Saturday, July 30, 2011

'53 Bowman

The first time I looked at these '53 Bowmans, I thought, "these are kind of boring." 
The '53 Topps are so bright and colorful, these Bowmans sort of look like a lame insert set.
The tide has turned. I am smitten with the set now. I will complete it.
 "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"  Yes folks, that's the infamous Ralph Branca. He served up the famous "Shot Heard Around the World" to Bobby Thompson.
 Lou Burdette. The MVP of the '57 World Series. An outstanding control pitcher, his career average of 1.84 walks per nine innings pitched places him behind only Robin Roberts (1.73), Carl Hubbell (1.82) and Juan Marichal (1.82) among pitchers with at least 3000 innings since 1920. Finished with 203 wins.
 Dutch Leonard was a 6 time all star. He pitched 23 complete games in 1940. For comparison, Roy Halladay has pitched complete games 9 times a season four times.
Andy Pafko is best known as the guy on card number 1 of the inaugural Topps set released in 1952. The Pafko is also featured in the movie "Cop Out" with Bruce Willis. "Cop Out" is worth a rental if you have not seen it, and can stomach Tracy Morgan.
Jim Piersall it reads on the back of this card. Most people have heard of him as Jimmy. Although Piersall was a decent player, his fame derives from his odd behavior and his battle with bi-polar disorder. The 1957 film "Fear Strikes Out" chronicles Piersall's battle, and is a must see.
This guy and this card hit a heart-string with me this morning. I am a brother... a big brother... an only brother. My brother Jeff was a year and a half younger than me. We grew up playing sports. We always had enough for a game of wiffle ball, pitch and catch, one-on-one, h-o-r-s-e, or any other game we could invent with a ball. We were so close in age, that every other year we would get to be on the same little league teams. A huge relief for my Mom and Dad, because that meant only one trip to a practice field or game. 
Sifting through this cigar box with Jeff would have been so fun. He was a big card collector too. My Pirates, Barry Bonds, and Steelers collections wouldn't be anything without him.
Why do I have his cards? He suffered, and I mean suffered with a mental disorder. He was in his Junior or Senior year at Western Michigan University when "it" set in. The "it" was later diagnosed as Schzoaffective Disorder. Up until that point, he was as normal as can be. In fact, he was extraordinary. He was an outstanding athlete, high achieving student, great with money, and good with the ladies. 
Jeff finally lost his battle with mental disease in August of 1999. He went to bed on a Sunday night, and didn't see Monday morning. The Coroner later reported to us that he had accidentally taken a deadly concoction of prescribed medications, and peacefully died in his sleep. He had just turned 30 years old. Too young to die. I miss my brother today. I miss him every day, but some days I really miss him.


  1. dude... that's horrible.. I really, well I really don't know what to say. My condolences just doesn't cut it.

  2. Man, i dont know what to say. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life with us.

    Baseball cards arent just pieces of cardboard, they're our ties to days gone by.