14 May 2013

for whom the armband tolls - a new (and perhaps morbid) type collection

according to the national baseball hall of fame, the practice of wearing a black armband in honor of a deceased teammate dates back to 1876 when the saint louis brown stockings mourned tom miller who passed away early in the season.  since then, the practice has expanded to managers, owners, announcers, spouses, equipment managers, and club executives, along with tragic events such as the newtown and virginia tech shootings and the boston marathon bombings.  and that's not even close to a complete list.

the most famous franchise in honoring their fallen is the new york yankees.  they have worn black armbands (or numbered/initial patches or both) many times.  here is a 1982 donruss card featuring tommy john and ron guidry, where the black armband is visible on the left arm of louisiana lightinin'.
the yankees wore the black armband in 1981 in honor of elston howard, who passed away in december of 1980 from heart failure.  howard succeeded yogi berra behind the plate for the yankees, and was their catcher in 9 world series (they won 4 of them) during the 1950's and 60's.  he was the al mvp in 1963, and served as a coach for the bronx bombers until the time of his death.

the dodgers have also recognized many of their players who have passed away.  most recently they wore a '4' patch for duke snider during the 2011 season.  here's a 2011 topps update clayton kershaw card that shows the patch
he's wearing the patch on his chest because it was displaced by the all-star game patch during the midsummer classic.

in 1993, the dodgers recognized three different players.  they started the season with a '52' patch in honor of tim crews, the former dodger pitcher who died during spring training with the indians.  brett butler's 1994 upper deck collector's choice card shows that patch nicely, front
 and back
then, during the season, both roy campanella and don drysdale passed away about a week apart.  as a result, the dodgers wore a '39 roy/53 don' patch on their right sleeves.  you can see that patch and the crews patch on raul mondesi's 1994 upper deck collector's choice card
in july of 1957, dodger coach don mcmahon died after suffering a heart attack while throwing batting practice.  the dodgers wore a 'mac' patch for the remainder of the season, as seen on fernando valenzuela's 1988 fleer baseball's exciting stars card
the card is complete with a nice dodger stadium background.

one of the things i like best about baseball is the celebration of its history.  seeing the pennants flying and retired numbers hanging at stadiums across the country is one of my favorite things to check out when i visit various stadiums.  i also appreciate it when teams recognize players from their past, including posthumously via the patch or armband.  if you'll recall, i count this card among my favorite non-dodger cards.

so, i have decided to collect cards that show these memorials.  i will collect just one of each instance (other than dodgers, of course), and i am working on a list over at my want list site that will outline the occasions of which i still need examples of in cardboard form, as well as the cards i have that feature the patches.  if you have one that shows a memorial that i don't have, or if you think yours is better than the card that i do have, let's trade.  you will be rewarded.

because, dangit, charlie moore wants us to remember the brewers' equipment manager robert sullivan
who passed away prior to the 1986 season.

so, there's another angle for my collection, and another recurring topic for the blog.  long live the memorials!


Nick said...

This is definitely an interesting theme to chase. I'll have to keep my eye out for some to send you in the future.

I wonder how many of these are in my binders right now. Looks like I'll have to do a little research...

Stealing Home said...

Most excellent choice to collect.
I'll keep an eye out also for you.

Crackin Wax said...

Of course, the ultimate card in this set would be the A. Bartlett Giamatti.

gcrl said...

actually topher - i'm after the 1990 score world series card that shows both the a's and the giants wearing the black armbands for giamatti, not the topps or donruss giamatti cards themselves (although i do have those as part of my memorial collection, too - along with ken hubbs and cory lidle)

MrMopar said...

It's observations like this that really make me realize that I have not really examined my cards as closely as I should have. I have started to pick up unique signed cards beyond my collection of favored and star players. I might grab one because of a funny picture or a great action shot, even if the player was average at best. just my little tribute to the art of cards.

I have noticed many of these tribute patches, often wondering who they were for, but never really taking the time to check. I will have to be on the lookout for them as well.

Don't forget to add the 72 OPC Hodges to your memorial collection if you have not already.