Monday, May 7, 2018

Cardboard Jones Sends Out Dairy Cards and Autographs

One of the first guys I ever interacted with and traded with is Steve a/k/a Cardboard Jones f/k/a The Chop Keeper. I especially appreciate his interaction on Twitter, where he frequently feels like a voice of reason amidst a sea of greedy giveaway hawks, overzealous sales pitches, and strange bracket competitions.

It's been a couple of months since he sent me the four cards I'm going to blog about today. So in penance for that failure to post these cards with any kind of haste at all, I'm posting music of Steve's liking to go with the cards. Hopefully Steve still likes Taylor Swift.


That's a joke, y'all. A joke.

At least I think so.

Anyway, here come the cards and the music courtesy of my pal from Idaho.

The first three cards are all from the 1960 Lake to Lake Milwaukee Braves set. I will note first that I do not believe that that is Johnny Logan's autograph on this card, as I have an exemplar that it does not match at all.

That out of the way, let's talk first about Lake to Lake Dairy. According to this article from a few days ago in the Wisconsin State Farmer newspaper, Lake to Lake was a dairy cooperative formed in 1946. The cooperative was formed because the dairy farmers wanted to be able to negotiate dairy prices more collectively and get better returns for their milk products. The cooperative formed in the  Manitowoc County area and included the surrounding counties such as Kewaunee and Calumet -- the same area that produced the "Making a Murder" series on Netflix. Lake to Lake Dairy was bought out by Land O'Lakes, Inc. in 1981.

The first band that I'll highlight is Black Country Communion. Members of this supergroup include Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian. Hughes was the vocalist for a few iterations of Deep Purple and, for a short time in the mid-1980s, for Black Sabbath. Bonamassa, of course, is a legend in blues rock and was a child prodigy who opened about 20 shows for B.B. King at the age of 22. Bonham may be the best known of the group thanks to his famous father John Bonham being Led Zeppelin's drummer and thanks to Jason playing the drums for Zeppelin fairly regularly. Finally, Sherinian is a keyboardist who played in Dream Theater and has toured and recorded with Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, and Yngwie Malmsteen, among many many others. 

For whatever reason, this is the first time I've heard this band and this song, "Collide." It reminded me a little of Soundgarden/Chris Cornell. That's what came to mind without watching the video. Call me crazy.

You may have noticed that these cards are in pretty rough shape -- missing big parts and all. That should come as no surprise, as these Lake to Lake cards were originally stapled to milk cartons distributed by the dairy around Wisconsin. As the Standard Catalog notes, these cards were also redeemable for prizes ranging from pen and pencil sets to Braves tickets. When redeemed, the cards were punched with hole punches.

It is an understatement to say, as the Standard Catalog does, that these cards "offer a special challenge for the condition-conscious collector." Also, as a further aside, the Ray Boone and Bill Bruton cards are very difficult to find -- Boone's because he was traded and the card was withdrawn, and Bruton's for no discernible reason (other than, perhaps, his card was a grand-prize type giveaway).

Steve is a pretty big fan of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I have no idea if this song was in the "Tiny Desk Concert" that I posted in February last year (as recommended by Mark Hoyle, who also recommended Joe Bonamassa). Susan Tedeschi is a Bostonian by birth who attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Her husband Derek Trucks is 9 years younger than her and is a Jacksonville, Florida, native who got his start at the age of about 9 playing with the Gregg Allman Band. Good stuff here.

The last of the three Lake to Lake Dairy cards was Del Crandall. If you can find any of these in Near Mint condition, you'll pay a pretty penny. Even in 2011, the price for a NM Red Schoendienst was estimated at $75 and a Hank Aaron NM was estimated to cost $500. 

If you're interested in getting me an early Christmas gift, a complete set of the 28 cards is available on eBay for $1,499.99, plus $2.99 shipping. You know, that kind of pisses me off that someone would charge $3 shipping for a $1500 set. You mean you can't spring for it? You mean you're just going to toss them into a bubble mailer and ship them that way? Come on.

This next song is actually one I remember well from the 1980s, though I could have never told you that the band that sang the song was called Saga. I also could have never told you that Saga was from Oakville, Ontario, Canada (though I'm quite positive that Canadians would probably hang me, draw me, and quarter me for that admission). 

For what it's worth, you will never be able to see Saga live again, if they are to be believed. They performed a farewell tour in 2017 and 2018 and held their last show in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on February 24. It was a good run, I suppose.

Finally, the last card was not a 1960 Lake to Lake but, instead, a 1989 Swell Baseball Greats Del Crandall card autographed by the man himself. Do these "Swell Baseball Greats" cards qualify as being 1980s oddballs? I think they probably do, so I will have to add this set to the queue to be written up. As I've mentioned on Twitter, I take requests, after all.

So, I cheated a bit here. Steve was singing the praises of a Michael Schenker Group album awhile back, but I was sort of jonesing for this old McAuley Schenker Group song from 1987 called "Gimme Your Love." It's great to see how often rock bands in the 1980s tried to help down-and-out club dancers by giving them roles in rock videos.

This song and band were much better than many of their contemporaries who got more famous, such as Slaughter, Winger, and Poison. Those guys couldn't sing or play in the same state at MSG, to be fair. This song still rocks.

As does Steve -- he's one of the best guys out there to trade with or just talk with on Twitter.  Thanks, Steve.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Parallel Universe Post

It's been almost two months since I received an excellent envelope of cards from Robby T a/k/a Boobie Maine. He used to blog -- it's been nearly a year since he did so at his blog, Detroit Tigers Cards and Stuff -- but he's fallen victim to what draws me away often as well, which is just going to Twitter and hanging out.

Around February or so, I almost went up to Nashville for the big card show up there that I attended last year. In the end, I decided not to make the drive for various reasons that I have forgotten by this point. So, Robby sent me cards in the mail. Because all good posts require music, I've mined his Twitter timeline for some help.

Let's start with the oldest cards and work our way forward.

Starting with Chuck Porter from 1984 Fleer. Porter came over to the Brewers as a street minor-league free agent in 1980, after the California Angels released him. Porter was a 7th Round pick of the Angels in what was Harry Dalton's penultimate draft as the Angels GM. He pitched well enough in 1980 at Single-A Burlington and Double-A Holyoke to find himself in Triple-A in 1981. That meant that he ended up on the Milwaukee-Vancouver shuttle (which must have a connecting flight somewhere along the way...maybe it was Minneapolis?) in 1981 and 1982 and made 6 appearances for the Brewers.

In 1983, thanks to various pitching injuries (Pete Vuckovich made only 3 starts,  Moose Haas appeared in only 25 games, and Bob McClure pitched in only 24 games), Porter started 21 games and pitched pretty well. His major league career was effectively ended in 1984 when he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (a/k/a ulnar collateral ligament) in his right elbow and went through Tommy John Surgery. He came back in 1985, but by then the Brewers had moved on to promote Ted Higuera.

All that pain probably had Chuck Porter saying that he wanted a new drug. As a kid at the age of 12 in 1984, I'm not sure what I thought this song was about -- probably just pills or something. Reading the lyrics, it's pretty much not about any of those other than references to how other drugs (like alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, and barbiturates) wouldn't help him talk to a woman. 

For what it's worth, this song came about here because Robby retweeted Huey Lewis's tweet about how the album "Sports" was one of just 5 number one albums for the entire year of 1984. 

I'm grouping the next three together as "Late 90s Brewers." Obviously, Cirillo and Burnitz made an impact on the franchise enough to be player collections for me. David Hulse, though, has hardly made any impact on this blog. Hulse played 200 games for the Brewers in 1995 and 1996 since the Brewers were duty bound by league rules to play 9 fielders and a designated hitter in every game. He was awful as a Brewer (and not much better with the Rangers, from whom the Brewers got him) -- a slash line of .243/.281/.320 for an OPS+ of 53 (where the league average is 100) is terrible. Hulse did steal 19 based in 23 attempts, so I guess he had that going for him. 

A few days ago, Robby retweeted the fact that in 1987, U2's Joshua Tree began its 9-week run atop the Billboard album chart. And if ever there was a song that best described the Brewers under Sal Bando's general managership, it is "Running to Stand Still." Everyone else in the league was moving ahead, promoting good young players, increasing scouting budgets, and the Brewers were running on the cheap to prove to everyone that Bud Selig was right about small-market teams not being able to compete.

Every time I see one of these gold parallels from 2009, I wonder to myself why it was so important to highlight "58 years of collecting" on the front of the card. Yay Topps? I mean, sure, Topps correctly realized in the late 2000s (after Michael Eisner's private equity fund took Topps back private again) that its best path to profit increases was to suck as much money as possible out of older collectors coming back to baseball cards for the nostalgia. But, really -- who cares about "58 years of collecting" unless they are issuing cards for older collectors who have actually been collecting for 58 years? Shouldn't the caption be, "58 years of selling" or "58 years of collector frustration because they think they can do better"?

How appropriate is it that Robby's next tweet about music that I found is actually a cover song? I was thinking before I scrolled further into his tweets that I should try for covers to go with all the nice parallel cards he sent and, lo and behold, here's a great cover by one of my favorite female singers whose music I was introduced to in college -- Juliana Hatfield. If you don't know who Juliana Hatfield is, find the song "My Sister" from about 1992 or 1993. It's excellent and it's her signature song, I'd say. That, or "Spin the Bottle." She just released an album of all Olivia Newton-John covers, for what it's worth.

As we move into the 2012 "surfboard" parallels, I will note that Cody Ransom got a card in the Update set as a Brewer that year. Interestingly, Ransom became a Brewer on May 23, 2012 when the Brewers picked him up off waivers after the Arizona Diamondbacks cut him. Then, on August 31 and after he put up a .196/.293/.345 slash line, the Brewers placed Ransom on waivers. He was promptly picked up by...the Diamondbacks. That's some weird kind of seller's remorse going on there.

Also, I was pleased to add a red Target parallel of Ryan Braun's All-Star card from the Update set. 

Since Robby tweeted he was listening to 99 Luftballons, I felt like I needed to keep it accurate to his timeline. Otherwise, it would have been a much easier transition from that Ryan Braun Target Red card to the English version of this song by Nena, "99 Red Balloons."

Alas, transitions are not always smooth in writing.

With the demise of Toys R Us, I wonder if we will start getting inundated with purple parallels in repacks? Or, were there so few Toys R Us packs such that this Nyjer Morgan is rarer than that Braun NL Home Run Leaders card that is serial numbered to 2013? 

I recall going once to a Toys R Us that is sort of near where I live -- about 6 miles away (and for comparison, within 6-1/2 miles, there are four Target stores) -- and going to buy cards in 2014. They had a standalone card display positioned sort of near the toy section and sort of near the kids' sporting goods area with blister packs that included three purple parallels in them. It allowed me to "pack search" in the way we used to look for rack packs with the cards we wanted on the top. But man, to try to put together a team set that way was impossible. 

The tweet that brings this ELO song on is one where Robby said that he'd been listening to the top 100 Billboard songs from 1979 and how he thought it was "interesting how many songs at the bottom should be at the top, and vice versa." Well, not sure if he meant this song, which finished at #81 on that year-end chart, but I had never put an ELO song here on the blog. So, deal with it.


Cards from 2014 have sort of a special place in my collection because it's the year I got back into collecting. I have much warmer feelings towards the 800 parallels from that year than I do from, say, 2016. That said, Robby sent me a bunch of great 2014 parallels -- so many that I've split them into two groups. 

I guess the warm feeling I have is in part due to these being the cards I came back to in the hobby. If I had come back in 2013 instead, I'd probably dislike these because of the complete lack of variety in their photographic choices -- a problem which continues to this day. Too zoomed in on action shots, too many action shots, poor cropping of photos -- it's an epidemic in 2014 cards.

Just as 2014 parallels will make up the last two groups of cards, the last two songs come from when Robby posted two "Friday Night 80s Album Reviews" at the beginning of April. The first comes from a band called Easterhouse. I'm embarrassed to say that I had not heard of this band before, because I should have heard of them. 

They are a Mancunian band -- Stretford, really -- that ran in the same circles as The Smiths, but they are named for a suburb of Glasgow that was essentially a huge public housing estate -- council housing, as the Brits put it. Easterhouse the suburb became one of those mistakes that served as a warning to others -- filled with housing and lacking in shops, sports, parks, and transport links, it became a blighted area with high unemployment and a breeding ground for gangs. This ties to the band because the band wanted to promote a revolutionary Communist agenda, so naming the band after a notorious/infamous council housing estate brought that to the forefront.

Also, it's a great song. My listening history on YouTube is such that the next song it autoplayed was "I Wanna Be Adored" by The Stone Roses. Like I said, I should have heard of Easterhouse before.

None of these guys are with the Brewers five seasons later. Of these guys, Scooter Gennett would certainly still help the team in light of the black hole that second base became immediately after Gennett's departure last year. Of the rest, Davis and Gomez would not be upgrades in the outfield, in my opinion, and the players that the Brewers got for Gomez and Mike Fiers from Houston made swapping him out a good deal. 

As for Davis, yes, he's been mashing with Oakland. The guys the Brewers got for him are starting to knock on the door of the big leagues. Jacob Nottingham made his big-league debut this April while Manny Piña was disabled for 10 days, while pitcher Bubba Derby reached Triple-A last year and has been relatively successful despite pitching for Colorado Springs. He's struggling a bit with control this year in limited innings there, but it is still early. Time will tell if these two guys can match Davis's performance, but the trade is not looking all that good right now.

A final song from Robby's timeline comes from the other album he reviewed a few weeks ago. This band is Rhythm Corps and the song and album are both called "Common Ground." Rhythm Corps was from Detroit, but they sure sound like they could have fit into the Manchester scene or whatever alternative scene you might identify from the mid-to-late 1980s. As their Wikipedia page points out, they played shows with The Psychedelic Furs, The Jam, Billy Idol, and toured with The Romantics. Yeah, those fit pretty well.

My thanks go out to Robby for the great cards, the patience in waiting for me to write this up, and the excellent musical offerings on his timeline!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Brewers Autographs: A Follow Up

My post yesterday was okay. Not great in my mind, but okay. What was wrong with it?

A few things. You see, I put together my list looking both at statistics and through going with my gut or my heart. Sometimes, when you do that, it gets disjointed. What I mean is this: the advanced statistics like WAR put the four starters I had (Ted Higuera, Ben Sheets, Yovani Gallardo, and Mike Caldwell) higher than a guy who should have been on this list.

The guy that should have been on the list was Jim Slaton. Slaton is still the team's leader in career wins with 117. He's only one appearance behind Dan Plesac for career pitching appearances with the team. Plesac, though, was a reliever for all but 14 of his career 365 games with the team and only threw 524-1/3 innings. Slaton threw nearly four times as many innings -- 2025-1/3, which is still tops in team history. He is #4 in strikeouts, first in shutouts, and first in batters faced by exactly 2000 over Mike Caldwell.

He's also the only player with whom I have a photo as a kid:

My only defense is the disconnect of thinking of him as a starter, I suppose. From 1971 (as a 21-year-old rookie) through his trade to Detroit after the 1977 season and then his return as a free agent in 1979 and his shoulder injury three starts into the 1980 season, Slaton made 255 appearances as a Brewer. Of these, just 15 were relief appearances. Even in 1981, he made 21 starts in 24 appearances. But in 1982 and 1983 -- the seasons most ingrained in my brain -- Jim started only 7 times and actually had more saves (11) than starts. 

Still, I should have included him somehow -- not only for his place in Brewers history, but also because he was one of the most consistently nice guys and good signers on the team. And, also because he indulged me with an hour of his time in January of 2017 thanks to Ray Peters introducing me through telephone calls and the like to Jim. Slaton returned to Milwaukee after the 1978 season as a free agent because he loved the people and the club and the players on the team, so the least I could do is thank him for all of that.

So, Jim, thank you once again for being one of the good guys -- the patient one with obnoxious Wisconsin kids like me who dressed terribly and were loud and always wanted autographs and, maybe forgot to thank you every time. Thank you.


The other thing I should have done but didn't was to look outside of my autographed baseball cards for autographs. In looking through old programs and yearbooks, I surprise myself with the number of random autographs I have found. 

I would often find the yearbook reasonably early in the year on the newstand at the local grocery store and talk my mom into springing for the $2.50 to buy the thing. Then, I'd take the yearbook to one game and end up with random autographs in it or on the cover. For example, Ted Simmons was drawn jumping into Rollie Fingers's arms on the cover of the 1982 Brewers Yearbook. 

If you look closely at Simmons's large hindquarters, you might see some handwriting:

Apparently, 10-year-old Tony thought it was a good idea to have Charlie Moore autograph Ted Simmons's drawing.

On the bottom right, you'll see former pitching coach Pat Dobson's autograph. Dobson was a Buffalo guy who played in the majors for the Tigers, Yankees, Padres, Orioles, Braves, and Indians and, most notably, was one of the four members of the 1971 Baltimore starting rotation to win 20 games (Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer and Dobson all won 20, and Dave McNally won 21) on a team that was put together by then Orioles General Manager Harry Dalton. Dobson passed away in 2006 in San Diego from leukemia one day after being diagnosed with the disease.

Inside the yearbook, there are two player autographs and one broadcaster autograph. It is not a surprise to see that one of the player autographs is that man again:

The other two autographs are from Ned Yost and broadcaster and former first baseman Mike Hegan.

A similar story is told from other yearbooks and programs from that era. 
  • My 1983 Official Yearbook is signed by Paul Molitor, Charlie Moore, and Pete Ladd. 
  • Two 1982 World Series Programs: one is autographed by Charlie Moore and the other is signed by Paul Molitor, Pete Ladd, and Mark Brouhard.
  • My 1982 ALCS program is signed by Pat Dobson, Jerry Augustine, Sal Bando, Tommy John, Mike Hegan, Bowie Kuhn, and Jim Slaton. 
  • My 1981 Team Yearbook is signed by Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, and Jim Slaton.
  • Even my 1984 Yearbook is signed by manager Rene Lachemann. 
By 1984, I was focused on getting cards signed, so that ended my chasing with the yearbooks. I wish in many respects that I had focused on filling up the 1982 Yearbook with autographs on every player photo in the book. That would have been a very cool keepsake.

One more item from 1982 saddens me more than anything thanks to the deterioration of its condition. At a signing in 1982, I won a free Brewer-logo baseball. Jim Gantner was the first to sign it. Thereafter, I added tons of autographs to it, including: Ned Yost, Robin Yount, Marshall Edwards, Bud Selig, Buck Rodgers, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Don Sutton, Mark Brouhard, Bob Uecker, Dwayne Mosley (radio guy), Steve Shannon (TV guy), Mike Hegan, Sal Bando, Pete Ladd, Don Money, Mike Caldwell, Bob McClure, Bob Gibson (the white guy again), Charlie Moore, Roy Howell, and even Ted Simmons:

You can see, though, the problem. The autographs written in blue pen have nearly completely disappeared from the ball's surface. I mean, you have to squint to be able to see Bob Uecker's autograph across that MB logo. I will even admit to trying to trace over some of the autographs in sharpie in a vain attempt to resurrect those autographs. 

It was my pride and joy as a 10-year-old, but 36 years later, it's just something I wish I had done a little differently by using a sharpie with all the autographs. 

As a final postscript, I purchased a program from the 2002 All-Star Game on eBay several years ago because Robin Yount is on the cover. I don't recall seeing any mention of this in the sales description for the program, but inside, there were several autographs:

Thanks to the holograms and other exemplars in my collection, I know that the top autograph is Gorman Thomas. Under that is Dennis Martinez, Don Money, and Sweet Lou Johnson. Martinez was the only one who did not play for a Milwaukee team, as Johnson played in 61 games for the 1962 Milwaukee Braves. 

I then turned the page, and in the middle of an adidas advertisement, there was one more autograph:

Cubs and Rangers great and baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins!

So, if I go back to my original autograph post, how about giving me a starting rotation of Warren Spahn, Fergie Jenkins, Bert Blyleven, and Don Sutton and maybe Blue Jays great Dave Stieb as my fifth starter? 

I'd take that. 

Thanks for stopping by, and perhaps sometime soon I'll go through some cards that some of my trading friends have been nice enough to send my way.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blog Bat Around, Part II: The Brewers

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided to take part in the Torren' Up Cards Blog Bat Around in two parts. Yesterday, I put together my "non-Brewers" list. As I was thinking about my post last night after reading it and some others, I realized that I had some pretty glaring omissions from both my autograph team and my honorable mentions. 

First, I definitely messed up on my starting pitcher. It's not that Bert Blyleven is not worthy of being listed there. Neither, for that matter, would Don Sutton have been improper to list. But, I failed to recall one of the items that I got in the midst of my war with Wes back in 2015: a Warren Spahn autographed ball:

As good as Blyleven and Sutton are, they are not as good as Warren Spahn. That was a major omission on my part.

Second, while he would not supplant Tom Kelly for the managerial position, I neglected to mention my JSA-certified Eddie Mathews manager card from 1974 in the honorable mention section:

In addition, I should have added Ted Simmons to the catcher honorable mention since my autograph of him is on a St. Louis Cardinals card. Similarly, I have a couple of Rob Deer autographs of him on the San Francisco Giants, so he should have been an honorable mention in the outfield. Also, I know I have a Johnny Logan autograph here, so he should be a shortstop honorable mention.

Finally, in going through the various programs I have accumulated over the years, a few of them have autographs too. I don't remember them all, so I'm not going to say who I missed. But I missed those guys. I know I have Tommy John in a program next to Bowie Kuhn and Bud Selig, for instance.

Okay, enough errata. On to the Brewers Autograph team!

Catcher: B.J. Surhoff

Surhoff getting drafted overall in the 1985 draft was a big deal in Milwaukee, as you would expect. The Brewers were terrible in 1984 -- some of which can be blamed on Paul Molitor having Tommy John Surgery and the rest of which can be blamed on the core of the 1982 team all getting old and injured at the same time. For whatever reason, the Brewers drafted Surhoff as a catcher -- probably due to that being a position of need in the organization -- over Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmeiro, among others. Also going in that first round were Bobby Witt, Pete Incaviglia, Chris Gwynn, Tommy Greene, Willie Fraser, Brian McRae, Gregg Jefferies, and Joey Cora. 

At least the Brewers weren't the White Sox. They drafted Kurt Brown, a high school catcher who never made it past Triple-A.

Surhoff edges out Jonathan Lucroy here because I got the Surhoff in person, and the Lucroy was just a Topps certified autograph. That matters to me. 

Honorable Mention: Dave Nilsson, Bill Schroeder, Ned Yost, Rick Dempsey, Johnny Estrada, Rick Cerone, Charlie Moore, Jonathan Lucroy

Guy I wish I had an Autograph for: Ted Simmons as a Brewer

First Base: Cecil Cooper

The Brewers and Red Sox made a fair number of trades with one another in the early 1970s. Perhaps the Red Sox thought that they could create a farm-club set up in the way that the Yankees of the early 1960s did with the Kansas City A's. In any event, the Red Sox had Yastrzemski at first base and put Cooper at DH. Then the Sox sent the soon to be 27-year-old Cooper to Milwaukee in exchange for 33-year-old George Scott after the 1976 season. Scott turned in a very good season in 1977 but then at age 34 fell off the table in 1978. Cooper was just getting started.

For a long time in the early 1980s, Cooper was a difficult autograph to get. He just wanted to get home after games and did not want to hang out signing autographs. Eventually, in the midst of his last year in Milwaukee in 1987 -- when the team kept him on the roster without ever playing him after mid-July -- he did a signing at Mayfair Mall. Nearly every Cooper autograph I have was from that day.

Honorable Mention: Greg Brock, Lyle Overbay, John Jaha, Billy Jo Robidoux, Antone Williamson, Kevin Barker, Matt Clark.

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Prince Fielder (tons of relics, no autos), George Scott, Johnny Briggs

Second Base: Jim Gantner

As the local boy on the team after the 1983 season finally saw Jerry Augustine's albatross-like contract come off the books, Gantner was the guy that a lot of kids related to. They didn't idolize him, certainly, since Gantner was just a good player and not a great like Robin Yount or Paul Molitor. Gantner took his role seriously, though, and signed autographs after practically every game I ever attended and tried to get autographs. 

This slot came down to Gantner and Rickie Weeks. My nostalgia won out.

Honorable Mention: Rickie Weeks, Ron Belliard, Juan Castillo, Fernando Viña, Hernan Iribarren

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Pedro Garcia, Willie Randolph, Scooter Gennett

Shortstop: Robin Yount

The only questions with Yount were (a) which autograph I'd use and (b) at what position he would appear in this team. I chose shortstop because he was better in 1982 as MVP than he was in 1989 as MVP in centerfield, and I felt like having Gorman Thomas on the team. 

This autograph is on one of the team-issued photo sets from the early 1980s. I got it at a signing that Yount and Molitor did together at a shoe store in 1983. I remember Molitor's first wife Linda hovering over both of them as they signed autographs. The line was incredibly long, so to increase the number of people who could get autographs, the store had Yount sign these to hand out instead.

As a position for the Brewers, shortstop has been a position of bright, short-lived stars. A lot of guys have been the next big star at short for Milwaukee, and most of those guys were pushed out the door or fell on their face, unfortunately.

Honorable Mention: Jean Segura, Ernest Riles, Orlando Arcia, Fred Stanley, Ed Romero, Rob Picciolo, Bill Spiers, Pat Listach

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: J.J. Hardy, Craig Counsell

Third Base: Jeff Cirillo

This is the first autograph on this team that I did not obtain myself in person. I got this Cirillo from Matt Prigge, a fellow Brewers collector and the purveyor of the Summer of '74 Blog. Cirillo was one of the few bright lights in the morass that was the late 1990s Sal Bando-assembled Brewers. Sal Bando lost a lot of my respect for him during that time. I've heard that he got therapy because he lost my respect, though that's just a rumor.

I put Cirillo in here rather than Paul Molitor because Molitor could literally have slotted in at half the positions on this team and reached his pinnacle at DH rather than playing a position.

Honorable Mention: Dale Sveum, Randy Ready, Roy Howell, Bill Hall, Kevin Seitzer, Don Money

Guys I Wish I had an Autograph for: Tommy Harper, Sal Bando, Aramis Ramirez

Left Field: Ryan Braun

Braun is reviled around the league thanks to his steroid use and, more terribly, his lying about it and halfway ruining a guy's life after the protocols for handling his test samples (that came out positive) were not followed. That said, Braun is a good player. He's into the point of his career where injuries are keeping him off the field for 20-30 games a season. Yet, he's reaching major milestones now, having just surpassed 1,000 RBI for his career.

He'll never make the Hall of Fame, nor do I think he should based on where his numbers project to finish. Yet he will be one of the best players in Brewers history for a long time to come.

Honorable Mention:  Ben Oglivie, Glenn Braggs, Mike Felder, Drew Anderson, Kevin Mench, Carlos Lee, Geoff Jenkins, Jim Paciorek, Greg Vaughn

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Johnny Briggs, Danny Walton

Center Field: Gorman Thomas

I never got Gorman Thomas's autograph in person. He was a baseball gym rat and loved being in the locker room around other baseball guys, according to Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings. For autograph hounds in the 1980s, that meant we never saw him. He arrived 4 or 5 hours before the game and then hung out in the locker room after the game drinking beer. So, he avoided all of us little kids. So, that means I end up having to get his signature through later cards like this Panini Hometown Heroes set.

Honorable Mention: Lewis Brinson, Logan Schafer, Rick Manning, Scott Podsednik, David Hulse, Michael Reed, Carlos Gomez

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Mike Cameron, Brady Clark, Marquis Grissom, Darryl Hamilton, Von Joshua, Davey May

Right Field: Corey Hart

Going by statistics, Hart is outshined by Jeromy Burnitz for the right field slot. To me, there is something that is attractive about the fact that Hart came up in the Brewers system and was a key cog in Milwaukee's winning in the late 2000s and early 2010s. That's as opposed to Burnitz, who piled up big stats in the steroid era on legitimately terrible teams. Winning matters.

Honorable Mention: Dion James, Mark Brouhard, Matt Mieske, Brett Phillips, Marshall Edwards, Rob Deer, Jeromy Burnitz

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Sixto Lezcano, Nori Aoki, Domingo Santana

Designated/Pinch Hitter: Paul Molitor

Molitor has to be included on this team, of course. Molitor was the guy I most liked as a player as a kid. During his fifteen years in Milwaukee, Molitor did not pitch or catch, but he played in games everywhere else: 131 games at first, 400 games at second, 792 games at third, 57 games at short, 4 games in left, 42 in center, and 4 games in right -- along with 418 games as a DH, 22 games as a pinch hitter, and 4 games as a pinch runner. After leaving Milwaukee, he only played DH and first. Of course, he left at the age of 36.

I'm just glad that he did not sign a pro baseball contract directly out of high school. I would have hated Paul Molitor as a St. Louis Cardinal.

Honorable Mention: Larry Hisle

Guys I wish I had an Autograph for: Dave Parker, Dick Davis, Julio Franco, Hank Aaron

Starting Pitching

While the team that Kenny called for had just one starter, I decided to include four starters. The Brewers do not have a history of strong starters, but I have a lot of autographs so four it is.

SP1: Ted Higuera

The biggest shame about Ted Higuera's career is that he did not get into US baseball early enough. He made his debut in Milwaukee in 1985 at the age of 27 despite pitching with his hometown Juarez team starting in 1979. If only the scouting system were a little better, perhaps Ted could have been in the bullpen for the 1982 team at the age of 24 to help out when Rollie Fingers went down.

Oh, who am I kidding, though? Harry Dalton would have flipped him to the Astros instead of Frank DiPino probably.

One thing I always liked about Higuera's autograph is the fact that he did not anglicize his autograph. His real name is Teodoro Valenzuela Higuera (yes, his mother's maiden name was Valenzuela) so his autograph was always "Teo Higuera" rather than "Ted".

SP2: Yovani Gallardo

I was disappointed when Gallardo did not pitch well enough this spring to make the Brewers. That disappointment was completely selfish, because I was hoping to add a few more new cards to my Gallardo collection. Instead, he ended up in the Reds bullpen as batting practice fodder for hitters wanting to improve their statistics before the Reds dropped him like he's hot. Shortly after, the Rangers signed him to a minor league deal.

The Brewers pretty much sucked the life out of Gallardo's arm toward the greater good of winning divisional championships and the wild card. His stats have been in decline for several years now. It's tough to believe that he is only 32 years old, having turned 32 in February. 

SP3: Mike Caldwell

Mr. F**king Warmth. So named sarcastically for his surly overall demeanor by his teammates, Mike Caldwell actually was usually pretty nice to me. Caldwell was the workhorse of those late 1970s and early 1980s Brewers teams. There was never an "ace" for those teams, but Caldwell was as close as it got. He owned the Yankees, and his 1978 was a masterpiece of pitching -- as he threw nearly 300 innings and completed twenty-three games of his 34 starts AND had 6 shutouts AND even added a save for good measure. 

His falling off the map ability-wise in 1983 and 1984, getting really old really fast, helped accelerate the team's decline into the abyss in 1984. 

SP4: Ben Sheets

Sheets had pinpoint control matched with great swing-and-miss stuff. He holds the Brewers team record for most strikeouts in a game with 18, racked up against the Atlanta Braves in 2004. His curve just dropped off the table and befuddled hitters. The ever obnoxious Chris Berman even compared the curve to Bert Blyleven's -- the gold standard of curveballs. So many of those strikeouts were on curves that bounced. So those balls looked tantalizing enough to hit but were nowhere near hittable. 

His pitching is just fun to watch, if you can find some YouTube videos to do it.

Honorable Mention: Ray Peters, Tim Leary, Chris Bosio, Mike Birkbeck, Bill Wegman, Juan Nieves, Jaime Cocanower, Pete Vuckovich, Chris Capuano, Ben Hendrickson, Nick Neugebauer, Johnny Hellweg, Chuck Porter, Steve Woodard, Mike Fiers, Ricky Bones, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Danny Darwin, Jim Slaton, Moose Haas, Tom Candiotti

Guys I wish I had an autographs for: Lew Krausse, Marty Pattin, Jim Colborn, Bill Travers, Scott Karl, Cal Eldred, Jaime Navarro, Zack Greinke, Kyle Davies, Junior Guerra, Brent Suter, Hideo Nomo, Doug Davis, C.C. Sabathia, Gene Brabender

Right Handed Reliever: Mark Clear

Watching Mark Clear pitch during his time in Milwaukee was mesmerizing. He was so thin -- just look at him in that photo! -- and having his stirrups showing the way he did emphasized how tall he was too. And, when it comes to good curveballs, Clear is right up there. He couldn't always get it over the plate, but man did it break. 

Clear is nowhere near the best righty reliever in Brewers history. He just as easily could have been listed under closers here too. But he was one of the most enjoyable middle/late inning relievers to watch thanks to that curve.

Honorable Mention: Jorge Lopez, Pete Ladd, Carlos Villanueva, Jose Capellan, Bill Castro, Bob Gibson (the white one), Chris Demaria, Tom Tellmann

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Chuck Crim, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jeremy Jeffress, Todd Coffey, David Weathers, Danny Frisella

Left Handed Reliever: Dan Plesac

I'm cheating again here to get Plesac into this team. Plesac is still the Brewers all-time leader in saves with 133, and he is also the all-time pitching appearances leader for the team with 365. He finished 269 games and even started 14, so he pitched more in non-save situations than in save situations. That's my excuse -- he was never a pure closer.

After being drafted out of N.C. State in 1983, Plesac came up at the age of 24 in 1986, so he was 10 years older than me. He was another Midwest kid, which is probably why I gravitated toward him. He won 10 games and saved 14 in his first season in the major leagues before taking over as closer through 1990 and making the All-Star team three times. He lost the closer job in 1990 thanks to a spike in his walk rate from 2.5/9 innings up to 4.0/9 innings. He left Milwaukee after the 1992 season and became a LOOGY, finally retiring at the age of 41 in 2003.

Honorable Mention: Jerry Augustine, Rick Waits, Josh Hader, Will Smith, Graeme Lloyd, Mike Potts, Wei Chung Wang, Ray Searage, John Morris

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Mitch Stetter, Bob McClure, Jesse Orosco, Valerio de Los Santos

Closer: Rollie Fingers

When life gives you a Hall of Famer, you do not look that gift horse in the mouth. You employ the Hall of Famer. I know Rollie gets a lot of love in Milwaukee and rightfully so. But, to me, he's not a Brewer. He's an Oakland A, having spent 9 years of his career there. Plus, I'm not sure I've forgiven him for screwing up his elbow in 1982 so that the team had to use Pete Ladd as the closer in the World Series.

Even so, Rollie was the Cy Young and MVP as a closer. It's tough to top that. 

Honorable Mention: Dan Plesac, Mike Fetters, Corey Knebel, Doug Jones

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Bob Wickman, Dan Kolb, Trevor Hoffman, Ken Sanders, Doug Henry, John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco Cordero, Curt Leskanic

Front Office/Managers:

The Dalton Gang changed the franchise in the mid-1970s, and Harry Dalton and George Bamberger are inextricably linked as a result. Dalton is the only GM for which I have an autograph.

Honorable Mention: Managers: Buck Rodgers, Tom Trebelhorn
Coaches: Dave Garcia, Herm Starrette, Andy Etchebarren, Tony Muser

Guys I wish I had an autograph for: Doug Melvin, Frank Lane, Marvin Milkes, David Stearns, Davey Lopes, Phil Garner, Ron Roenicke, Ned Yost as Manager, Harvey Kuenn as Manager, Del Crandall, Dave Bristol, Joe Schultz, Alex Grammas, Jerry Royster, Jim Lefebvre, Cal McLish, Rod Carew, Rich Dauer, Robin Yount as a coach, Don Baylor, Frank Howard

All in all, this isn't a bad team. It's been just as fun for me to see who I would like to get some autographs from as well.