I hope my tease yesterday does not lead to the wrong conclusions about what my mom sent to me. I could only hope that everything came from the 1950s and the backs of cereal boxes. Seriously, that Musial is one of the more awesome items I've come across in all my digging in my mom's house. Most of the other items are much more recent in vintage and, generally, have a Brewer-centric twist.
I've mentioned many times in the past that I chased autographs frequently as a kid -- mostly after games and, as a teenager, before games -- at Milwaukee County Stadium. But, there was another way to chase autographs. Many local businesses in the 1980s would pay an appearance fee to a Brewers player or two to come sign autographs for a couple of hours in order to draw people into the stores. Depending on who the player was, the line might be around the corner and down the block -- which was the case when Robin Yount and Paul Molitor appeared together at a Foot Locker -- or, more frequently, there might be a wait of 20 minutes or so.
Because most players had the 20-minutes-or-less wait, they could often be persuaded to take photos with fans and to sign several items at a time. After all, they were being paid to be there, and if the line wasn't long, why not?
Geez, the 1980s were an easier time.
Anyway, that led to this photo...taken between 1982 and 1984, I'd guess:
You have to love the 1980s. I haven't the foggiest idea what store housed this signing session -- it may be that the autographs were in an office, and the lines were in the store. I can't recall. But the blond goober on the left with the belt way too high and the blue shower-curtain-style shirt...yup, that is definitely me as a 10-to-12 year old. As my wife said when she saw this photo, "Boy were you excited in that photo!"
And I was. Because while Jim Slaton may not seem like an important guy to today's fans -- and he was never a great player -- he still is the pitcher in Brewers history with the longest tenure with the team (12 seasons), the most wins in team history (117), the most innings pitched (2025-1/3), the most shutouts in team history (19), the second-most complete games (69, behind Mike Caldwell's 81) and the second-most appearances (364, one behind Dan Plesac). In other words, the guy really is a Milwaukee Brewer.
While that photo was one of the items I got, it was far from the only one. As a kid, I was also a media guide junkie. Blame it on the long Wisconsin winters or on my obsessive streak, but I read those media guides from cover-to-cover, often memorizing middle names and places of birth. While sometimes I have to think about how long it has been since I graduated from college (21 years...yes, that's it. 21 years), I can still rattle off the entire name for George Bamberger's pitching coach, Cal McLish:
Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish
I did that from memory. Check it against Baseball-Reference, and you'll see that McLish unsurprisingly went by "Buster". Even McLish had no idea why he got named that.
But that little tidbit came from this well-worn, well-loved nightstand page turner:
I used to love to go through this book and read the Brewers All-Time Roster, wondering why Alabama native Don Mincher played only for the Pilots in 1969 and then never appeared again (answer: he was traded in January of 1970 -- ostensibly by the Brewers according to Baseball-Reference, but in reality, the Brewers were still the Pilots until literally near the midpoint of spring training). That was before I read Ball Four, but probably not by much.
Another memory of my childhood was rummaging through the month's Baseball Digest when it arrived. I kept a few of those in better shape than others, but even these had some wear:
I love the little Yount cameo in the background on Cooper's cover. Obviously, with Baseball Digest, they didn't cover the Brewers all that often on the cover.
In fact, the Twins showed up a couple of times. I took a couple of those to a Brewers v. Twins game on one occasion. I deduce this from the fact that I would not send a magazine through the mail in an envelope:
Sweet Music, Frankie V! And Herbie was kind enough to sign for me as well. Actually, both of them were very kind, as I recall. I think Viola asked to read the magazine during the game, since he wasn't pitching.
But, I might be mistaken. I might be giving him a good punchline that only I remember. Memory is a strange thing, after all.
Thanks for reading tonight. There's more to come -- more Brewers items and some interesting trade bait to follow as well.