Saturday, June 15, 2013

"HEY BUDDY, CAN YOU SPARE SOME NECK?"- THE THINGS YOU NOTICE AS A KID...

First off, I mean no disrespect to the two guys I'm about to talk about.
As a matter of fact, it's nothing BUT respect why I still remember the quirky things I do about certain players from over 35 years ago that, quite honestly, would have faded away into the deep corners of my mind by the time the '80's hit.
But, here we are in June, 2013 and I STILL remember Walt "No Neck" Williams and Ed Brinkman.
Why would I still remember these two players all these years later? Sure, they put together respectable careers and managed to get themselves on a good number of baseball cards along the way. But why them two as opposed to a Skip Jutze or Steve Arlin?
Well, I always got a kick out of the fact that Walt truly had NO neck, while Brinkman had the longest neck I ever saw on a player in my life!
Put cards of these two players together, and you have a funny sight for a kid who memorized every card that touched his hand!
Walt, who looked like a Paul Bunyon-sized fullback, was actually a small 5'6", barely tipping the scales at 175lbs! But he managed to forge a decent 10-year career which ended after the 1975 season as a member of the Yankees. He hit .270 for his career, which wasn't bad in a light-hitting era that was the late 60's/early 70's.
Nevertheless he always left a big impression on me back then because of the "no-neck" photos on his cards. Hilarious!
At the same time Walt was manning outfields around the Majors, you had Ed Brinkman, a shortstop who put together a 15-year career that, ironically enough, also ended in 1975 for the very same team, the Yankees.
Brinkman, a notoriously light-hitting infielder if there ever was one, still garnered a Gold Glove AND even finished in the Top-10 in MVP voting for the Tigers in 1972 while hitting .203/.259/.279!
Ahh, baseball during the modern "dead"-era. Imagine a guy hitting under .210 today and getting THAT much respect?
Anyway, while I had Walt Williams and his "no-neck" screaming out at me from his baseball cards, I also remember Brinkman and his giraffe-neck cracking me up every year!
Just look at it! It's quite impressive isn't it? Take a look:

"No-Neck" keepin' it cool in 1974
Seriously! How long is that thing? Brinkman on HIS '74 card

Not to get all "preachey" here, but this is a good example of one of the things I miss so much about baseball back then. No matter what you'd always have players that really did look like someone you'd run into at the schoolyard or at the store. Guys that looked "human". Guys that didn't look like the perfectly proportioned  6'4"/ 225lb. "professional athlete" that we see High Schools and Colleges pumping out of their programs every year.
Ah well. Progress I guess.

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