30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beer, Sports Cards & Controversy

I never acquired the taste for beer, but I'm 100% in support of sports cards promoting a brewing company.

A few years ago, while scouring the internet for trading cards of Japanese Hall of Famer, Sadayoshi Fujimoto, I discovered this 2005 Helmar card:

Up to that point, I had never even heard of the Helmar Brewing Company and even now... I still don't know much about the company.  I'm not even 100% sure they still sell beer.  Their website seems to promote their original hand-made art cards that they sell on eBay rather than beer.

What I do know is that in 2005, Helmar released three card packs which I'm guessing were distributed to customers who bought their beer.  These cards seem to combine the popular T206 card design with the T205 gold borders, but are actually slightly larger (1 5/8" x 2 3/4"than the original tobacco cards.

It took longer than expected, but I was finally able to add the above Fujimoto to my collection for 49¢ (+ 99¢ shipping) back in August.  Fast forward to Friday, February 3rd.  That's when I opened up Julie's care package, pulled out a Jiro Noguchi from the same set, and decided I needed to track down more of these cards.

My search led me to purchasing these four unopened packs on eBay:

The vendor accepted my best offer of $4.50 (+ $3.50 shipping) for the lot, which essentially means I paid $2 per pack and 67¢ per card.  Here's what I pulled:

Pack #1

Oh man... right out of the pack these cards are thick and gorgeous.  The colorful sky on this card blows away the plain dark gray background on my Sadayoshi Fujimoto.  And the player isn't too shabby either.  Mordecai Brown was a hall of fame pitcher whose 2.06 career ERA is the lowest in MLB history among all pitchers who won 200 or more games.

Next up is Dave Malarcher who was a Negro League player who spent the bulk of his career with the Chicago American Giants.  Later in life he ran a real estate company and was also a accomplished poet.

And rounding out the first pack is Jack Johnson who was the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion and one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all-time.

Pack #2

Frank "Home Run" Baker is considered one of the greatest power hitters of the Dead-ball Era.  He led the American League in home runs four consecutive years from 1911 to 1914 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1955.

Who the heck is Elmer Flick?  Well he must have been one helluva ball player, because he was unanimously elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1963.  At the time he was the oldest living inductee in Baseball Hall of Fame history.  Maybe he still is.

This card is proof that it's okay to judge a book by its cover.  I have no idea who Jesse Lee Tally is, but this card is beautiful.  It took a few clicks on the internet, but I discovered that Tally played on a barnstorming team from 1915 to 1933 in Benton Harbor, Michigan and was known as The Bearded Babe Ruth.

Pack #3

In terms of star power, this pack was the worst out of the lot.

Jimmy Adamick was a heavyweight boxer from the 1930's who won 50 fights over a 5 year period and only lost three times.  That a pretty impressive feat.  So I gotta ask.  Why doesn't this guy have a Wikipedia page?

Another great looking card of a former heavyweight boxing champion.  Unfortunately... I had never heard of the guy before this post.  Hey boxing fans, do you remember Primo Carnera?

Rounding out this pack is another guy I've never heard of.  His 266 wins were good enough to get him elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1963.  However his claim to fame is he has the most losses by a left-handed pitcher in MLB history.

Pack #4

Okay... like Biggie says, "here comes the drama"...

Dennis Biddle is supposedly the youngest person to ever play in a Negro League game.  However according to this article, the Chicago American Giants went out of business in 1952, the year before Biddle claims he played.

You gotta love some baseball controversy.

On March 30th, 2002... Demetrius Jenkins won the WBO Light Heavyweight title and was on top of the world.  In fact, there's a good chance this card depicts him posing right after that fight.  This card just oozes confidence.

He'd enter the ring eleven more times in his career.  Wanna guess how many times he won?  Trust me, it's not pretty.

The final card out of the final pack is of Japanese Hall of Fame pitcher, Jiro Noguchi.  Does this card look familiar?  It should.  It happens to be the same card that Julie sent me last week, but that's okay.  I'll keep the card she sent me in my NPB binder and I'll pass this card along to another Japanese baseball card collector who can use it.

Well that's it for today.  Time for me to go home, pop open a bottle of root beer, and finish up my A Pack To Be Named Later post which will hopefully be up in the next hour or so.

Happy Monday and sayonara!


Aus said...

Really cool cards. I've got to track down a checklist (if it exists) and I may have to try to pick out a few. Primo Carnera is famous in boxing history for really one thing: Being BIG in an era when people weren't that big. He was something like 6'5" which back in the day made you a giant. haha.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Those are cool....would love to see the whole checklist!

The Turrdog said...

I heard the boxing name Primo Carnera in the movie Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe. Primo was one of the fighters James Braddock (Crowe) beat on the way to being heavyweight champion back in the '30s.

JediJeff said...

I thought that image of Jesse Lee Tally looked familiar. He was a member of the barnstorming House of David team:


They stopped having just players from their faith (actually not Jewish) and would hire ballplayers that would have to grow beards to barnstorm with the club.

Hackenbush said...

I'll say I've heard the name Eppa Rixey but I don't know where. Did you notice the misspelling of Cincinnati? I wonder if that was intentional. Eppa is actually in a number of modern sets including 1961 Fleer (I looked it up). The Tally card is cool.

Tony Burbs said...

Love Helmar stuff - I believe these packs were actually distributed with their line of potato chips. Also, as far as I know, they no longer brew and focus solely on creating their card art.

acrackedbat said...

Glad you only bought four packs Fuji! I bought ten packs cheap on ebay about a year ago. I fell in love with Helmar sometime before that and was determined to get as many of them as possible. The collation isn't too good. You did well! Yes, Helmar once sold potato chips and haven't sold beer in years. They are in Michigan. These cards are 'Series One'. I have found that Series two through four are nearly unobtainable at a reasonable price. Some were given out only at card shows. If you'd like to see what Helmar is doing these days, check them out on Ebay. It's the only place you can get their cards first hand. The seller id is sirraffles. Check out the description on any card for more information about Helmar. The seller is wonderful! You would be more than surprised what most cards go for.

BobWalkthePlank said...

I love looking at the Helmar cards, but never pulled the trigger. They do all kinds of cool stuff with Honus Wagner.

I bet I could find beer you like!

Commishbob said...

Those Helmars are beauties. You've peaked my interest.

BTW...I went to school with Primo Carnera's nephew (might have been great-nephew..not sure).

Daniel Wilson said...

Cool looking cards! Was not familiar with them prior to this.

Fuji said...

aus - i tried to find a checklist, but wasn't able to. based on what i saw on eBay, i think there are 60 cards in the set though. and thanks for the info on primo.

sumomenkoman - me too

the turrdog - never knew cinderella man was a boxing movie. sounds like an interesting film

jedijeff - i read a little about them for this post, but couldn't nail down the who religion thing, so i avoided it. thanks for the info

hackenbush - as a teacher, i should have caught the spelling error, but i didn't. yeah, the tally is one of my favorites. actually i really enjoy all of the advertising cards.

tony burbs - inserting these into bags of chips makes a lot more sense than putting them into 6-packs. thanks for the heads up.

julie - i've tracked down a few of their art cards. some of them sell for an insane amount. i'm guessing they have a following and people get into bidding wars. i figure that i'll focus my efforts on the first series. not sure if i'll build it through busting more packs or just finding someone out there who already has it complete.

matthew scott - i'll take you up on that bet.

commishbob - you can find packs for reasonable prices on eBay. that's cool that his nephew was your classmate. was he huge too?

daniel wilson - yeah, i'm officially a fan.