Gorman Thomas, 1975

March 30, 2008

Wisconsin Public Radio is airing my Cardboard God essay (minus a couple angst-ridden expletives) on my 1980 Gorman Thomas card on Monday morning at 7:35 A.M. local time (Central). The station has a live stream (there are two options for live stream at this page; the essay will be on the NPR News and Classical Music network). The show should be in the WPR archives by Monday afternoon. (Update: The piece is now in the archives. If you click on the link entitled “6am-8am Monday, March 31, 2008” a realplayer window should open. The
host, Terry Bell, segues into an intro of my essay at 1:34:34.)

Here we see Gorman Thomas in something of a “before” picture, not yet featuring his drooping, malevolent horseshoe mustache. He still looks like a pretty rough customer, though. According to the back of this card, during the previous season, in Sacramento, he launched 51 home runs in just 474 at bats. This being a 1975 card, there is also a trivia question on the back, a pretty easy one: “What was Mickey Mantle’s uniform number?” But the front of the card seems to suggest a trivia question about uniform numbers, too. Anybody want to take a stab at what that question might be?


  1. 1.  “Who gave up his uniform number when Hank Aaron joined the Brewers?”

    Gorman Thomas looks almost young on this card.
    I am forced, perhaps for the first time, to realize that Gorman Thomas was young once.

    Heck, he was probably even in fifth grade once.
    I cannot imagine Gorman Thomas in fifth grade.

  2. 2.  Josh,

    Will you be reading your ode to the greasy-haired original Mr T? Or will it be read by some 22-yo UW intern in an unmemorable books-on-tape-like performance?


  3. 3.  1 : Nicely done.

    2 : It’ll be an unmemorable performance, but by me.

  4. 4.  I can imagine Gorman Thomas in fifth grade, all right. By the time I was in fifth grade, thanks be to God I’d stopped getting threatened or beaten up on the bus every day, but those same fifth-grade bullies were still there (same bullies, different school). Fifth-grade Gormie Thomas undoubtedly lived high and mighty off the lunch money of many, many eight-year-olds.

  5. 5.  The 1975 design remains my favorite Topps design. Simple, and lots of colors for schoolyard flipping. Does anyone under the age of 35 know what it means to flip baseball cards? “We’ll flip at recess!”

  6. 6.  That original Thomas essay was one of my favorite pieces when I first discovered this blog. (And I mentioned it there.) It looks like Stormin’ Gorman’s penmanship improved between 1975 and 1980.

  7. 7.  6 : Good point. I’ve heard the signature on his 1974 card is an X.

  8. 8.  Josh, congratulations are in order, no matter who provides the “unmemorable” performance. You have earned the increased exposure, and this opportunity will surely bring only more.

    Plus, I think you’ll find many sympathetic listeners in WPR’s range. The 2008 Brewers are kind of like a Muppet Babies version of the original Wallbanging Brew Crew, so perhaps relocation back to the DH League can be a cause for this generation to take on as their own.

    What do we want?
    * Meaningful realignment!

    When do we want it?
    * Up to the point that the Brewers are playing Detroit and Cleveland again, and then not really after that!

  9. 9.  1 , 4 I actually remember thinking that our fifth grade bully looked like Gorman Thomas. He had the 12-year-old boy version of Gorman’s mustache. He even dominated our Little League in the same way that Gorman Thomas probably did if Gorman wasn’t in reform school or banging some girl when he was 12.

  10. 10.  His cap looks air-brushed.

  11. 11.  I just updated the post with info about where to find the radio segment in the WPR archives.

    Also, for those who might have missed it, there are some great stories in the comments attached to an Ivan Dejesus post from this past weekend.

  12. 12.  Real Player? People still use Real Player?

  13. Hi Josh and everybody. Great blog.

    Alright, I have the answer to the trivia question:
    44 was originally Gorman’s number. But when Henry Aaron was done with the Atl Braves he came back to Milwaukee to finish up his career with the Brewers. So, of course when that happens, you give Mr. Aaron his number 44 and you tell the up-and-coming young Gorman to take a different number, in this case 20.

    Jeff S.

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