Topps isn’t the only one making tobacco cards — Helmar Brewing Co.
Back in December, I got some wonderful news via Twitter: Ultra Pro makes binder sheets for tobacco size cards! Since hearing this news, which apparently is only news to me, I’d been salivating over the thought of seeing my 2009 Topps 206 and random years of Allen & Ginter minis in binder pages. So off to the store I went in search of the plastic goodness. Within seconds of entering the store, I was rewarded — they had the sheets. But you know I couldn’t walk out of the shop without buying cards; trips to the shop are never complete unless I actually walk out with some new cardboard. So I hit the bargain bins, chalk full of random packs at discount prices. Among the heap were two packs of 2005 Helmar Brewing cards priced at $1 each.
This shop has had these packs for years, I first saw them in 2006 when I returned to the hobby after a few years off. At the time I was trying to play catch-up with Chrome brands, so tobacco-size cards of guys I hadn’t heard of were not on my list. I passed. Alas here we are some four years later and they were still around, and at discount prices. So I grabbed the packs and tobacco-card sheets and hit the register.
The packs contain three cards, which features a picture front and a scratch off coupon on the back, which I assume was for a percentage off purchases at Helmar’s Web site. The problem: There is no explanation of who is on the front of the card. I guess that’s a true throw back to the original tobacco cards, which were merely advertisement pieces passed off as baseball cards.
Anyway, enough babbling, off to the cards:
Moses “Fleetwood” Walker
I’ll admit this: I had no idea who the hell this guy was. But what this card — and all of the others — forced me to do was use the Internet to find out. I’m glad I did. You see Walker is credited as being the FIRST Black Major League player. Yes, Jackie Robinson was the first Black player in Major League Baseball, but Walker was the first to play in A Major League. Check out his Wikipedia page, it’s pretty damn interesting, particularly the ‘Life After Baseball” section. It says Walker once killed a man (in self defense) by stabbing him in the groin. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn
Lloyd “Barney” Dalager
Beardy would love this card. This features Lloyd Dalager, one of the players for the traveling baseball team of the House of David religious group of the 1930s. From what I can find online, this Dalager guy is still alive in his late 90s and is the leader of the group. Be a pretty bad-ass TTM.
Ray Chapman is one of only two major league players to have died due to an injury suffered on the field. Chapman was hit in the head by a fast ball thrown by a Yankees pitcher on Aug. 17, 1920. His Wikipedia page explains that his death is credit for the reason why umpires change the baseball when they get dirty during games.
The career numbers, shown on the front of this card, may not lend much credence to the moniker “God of Batting,” but in 1951 Tetusaru Kawakami struck out six times. Yeah, six …the whole season. Ryan Howard does that over the course of three days.
See above. One addition: If you’re in Cleveland, Ohio, go visit this guy’s grave and pay some respect. Hell, I’ll send you this card to leave on his headstone for me. Just take a picture as proof.
Leon “Pepper” Daniels
Finding information on this guy is not as easy as one would think. There are a few sites that list the teams he played for during his 12-year career. Interesting read on Google Reader though. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro baseball leagues notes that Daniels had “complexion light enough to pass for white.” Nothing about his stats jump out at me, leaving me to wonder why he was included in this set. Something tells me it is about his complexion — check out the artistry on the card.