Thursday, September 29, 2016

Updating Meet the Brewers #33: Ray Peters

My love of history compels me to write about Brewers history. As a kid and as I've mentioned in the past, one of my favorite "books" to read was the Milwaukee Brewers media guide. I pored over those guides, memorizing players' full names (like James Elmer Gantner, for example). 

The one section I especially loved was the Brewers all-time roster. In those days before I had access to a Baseball Encyclopedia -- you know, the old 8-pound behemoth that perhaps was last issued in 1996 by Simon & Schuster after first being published in 1969 by Macmillan -- I was left only with the name of a player and the notation of what year(s) he played for the Milwaukee franchise. Names like Bob Coluccio and Dave May jumped off the page, but even names like Dick Selma, Bruce Brubaker, and, yes, Ray Peters stuck with me.

It's what led me to my "Meet the Brewers" posts. When I started them, I guess I did not think that any of the players I was writing about would actually read the posts. Why would they? I mean, it's just some Brewers fanboy writing, right?

And then I wrote about Ray Peters. If you have not read that installment, the short story on Ray is that he was drafted five times before he finally signed a professional contract. That happened because Ray was finishing up his degree at Harvard. He debuted the very next season in the major leagues -- 1970 -- and made two starts. But after suffering injury problems and being traded to the Phillies organization, he called it quits after the 1971 season. 

Writing about Ray was a very fortuitous undertaking. It led to Ray and me exchanging multiple emails and my getting to hear great stories about walking Al Kaline, meeting Arnold Palmer when Arnie redesigned Ray's local golf course, and his dinner with Jorge Luis Borges, the famous Argentine writer, poet, and essayist.

Oh, and a few stories about his classmates at Harvard -- Al Gore, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Wallace, and the late Gram Parsons.

And, did I mention his internship with G. H. Walker & Sons brokerage firm on Wall Street? G.H. Walker, Jr. -- a/k/a Herbie -- was the second generation leader of the firm at the time, and Herbie was the one who told Ray that the Mets had drafted him in 1968. That led to Ray going to Shea at the All-Star break and meeting Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra, and later teammate Greg Goossen, among others. Herbie's nephew ended up doing pretty well for himself, what with getting elected as Vice President in 1980 and President in 1988.

There's tons more that I've learned about Ray. He's an incredibly interesting guy to correspond with -- and one who even has ties to one of the guys who is a player collection for me. Indeed, one of Ray's roommates in Clinton is the Brewers all-time leader in victories: Jim Slaton.

But I'm rambling now.

Ray also was incredibly kind enough to indulge me a bit. He sent me some great custom cards of him.

Let's start, though, with the photo of Ray with Bob Lemon:

Next, in honor of his time in major league camp in 1969, Ray has this 1969 Topps-style card:

The back of this card is awesome. Rather than describe it, let me show it to you:

For whatever reason, I've always like those sleeve cuffs. Because they carried over to the early years of the Brewers -- along with the color scheme, which Bud Selig had wanted to change to red and black to mirror his old Braves -- many of the early Brewers photos show players with those same sleeves. After all, ole Bud wouldn't get rid of all those uniforms that the team had paid for already!

Like this one, on a 1970 Topps-style card:

I guess this card looks strange to me because it is literally the first 1970 Topps card of a 1970 Brewers player that I have ever seen in my life. Sure, the style was resurrected by people like Baseball Cards Magazine in the early 1990s and had Robin Yount and Paul Molitor on it, but having Ray is just better. 

Of course, the 1971 design -- with the bold black borders that are nearly impossible to find in perfect condition -- are still a big fan favorite. It appears that Ray agrees, having two different cards in that style:

The one on the right is especially cool, since that 1971 set featured the facsimile signatures on them. I think, though, that the card on the left is closer to the actual fonts used. Both of them are awesome.

They are not my favorites though. My two favorites are based on completely different card sets altogether:

The 1956 Topps cards were such a well-designed card. An action shot along with a portrait is just a great look. This one is particularly cool because the action shot featured on the card is from Ray's minor league season in Triple-A Portland in 1970, and it is the photo of his teammates congratulating him on hitting a grand slam (using Floyd Wicker's bat, in fact!). This is a Bobw card, of course.

But, my absolute favorite is this one:

This card is in the style of a set from which I actually still have most of the cards. In 1983, Renata Galasso issued a Seattle Pilots set. For a couple bucks extra, you could get card #1 autographed by "infamous" author, Jim Bouton. I had read Ball Four twice by the time this set came out, and I talked my mom into buying it for me along with the complete sets from Topps, Donruss, and Fleer from that year. It wasn't a cheap buy -- probably $50 or $60 for all of those together -- but considering how that year's rookies turned out, it was worth it. 

Still, because of that purchase, I love this set. It's weird, it's strange, and it's perfect for the 1969 Pilots. 

Ray is a great guy, and he is willing to sign cards or possibly send you a thing or two about him. He even said I could share his address -- he truly loves the game of baseball! Here's his address:

Ray Peters
11013 Southerland Drive
Denton, TX 76207

And, since no post would be complete without a little music, how about "Return of The Grievous Angel" by Ray's departed classmate, Gram Parsons:

Many thanks to Ray for indulging my curiosity about him, for sending me cards, and for being so giving of his time. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

I Don't Have the Words

Yesterday was a difficult day in the baseball world for the obvious reasons. Jose Fernandez's untimely death was terrible news to wake up to -- for me and everyone else. Losing someone with that much promise and that much joy at that young age unfair. It's cruel -- cruel to his family and friends, and most importantly, it is cruel to his unborn daughter. 

It is a reminder that we do not live in a just world. 

Thankfully and in a tasteful move, Topps refrained from issuing an "In Memoriam" card as part of its ToppsNow series. If I had to make an educated guess, I can think of a few reasons that they did not:

1.  Without having a cause for the accident, there could be the potential for a later embarrassment if the cause was anything illegal.

2. The concerns many people in the card world on Twitter had over the optics of profiteering off a man's death.

3. Related to number 2, a potential inability to determine what charity or fund any profits should be the beneficiary of any card sales.

4. Potential legal issues over the use of his image since he had passed away and it would be unclear whether the contracts in place would allow use without clearance from his family.

I'm not going to rank order these potential reasons. Not today. My cynicism has some boundaries.

Before I start getting too deep into a religious and philosophical wormhole from which I would never emerge intact, let me move on to something more frivolous: cards I've purchased recently off eBay.

I've severely limited my card buying lately for a number of reasons -- finances, interest in recent issues, and time for collecting, to name three. But, I did make a couple of recent purchases of more recent issues. 

First is this Rollie Fingers "Archives Snapshots" from the "Topps Photograph Vault." This card was one of the "online exclusive" cards issued 12 to a box. Each box comes with a guaranteed autograph and one black & white parallel, and they run $25 a box -- so, a little over $2 a card. 

It's pretty clear when this photo was taken, if you have a memory for pictures. Just take a look at the 1981 Topps Traded set card for Rollie:

With thanks to COMC for the image
Rollie is not quite as jolly on the photo used for the card, but it's quite clearly a photo taken during Rollie's first spring training at Sun City -- the long-since demolished complex where the Brewers held spring training through 1985.

I picked up Rollie's card for just about the price of an average card with shipping thrown in. But, that seller was a good man/woman and added in a bonus card for me:

Yes, I got a bonus card from the Bunt set. This is great for me because it finishes off the need for a Yount card. I still need a couple more from that set...and man, am I behind on getting my player collections updated!

In another purchase, I was looking for a copy of Ryan Braun's National Baseball Card Day card from this year to buy. Everyone was asking $0.99 for a starting price on auctions, and all the buy-it-nows were running at least $4 with shipping.  Then, I saw a sale where I'd get nine of them for a total cost of $4.

I didn't need nine of this card, but I did need two of them and getting 9 ended up far less expensive for me than getting two of them did.

Sometimes, buying in bulk is better.

Thanks for stopping by for this abbreviated version. I'll have an update on Ray Peters coming up this week along with a bit of a surprise out of the blue that came about recently for me.

In honor of Jose Fernandez, here's his at-bat music:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Two Special Robin Yount Cards

Like many collectors and baseball fans, I follow baseball artist Gypsy Oak on Twitter. I learned Gypsy Oak was a good person soon after I followed him because nearly immediately after I followed him, he sent me two JPEGs by DM that he said I should feel free to use for my avatar:

If ever you have a reason to try to curry favor with me, this is a good way to start. The Yount art looks a little off to me, if only because that uniform should be that beautiful powder blue -- almost Carolina blue, actually. But that is being super picky. Both of these are truly art.

About a week ago, Gypsy Oak tweeted out a happy birthday to Robin Yount using a wood engraving of Robin. I literally said "Wow" out loud to myself and immediately asked GO whether the engraving was for sale and, if so, for how much. He sent me a DM and told me he would sell it to me for $9, and that included shipping.

That wood engraving is now one of the coolest Yount items in my collection:

The only cooler item in my collection might be the Baseball Card Breakdown card of Robin on his motorcycle in 1982, and that's cooler because of my personal tie to that day. This is, however, a very close second.

But this post is about two special Yount cards. That's because GO added in a free gift for me -- a gift that has a value of at least one penny, but for which GO asks $9.95 on eBay:

Using the very art that he sent to me last year, this card is super cool. 

Now, 1978 wasn't exactly Yount's best season in the majors. In fact, thanks to an injury and some waffling about whether he still wanted to be a baseball player, Yount missed the first several weeks of the season. During that time and as is well known by now, the Brewers had a guy whom they had drafted just one year earlier out of the University of Minnesota who filled in for Yount and became as much of a fixture as Yount became -- Paul Molitor.

My thanks go out to Gypsy Oak for the free gift and for being a great artist. It's pretty cool to have art from a guy whose art -- in collaboration with Paine Proffitt -- hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Let's be clear though -- Gypsy Oak is a much cooler Gypsy than Fleetwood Mac's Gypsy. At least in my book.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

PWE-Town Tom

Work has been kicking my butt this week. It didn't help that I had to drive over 5 hours yesterday -- leave at 7 AM, get home at 8:40 PM -- for a meeting in Birmingham, Alabama that took longer than I expected and gave a result that could have been better. Sometimes, that is what is required. 

I don't think I ever saw business travel on L.A. Law like that. Still, I'm pretty well paid. I have a good life. To complain about work (rather than Topps Now) would just be petty. 

But, seeing as P-Town Tom sent me two great cards in a PWE recently, I think I'll use this as an excuse to play a couple of songs about work since that's what is on my brain right now.

The Johnny Paycheck classic from 1977, "Take This Job & Shove It", was actually written by David Allan Coe. To be fair, there is another version that really gives more of the feel of how this week has gone:

Dead Kennedys covered the song in 1986 on the album Bedtime for Democracy. That album actually hit number 1 on the UK Indie Chart in 1986. That album didn't have the songs that all the punk kids really liked, such as "Nazi Punks F**k Off" or "Terminal Preppie" from their earlier albums. Nor did it sell as many copies as the 1987 compilation/B-sides album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death with its anthems "Too Drunk to F**k", "California Über Alles," "Holiday in Cambodia," and "Night of the Living Rednecks," among others. That one went gold -- not bad for a nihilist hardcore punk band who had broken up by the time the album was released.

Apropos of a nihilist hardcore punk band is this Upper Deck hologram of Robin Yount. This is the card that led to this PWE from Tom, since I needed a copy of it for my collection. Once you get to the point that a card is more than 2/3 made of a cheap plastic mirror, you've crossed into nihilist territory. Nothing has meaning any more. Nothing.

Once I crossed into punk and started talking about work, it was almost a guarantee that this Joe Strummer/Mick Jones collaboration would make an appearance. There's a line in this song that says, "I won't open letter bombs for you" which is actually a job that Mick Jones had -- opening mail for the government to make sure that the IRA or some other organization hadn't decided to send a little surprise.

Speaking of a little surprise, Tom found this 2007 Topps Update card of Prince Fielder with a buyback stamp on it in some packs he was opening. To be honest, I'm disappointed -- this is my first copy of this card, and it has the extraneous marring on the card. I know some of you just file these away with their original series, but the pedantic in me (remember, please, that I am a professional pedant by being a lawyer) says, "Nope, this is a different card."

I wish I could be laissez faire about this, but I"m a true stickler when it comes to my collection. This is different from a regular issue 2007 Topps Update card number UH207, so, despite all the other accoutrements, it's a 2016 buyback version.

Call me crazy, I suppose.

Tom, thanks for the two great cards!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Day ToppsNow Died

My complaints about Topps Now are regular. They are numerous. Some of them are entirely unfair. Most of them relate to perceived slights from Topps for my Brewers.

They are tired of me tweeting at them. They don't respond to my tweets. They probably have me muted. They wouldn't block me, I don't think, since they still like my money and want me to spend it with them on the incredibly rare occasion that they acknowledge that the Brewers (a) are still a major league baseball team, (b) employ real live major league players, (c) have real live baseball Hall of Famers, and (d) Ryan Braun cheated but so did A-Rod, David Ortiz, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and any number of other players who have been lionized by Topps.

That last one was to see if you're still paying attention.

Anyway, Topps gave up their pretense of caring about Topps Now being about "celebrating baseball's greatest they happen" and, instead, decided to highlight "man rides bike to work two days ago."

You may have heard about Ben Zobrist. He did something pretty cool -- he rode his bike about one mile from his home near Wrigley in full uniform and wearing PF Flyers. He did this on Saturday, before the Cubs lost to the Brewers 11-3 thanks to a 3-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI game from Ryan Braun (taking Braun to 30 HRs and setting a team record for most seasons with 30 HRs) and with 2 SBs for Jonathan Villar (taking him to 56, 2 behind Billy Hamilton).

And yet, today is when this happened.

Yes, today was the day that Topps Now became "Topps sometime this weekend." After yesterday's six card orgasm that, in fairness, mostly deserved the Topps Now treatment (though again Topps decided on another "walk-off single" card after telling me when the Brewers' walk-off wasn't celebrated that, "not every walk-off is a Topps Now card") Topps decided that it would give a Topps Now card today to something that actually happened on Saturday

Topps stole a screencap from Ben Zobrist's wife's Instagram page -- hey Topps, does that violate your exclusivity agreement with Getty Images? -- and made a card out of it. If you're interested, here's the original post from Instagram:

A video posted by Julianna Zobrist (@juliannazobrist) on

Hey, it was kind of cool that he did it. Don't get me wrong. But this has been on social media since Saturday afternoon at 1:41 PM Eastern time. So, I guess it's okay now for Topps to decide that "Now" really means, "hey, when we get around to it and when we finally see something, we can print a card and call it 'Now.'"

Also, has anyone at Topps ever been to a game outside of their 5 boroughs? Or, rather, do they employ a web designer that knows how to spell important places?

Spelling is optional in Brooklyn, it seems. 

The real issue this raises to me isn't so much that this moment wasn't cool. The fact is that if Topps can decide that something is worth putting on a "Now" card a little later, why, then, couldn't Topps rectify clear oversights from earlier in the year? 

I mean, it's pretty well known that I got muted by Topps (probably) about the time that Topps ignored a TRIPLE PLAY by Milwaukee in favor of a David Ortiz homer in the middle of the game that allowed the Red Sox to win a game. 

Or maybe it was the time Topps decided that the Brewers' walk-off win wasn't worth a Now card. 

Or it could have been the time that Jonathan Villar hit homers from both sides of the plate to beat the Cubs 2-1 and that wasn't worth a Now card.

Not that I "deserve" an explanation as to why those particular events did not merit a Topps Now card. Or, maybe I do. I mean, I am a Topps customer, and customer service is supposed to be high on a company's list. Well, most companies, that is. 

And, if it's all about selling cards, why does Topps bother with cards for Jeremy Hellickson (print run: 204 cards) and his shutout Saturday, or Jose Ramirez's walk-off for Cleveland (221 sold) or Khris Davis's big game on September 4 (print run: 188)? 

Because those events matter and they tell the story of the season. Just like a triple play -- of which there have been 6 this year (3 of them by the White Sox, amazingly enough) matters. Just like a guy who is close to leading the league in steals who homers from both sides of the plate should matter (that's only happened 10 times this year, five times in each league).

And maybe like a guy who rides his bike to work matters.

Then again, maybe not.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cards from The Lost Collector

AJ a/k/a The Lost Collector is one of the good guys in the hobby. There are plenty of people who are nice to others, and, frankly, there are a fair number of complete trolls unfortunately. 

By trolls, I'm not talking about people who just complain all the time -- I mean, why would I call myself a troll? -- but rather I mean the people who feel the need to denigrate others and what they collect. I complain too much about Topps and especially about Topps Now, but it's not because I don't want Yankee collectors like AJ to get 35 cards in every set Topps produces. Well, actually, that is why I complain -- I want a little more equal time for the Brewers. 

The people I am talking about are those who call others names, make unwarranted claims about people's collecting, or, as one person did, say that a good guy like AJ is only in the card collecting hobby for money. Stuff like that actually annoys me. If given the opportunity with a card with value, I'll sell something. I do it very rarely, and I haven't done it in a couple of years -- choosing, instead, to send whatever I get out to folks in trade rather than selling. Plus, if AJ is only in this for the money, how can random troll explain all the money AJ spends on postage and supplies to send out packages -- as he did recently -- to people like me?

I'm in a theme music mood today, so let's get Lost with the Lost Collector and the cards he sent to me.

Getting lost in the shuffle with Drivin' N' Cryin', first of all. I've mentioned in the past that I listened to Drivin' N' Cryin' a lot during college -- especially their album Mystery Road, but also their "big" album called Fly Me Courageous. I listed to both albums enough to know all the words to all the songs back in the days when I actually had to listen to CDs rather than streaming music. "Lost in the Shuffle" always felt a bit like a filler song to me. It isn't bad, but it isn't nearly as good as other songs.

Now, I'm not saying that any of these cards are "filler" cards. But, there's a bit of "filler set" about the "First Edition" sets Upper Deck put out as well as the "Opening Day" set that Topps puts out every year. Same goes for those parallels that came out for a while that were exclusive to a particular store. I view those as ridiculous.

Brendan Katin in a prospect set like Bowman Heritage was definitely filler, though. Katin never made the major leagues -- not even for an at bat. He got closer to setting records for the Nashville Sounds than he should have. As this article from 2011 noted, he was within 24 homers and 47 RBIs at the beginning of the year to set career records in each for the franchise. 

Sadly for Katin, he was denied even that bit of fame, as hit hit only 11 homers and drove in just 25 in 34 games for Nashville that year before knee injuries and knee surgery shelved him. In late 2011, this story noted that his knee was so bad at the time that he might have to get a partial knee replacement. He is known now more for the fact that he appealed a 2007 drug suspension successfully than anything else.

I enjoyed finding a version of Top Gun with Spanish subtitles. This scene is weird on so many levels -- not the least of which is that the song makes no sense to sing in an effort to pick up a woman since it's a breakup song. I did enjoy hearing Leah Remini's story about Tom Cruise apparently serenading Katie Holmes at their wedding with this song too. 

Of course, Tom Cruise is weird.

1990s cards are weird too. Even the cool ones like Stadium Club went down paths that are best seen only in the context of what everyone else was doing -- like that Pinnacle Aficionado card that I thought, at first, was completely coming apart. 

Strange days indeed. And, the less said, the better.

The song "Lost On You" is by LP -- the stage name for singer Laura Pergolizzi. The model in the video is Laura Hanson Sims.

I had never heard of either before writing this post. But, I wanted something new to go with three new cards that AJ sent.

The Topps Bunt physical cards were a very good idea by Topps. Sure, they bear a resemblance to some cards from the 1990s, so design-wise we may be going back to that crazy era. But the reason these were a good idea is because kids play on their parent's phones and their own phones constantly. Tying a physical card product to the successful app that it has already is a great way to get at least a few kids to cross over into physical cards. 

At least I hope so. I want cards to continue being issued.

For the next set of cards, I needed something appropriately 1990s. It's not that these next cards are the weird crazy cards from the later 1990s, either. No, I needed grunge.

1990 was the last year that Topps issued its "big" cards. By the look on Bill Spiers face, you can tell that some fatigue had set it by that point with the cards. I'm still trying to figure out, though, who thought that Paul Molitor should be given a portrait that makes him look somewhere between psycho killer and annoying little brother.

And, finally:

Yeah, Bastille is pretty morose at times but their moroseness is couched in such catchy songs that I can't resist their music. Plus, they are so very English. That's worth a lot to me too, oddly enough.

I don't think that the song really relates to the cards below, other than the cards and this song both being from the recent past.

The highlight here is the Gilbert Lara green refractor parallel serial numbered 3 of 99. Seeing this card reminded me that if the Brewers do follow through on reports and trade Ryan Braun for Yasiel Puig (which is an interesting idea, but the Brewers must get more than just Puig), then I will not have any current Brewers players or prospects as PCs. 

I have a thought on a guy I'd like to develop as a PC, though I almost don't want to mention his name. The guy is Isan Diaz. Diaz was the real gem in the Jean Segura trade to the Diamondbacks (well, other than getting 3 months of Aaron Hill and the only Topps Now card for the Brewers in the first half of the season). Diaz is Puerto Rican and went to high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was the D-Backs second round pick in 2014. In 2015, he put up video game numbers in the Pioneer League -- in 312 plate appearances, he hit 13 HRs, stole 12 bases (but caught 7 times), and slashed .360/.436/.640. Yes, you read that right.

I have two fears about Diaz, though. He is still a ways away from Milwaukee, having just finished up his first full-season experience in A ball in the Midwest League. Granted, he did incredibly well again -- 20 HRs, 75 RBI, 11 SB (out of 19 tries...) and slashing .264/.358/.469 at the age of 20. But, that's a long ways away. 

The other fear is that his doing this well over the past two years -- and being likely to be named the Brewers Minor League player of the year this year -- will cause his cards to go skyrocketing upwards in cost. Heck, I may be too late for that already based on looking at eBay.

But, hey, if you guys want to send me his cards, I'll definitely take them.

And, speaking of taking them, I am glad that AJ sent me these cards and that the card package did not have an invoice. I mean, after all, he's supposedly all about the money.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Robin Yount!

All humans go through slumps. The only question is how the slump manifests itself. 

I get into slumps where I just don't feel like writing. I was in that slump most of this past week. Even at work, writing was extremely difficult for me. The words did not flow. The thoughts did not flow, and they were jumbled. 

Yesterday, though, things cleared up a bit. I was able to focus a bit more and I got things done. I don't know if it was just a little "end of week" focus or something else, but things were clicking. The other thing yesterday, though, was that my wife and I had a "hang out" night last night -- catching up on some TV shows together, playing a little backgammon, talking, listening to music, and drinking a little wine too. 

So, this post should have been made yesterday -- on the day of Robin Yount's 61st birthday -- rather than today. 

Better late than never.

It is difficult to state or even overstate how important Robin Yount was and still is in Milwaukee Brewers history. While Hank Aaron and Rollie Fingers were enshrined in the Hall of Fame before Yount, Yount was the first player to wear a Brewers hat on his plaque. 

When he retired suddenly at the beginning of the 1994 season, it caught Milwaukee as a city -- and probably as an organization -- by surprise. It led off the local news, of course, giving such cringeworthy coverage as this:

In honor of Yount's 61st birthday, though, I thought I'd pick out a few of my favorite Robin Yount cards from my collection, in no particular order.

1975 Hostess

I love oddballs. At some point, I may decide to try to collect complete sets of the Hostess cards, even as difficult as that may be, thanks to this love for oddballs. 

This card makes my "favorites" list for a couple of reasons. First, my love of oddballs meant that at least one (and actually more) would make this list. 

Second, thanks to the continual reprinting/reusing of the 1975 Topps version of Robin's rookie card by Topps -- seeing as it appears in nearly every throwback excuse set that Topps prints -- I'm actually kind of tired of that photo and that card. It is an iconic card, but even icons can lose meaning if they are everywhere. I appreciate the fact that Robin keeps getting cards, but I don't appreciate the laziness that pervades Robin's getting cards from Topps.

But I complain too much about Topps, apparently.

2015 Baseball Card Breakdown Cardsphere Heroes

By now, most people in the blog world know about the prowess that Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown has with making custom cards. This photo is such a favorite of mine that it is my avatar on Blogger and on Twitter. 

I've already mentioned all the emotions I had on the day on which this picture was taken (the welcome home parade after the Brewers lost the 1982 World Series), and I've already called this my favorite custom card in Post #500. So, including this one in my list of favorite Yount cards was a natural move.

1983 West Bend Police Department

It wouldn't be a favorite card list from me of anyone who played in the 1980s without including a card from a police department. West Bend is the bigger city closest to where I grew up -- where city means, "more than 15,000 people", that is. As a kid, I literally would spend days near my house on my bike watching for police cars to go by and hope that they would have to stop at a stop sign near where I was so I could flag them down and get baseball cards. 

What can I say -- it was 1983, I could only play so much Atari before my thumbs and wrists got sore, and I was an addicted card collector.

I can't remember at this point if this is a card I got myself back in the 1980s or if I bought this on eBay. It doesn't matter.

2016 Topps Allen & Ginter

Looking through all my scanned cards, I have a bunch of Yount relics, a few autographs, and a ton of inserts and base set cards of Yount from after his playing career. For whatever reason, this one really grabbed me today. It's a different photo from the usual ones Topps seems to use regularly, so that helps. The artwork is well done here also. 

To be honest, if I did a list like this tomorrow, this card might not make the cut. But, today it did.

1983(?) O'Connell & Sons Ink

And finally, another oddball. The art quality on this one is not very good -- the drawing is pretty amateurish (even if it is far better than I could do). The reason I like this one is that chasing it down was about an 18-month obsession for me when I first got back into collecting. I searched and searched and searched, and then one showed up on COMC for a reasonable price about a year ago. I snapped it up immediately.

It seems strange that Robin Yount is now 61 years old. I mean, he's not supposed to age and get old because if he does then there is no hope for me.

Then again, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would already agree that there's no hope for me -- after all, I'm a Brewers fan.

Happy birthday, Rockin' Robin!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

One Singular Sensation: A Card from Swing & A Pop-Up

While I have a post to write up about a filled bubble mailer, I don't have a filled bubble-mailer post in me right now. I've had serious issues with my attention span today for some reason. Usually that results from either too much sugar, not enough coffee/caffeine, or a general lack of interest and enthusiasm for whatever it is I'm working on that day. 

Today, I'll blame it on all three. I've been very good about avoiding sugary snacks overall as part of my diet, but I cheated a little bit today. I have a serious weakness for peanut brittle -- I know, random -- and -- even more randomly -- a vendor trying to get our copying business or something sent one of our paralegals a big bag of it. It was so incredibly tasty, but horrible for my diet. Add in getting only two cups of coffee -- in an effort to avoid the peanut brittle, of course -- and having to try to write a mediation statement, and my ability to move the ball forward at my office was next to nil. 

That lack of an attention span carried over to coming home too. So, I'm choosing to write up a single-card package that I received from Bert over at Swing And a Pop-Up

Yeah, it's a weird day. No attention span and the only inspiration I have for a post is a song from a musical I saw a friend's high school put on in the late 1980s.

Anyway, Bert was kind enough to send me a card that, as he put it, "belongs in your collection way more than it does mine." Being a generally appreciative sort, I will not disagree with a man or a woman who wishes to send me baseball cards of Brewers players.

Especially when it's a great card:

This manu-relic is from 2009 Topps, and it commemorates the fact that Robin appeared in the 1983 All-Star game that took place at the old Comiskey Park. If you're in your mid-40s, this was a very memorable game. 

It featured the first -- and still only -- grand slam in All-Star Game history. 

Yount at first, Carew at Second, Trillo at third -- and Fred Lynn steps up and hits Atlee Hammaker's pitch into the right field seats, as called by the two voices that all important 1980s games should have had calling the game, Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola. 

Just as importantly, when the teams took the field on July 6, 1983, the American League had not won an All-Star Game since before I was born. I was born in December of 1971, and the AL had last won an All-Star Game on July 13, 1971. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, you didn't need some silly "winner gets home field" crap to get the teams to play hard. Of course, the players also hadn't seen the guys from the other league already in regular games, so that made it much more special than it is now.

But, I digress. Harvey Kuenn was the winning manager for the American League in that All-Star game. It remains to this day the only All-Star Game that a Brewers manager has managed, so the team's managers are 1-0. #ToppsNow

Getting back to the grand slam, the fact was that Hammaker was absolutely annihilated in that game -- 2/3 of an inning, 7 earned runs, 2 HRs allowed (the other to Jim Rice). Of course, Hammaker faced 5 Future Hall of Famers (Rice, Brett, Winfield, Carew, and Yount) and a sixth player (Ted Simmons) that should be. 

Hammaker had an excellent 1983, as he led the NL in ERA+, ERA, FIP, WHIP, and BB9 (just 1.7 walks per 9 innings in 1983, just 1.4 in 1982). Hammaker was never again quite as good as he was in 1982 and 1983, though, as injuries -- specifically shoulder tendinitis -- in 1983 limited him to just 23 starts. Then, in 1984, he had rotator cuff surgery and bone spurs in his elbow. In 1986, he missed the whole year thanks to shoulder issues, surgery on both knees, and a viral infection. Later, he missed 1992 and 1993 with Tommy John surgery before coming back and pitching for the White Sox.

Two of his 5 daughters, Anna and Alesa, followed in their dad's footsteps in being athletes. In addition to his baseball career, Atlee played college basketball at East Tennessee State for two years. His middle daughter Alesa played basketball at Berry College here in Georgia, and youngest daughter Anna is now playing guard for the Kansas State Wildcats.

These days, though, Hammaker is now known almost as much for the fact his son-in-law is the reason that Jonathan Lucroy is playing for the Texas Rangers rather than the Cleveland Indians. That's right -- Hammaker's second oldest daughter Jenna married her fellow Tennessee Volunteer, Catcher Yan Gomes, in 2012 despite Atlee's plea to his daughter not to date a baseball player. 

Gomes had a terrible 2016 -- "hitting" .165/.198/.313 before hitting the disabled list on July 17. But, Gomes is 28 years old and is signed to a fairly team friendly contract through at least 2019 (with two team options in 2020 for $9 million and 2021 for $11 million, both with $1 million buyouts). And Gomes is nearly ready to return to the lineup -- which will force the Indians to decide if he will move to first base or stay as a catcher.

All of this from the 1983 All-Star Game. Who would have thought it?