Grand Cards: Remembering That Cup Of Coffee (Part 1)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering That Cup Of Coffee (Part 1)

As I mentioned in yesterday's Grand Scheme, Blake over at The Spot Starters has put together a list of notable ball players who spent a wee bit of their careers as Tigers. Here is Part One, which is recommended reading.

Being a baseball card site, I thought that it was only appropriate to profile these Tigers in cardboard form. I mean, that's the whole reason baseball cards exist, right? To keep track of and commemorate baseball history? I'm not going to recap Blake's summaries, but may add bits of insight here and there. With that, I give you the Spot Starter's Cup Of Coffee Tigers, in cardboard form.

Earl Averill
1940 Play Ball #46 Earl Averill

Play Ball gets it, just look at the bottom of the card: "A pictoral news record of America's favorite sport". I dare you to define baseball cards better then that.

This card is one of two cards of Earl as a Tiger. The other, a 1939 "Sportservice Tigers" is so obscure that I have no idea what I am even looking for. Play Ball is a legitimate and well known set, on the other hand. The back makes mention of the Earl Averill acquisition:
The Indians, who paid a reported price of $50,000 for Averill in 1929, traded the outfielder to the Detroit Tigers in June last year and while Earl was not up to his par in hitting, he managed to drive in 65 runs with 98 hits, almost half of them for extra bases.

Update: Mark of Mark's Ephemera, in addition to editing my posts, sent me a link about the obscure 1939 set. A little extra research indicates that this set was released by the Tigers and is a 1939-1940 set and is listed as either one, the other, or both. More specifically, 1939 was the first year that SportService was the Detroit Tigers' official concessionaire, which leads me to believe that the cards were essentially corporately sponsored by them, despite being considered a "team-issue". The more you know...

Steve Avery
I loved Steve Avery growing up. He was a Michigander and he was a rising star on the Braves, which for whatever reason, I always liked as a kid. Well, the two worlds converged, briefly, in 2003.

2003 Topps Traded #T42 Steve Avery

Why the Tigers in 2003? The back of the card gives us some insight on this one.
"At the urging of his son, this former Braves star tried a comeback in 2003 after being out of baseball for two years. He signed with his hometown Tigers, beat Atlanta in Spring Training and won a spot in Detroit's pen."

That's neat.

Billy Bean and Billy Beane
The first, and less notable, actually had enough of a presence on the Tigers to warrant a card.
1988 Topps #267 Billy Bean

The other Billy Beane, well known for being the current GM of the A's and the man behind Moneyball, had such a short stint in Detroit that they didn't even bother to make a card for him. He did have a lasting legacy in that other role, however:

Rico Brogna
The last of this group of shortly tenured Tigers is a once rising star in the system:

Rico was a big deal. He got a coveted "top prospects" card in 1992 with a couple of guys who went on to have solid careers (Klesko and Jaha). A bunch of prospect cards preceded that 1992 version as well. In 1993 he got one of his own:

1993 Topps #598 Rico Brogna

This was one of many cards that Brogna had as a Tiger, dating back to 1989. In fact his 1991 Upper Deck card was the one that stuck out with me, but I didn't remember that when I was rushing to pull cards this morning, so Topps it is. This card, the 1993 version, was the end of the brief Rico Brogna era in Detroit and you know that he was only up for a cup of coffee--he is wearing an away uniform and home helmet, a telltale sign of a Spring Training picture, indicating that there wasn't much in the way of regular season game action for him.

And so concludes Part 1. Part 2 is now up at the Spot Starters, and I'll be chasing down those cards just as soon as I can.

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