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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Helmar Brewing Cards

Here's a few cards from my favorite recent oddball set, 2005 Helmar Brewing.

Johnny "The Crab" Evers, Chicago 2nd baseman

Nice card of a Hall of Famer. When I first scanned the checklist, this is one of the cards I really wanted. Forget Tinker and Chance, Evers led the Braves to a World Series Championship during his 1914 MVP campaign. Sure he's in a lousy Cubs jersey here, but I know in my heart he's truly a Brave and that's what counts. Johnny's nickname "The Crab" comes from the fact that he was an enormous pain in the ass. Well, the 'official' version is that it came from his incredible range covering second base, but just ask his teammates for the real story. Evers was even more ornery to the competition though, and his fierce competitive nature and amazing knowledge of the game put him square in the middle of one of the most famous incidents in baseball history. Evers was the player that alerted umpire Hank O'Day that Fred Merkle left the basepaths after Al Bridwell's game winning single and insisted he be called out. That play lost the Giants the game and the pennant, doomed Merkle to a life of infamy and sent the Cubs to their last World Series victory. Great card, but the top by "Throw 'er here!" is mooshed pretty badly.

Goto, Chunichi Dragons

I have absolutely no earthly idea who this dude is. This guy? Nah, wrong team. Maybe this guy? I hope it's this guy. It would be cool to have a Mr. Baseball themed trading card. Maybe Tom Selleck will be in series two. Why isn't there a Japanese baseball-reference.com to help out with this stuff? Still a great looking card, the detail in the crowd is outstanding.

Walter Ball, Chi. Negro League

Walter Ball was one of the Negro league's first great pitchers. He started pitching in the 1890's and pitched into the 1920's for a bunch of different teams, including several in the Chicago area. He relied on pinpoint control along with a spitball to get outs and was not an overpowering pitcher. He won games pretty much everywhere he went and is considered to be on par with the best of the early Negro League pitchers. He stayed in baseball after his playing days were over and was honored as a coach in the 1937 East-West All Star game. This card looks terrific and rivals the beauty of any T206 card. How much cooler would that set be if there were cards of Rube Foster and Smokey Joe Williams alongside Ty Cobb and Cy Young?

Darnell Knox, Detroit

Helmar is based in Michigan and there are lots of local heroes in this set as a result. Darnell was a boxer from 1981 to 1987 who fought as a middleweight. Darnell won 25 fights (19 KOs) and only lost 2. This is one of the best looking cards in the set showing knox ina classic fighting pose surrounded by Helmar advertising. Check out the beer bottle with Christy Mathewson!

Brewer, Indianapolis Negro Lea.

Sherwood Brewer (not to be confused with the pitcher Chet) was an infielder who played in the Negro Leagues in the 40's and 50's. Sherwood played with the Harlem Globetrotters baseball team (with Harry Simpson and Jesse Owens(!!!)) and the Indianapolis Clowns before playing for Buck O'Neill and the Kansas City Monarchs. He helped mentor Ernie Banks in Kansas City and took over for Buck as manager in 1955. After his playing days were over he helped promote the defunct Negro Leagues and the players. He passed away in 2003. A great article and photo of Sherwood can be found here.

J. Jackson, Cleveland

Shoeless Joe! In a Cleveland uniform instead of the White Sox, the team he is normally associated with. Shoeless played for Cleveland from 1910 until 1915, when he was traded to Chicago in midseason. Joe hit .408 for the Naps in 1911 and did the best hitting of his career in Cleveland before getting sent to the Sox for three players and cash. Joe went on to win a championship in Chicago (and sadly lost one as well). Don't feel bad for Cleveland for trading away Shoeless, the A's originally gave Joe to the Naps as the player to be named later in a a deal for Bris Lord. Yes, THE Bris Lord. We all know what happened later, but maybe it's time to forgive poor Joe.


capewood said...

Those are pretty cool cards. They remind me a bit of Topps Turkey Red. Actually there is something like baseball-reference.com for Japanese players. Its called www.japanesebaseball.com. It wasn't much help as there was nobody named Goto. There were several Gotohs but they played for different teams than the Goto pictured on the card.

This site even lists American players who played in Japan. I just learned that Kip Gross earned 95,000,000 yen in 1996 in Japan.

Matt said...

Awesome post, Dayf. Have you had Helmar's potato chips? Superb.

JRJ said...

That's a great looking set of cards. Everyone remembers Merkle's role in that '08 Giants/Cubs game, but Johnny Evers made that play happen.