He is also a font of incredible information about the early days of the Milwaukee Brewers. I haven't done so yet, but I will be sharing soon some minor league team photos he scanned and sent to me. He's also been kind to me with his time and energy in reading and giving me more information about my "Meet the Brewers" series. I'm looking forward to bringing that knowledge into my series.
Recently, he topped himself. I got home from work late last week and found a package from Ray waiting for me. I was not expecting anything from him, so it was a surprise.
Now, if you have read about Ray, you know that he is a graduate of Harvard University. His major at Harvard was Latin American History -- unlike what this otherwise good biography from author Chris Zantow said, where it tried to limit Ray to studying only South America. I was going to ask Ray his position on the thesis I wrote in college -- specifically, whether Brazilian populist Getulio Vargas's policies of trying to play the US and the Allied Powers and Germany and the Axis powers off one another in the 1930s and early 1940s was a good policy or whether Vargas could have done better by siding with one earlier in the war. But I keep forgetting to ask.
I bring up Ray's historian side, though, to emphasize the fact that he knows how to research. Certainly, it does not take much digging on my blog to find that I like oddballs, but it takes at least a bit of reading. As an oddball lover, though, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed opening the envelope from Ray. It contained just one card -- but it is a doozy:
This is one of the Dayton Daily News "Bubble-Gumless Cards" that the newspaper issued in 1970 and 1971. Like all good oddball things, the Dayton Daily News cards have had things written about them elsewhere before. The blog "Uncataloged Baseball Cards" features a post from 2010 (just highlight the text so you can read it, since the black text on black background does not really work too well) which mentions that the author SSchauer spent a significant amount of time going through microfilm to document the whole set -- all 357 cards (other than card 196, since his library was missing that microfilm roll).
My research also led me to the frequently excellent Net54Baseball Forum, which posed the question I had: why is this considered a "card"? Hobby icon and Big-Book compiler Bob Lemke responded by saying that:
Back in the day' when the Standard Catalog had two people working full-time, virtually unlimited page counts and the notion of building up a database for non-card baseball player memorabilia for future catalogs, we routinely sought out this type of item. Today, not so much. If the need arises to cut back vintage pages on the print edition in the future, this type of listing would be among the first to go onto some sort of rotational publishing basis.
And that kind of thing is a shame. As our hobby has changed and become more corporate in nature -- with profit motives outweighing hobbyist enjoyment for many and for the corporations issuing the cards and cataloging them on websites (like Beckett) -- these types of cards will fall by the wayside or will become relics of a foreign history that, perhaps, our children may never know.
It's thanks to historians like Ray and Bob Lemke and the folks at Net54, though, that we hopefully will not lose our hobby's past.
My thanks to Ray for this awesome piece of Milwaukee history. I don't think I've ever seen one of these before, so it's truly a pleasure to have it.