Sunday, January 22, 2017

COMC Black Friday Buys #1: Jim Slaton & Bill Wegman

The first year I got back into card collecting in 2014, I did not even think to go shopping anywhere online for cards on Black Friday. That was mainly because I was going into a period of major uncertainty in my career -- one which has since been resolved to a large extent -- but also it was because I almost always am traveling back to Georgia from Wisconsin on that day after Thanksgiving. 

That was the case in 2015 as well -- getting back into Atlanta from Milwaukee, driving the 40 minutes home from the airport, and getting unpacked took up most of the day and almost all of my thoughts. 

This past year, though, was slightly different. First off, my wife did not go with me to Milwaukee for a couple of reasons too lengthy to get into here. So, I traveled by myself. That gave me plenty of time to read Twitter and the card blogs while traveling, and that gave me the reminder to check out the deals on COMC. 

As a result, I end up spending a decent amount of money loading up on cards. It wasn't so much the free shipping as it was the deals themselves that helped convince me to buy a number of the cards I got. I ended up buying about 250 or 300 cards that day, and then I got to wait for about a month to get them. 

So, today, let's start looking at the cards I got. We'll start with two right-handed pitchers who mostly started for Milwaukee in the years they spent with the team: Jim Slaton and Bill Wegman.

Jim Slaton

I only found two Jim Slaton cards that I needed -- his 1984 Topps Sticker (shared with Mike Heath) and his 1977 Hostess card. 

So, for those of you who barely recall (or don't at all recall) Jim Slaton, here's a quick rundown of his career. The Seattle Pilots selected Slaton as their 15th round pick in the 1969 June draft. In that draft, the Pilots selected Gorman Thomas with their 1st round pick. That made the 1969 draft a far more productive draft than 1968 was (literally only three players who made the major leagues being selected with an overall WAR of 0.6 among all three).

Slaton moved up quickly in the Brewers system and made his major league debut (as Brewer #53) on April 14, 1971, throwing 6 shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox and picking up the win thanks to a Tommy Harper run scoring single off Tommy John in the top of the 7th inning.

That was the first win of a still-team-record 117 wins as a Brewer for Slaton. He pitched in four other seasons outside Milwaukee for California (near where he grew up) and Detroit, totaling another 34 wins. He was traded to Detroit after the 1977 season in which he was an All-Star. Don Money had been selected as the Brewers representative for the 1977 game, but he came up injured. Slaton did not appear in that game, however, because he was scheduled to pitch against the Yankees on the first game after the break.

I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to speak to Mr. Slaton last weekend. He lives in the Phoenix area now. A lot of former Brewers seem to live in and around Phoenix -- perhaps because the Brewers have held spring training in Arizona for as long as they have been a franchise, I suppose. The good thing about that for those guys is that it is relatively easy for them to stay in touch with one another, to get together for charity golf tournaments, etc. 

My thanks go out to Jim Slaton for taking the time -- close to 45 minutes -- last Sunday to talk to me even as the Packers and Cowboys were playing. Both of us were watching the game too.

These two cards bring my Jim Slaton collection up to 57 cards/photos/autographs.

Bill Wegman

I was able to pick up 10 different Bill Wegman cards from COMC, all of which were quite reasonably priced because, well, it's Bill Wegman. 

The Brewers selected Wegman in the Fifth Round of the 1981 June Draft. I always enjoy looking at what other players the team could have selected, so here are a couple of notables that were selected after Wegman: John Franco (by the Dodgers with the very next pick), Devon White (8 picks later in the sixth round), Alvin Davis (in the sixth round by Oakland; he did not sign), Fred McGriff (9th round by the Yankees), and a right-handed high school pitcher named Mark McGwire, who was selected with the 199th pick overall in the 8th round by the Montreal Expos. Of course, he did not sign then.

Despite those "what could have beens," the Brewers did okay with Wegman. He stands 7th overall in team history with 81 wins (and second overall in losses with 90, 31 behind...Jim Slaton) and fourth in innings pitched behind Slaton, Mike Caldwell, and Moose Haas. He spent his entire 11-year career with the Brewers. He retired after the 1995 season at the age of 32 when, by his own words, he wasn't enjoying the game as much and was tired of the travel.

As this story from 2001 mentions, though, Wegman's life changed in the late 1980s. He became a born-again Christian and stopped drinking. He then returned to his hometown of Cincinnati and became a pastor at Faith Fellowship Church. He has since moved on to become an elder with the Grace Covenant Church and, now, he is also a grandfather

These 10 cards brought my Bill Wegman collection up to around 110 cards; I've added a couple of more since this package came in, so I'm now at 114 Bill Wegmans, which might be more than Wegman himself has.

Thanks for stopping by today and reading -- and there will be more catching up on trade packages coming soon.


  1. Nice batch of Brewers there..

    What could have been... Mark McGwire as an Expo!?

  2. Pretty cool that you get to talk to former Brewers.

  3. Really appreciate the write up on Wegman. Always seemed to be one of the truly nice guys. Love collections of lesser known (at least nationally) home team stars