Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brewers customs continue w/1977 Cooper

As mentioned in an earlier posting, I'm devoting much of custom card making time this month to filling in some gaps in the body of Milwaukee Brewers cards of the mid- to late-1970s.

My second effort takes the form of a 1977 Topps-style card of Cecil Cooper in Brewers livery.

Of course Coop had a card in 1977 Topps, #235, depicting him as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

However, in December, 1976, Cooper was traded from Boston to Milwaukee for Bernie Carbo and George Scott (who had once been a roadblock to Cooper's progress in getting to the Red Sox).

By the time of the trade, however, the presses had probably already been rolling on Topps' 1977 card set, and since the gum company no longer issued cards in series, and updates weren't yet an annual production, there was no 1977 Topps card of Cecil Cooper as a Brewer -- until now.

Topps did make a half-assed attempt to update Coop's card for the O-Pee-Chee set later in the year, but instead of using a new photo, they airbrushed Brewers colors and a logo onto the Red Sox photo.

While he never had the fan following in Milwaukee that Molitor and Yount did, Cooper was an integral part of Harvey's Wallbangers in the early 1980s, and a big reason they made it to the play-offs in 1981 and the World Series in 1982. He provided a quiet veteran leadership presence in the clubhouse, and timely hits on the field.

With Milwaukee, Cooper batted .302 between his 1977 arrival and his retirement after the 1987 season. Between 1977-83, he averaged more than 22 home runs per season.

With Milwaukee, Coop led the American League in doubles with 44 in 1979, and 35 in 1981. He led the league in RBIs in 1980 (122) and 1983 (126). He was a Gold Glove winner in 1979-80 and won the Silver Slugger at first base in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He was an All-Star in 1979-80, 1982-83 and 1985, and in the top five in MVP balloting in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

        1977 Topps            977 O-Pee-Chee
In 1983, his efforts in the community earned Cooper the MLB Roberto Clemente Award.

Cooper's lifetime statistics closely parallel those of Don Mattingly, but like Donny Ballgame, Cooper is unlikely to ever gain admission to the Hall of Fame, largely due to his lack of productivity in post-season play.

With Boston in the 1975 ALCS, Coop hit .400 against the A's, but in the World Series, could muster only a .050 mark against the Reds. In 1981-82 with Milwaukee, he hit only .227 in the post-season. 

While acquiring the photo of Cooper in his early Brewers days, I also found some nice circa 1971 photos of Cooper with the Red Sox. Someday I may work up a 1971-style "rookie" card.

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