Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cards from GCRL...Round 1

A couple months ago (geez, i'm getting lazy) Jim over at gcrl was kind enough to send me a shit load of cards. And they were the best kind of cards as well - the free ones! Sometimes I'll feel like a mooch when it comes to others' generous gifts of bricks and bricks of cards - but just as a Cubs card (or hundreds of them) has no place of welcome in my home, I'm sure others are just as easily separated from their Brewers cards.

I cannot possibly thank Jim enough for all the cards he sent. And it's not as if he threw in three different '92 Fleer brewers team sets just because he had the duplicates. Out of all the cards he sent, the only dupes were 3 of the same Dan Plesac card. And so to give him the proper thanks and credit for this most magnanimous gift, I'll have to do at least 3 posts to share all the highlights. Here we go with Round 1 ...

1979 Topps #577 Brewers Checklist

I have always liked the team photo. Maybe it was the old Packer's team photo/wooden plaque I remember seeing at the American Legion as a kid during the friday fish frys that sealed the deal for me, guess you just can't go wrong with them. This one has some fresh faces in it, too -
A young Robin Yount, sans handlebars of course. Too early to bust those out just yet.

Also, a sophomore player named Paul Molitor. What a cutie. And what County Stadium team photo would be complete without the 'ol Chalet and Keg...

Well, just the keg portion. I love how this is centered in the photo, on purpose. Jim also sent me the team card from the following year of 1980 - and once again, the "Go Brewers" on the former 'largest keg in the united states' shown visibly for all to see, right smack dab in the middle of the card. For those of you not familiar w/ the new politically correct Miller Park and its "Bernie's Dugout" instead of the suds-producing chalet and keg slide, you'll be happy to know that efforts have been underway to restore the once proud chalet, keg and mug to it's rightful home - in left center field of Milwaukee's baseball park. Whatever scandal they are trying to keep the little kids from witnessing by seeing a cartoon costumed guy slide down into a mug of beer, is inevitably going to be committed by nothing more than the very team's name - the Brewers. Come on, folks. Who are we kidding? It's a drinking state with a baseball problem, and we all know it. While we're at it, bring back the keg mascot as well.

Jeff Cirillo - 1999 UD Encore #50, 1999 Fleer Ultra #143
Two cards of the former face of the franchise - wow, that was two too many 'f' words there. I think the kids call it "alliteration", not sure though. EM stands for "electrician's mate", not "english major", as a few of my Nuke School instructors were kind enough to remind me whenever I'd try to correct someone's grammar. This coming from a guy who rarely proofreads his blog posts before clicking "publish".
So back to the Cirillo cards. The first one is probably my favorite card of all the ones in the box. It says it all, doesn't it? At least everything from a Brewers fan anywhere in between 1983 and 2007. Caption? Hmm..."Crew let another one go". "Bullpen hands game over again". "Cirillo's bat not enough in Milwaukee". Same old story, year after year. Cirillo looks like it's all finally hitting him - that perhaps his career might just die here. The frustration, the doubt, the sadness. Captured forever in a photograph.

The second card is a great shot - certainly one that could give the inaugural effort from Stadium Club's "high definition photography" a run for its money. You can see the dirt in mid-air, falling away from his arm as he brushes off after a successful run and slide into second base - or, judging from the look on his face - an unsuccessful stolen base attempt. Hang in there, Jeff - the Brewers will never be good during you're stay in Milwaukee. Sorry bro.

Marquis Grissom ('00 Stadium Club #149), Charlie Hayes ('01 Pacific #230)

For some of you, these are two guys you may not have even known played for Milwaukee. Of course, these years were in the middle of 13-consecutive losing seasons enjoyed by the Brewers and their fans, during which time many MANY faces came and went in some attempt to win ballgames. Grissom came to Milwaukee in '98 mostly because the Tribe resigned Kenny Lofton and couldn't afford to keep both guys, but his 3 years as Brewers lent nothing but frustration to his career. In this card, you can see that the Brewers, in an attempt to bring in more fans after the failed "dime beer night" fiasco, started implementing a dance routine during the seventh inning stretch.

Charlie Hayes was a late-spring free agent signing in 2000, a season which brought in future Brewers "slugger" Richie Sexson from the Tribe as well. Hayes split time between 1B and 3B that year, batting just over .250 for the season. At the end of the summer, he was released and signed w/ Houston in 2001 to play his final 1/2 season in the game. This beautiful shot of Charlie shows his proud belly, the sole reason my father liked him as a ballplayer - he was the Brewers' everyman of 2001.

B.J. Surhoff Rookie Cards - '87 Fleer #U-115, '87 Donruss #28

Along with Yount, Molitor, Gantner and Sveum, B.J. Surhoff was a staple for the Brewers during my formative baseball years. This '87 Fleer Update is obviously a product of the intelligent folks at Fleer actually taking time to do their job - something the current Topps and UD employees seem to have, uh, forgotten. The colors match perfectly with the lovely late 80's Brewers threads, and nothing says "Baseball Energy and Excitement" like a guy who is taking bp somewhere at the end of a long road trip, tired from jump flights and crappy hotel beds. At least Donruss got him to smile. Must have been a woman photographer I suspect. These are two awesome cards.

Bill Hall RC ('02 Studio #121), Carlos Villanueva ('08 Topps Update #UH38)

Two current Brewers players, Bill Hall and "CV" as we call Villanueva. Since the original Studio concept came out as a limited "preview" release with the '91 Donruss factory sets (the one and only factory set I've ever reveived as a Christmas gift) I've always been a fan of the cards. This year, along w/ the '93 Studio set, are my two favorites. I am a fan of vibrant color when it comes to baseball cards, and Studio did it without charging an arm and a leg. Bill Hall - well, what's to say about Bill Hall. We owe him for carrying our team for a couple very slow years. I'm not sure if losing record/not making the playoffs qualifies as "carrying" a team, but we'll go with it.

CV is off to a rough start so far during the 2009 campaign, but that can be said of nearly everyone on the team. Maybe they are still hungover from all the Miller Lite that was consumed during the post-game festivities following the September 28, 2008 game last season. If you've seen any of the locker room photographs, I'm sure you'd agree with me. Here's my favorite:

Oh ya...then-interim manager Dale Sveum (in my opinion, the man who should be their friggin full time manager THIS YEAR, not the hitting coach) doing his best to liven the Wild Card-clinching Brewers' locker room mood that night. So, like I said. We're still hungover from last September.

Geoff Jenkings (2000 Bowman Chrome #138)

Diggin the throwback to the old Bowman cards - and a fitting tribute for a guy who TRULY was the face of the franchise for a good number or years in recent Brewers history. I was sad to see him replaced during the season in 2006 by the young newcomer Corey Hart, but that has worked out well for the Brewers. A bad combination of high salary and offensive slumping sent Jenks to the bench, and later to free agency. That worked out well for him, though, as 2008 had him signed with the Phillies as their right fielder, where he would win himself a World Series.

1999 Skybox Thunder (Jeff Cirillo and Rafael Roque)

I only share these cards with you because they are TOTALLY BADASS!!!! I had never seen this series before I opened the box of cards from Jim, but I'm in love! Are they really in a studio? Did they just get done doing some volunteer commercial painting work? Is there airbrushing involved here? You can tell by their foot placements (fake shadows be damned) that these are doctored pictures, but I don't care. I want to invite them over for dinner, pour them a couple tall glasses of wine, and see where it takes us. Simply beautiful.

Corey Hart (2008 Upper Deck X #58), J.J. Hardy (2006 Topps Heritage #87)

I'll finish up the Round 1 gcrl trade appreciation post with two of my favorite players in the game today - Corey "I bought my local Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant so my kids can still go there instead of them closing their doors" Hart and J.J "my wife would leave me for him" Hardy. Corey is batting .279 so far this year, crediting a new approach at the plate thanks to Dale Sveum for his early success this year. J.J., on the other hand, is struggling out of the gate. After a great Spring Training, he's batting only .114 right now, with 10 strikeouts. It's early, though, and the kinks will get worked out.

Thanks again for the cards, Jim. Like I said, I'll have at least two more posts to cover the rest of the cards you sent.

Brewers take on the Phillies today, first time seeing them since the 2008 NLDS in which we stole 1 game from them before losing the series. Hopefully we can win a game 1 or game 2 during a 3-game road series unlike the last two attempts. It's 0-2 Manny Parra against Jamie Moyer, who was a #5 starting pitcher when Moses was still pitching. Geez.


night owl said...

That Bowman TV card is awesome. I've never seen those TV ones before (only the ones that replicate the '55 set).

SkyBox Thunder is badass until you read the backs. The writing on those things is painfully awful.

gcrl said...

the best thing i can say about the brewers is that shawn green destroyed them one day. that's not true, but you are right, i had no need for those cards. glad you enjoy them.

Motherscratcher said...

Free cards are great, aren't they. Here are a few thoughts.

I always wondered why they stopped with the little drunk guy sliding into the beer mug thing. I figured it had something to do with PC stupidity. I'm glad to hear that they might bring it back.

Jeff Cirillo was the face of the franchise? Wow. That's rough, dude. Awesome card though.

Am I the only one who still gets a little excited whenever I see "Rated Rookie"? It doesn't matter how many Rob burns.

"I want to invite them over for dinner, pour them a couple tall glasses of wine, and see where it takes us" - hilarious

I'm not ready to give up on JJ yet, either. He has a pretty good track record. I doubt that he just all of a sudden forgot how to hit.

Hang in there dude, it will get better.

Sweet cards, by the way.