Today's post comes to you from Kevin, Orioles fan from Maryland. At the end of June we made a friendly wager as his beloved O's were making a rare appearance in Milwaukee. While I was on vacation, I didn't even get to see an inning of the series. Somehow, without my presence, the Brewers won. Below are the spoils of victory.
Hey there, Thorzulites. Last month, in a rare moment of hubris (or maybe a not-so-rare moment of boredom), I contacted the proprietor of this here blog with a friendly wager. As my Orioles were preparing to visit Thorzul's Brewers for a three-game weekend series, I proposed that the man whose team lost the series would have to write a guest post for the winner's blog. If the O's had taken just one more game, Thorzul would have been typing up a treatise on five of his favorite Orioles cards. However, Prince, the Hebrew Hammer, and the rest of the gang took two out of three, so here I am. Without further a-Brew (see what I did there?), here are five of my favorite Milwaukee-centric baseball cards, straight from my own collection.
Gorman Thomas, 1976 Topps #139/George Scott, 1976 Topps #15
It's sad but true...right off the bat, I had two cards from the same set that I just couldn't choose between. If you've ever read my Orioles card blog, you'll know that I'm a great appreciator of classic facial hair. The Brewers of the late '70s and early '80s were famed for their hirsute superiority. Gorman Thomas is usually the first name that comes up when people talk about the shit-kickingness of those teams, and for good reason. The fullness of his muttonchops and fu manchu seem to say that professional baseball is a privilege, not a right. Brother has paid his dues, and will protect his status with Sweet Lu. Yes, he named his bat. Wanna fight about it?
As for George Scott, he knows that he's a marked man. Others are jealous of his precisely trimmed, razor-sharp sideburns and horseshoe 'stache. He'll be ready for them when they come...and Gorman's got his back. What's not to like about George? After all, he starred in such fine films as Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and The Exorcist III. Of course, I might be thinking about another George Scott.
Robin Yount, 1979 Topps #95
For all of my love of mustaches, beards, flowing locks, and sideburns, there's a special, jarring charm to cards featuring fresh-faced photos of players usually identified by their facial hair. I'm proud of cards in my collection featuring a 'stacheless Thurman Munson and Keith Hernandez. Similarly, I cherish this card and its depiction of a young, rosy-cheeked Robin Yount. His grin is disarming, almost maniacal. You can't hate Robin Yount (although you can be a little bitter about his cruel destruction of Baltimore's playoff hopes in 1982), but you'd have to agree that he had a good reason for growing his trademark mustache.
Dan Plesac, 1992 Topps Stadium Club #532
What's a journeyman lefty specialist reliever doing here? Well, this was the first ever Stadium Club card in my collection, probably procured from a grab bag or some such. It's just a simple, purty-lookin' card. Dan's a pleasant enough looking guy, and his blue Brewers warmup jacket is mighty sweet. Dan hung around until he was 41, logging eighteen seasons in six different bullpens. He was a three-time All-Star from 1987-1989, back in the days when he was closing games for Milwaukee. He is currently sixth in major league history in games pitched with 1064. That's 1064 more than you or I have under our belts.
Paul Molitor, 1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection #WI 6
This is one of the first inserts I pulled from a pack of cards, and again it's a beauty. This was part of a 27-card insert set featuring the work of famed Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss, Jr. Though "Molly" was a member of the detestable Toronto Blue Jays by the time I became a baseball fan, I always kind of liked him. He just seemed like a nice guy, kind of down-to-earth. But don't take my word from it. Here's a quote from Iooss himself, taken from the card back:
"I showed Paul some photos I had taken, and he commented that they were very good. Most athletes never give you any feedback. Paul was a gentleman and waited until I was finished before bolting for the clubhouse."
I told you so! Besides, Paul overcame a lot of adversity to build a Hall of Fame legacy. He lost chunks of several seasons early in his career to injury and drug addiction, and bounced back to be a healthy and reliable hitter into his early forties. He finished with 3,319 total hits, ninth in baseball history. Pretty remarkable.
Steve Sparks, 1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice #371
C'mon, is any explanation necessary? Even if you never heard of Steve Sparks, you probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that he was a knuckleballer. Steve's ignominious place in baseball lore was earned through a self-inflicted injury in Spring Training in 1994. After seeing a motivational speaker tear a phone book in half, the pitcher tried to replicate the stunt for his teammates' benefit. Instead, he suffered a separated shoulder and missed his chance to make the big league club.
Well, that seems as good a place to stop as any. Go Brewers! (And go O's!)
Great post, Kevin. Awesome Brewers stuff, and written like a true Milwaukeean. And to top it all off, I didn't have to do shit. Tomorrow, I promise, will feature more Yount-y goodness.