I wish I could say I was recharging. I feel like Steve a/k/a Cardboard Jones f/k/a The Chop Keeper has reinvigorated and reinvented his collecting: he moved on from being the Chop Keeper as the Atlanta Braves morphed into a team he did not recognize and became Cardboard Jones at Collating Cards -- the set builder. I could see doing that at some point in my life, but my chase for Brewers keeps me moving forward. I don't have it in me at this point to be anything more than a one-note collector of Brewers in many respects.
That is, until such time as I decide that I'll become an oddball type collector and try to get at least one card from every oddball and minor league set in what I consider the modern era of post-World War II.
See, I don't like easily attainable goals. It's too Easy.
Steve's change of collecting has aided me a bit. Steve used to collect the Braves, as I mentioned above. His decision to go to set building of sets led him to send some Braves stuff my way. To be fair, he never disappoints.
Let's start with the cards:
Starting with the three earliest cards, we have 3 from the very green (for the Braves) year of 1958. Casey Wise is an interesting story, even if he would be completely persona non grata in my house based on his choices of colleges and universities. While he started his collegiate career on scholarship at the University of Texas (not bad), Wise eventually received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida (very bad). He then played baseball (and was terrible...more on that in a minute) before going to dental school at the University of Tennessee (flat out ugly) -- becoming the first orthodontist in Naples, Florida.
As to being terrible, Wikipedia quotes The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book as saying, "His may not be the worst Major League hitting record of all time, but it's definitely in contention." How bad was it? Well, over four seasons with the Cubs in 1957 -- which explains the weird blue brimmed hat and the M appearing over what appears to be a scribble, the Braves in 1958-1959, and Detroit in 1960, he came to bat 352 times. He "hit" .174/.243/.240 -- a career OPS of .483 and a career OPS+ (average is 100) of 32.
Wow. Hope he was better at orthodontics.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago/a couple of posts ago that I got two Red Schoendienst 1959 Topps in the space of about 3 days -- one from Commishbob. This one is the second one.
Harry Hanebrink caught my eye in this group for being someone I did not know. Hanebrink was a native St. Louisan who somehow ended up being signed by the Braves in the late 1940s after a tour in the Navy. He had a weird batting stance and hitting approach. As it was described by Hanebrink in his SABR Biography, "Feet very wide. I don't even take a step, but I come forward with the bat three times then take one fast cut when the pitcher starts to throw. All the fans used to count cadence on every pitch at Hartford, clapping and shouting: 'One, two, three, dip.' I guess it looks funny, but I can hit better that way."
Whereas Casey Wise was godawful terrible, Hanebrink was just bad to mediocre -- an OPS+ of 60, slash line over 345 plate appearances of .224/.279/.315; at least he hit for a little bit of power. Hanebrink returned to St. Louis after his career and become a real-estate broker for twenty years before deciding to drive a park-and-ride shuttle at the St. Louis airport. He passed away from a brain aneurysm in 1996 at the age of 69.
Finally, there is the one 1960 Topps card before we get to the oddballs. Pizarro had a long career that started with Milwaukee in 1957 and continued all the way until 1974 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His SABR Biography notes that between the minors, the majors, Mexico, and winter ball in his native Puerto Rico, his career win total in the regular season was 392 and his overall total was over 400.
He was the son of a construction worker/cockfighting trainer and gambler whose personal love for the nightlife was well known; in one book Where Have You Gone, Vince Dimaggio? he was quoted as saying, "I love to celebrate. I only remember the parties, the women, the hot times." He learned he could throw hard by being a bit of a delinquent -- throwing rocks to hit bottles in a game called piedritas. He is quite the character and is still with us at the age of 80.
Now, for the oddballs:
This postcard sized card is of Vermont's own Ernie Johnson Sr. The elder Johnson led his son Ernie Jr. into the broadcasting profession, in that Ernie spent years and years as the color commentator for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves -- starting in 1962 and ending in 1999. Ernie Jr. even worked games with his dad in the mid-1990s (1993 to 1996).
The reason I mentioned that Ernie is Vermont's own is that this card was issued by the Vermont Historical Society in 2000. Others in the set include Jean Dubuc, Pat Putnam, Birdie Tebbetts, and, of course, Carlton Fisk.
Thanks to Steve, I now have three of these photos of former Braves -- he also sent me a Frank Torre in the past. Apparently, I am still missing at least the Andy Pafko card, as an eBay auction lists a lot of 4 including the three I have and Pafko.
These are pretty cool, and it makes me wish that I had made the effort to go back to Wisconsin to see a game at County Stadium one last time before they tore it down after the 2000 season. It was a dump, but it had character. You were close to the field in nearly every seat and the place had history. Yes, it was falling apart and the team needed the ability to close a roof to keep folks from freezing, but dammit that place had character.
This is my first Jay Publishing Milwaukee Braves card/photo. This one is from 1961, and it is the same size as the Ohio Casualty Group photos from above.
These last cards show clearly why oddballs rule. It's easy to get the Topps runs -- relatively easy, at least. But it's a lot more fun to go oddball.
Many thanks go out to Steve for the great cards and the oddballs.