Classic card of the week

Chris Brown, 1987 Classic Baseball

There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started.

The name Chris Brown has its connotations these days, and while this particular Chris Brown was never accused of assaulting his pop-star girlfriend, he may in fact be more interesting than the Chris Brown we all know and dislike today.

Of course, if you’d like to know more about Chris Brown the baseball player, you’re going to have to dig deeper than this, his 1987 Classic baseball card, which couldn’t be more boring on the front, and which is information-less and largely bizarre –- which we’ll get to later -– on the back. So where did I go for Chris Brown-related info? You guessed it:

Brown was a notable graduate of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California, where he played high school baseball with Darryl Strawberry. The 1979 Crenshaw High Cougars baseball team was the subject of Michael Sokolove’s The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw.

That is very interesting. I am interested now. Interest? Piqued. More please:

Brown was noted for missing a remarkable number of games (over 250 between 1984 and 1988) due to bizarre claimed injuries such as a bruised tooth, and he was nicknamed “Jake” by teammates convinced he was no more than a malingerer.

Let me just say this: Let he who has never experienced a bruised tooth cast the first stone. Back in ’92, I bruised my tooth after walking aggressively to the mailbox, and that thing was black and blue for days. I missed two months of school. So…yeah. Also, having no clue that the term “Jake” implied a malingering nature, I did a bit of research and discovered that the nickname is fairly exclusive to baseball, dates back to 1927, and is derived from a player named Garland “Jake” Stahl. I found this information on a website dedicated to Illinois baseball. I don’t know what has gotten into me, but don’t say I never researched anything for you! I also think that “Jake the Malingerer” would be a great movie starring Will Ferrell as a Tarzan-like shortstop who is also lazy.

The last straw for Tigers manager Sparky Anderson in 1989 came when Brown missed a game after complaining that he “slept on his eye wrong.”

In the annals of great injuries, my personal favorite was always when Carl Pavano missed a start due to “heavy legs.” (And I’m not alone –- “Heavy Legs” is the fabulous name of my friend Bill’s fantasy baseball franchise.) But nothing I have ever heard in my entire life beats sleeping on your eye wrong. I would argue that sleeping on your eye -– as a general rule –- is in itself wrong, but I am much more intrigued by the manner in which he approached Sparky Anderson with this complaint. Did he blink constantly out of one eye? Was an eye patch involved? Or did the excuse match his notorious lack of effort, and he made no attempt to make it seem as though his eye was adversely affected? The only possible thing I could think of that would make this better is if Chris Brown bruised his tooth telling Sparky Anderson that he slept on his eye wrong.

But now this:

In 2004, Brown worked in Iraq driving an 18-wheel truck delivering diesel fuel for Haliburton. He took fire on numerous occasions, including in a convoy that was attacked on April 9, 2004, in which six Haliburton drivers and one soldier were killed and another driver kidnapped and later released.

I am incredulous. Granted, I realize that I am obtaining all of this information via Wikipedia, but how does one go from Jake the Malingerer to American Badass? How does one go from suspiciously asking out of baseball games to willingly embarking on dangerous driving missions in Iraq? I told you this was one interesting Chris Brown! Now the sad part:

Brown died at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston on December 26, 2006, nearly a month after he suffered burns in a fire on November 30 at a vacant house he owned in Sugar Land, Texas. He was 46 years of age. Police have never determined if his death was a homicide, suicide, or an accident.

Man. Rest in peace, Chris Brown.

I feel like I need to take a deep breath. Okay…there.

Now...onto this Classic Baseball card:

Please note how, on Chris Brown’s stat line, walks are mistakenly abbreviated as “W” instead of “BB,” making it seem as though Chris Brown had 33 wins in 1986. Though, now knowing at least something about Chris Brown, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did in fact, in 1986, drive in 49 runs, steal 13 bases, injure his shin while eating macaroni & cheese, win 33 games as a pitcher, and capture three Russian spies.

But hey, how about some “Classic Baseball Questions?”

(T-F) Sandy Koufax is the youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame? True

Awesome. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to answer that question on my own before printing it in BOLD immediately following the question. There is literally no way to avoid seeing the answers to all of these questions, because by the time you realize that the answers idiotically follow each question in bold, it’s too late. You have seen the answer, rendering these trivia questions pointless. Except for this one:

Where does a hitter wait immediately before taking his turn at bat? In the On Deck Circle

Rhetorical question: If you don’t know the answer to that question, why do you have a baseball card? Also, I have no idea what the letters signify that precede each question. But I do enjoy the space provided for the “Autograph.” This card is courtesy of my friend Sean, and I can only assume that Sean had taken this Chris Brown card to the ballpark one day, with every intention of having Chris Brown sign it in the provided area, only to discover that Chris Brown was not playing that day.

Ear lobe stiffness.

Did you know?
In 2010 Michael Sokolove filmed his sequel, which was titled: The Ticket Out: How Not to Feign Indifference Even in the Name of Charity -- Darryl Strawberry and 'The Celebrity Apprentice'


Joe S. said…
Oh man, I remember these! They were actually a part of some sort of game, so the questions would be asked of the other player. I don't remember if you chose the type of hit you were going for (hence the S,D,T, HR...) or if there was some sort of dice or spinner.

I don't remember the game being particularly fun, however.
Bill said…
What a fascinating guy Chris Brown was! His transformation from baseball jake to super meaningful job in Iraq would be like Carl Pavano (thanks for the mention in this post by the way) going from Heavy Legs to, like, being the next Jack Bauer or something.

Also, here is some trivia in honor of the 1987 Classic series:

True or False: Don Mattingly hit (TRUE) a record six grand slams (it's going to be TRUE) during the 1987 season...TRUE.
Anonymous said…
Joe is right. It was from a board game (that is no longer complete and in mint condition now that you are the proud owner of my Chris Brown card). You had to answer trivia questions to get Singles, Doubles, Triples, and Home Runs, and the silly thing was, in order to score a run (even on a HR) you had ot answer an easy-ass Run quesiton, like where does the batter stand before an at-bat, and "what shape is a baseball" and what part of the pitcher's mound is made of rubber?

You didn't see the answers, your opponent did, a-la trivial pursuit.

I'm not sure how much fun it was, but I do remember beating the tar out of my brother at it.