Thursday, December 4, 2008

1953 Johnson Cookies Braves Baseball #5, Lew Burdette

Lew's the first player to appear in my type card profiles that I met personally. A couple years prior to Mr. Burdette's death from lung cancer in 2007, he toured New England area card shows, signing pictures and cards for $10 each. (My dad, a childhood Braves fan, received that Lew-modified 1961 Topps card.)

A few things stood out upon meeting the man himself. He must've been 78 at the time, but damn he still seemed tall, slim, and farmhand strong. Hands big enough to put a curve on a cantaloupe swallowed up my city boy fingers like combat boots eat shoelaces. Sharp eyes, exact facial features, and a rumbling voice completed the image of a former elite athlete in his golden years.

The only weakness on that championship frame seemed to be hearing, as a friend of Lew's did a lot of “translating” by repeating what you said into his right ear. Over a couple of minutes, I got across how important the Braves were to my 10 year-old dad and thanked him for making the trip north from sunnier Florida. Along with Eddie Mathews (by mail), former Milwaukee players make up the only two times I've paid for an autograph.

How about the cards themselves? As you can guess from the set title, they came with packs of cookies and profiled the local Milwaukee team. Manager Charlie Grimm led off the set and 24 players followed, including the HOFers Spahn and Mathews. See the full TCDB gallery for its portraits and these glossy collars on Braves undershirts!

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