Thursday, September 7, 2017

Base(ball) Oddity #46: Ray Fosse and the Phantom Brewers Card

Most of my viewing habits when I was younger consisted of comedies, but they have since been replaced by crime dramas and mysteries (oh, and horror). It's funny, now that I'm older and more jaded, you'd think comedies would be my preference, but I digress. Anyway, as a young lad there was one mystery show that was 'must-see tv' (before that was a phrase) each week: Scooby-Doo. Okay, so it was a cartoon and the plot structure was the same each week. But 48 years later, it's still in production. You can't argue with success.

Let's just recap any given episode, shall we?

Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and our hero, Scooby-Doo, arrive at any given location in their groovy van, the Mystery Machine. Once there, they discover that the locals have been terrorized by a supernatural creature. The group will then split up as they begin looking for clues; a chase scene will occur; the group will catch the villain and then unmask him or her. This villain is usually someone from the town whom the kids (were they kids?) had encountered earlier and who, as they're being cuffed, proclaims (everybody, with me) "and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids." Mystery solved- at least until next week.

As I was going through the Mariners all-time roster, working on my USS Mariner project, I came across a player whom I didn't realize had donned the trident- Ray Fosse. The catcher, best known for the collision with Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star game, was acquired from Cleveland by the first year team and spent the final three weeks of the '77 season with Seattle. During those three weeks, Fosse appeared in 11 games for the Mariners, collecting 36 plate appearances while batting .353 with 5 RBI. The M's granted Ray free-agency after their debut season and he would eventually sign with Milwaukee. An injury during Spring Training of 1978 would cost him the entire season, but the backstop would return to play (very little) for the Brew Crew during his final MLB season.


I don't own this card, thus the borrowed picture from COMC

So, back to the project... unfortunately there is no card of Fosse as a Mariner. He did have two cards during the 1978 season- this Hostess card and a Topps card, but both listed him as a member of the Brewers.  Looking at this food-issue favorite, I was driven to pull out my detective/sleuth hat and pipe and get to business.

My hope was that this photo was from his time with the M's (the colors on the v-neck), but that theory dissolved quickly. First, this looks like it could be from spring training, and Ray only spent a few weeks with Seattle (in late summer/early fall). Second, like the hat, the v-neck appears to have been airbrushed. Third, the jerseys in the back ground appear to be gold, as in the uniform of the Oakland A's, whom Ray played for from '73-'75. As I searched out photos of Fosse with the A's, I had a hard time determining that this was taken while in Oakland (going primarily by his hair/facial hair styles and how aged his face appears). It could be as a member of the Indians, but how do you explain those gold jerseys in the background? Perhaps the teams shared a training facility? Nope, Oakland trained in Mesa, while Cleveland called Sun City their spring training home.

My conclusion is this was from '75, while with Oakland. One thing I do know- Topps tried to mask this photo and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for us meddling collectors.

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