Just before Christmas, Dennis from Too Many Verlanders offered up a variety of cards and, well, stuff that he had accumulated and wanted to clear out. Dennis has sent me cards on a number of occasions (though I'm quite sure I owe him cards) so I was a bit hesitant to put in a claim. But then, I saw this:
And that was the end of my shyness. I quickly snapped it up. As you can see on the box, it is a bobble head that commemorates the 1913 Milwaukee Brewers. The reason for celebration and commemoration was the fact that the Brewers won their first ever title: Champions of the American Association with a 100-67 record.
It was a pretty good team -- 15 of the 19 players who played for that Milwaukee team saw time in the major leagues either before or after their stint in Milwaukee. The two names that jump out at me?
First there is Cy Slapnicka, who spent over 50 years in baseball as a player, a GM, and a scout and is known for signing some pretty notable players to contracts -- guys like a 16-year-old Bob Feller, Tommy Henrich (whose contract was voided for some shenanigans the Indians engaged in), Lou Boudreau, Herb Score, Bobby Avila, and Hal Trosky...though he whiffed on signing Hal Newhouser by showing up too late.
Second, there is noted World Series fixer and Milwaukee native Oscar Emil "Happy" Felsch. The Brewers sold Felsch to the White Sox in 1914 for $12,000 plus an infielder and an outfielder. Felsch moved south to Chicago and left his Milwaukee-based family behind on Teutonia Avenue. After being banned from organized baseball, Felsch played on into his early 40s in "outlaw" leagues in Canada and the Mountain West. He returned to Milwaukee and first owned a tavern before becoming a crane operator, and the interviews with Felsch helped Eliot Asimov write his chronicle, Eight Men Out.
But I digress. Greatly. Because here's Corey Hart in his 1913 uniform!
Dennis also -- unnecessarily, I'll add -- threw in some great baseball cards too. For example, I got this pack in the box:
No good pack goes unopened in my house. I ripped it open immediately, and found that the contents were as advertised:
It is, indeed, a 9-card set sponsored by General Motors based on Ken Burns's film Baseball. I have to admit that I do have a favorite card in this group of 9: I love that Satchel Paige card. It's probably because of the relative paucity of cards for Negro League stars, I suppose -- or, at least, the relative paucity of those cards in my collection. Ol' Satch went right into my "Random Cards I Like" binder right next to Hines Ward from the JBF package.
But wait: there's more.
2010 Elite Extra Edition! I'm starting to be more and more drawn to all the minor league cards -- probably due to my frustration generally with major league cards, I'd suppose.
Our first guy up is Austin Ross, an 8th round selection in 2010 out of LSU. He's slowly, slowly worked his way up the ladder in the Brewers organization. He's hit literally every stop -- from the Pioneer League, to the Arizona Rookie League, to the Midwest League to the Florida State League to the Southern League and Double-A in 2014 and 2015 to Triple-A Colorado Springs the past two years. He actually pitched pretty well out of the bullpen there last year to the point where he might actually crack the big-league roster this year at the age of 28.
Brian Garman, on the other hand, is no longer in the minors. He was a 17th round pick from the University of Cincinnati. He made it to Huntsville in 2013, but that was the end for him. He's still in baseball as the pitching coach for the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, according to his Twitter bio.
What? More? Yes. More:
These Sweet Spot Signatures are notoriously finicky. Upper Deck put a lot of them on really cheap, crappy plastic imitation balls, and those have faded into the ether like chemtrails from airplanes that some conspiracy theorists believe are used to control weather (spoiler alert: they are not).
Of course, this Chris Demaria looks like it was made from the finest cowhide and will survive a nuclear explosion, global warming (probably caused by chemtrails), and a Trump presidency. Too bad the Robin Yount one I have isn't doing as well.
Speaking of Robin Yount:
How sweet is this Ultimate Star Materials of Yount? A big pinstripe down the middle of the fabric is a nice touch too. Yount is still recovering a year later from an injury he suffered at home in Phoenix last year when a compressor fell on his hand and crushed it. For some months, he had to wear what was described to me recently as being like those halos that people who have broken necks have to wear except that Robin's was on his arm from his elbow down. Apparently it was pretty bad.
Is it weird that I kind of like these manu-relics a bit better than getting a swatch of fabric in a card? I have to tell you that I have strong doubts that Braun will get to the 500-HR club. He's 33 years old now, and he currently has 283 career home runs. Plugging that into the "Bill James Favorite Toy" equation:
Braun needs 217 homers to get to 500. The number of seasons he has remaining (estimated) are 4.2. His established level of productivity (this is a weighted equation) is 26 homers a year. By this estimate, Braun is likely to hit about 110 homers. Thus, his chance to get to 500 is about 1% -- rounding up from the 0.69% that the equation gives us, which is nice.
Nice, however, does not begin to describe how great this package was from Dennis. These were just the highest of the highlights.
Many thanks go out to Too Many Verlanders!