Gary BeareAugust 5, 2009
This card seems like it might be a mistake, and I’m not merely referring to the off-center P inside the baseball icon in the upper right corner. When I discovered it a few days ago in my box of cards, and realized that I had no memory of anyone named Gary Beare, I had to start poking around on the internet for facts that might disprove my hunch that someone affiliated with either the Brewers or Topps had, as a gag, grabbed the pudgy middle-aged guy who had come to check the gas meter, got him to pull a Brewers jersey on over his utility company windbreaker, and thrown him in front of the camera of a baseball card photographer. Maybe just before the shot was taken a suberball was offered to the subject to place in his cheek to make it look like he was gnawing a chaw of tobacco, just like a real player.
But it turns out there was, briefly, a major league pitcher named Gary Beare. This is Gary Beare’s first major league baseball card. It’s also his last. Sunup and sundown all in one moment.
He was born in San Diego and is listed on the card as still being a resident of that city, and it seems that he continues to live in San Diego to this day. On a San Diego high school’s web page, he is listed as the assistant JV coach of the Westview Wolverines but is described as the varsity pitching coach. His bio on the web page suggests that he is a grounded individual, someone who knows who he is and where he comes from and what’s important in life. When asked to list his biggest moment in the majors, he keeps things close to home: “My dad, mom and wife seeing my first big league baseball game. My dad was the best person I have ever met!”
The San Diego native, whom one has to assume would have never left home had he not been blessed with the rare ability to make a ball elude a swinging bat, traveled far and wide in his few years as a professional baseball player, going all across this country and to South America, too, where he played winter ball (apparently there is a baseball card featuring him on his Venezuelan team). In his second summer in the Brewers’ system, in 1975, he was also based in a foreign land, pitching in front of the French-speaking fans of the Thetford Mines Miners of Quebec.
One of his teammates that year was an outfielder named Dan Thomas, who had been the Brewers’ first round draft pick in 1972. When I discovered this Gary Beare card in my shoebox and started searching the internet for affirmations of his existence, I found myself getting pulled toward the story of Dan Thomas, which from 1975 to 1977 coexisted alongside the story of Gary Beare. While Beare went 3 and 9 in 1975 for Thetford Mines, Thomas was suspended for over half the season for punching an umpire. In 1976, Both Beare and Thomas moved up a level to Berkshire (Massachusetts), and while Beare posted a 2.98 ERA, Dan Thomas won the Eastern League Triple Crown. When major league rosters expanded in September, both players were brought up to the majors.
(to be continued)
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(Love versus Hate update: Gary Beare’s back-of-the-card “Play Ball” result has been added to the ongoing contest.)