Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yes, it's another Browns fantasy card

I guess I can't help myself. My latest custom/fantasy card is yet another St. Louis Browns player.

Of the 14 custom cards I've created in 1951-53 Bowman, Topps and Red Man formats, fully half of them have been Brownies.

Part of the reason for that it that I'm a big Satchel Paige fan, and he has been the subject of three of my seven Browns cards.

I also confess that since childhood, I have been taken with the Brownie logo that Topps used on its 1953 St. Louis American Leaguers' cards. When I found a great old photo showing a player with that patch prominently displayed on his sleeve, I decided to create my own 1953 Topps-style Browns card.

A major factor in doing so is that the player was once a Milwaukee Brave. Jim Pisoni appears with the Braves (OK, it's actually an A's photo retouched to give him a Braves cap) in the 1959 Topps set.

When the Pisoni card showed up in packs of 1959 Topps, I was completely unfamiliar with the name and face. Actually, by the time Pisoni's '59 cards were issued, he was gone from the Braves. Milwaukee had taken him in the December, 1958, Rule 5 draft, but he hadn't been able to crack the team's all-black A-B-C outfield (Aaron, Bruton, Covington), and he had been returned to the Yankees. 

Still, I retain fond memories of finding a surprise Braves card in 1959, so when I found a picture of him online as a St. Louis Brown, I figured he was worth a weekend of work to create a custom card.

Pisoni was only a St. Louis Browns player for three games. He appeared in the franchise's last three games, Sept. 25-27 at home against the White Sox. They were the team's 98th, 99th and 100th losses of the season.

In his three games with the Browns, Pisoni had batted just .083, striking out five times in 12 at-bats. His lone hit, though, was a home run on Sept. 26 against Connie Johnson. 

Pisoni's first time up in the bigs was notable only for the fact that he was the last rookie to make his major league debut with the St. Louis Browns. He never got up with the Orioles after the team moved to Baltimore for 1954. He spent the 1954-55 seasons with San Antonio and did well enough to earn a trade to Kansas City late in the 1956 season. That, in turn, earned him a 1957 Topps baseball card in the season-ending high numbers series. The 1957 and 1959 cards were Pisoni's only major card appearances.

Pisoni got month-long major league gigs in 1957 with the A's, and in 1959 and 1960 with the Yankees.

Collectors familiar with the 1953 Topps set might recognize the background I used for my custom as that of Browns first baseman Gordon Goldsberry. I did make some modifications, however, adding a second deck to the grandstand and an outfield wall.

I have another 1953 Topps-style "card that never was" on the drawing board, but it'll be a Boston Brave, not a Brown. 

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