lot of people excited last year.  The Brewers handed Lara a $3.2 million signing bonus -- at the age of sixteen -- last year.  In his favor, he's 6'3" tall and 180 pounds -- so he'll grow up some.  He played shortstop in the Dominican, but he'll almost certainly end up at a corner (whether infield or outfield).  Lara probably won't see Peoria and the Midwest League for another couple of years.

#3  Spirit of Peoria Boat Tours

When I travel, I am a sucker for getting on a boat tour.  I've done boat tours and ferries in London, Paris, Chicago, Dubai, Newport (in Rhode Island, where we went sailing on America's Cup-class yachts), Milwaukee, Tarifa/Tangier, and Naples, Florida (and maybe other places that I'm forgetting right now). 

I'm also something of a sucker for 1990s inserts.  The Brewers sucked so badly in the 1990s that the number of inserts to chase is low. Getting some, though, was really cool.

#1 Caterpillar Visitors Center

I have to admit -- I was a little surprised by this selection, but only just a little.  Caterpillar is headquartered in Peoria, and as Caterpillar goes, so goes the city.  So, the city's big dog company has a great visitors center that highlights the company's history and the people who worked there.  

What better #1 than this surprise:

Unlicensed? Yes. I didn't even know that this card existed before it popped up in the cards Tom sent.  But the Carlos Gomez Black Friday card is undeniably the big dog here.

Tom, thanks again for the package, and I hope you enjoy the cards that I sent out to you earlier this week.


  1. I'm shocked to learn there's a Black Friday set as well, but more shocked to find the CAT visitor's center coming in at #1. The visitor's center is nice, but I would spend my time at the museum or Forest Park any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
    The boat tours are okay, but there's not too much to look at on the Illinois River.
    I've only been to the comedy club once, but it seems to do really well.
    My wife likes to visit the botanical garden, but I would much rather spend my time at my favorite place in P-town: Dozer Park. It's hard to beat WON-Dollar Wednesday's at Dozer where hot dogs and ice cream are a one dollar each. And if the Chiefs don't win, then you get a free ticket on the way out of the ballpark. That's a play on words I can get behind!
    I'm glad you liked the cards!

  2. Great trade post. Tony could work for the the Peoria travel bureau.

  3. I may have to steal this idea for future trading posts... Great read! I may have to visit Peoria on my next road trip.

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts. Very creative and interesting. I think I would enjoy the Caterpillar museum (Visitor's Center) there.

  5. excellent post! Slate redemptions are great looking! I must get a few slated Tigers. Illinois is on my list of states to visit within the next year or two. I should plan the trip around a Dozer home game.