Monday, February 27, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 47

A year ago I picked up a cool book about the Carolina League while I was on a field trip with my students at Old Salem which was a Moravian settlement that later turned into part of modern day Winston-Salem.  The book has gotten me interested in some of the older Carolina League players including some of the Durham Bulls players from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  I have spent time talking about some of the superstars from those Bulls teams in past posts over the years, but haven't really gotten into some of the other players.  

Tonight I am venturing out beyond Joe Morgan and Rusty Staub to the time the Bulls were a Detroit Tigers affiliate.  That was from 1948 through 1961, some good players came through town.  One of the better players to venture through during the later years of the Bulls affiliation with the Tigers was a former inmate at the Ohio State Reformatory.  

Its where Shawshank Redemption was filmed, I know you read my blog for the movie factoids.....

So, in 1959 after getting out on parole Gates Brown landed a contract with the Tigers.  Brown had several teams interested in signing him, but landed in Detroit because of the short right field in Tiger Stadium.  A year later he ended up with the Durham Bulls where he hit .324/.408/.519 with 33 stolen bases, 15 home runs, 3 triples, and 33 doubles.  

By 1963, Gates Brown made the Tigers roster and served as a fourth outfielder off the bench.  He was an excellent pinch hitter.  His best year by far was 1968 when he hit .370/.442/.685 and helped the Tigers win the World Series against my Cardinals.  

As a Bulls fan I decided to find a Gates Brown card for my collection.  He doesn't have any an autographs, so I figured I would go for the 1968 Topps card of the Tigers outfielder....

Love that burlap bag look on this set.  This is also the design for this year's Heritage set.  Truth be told, burlap bags are for potatoes, not for baseball cards.  While it's not my favorite old Topps design there are plenty of great cards in the 1968 set that the aesthetics get overlooked a bit.  While the Gates Brown card is no Nolan Ryan rookie card, still a sweet card for Durham Bulls fans.  


  1. I don't love the burlap either but it is one of the sets of my youth so it has some sentimental value to me. I still have most of the cards I collected back then.

    1. Feel the same way about some of the sets from my childhood too.

  2. Nice history lesson. Never heard of Gates Brown until today. Nicer use of the Shawshank Redemption clickbait. I can't pass up a post involving one of the greatest movies of all-time.

    1. Shawshank is a classic, had to put it on my to-do list for this weekend after researching this post.