Friday, February 10, 2017

#27 Nelson Burbrink - St. Louis Cardinals


Nelson Edward Burbrink
St. Louis Cardinals
Catcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'10"  Weight:  195
Born:  December 28, 1921, Cincinnati, OH
Signed:  Signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1941
Major League Teams:  St. Louis Cardinals 1955
Died:  April 12, 2001, Largo, FL (age 79)

Nelson Burbrink played only 58 games in the Majors, serving as the Cardinals' back-up catcher to Bill Sarni (#247) in 1955.  Prior to his call-up to the Cardinals, Burbrink had toiled for 11 seasons in the minors mostly with the Cubs organization.  He missed three seasons in the prime of his career (1943-1945) in service to his country with the Navy.

After his playing days were over, Burbrink served as a scout first for the Cardinals and then for the Mets where he was responsible for signing Tom Seaver in 1966.  He served as the Mets' scouting director from 1968 to 1972, and as the Mets' director of player development from 1973 to 1977.

Building the Set
June 24, 1989 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #76
My Dad and I purchased this card at the Ocean City IX baseball card show held within the Ocean City Music Pier on the boardwalk.  I have in my notes that we paid $2.50 for this card, along with the cards of Jim Finigan (#22) and Don Zimmer (#99).  I would have just finished my freshman year of high school when we bought this card and I was in the middle of collecting the 1973 Topps set.

I wrote this about the shows on the Music Pier back when I featured Finigan's card in October:  "The windows would have been open inside the showroom floor, and the sounds and smells of the shore served as the background as I poured through binders or boxes of baseball cards.  Above the din of the collectors looking for bargains and dealers hawking their wares, you could hear the occasional sea gull or even the crashing of waves.  I miss those shows and I become more and more nostalgic about them every year."

I found the flyer featured here in a folder along with some of our old 1956 Topps checklists.  The "Seashore IX Agenda" shows two autograph signers for the weekend - Dick Sisler and Jim Bunning. My Dad didn't like driving at night, which is why we wouldn't have stuck around for Bunning on Saturday.  I probably never realized we had missed our chance at meeting Sisler the night before, and the names Sisler and Bunning meant no where as much to me then as they do now.

The Card
If you're a Nelson Burbrink master collector, you're in luck.  This is his first and last mainstream baseball card and it's available in both a white back and gray back version.  His only other cards can be found within the 1949 Los Angeles Angels (PCL) team issued set and the 1954-55 Cardinals Postcards set.

For cards like Burbrink's the cartoon artist was forced to get a little creative.  I can't imagine many other card backs featuring the evolution of a batter going from "golfing the ball" to "drilling base hits."  The artist also indicates Burbrink had 14 years in the minors, but he had missed 3 of those years while in the military.

This is the first card we've encountered in the 1956 Topps set that is both a player's first and last Topps card.

1956 Season
The 34-year-old Burbrink played the entire 1956 season with the Triple-A Omaha Cardinals, batting .256 in 111 games.  A year later, he was demoted to the Double-A Houston Buffaloes and he'd hang up his spikes following the season.  In total, Burbrink played 1,449 games in the minor leagues and had a lifetime .291 average.

Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #27
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #27
Last Topps Card:  1956 Topps #27
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #27

4 - Burbrink non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 2/9/17

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

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