Today, I'll be highlighting an envelope I received from veteran Rangers blogger Brian at Play At The Plate. Brian is one of the members of the SuperTrader group, and it had been way too long since he and I had swapped cards.
Just as my "nom de plume" is either Tony L. or "Off Hiatus", Brian is the Play at the Plate Dude or, on Twitter, @patpdude. So, let's look at the cards that Brian sent my way through the lens of nicknames!
Starting things off unimaginatively, this Phillies website says that Geoff Jenkins's nickname is either "Jenks" or "Brett Favre." I've talked about how he may have been more popular in Milwaukee than he perhaps should have been due to his uncanny likeness, so I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one to think that. I needed this Fleer Authentix card for my PC.
Also, while I know it's been done before, an insert set with actual ticket stubs (not reprints) that go along with a particularly impressive/important day in a player's career would be quite cool, I think.
I'm guessing that Prince Fielder got this nickname thanks to his own resemblance of James Avery, who played Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Do you see it?
Yankee Super Prospect
Jackson Melian was an incredibly overhyped prospect when he was a part of the Yankees Minor League system in the late 1990s. Before playing a single game and at the age of 17, he was rated the #40 prospect in baseball (all rankings by Baseball America).
In fairness, he did play acceptably in the Gulf Coast League in 1997 at age 17 (.263/.323/.376), but his ranking then dropped to #98. He moved up to the Southern League in 1998 and hit .255/.322/.353 with a poor stolen base rate (15 steals in 27 attempts). That year saw his stock rise according to BA, with Melian moving up to #72. He moved to Tampa for his age 19 season in the Florida State League, and he showed a more patient batting eye there -- .283/.358/.413. Despite that, he stayed as the #72 prospect.
The Yankees then shipped him to the Cincinnati Reds for Denny Neagle in what the New York Times called "sticker price" as the Reds gave up Drew Henson, Melian, Ed Yarnell, and Brian Reith. As soon as Melian was traded, he dropped off the prospect charts, never to be seen again there.
Oddly, the folks at Fleer gave Melian a Brewers-logoed card showing him in a Reds uniform -- likely from 2002 spring training. He only played 56 games in the Milwaukee system at Double-A Huntsville in 2002. I had no idea that that was even the case.
The Brewers traded him to the Cubs for a minor-league catcher. Melian never reached the majors, though he played in the Winter League in his home country of Venezuela as recently as 2015.
I just gave Weeks this nickname today. He doesn't have one listed for him anywhere that I can find. But, perhaps in an effort to sound younger than his 33 years (and, ostensibly, because he had a son that he and his wife named Rickie so he wanted to "keep [the name] alive"), he added the "Junior" to his name this past offseason.
It's good that there aren't any other famous people nicknamed "Junior," right?
This is another made-up nickname, but it fits for reasons I'll describe below. I feel like I've talked about Khalid Ballouli before here, but I guess not. Now I will.
Ballouli was the Brewers 6th round pick in 2002 out of Texas A&M. He pitched in five seasons in the minor leagues for the Brewers but never got higher than Double-A -- and for good reason. His results simply did not show that he should advance. Ballouli continued working on his degree at A&M in the meantime, and he graduated from there the same year he was released by the Brewers -- 2006. He earned his master's degree in 2008 and his Ph.D in 2011 -- all from A&M.
Currently, and as the link above shows, he is an Assistant Professor in Sport and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina. He teaches "Sport and Entertainment Marketing," "Sport Media in Live Entertainment and Sport," and "Research Methods and Applied Statistics." I have to admit that his field of study is really interesting to me, though I've never taken a single business class in my life. Maybe that's why it's interesting.
The highlight of the envelope from Brian came with the inclusion of the "Ultimate Star Materials" relic card of Robin Yount. I needed it for my Robin Yount collection, so that was an excellent addition.
But, I have to take issue a bit with Baseball Reference saying that Yount's nickname was "The Kid." Yes, he was called that from time to time. But those of us in Milwaukee in the late 1970s/early 1980s really did not call him that. To us, he was "Rockin' Robin," complete with that 1958 song from Bobby Day of the same name.
None of that Michael Jackson remake for us. We want that old-school stuff.
Brian/PATPDude, thank you very much for the great cards, for #SuperTrading, and especially for the Yount Relic!