Mark has become more active lately on Twitter, showing off his various purchases of cards and items of Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, and even an old Red Sox scorecard from a game between Bob Feller and Sox hurler Lefty Grove. Seeing items like those make me wish sometimes that the Milwaukee teams that I collect were around before 1953.
I mean, I suppose I could collect whatever I can find from the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers -- which moved to St. Louis and eventually became the Baltimore Orioles. I doubt there is that much ephemera from that team other than, perhaps, newspaper accounts of their games.
Similarly, I could try to find cards from minor league teams or Negro League teams that were based in Milwaukee -- everyone from the Milwaukee Creams of the Single-A Western League, or the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association (which followed the American Association from Single-A in 1902 up to Triple-A in 1952) or even the Milwaukee Chicks of the AAGPBL.
It's really a long baseball history, but it is mainly a minor league history before 1953 -- one I don't know much about.
But, as y'all know, I digress.
Mark packaged up some Brewers that I had and a couple that I did not in a recent envelope. Here's a sampling:
A 1990 Panini Sticker of the old MB logo is a great place to start. There is a true groundswell amongst Brewers fans to go back to this logo rather than the Miller-beer-influenced M that the team uses now.
I mean, the current one is not bad, but the other one is more recognizable, more inventive, and just cooler. It's not a total corporate logo, either. You can tell the MB was the result of a fan contest, and the current one was the result of a soulless Madison Avenue bull session.
Because of my love for the "MB" ball-in-glove logo, I'm only going to highlight those cards that have that logo on it that Mark sent. Plus, I rarely talk about junk wax Brewers here because, well, I have most of those cards already.
Rickey Keeton lasted a grand total of 22 games over two seasons with the Brewers -- 1980 and 1981. Keeton's main claim to fame for the 1982 team was that he was not a member of it. In fact, he was traded immediately after the 1981 season to the Houston Astros in exchange for Pete Ladd. Ladd then became the incredibly unlikely closer during September and October for Milwaukee in Rollie Fingers's absence.
As best I can tell, he went back to Cincinnati (where he grew up). Of course, my information is from a super-dodgy website, so I'm not sure that's true. But it's all I have.
Yes, the first overall pick in the 1985 draft. Sure, he was the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1985 and, no doubt, he was a good player. Why is it, though, that it always seemed like the Brewers never got the best of him? Surhoff played 1102 games in Milwaukee (.274/.323/.380 slash line), then went to Baltimore for a total of 1001 games (.291/.341/.451) and Atlanta for 210 games (.277/.332/.402).
The 1211 games outside Milwaukee saw him improving as a player into his mid-30s and, at the age of 34, having his best hitting season with 28 HRs, 107 RBIs, and a .308/.347/.492 slash line. I hate to ask the question, but it kind of has to be asked in that context: was it steroids or just improvement, bad pitching, and a better offensive context generally? Tough to say for sure.
Juan Castillo was a scrub. Always was, always will be. He was done in the majors after 3 appearances at the age of 27 in 1989. He played in the Mexican League, though, at least through 1998 and the age of 36.
Amazingly, he played 116 games (372 plate appearances) with a .224/.302/.312 slash line (OPS+ of 62) for a good 1987 Brewers team. Seriously, imagine if this guy hadn't been the second baseman playing the most and, instead, a major league hitter was there instead.
It probably wouldn't have been enough to make up the 7-game gap between the Brewers and the first-place Tigers, but it would be an interesting simulation to run.
Jaime Navarro left the Brewers coming out of the strike in 1994-1995. He went to the Cubs, where he pitched well, and then to the White Sox, where he did not pitch well. Still, he was probably the Brewers best pitcher for at least parts of the early 1990s.
As an aside, I'm always fascinated by baseball families. Jaime is a member of one, as his father Julio Navarro was also a pitcher -- with the Angels and Tigers in the 1960s and the Braves in 1970.
Rob Deer is Joc Pederson's spirit animal. Like Deer, Pederson is one of the three-true-outcomes guys -- either he walks, strikes out, or hits home runs. Like Deer, Pederson will have to learn to make sufficient contact to remain employed as a major leaguer.
Deer loved being a Brewer. He said so himself in an interview 10 years ago, and he loved the fans. Brewers fans will always love Deer for his Easter Sunday home run in 1987 against the Texas Rangers that tied the game 4-4. Dale Sveum then stepped up and won the team its 12th straight game to start the season.
Man, those were some good times. When I see that video, I think not only of that team, but also of my late Uncle Ed. His bald head was reflecting the sunlight along the railing next to the bullpen in right field where Sveum hit that home run.
Finally, let's end with a bit of a whimper. Greg Brock split his career nearly evenly between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers -- 496 games with LA, 517 with the Brewers. He came to Milwaukee in exchange for pitchers Tim Crews and Tim Leary at the winter meetings in 1986. He was far better with Milwaukee, and 1987 was his best year -- .299/.371/.438.
Brock's problem in both places was that he was following a team legend. In LA, he could never be Steve Garvey. In Milwaukee, he could never be Cecil Cooper. Everyone tried to wishcast a season like his 1982 season in Albuquerque (44 HR, 138 RBI, 21 2B, 8 3B, 118 R, and .310 AVG in 135 games), failing to realize how altitude and dry air inflates numbers. For that crazy 1982 season, he was inducted into the Albuquerque Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Sid Bream, Kevin Kennedy, and Carlos Salazar in 2012. It appears that he still lives in Loveland, Colorado, on a lake there -- and he even signs some autographs TTM.
Mark -- thank you for the great cards and yet another fun walk down memory lane. When your team is as bad as the Brewers are probably going to be this year, memories are all the sweeter -- and may be all I have!