A few blockbuster roster moves ago, I mentioned that on the night the Cubs inked Ben Zobrist and jettisoned Starlin Castro that I was casually strolling through a book store as the moves were announced. I like reading and there really isn't a lot to do around here on a week night; so, this happens fairly often.
However, on this particular night, I had a mission in mind - find some Sports Illustrated for Kids back issues so that I could add some nice oddball cards to my trade bait stacks, or perhaps even find a card that fit into my collections. No dice, I struck out completely.
That said, that doesn't mean I didn't walk away without some oddball cards:
What you see here is a beautiful oversized, diecut card of Johnny Evers, of Tinker to Evers to Chance fame. Even more oddball-ish, you might notice that the hat he is sporting is quite clearly sporting a different emblem than that of the team he is most often identified with; that scarlet letter (Ha! A literary joke in a post about a book store find!) is that of the Boston Braves, a team for which the second basemen was player manager from 1914-16.
From whence did this oddity come? It was found attached to the back cover of Helmar Brewing's new, seasonal periodical "Baseball History and Art," which blends an appreciation for the history of America's Pastime with beautiful, hand-drawn artwork.
These large discs can be found on the back, front cover of every issue and, as you can see from this picture of the back, largely serve as an advertisement encouraging the reader to gift a subscription to someone who might find the blend of baseball and art to be fascinating.
If the name Helmar Brewing rings a bell, it's not just because I just posted about them last week. Helmar is the company behind the art cards featuring ballplayers of yorn that are equally marveled at and maligned by the mainstream collector, yet have a strong cult-following from it's base. I promise you, even though this is my second past in a short time span involving this company, I am in no way affiliated with them.
Although, I sure wish I could say that I was affiliated with any trading card company. Don't we all?
I was quite surprised to find back issues of this niche magazine stashed amongst the Sports Illustrateds (the adult kind) and the ESPN the Magazines that largely stuffed the sports portion of the periodical display; so, I couldn't help but pick one of these up. That's when Evers fell out of it's place and landed with a loud, papery thunk on the tile floor.
Now, a lesser man would have picked it up and stashed it in their leather jacket (I'm not saying I thought about it, but...) and walked on out of there. However, my curiosity was piqued by the random, peculiar find; therefore, I plopped down the money for the full package and strolled out of there (only to have my mind blown by sports talk radio) with the magazine and a solitary 45rpm record that had also caught my eye.
How could I say no to that? A Christmas song from alternative juggernauts Phoenix, featuring the vocals of everyone's favorite comedian and guest appearances from Paul Schaffer, Buster Poindexter and Gideon from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Come on...
Anyway, back to the subject matter at hand, after flipping through the magazine, I came to realize that the reason they included Johnny Evers in such an odd and unfamiliar uniform was that they did a long form piece on the 1914 Miracle Braves, who came from last place and 26-40 in early July to win the Pennant and sweep the Athletics to win the World Series. That's quite the comeback, eh?
The 1914 Miracle Braves of Boston, you'll see Mr. Evers seated, all the way to the right.
Image courtesy of the Boston Globe
Each edition of "Baseball History & Art" features several such articles on subjects typically hailing from baseball's Deadball era, much like their various lines of cards. They also contain a spotlight on notable, behind-the-scenes personalities from today's game - for instance, Fall's edition shined a light on a powerful woman working for a certain, prolific bat manufacturing company (hint, it's Louisville Slugger).
At any rate, out of respect for the company, I don't want to divulge too much about the contents of the magazine, lest I ruin the surprise for any interested parties. However, if you want to see a little morefor yourself, they've posted a thorough, graphic preview of their next edition on their official website.
You can leaf through this preview at the link above.
I can't say that I'll be getting myself a subscription, at least not at this time. The art is really quite expertly crafted and the giant card every issue is a bit tempting; however, i just don't find myself sitting down and making time to read magazines very often anymore. Maybe I should and maybe I will, as soon as my work schedule calms down and can regain a little bit of sanity. Until then, this little taste will suffice.
T'was a pleasant surprise to find this at my local big-box, book retailer, though.
Now, I just have to figure out what I want to do with my new Evers oddball. It's much larger than other baseball card discs, such as the Cadaco and MSA cards, and is about the size of a personal pizza. I think I'm going to have to get creative when it comes to storing this circular from a circular.
However you might feel about Helmar, i think we can all agree that the baseball car landscape could use more such oddballs these days. While it used to be almost commonplace to find baseball tradables sold with your junk food, magazines, newspapers, yearbooks, etc. etc., we just do not see such things anymore (except the aforementioned SI for Kids). Kudos to you Helmar, for pushing the envelope a little bit.
How do you feel about Helmar and their endeavors?