Alvis came to the Brewers in the same trade that brought fellow veteran Russ Snyder to Milwaukee. Apparently on the eve of the season starting, Marvin Milkes decided he would rather have two white guys in their 30s (and, as it would turn out, in their last seasons) instead of two young African-American players, Frank Coggins and Roy Foster. Neither Coggins nor Foster amounted to much in baseball (and both, oddly enough, died young...Foster at age 62 and Coggins at age 50), but for a second-year expansion team, I'm taking the young guys all day.
Nothing personal against Max Alvis, mind you -- he was a good player with the Indians through 1967, but he was clearly in decline by 1969 at the age of 31.
|1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers|
The more things change...
Okay, back to Max Alvis.
Alvis signed with the Indians before the 1958 baseball season. By 1962, at the age of 24, he saw his first major league action. He enjoyed 6 successful seasons in Cleveland as the Tribe's starting third baseman from 1963 through 1968, even though he missed 1/3 of the 1964 season with spinal meningitis.
Wait, what? Seriously?
As Alvis stated in an interview later (and good lord, never put blue text against a red background like that website I've linked to did), he developed a bad headache on a flight from Minneapolis to Boston. The flight landed, and the team went to their hotel. About 3 AM, Alvis called the team trainer, who then called the Boston team physician. The checked Alvis into the hospital, and he missed 6 weeks.
Alvis's comps provide a good more modern analog for him -- Kelly Gruber. By that, I mean that both were decent in the field, had 5-6 seasons of pretty good production, didn't walk much, struck out a fair amount, and when the end came, it came quickly.
The end for Alvis was 1970. He played as a starter at third for most of April, and he did it poorly. In 62 plate appearances, he walked four times, struck out 6, and got 8 hits -- for a slash line of .138/.194/.155. It was around that time that the team decided to move Tommy Harper from 2B to 3B and moved Alvis to the bench. From May 1 to the end of the season, Alvis came to the plate 58 times, walked once (intentionally), and hit .228/.241/.404.
|1994 Miller Lite Milwaukee Brewers Commemorative Set|
He went back to his hometown of Jasper, Texas, and went to work at the local bank. By the mid-2000s, he was the president of the First National Bank of Jasper, and was loving every minute of it. More recently, he got to see his grandson, Sam Alvis, play college baseball at Louisiana Tech as an outfielder before the Marlins drafted Sam as a pitcher.
Max's response? "So, once we learned he'd be pitching, I just told him, 'Well, you got a lot of work ahead of you, son."
You wouldn't expect the small-town Texan to say much more, either.
I have two cards of Alvis, pictured above. There are a couple of items -- a Mike Andersen postcard and a team "picture pack" card -- that I definitely don't have. And, again, if you know whether the MLB PhotoStamps shows Max as a Brewer, please let me know that too.