Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hazed by Bowman

I never joined a fraternity in college. Shocking, I know, that a guy who collects baseball cards would not join a fraternity. For the most part, I actually stayed away from the frats at Vanderbilt because I really wasn't all that much into beer drinking in college. Sure, I'd drink mixed drinks without a problem. 

But fraternity beer was crappy stuff like Milwaukee's Best Light, so a taste was enough to convince me not to drink too much. Later -- like, the year after graduating from college -- when I had a little bit of money, I started enjoying beer drinking. I tend not to drink as much beer these days as I have in the past thanks to getting back into enjoying wine more and starting on gin instead. 

But, thanks to my non-fraternity background, I "missed out" on the indoctrination of fraternity hazing. Strangely enough, some people actually have posted a hazing song from their fraternity on YouTube, calling it a "Vintage Sigma Chi Hazing Song."

I don't get the appeal of it. Yeah, I guess it gives you an in with sorority girls, maybe. And maybe making a few friends you might not have otherwise made could be an appeal as well. Still, it seems puerile and obnoxious to need to rely on paying dues to hang out with your friends.

But, that might just be me.

Why am I talking about hazing? Because all around good guy John Hazen sent me some Bowman cards -- that's why. John sent me an email saying he had a few Bowman from 2008 and asked if I needed them. I like people who ask me that.

So, let's see what I got!

This Stephen Chapman is not a Christian singer, nor does he write for the Chicago Tribune, nor does he play soccer for Appalachian State University. This Stephen Chapman was the Brewers 6th Round pick in the 2004 draft out of Marianna High School in Marianna, Florida (which is pretty much due north of Panama City inland in Florida's panhandle). 

By 2008, he was 22 years old and had spent his 2007 season at West Virginia in the Sally League where he hit 24 HRs and slashed .262/.326/.501. His batting eye left something to be desired -- 36 BB and 137 Ks in 511 plate appearances. He spent 2008 in the Florida State League and struggled greatly hitting -- so much so that he was out of the Brewers organization and with the Reds for the 2009 season. 2009 is the last year that he has stats on Baseball Reference, so I'm pretty sure he's not playing organized baseball any more.

David Welch was born in Sydney, Australia in 1983. He was drafted by the Yankees in 2003 and did not sign. The Brewers then drafted him in the 20th round of the 2005 draft out of Texarkana College in Texas. He was old for his levels in 2005, 2006, and 2007 -- reaching the Florida State league in 2007. 

He moved up to Huntsville in 2008 and pitched okay but not great -- only a 1.86 K/BB ratio in 147-2/3 innings. He returned to Huntsville in 2009 and was named to the Australian Baseball World Cup Roster that year. But, in 2010, he found himself in independent baseball with Sioux City, Mexico City, and back in Sydney with the Blue Sox -- even throwing the first no-hitter in the playoffs in Aussie baseball history against the Adelaide Bite. That 2010 season was the last that Baseball Reference heard of him, and he retired on July 18, 2011.

I'm sensing an unhappy trend here.

Darren Ford was an 18th Round pick of the Brewers in 2004 out of Chipola College -- in Marianna, Florida, oddly enough. Ford actually made it to the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and 2011. His grandfather, Ted Ford, also played in the major leagues in the early 1970s.

His most accurate position really would be "pinch runner," it seems. In his minor league career spanning 12 seasons and counting (as he spent 2016 in Double-A and Triple-A with the Giants), he has racked up 4944 plate appearances and hit 58 homers. But, he has stolen 450 bases since 2005. Ford stole 18 bases in 61 games in 2005, 69 bases in 125 games in 2006, and 67 bases in 123 games in 2007. 

But, midway through the 2008 season, the Brewers traded him along with another minor leaguer (Steve Hammond) to the Giants to rent the skeletal remains of Ray Durham for the pennant chase. The Giants released him after the 2011 season. The Mariners signed him for a year and then let him go. Then, the Pirates had him for a season and let him go. Since 2014, he's been organizational depth for the Giants.

Last one:

Speaking of guys from baseball families, here's Cleveland outfielder Mike Brantley. Of course, his dad Mickey played for the Mariners from 1986 through 1989. Though he never played for the major league team, he spent a portion of 1990 and all of 1991 in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system at Triple-A Denver.

Mike also didn't make it to the major leagues with the Brewers. He was a 7th round draft pick out of high school from Fort Pierce, Florida (which is on the east coast of Florida in St. Lucie County). Brantley was the player to be named later in the trade that sent CC Sabathia to Milwaukee. While Matt LaPorta and Zach Jackson were thought to be the key players at the time, Brantley turned out to be the real gem.

Brantley missed most of 2016 thanks to having right shoulder surgery in May of 2016. It was a shame that the got hurt, as he appeared to be turning into a minor star in 2014 -- making the all-star game, finishing third in the MVP voting (behind Mike Trout and Victor Martinez), and winning the Silver Slugger Award. If the 2014 MVP voting was done on WAR, Brantley (6.8, of which 7.0 came from hitting and -0.2 for his defense) would have been 5th behind Trout (7.9 WAR and MVP), teammate Corey Kluber (7.4 WAR), Josh Donaldson (7.3) and Adrian Beltre (7.0). 

Many thanks go out to John "Purple" Hazen for these great cards -- I'll be putting a package together soon!


  1. With you on the frats... I went to my college in part because they didn't have them. Great cards and stories.

  2. Almost joined a frat my senior year, because they wanted my GPA to help boost the house's average. I told them I would join only if I didn't have to rush or go though the hazing rituals. I never heard back from them.

  3. In college I was able to drink beer and get girls without being hazed. I WIN!

  4. I don't drink and I'm in college. I want to be the annoying straight edge guy who says he's high on life over being high on drugs.