Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Miller Time!

Just when you thought that you'd never see a baseball card become available as a food or beverage premium again, a very good company in a very good city goes out and proves you wrong. The other night I was getting the recycling ready to go outside and I happened to see something that caught my eye on an empty 12-can pack of Miller High Life. It's not the most sophisticated beer, I know, but when you want to drink on a budget, it's unbeatable. I'd go so far as to say that it's my domestic low-cost beer of choice.

The eye-catching part, spotted amongst other cardboard nightmares like boxes Old El Paso taco shells and Little Debbie Peanut Butter Crunch bars, was the promotional graphics on the back of the case. For quite some time, Miller High Life has been including a promotional code on the inside of its packaging that can be used to earn points to buy Miller stuff, kind of like Kool-Aid points, only more inebriated. This promotion must not have been going as well as expected, because the graphics department has certainly beefed up their presence on this latest round of packaging. To make a long story short, a baseball theme has been created, and mock-ups of baseball cards are being used to announce it to the world.

Upon taking a closer look at these cards, I noticed some striking similarities to actual baseball cards from the past. They are not exact copies, but several of the designs evoke memories of some popular brands. Here are all the ones I cut from the boxes.

The most obvious is "Bullpen Cooler." This was lifted straight from 1960 Topps, a brand that is now reaching a much larger audience (albeit minus one) because of this season's Heritage release. Great lengths were gone to in order to ensure that "on-the-job" drinking was not in any way endorsed by Miller Brewing when it comes to big-league idols. The player on the right is holding a tall cold one, but it's not as cold as the ice pack currently bringing the swelling in his shoulder down. The DL looks imminent for this guy, or perhaps he just pitched eight strong and wants to enjoy his closer shutting down the order in the ninth. Guy on the left is dirty, and was probably yanked for a pinch runner.

Here's a 1960 Topps card for comparison. Stu Miller, naturally.

The "Life on the Board Tee" has a very generic design that mostly made me think of 1985 Fleer. The text has been flipped from top to bottom for this one, but the similarities are there.

This is a great looking set, easily my favorite of Fleer's offerings from the 1980s.

The "Anti-Skybox Poncho" looks ridiculous. There are elements from 1960 Topps as well, with the alternate letter coloring, and perhaps some 1983 Topps imagery as well. I can't quite put my finger on this one.

This next card is a special one, a 12-bottle pack exclusive. (Yes, that means I bought another 12-pack. Journalistic integrity knows no limits.) The "Common Sense Lineup Jersey" immediately made me think of 1959 Topps, although I wasn't ready to completely commit to that judgment.

Then it hit me. This card was completely reminiscent of last year's Heritage Clubhouse Collection relics design. Here's Miguel Cabrera for comparative purposes.

The last two cards I could find were far too bland (or perhaps my knowledge base was far too small) for me to make any solid comparisons. The "Throw it Back Tee" and "Dugout Bar Stool" were on top of one another, so I had to cut some corners, literally. If anyone can think of a brand paralleling these two, let me know. I must say I like the stars on the lower border of the stool. Stars usually add a lot to any card design.

If you thought we were done here, that's where you would be wrong. You would also be incorrect to assume that this was Miller High Life's first foray into the card business. Let us close with a real 1991 Miller High Life card of none other than Robin Yount.


dayf said...

Cool! I'll have to check if those are on cases down here. I could use some "cut off a box" cards and some beer too actually.

My thoughts:

The Tee card reminds me of '65 Topps without the pennant.

Poncho looks a lot like a Collector's Choice 'retro' card from the late '90s. Other than that, '61 Topps maybe?

The triangle on "throw it back" really reminds me of '88 Topps. They need to put MILLER in block letters across the top.

Bar stool is tough, but I'll have to go with '58 Topps.

You nailed 'em though, especially the jersey card that looks like the jersey card.

Ben said...

I usually spend more on a six pack that most people do on a case, but as much as I hate to admit it, I like High Life too.

Now if they'd only put baseball card-like objects on bottles of Wild Turkey all would be right with the world. Hell, I'd even take German baseball cards on Jagermeister... or just Jagermeister would be fine too.