|1958 Topps #271 Billy Martin 1963 Topps #443 Jim Piersall
BEER DRINKERS & HELL RAISERS!!!
Ok, maybe the title is a little extreme, but the guys on this page at one time or another either raised a bottle or a little "Cain" in
their time. Drinking has been a part of the game since it's inception in the late 1800's. Guys back then played hard and drank
hard. Most didn't live that long. Other guys may not have been "boozers" but they could sure get fired up and kick some butt (or
get their butts kicked). So we are going to feature those guys as well as guys who just liked to "party." Regardless of their
individual preferences, all these guys had something in common. They sure as hell were entertaining or memorable. So put on
some George Thorogood ("One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer," "I Drink Alone," etc.), or ZZ Top's "Beer Drinkers And
Hell Raisers," kick back, crack open a beer and enjoy! Tim Bukowski
1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth
We should start this page with the "Sultan of Swat," Babe Ruth. Ruth was larger than life, even today. Not only was he a legendary slugger, but he also was a legendary
drinker, woman chaser, and the Grand Master of how to live life to the fullest. Ruth was not the first to indulge in excess but he was the first to flaunt it because he knew he
was BABE RUTH and he could do pretty much what he pleased when he was in his prime. Yankee Stadium (the original of course) was built for this man! So Ruth lived it up.
There are tons of stories of the Babe's after hours endeavors. One of the best is when two former players carrying Ruth's casket out of the Cathedral said to each other "I sure
could use a beer right now" and the other replied "so could the Babe..."
|1954 Red Heart Dog Food Billy Martin
Another Yankee great who was quite adept at both raising hell and drinking is the late Billy Martin. Like many of the "old school" ballplayers, Martin was "scrappy" and "feisty." But he was also a
winner. Billy Martin was essential to the Yankees success in the 1950's. He was also instrumental, along with cohorts Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer, Mickey Mantle, etc. in partying heavy after hours. It
was one of these incidents, a fight at New York night club that led to Martin being traded by the Yankees to the Detroit Tigers. Martin didn't change there. He was scrappy and feisty and played hard
nosed baseball wherever he was traded to. This included stints in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Minnesota, and I am sure that Martin had some sort of altercation in a bar or on the field in
each of those cities. Such was the spirit of Billy Martin. As a manager, Martin argued umpire calls, argued with players (both on the opposing team and his team) and argued with owners. His goal
was to win and it was his way or watch out. Martin even slugged one of his own pitchers when he was manager for the Minnesota Twins! One great Martin incident was his fight with a marshmallow
salesman (in a bar of course) when he was manager of the Yankees. His feuds with Reggie Jackson, whom he benched for lack of effort were legendary as well as his well publicized altercations with
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who fired (& rehired) Martin on several occasions (too many to count). Sadly it was alcohol that led to Martin's premature death. He was driving home with
friend from a bar when his truck went off the icy road into a ditch. Martin was killed instantly. One of the Yankees all-time greats, both as player and manager, Billy Martin should be in the Hall of
The above 1954 Red Heart Billy Martin baseball card was actually issued with dog food. I do not know if they were issued as singles but I do know they were issued by mail order. You could
even order these cards from Red Heart up until the mid-1970's! They are not as common as Topps cards of the same era, but they are not hard to find and are quite popular. The cards were issued in
3 different series; blue backgrounds, green backgrounds and red backgrounds (which are the scarcest cards).
1953 Wire Photo Billy Martin sliding into Nellie Fox
Regardless of what he did off the field, Billy Martin played the game the way it is supposed to be played. The above vintage wire photo shows Martin trying to take out second baseman Nellie Fox
on a grounder by Phil Rizzuto to avoid the double play.
1981 Topps #315 Kirk Gibson (rookie card)
A guy not to be trifled with is Mr. Kirk Gibson, who's clutch exploits led both the 1984 Detroit Tigers and the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers to World Series victories. Gibson had a football players
mentality and he played old school as well. If he saw an opening he would take it like the time he tagged & scored from second base on a fly out. Clutch hits, diving catches and head's up base running
is how Gibson played. In spring training of 1988, a player on the Dodgers thought it would be funny to put eye black in Gibson's ball cap. Gibson went into a rage and said no wonder the Dodgers
couldn't win with a playful attitude like that. Did that change the Dodgers. Remember this was Gibson's first season with them. Kirk Gibson took charge as soon as he put on that uniform. The effect
rubbed off on the Dodgers who were not full of household names (yet). They beat a powerful 1986 New York Mets team in the NLCS that had won the World Series just 2 years prior (1986). One of
the key plays of that series was a diving catch by Kirk Gibson in left field. By the end of the season Kirk Gibson's injuries had caught up to him, especially a hamstring injury that put him on the bench in
Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Of course we all know what happened in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and 2 strikes from an Oakland win. Gibson's 2 run Home Run was the stuff of legend
and the greatest display of clutch hitting I have ever seen. In fact, it changed the entire complexion of the Series. The Oakland A's were heavily favored to win the Series and after Game 1 they collapsed,
winning just one game and losing the Series to the Champion Dodgers. The Dodgers haven't won a Series since (though this season they are in the NLCS against Philadelphia) and part of that reason is
because they haven't had a player like Kirk Gibson since, well, Kirk Gibson. Gibson is now a coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and it always brings back great memories seeing him but it just
looks so wrong that he is not in either a Tigers or Dodgers uniform. Regardless, Kirk Gibson makes our Hell raisers Page as he knew how to motivate a team to win.
This is Kirk Gibson's rookie card from the 1981 Topps set. He was also included in the 1981 O-Pee-Chee set (Topps cards issued in Canada and printed in English and French) and also the 1981
Coca Cola set (produced by Topps) which are nearly identical except for the Coke logo on the card fronts. Gibson's baseball cards are generally very cheap; however this 1981 Topps card is
notorious for centering and print problems which make it very difficult to locate true MINT examples. Expect to pay a premium for a high graded Gibson rookie card (by a reputable grading service)
1938 Goudey "Heads-Up" #249 Jimmy Foxx
Hall of Fame Slugger Jimmy Foxx was actually a nice guy by all accounts. He could drink though and he loved to pick up the tab. I like to do that too (every once in awhile)
except I don't have that kind of money to throw around. Foxx didn't either. He ended up not too well financially. One of the greatest sluggers of all-time, Jimmmy Foxx died in
1967 choking on a piece of meat.
1911 T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb 1933 Goudey Sport Kings #1 Ty Cobb
Unlike Jimmy Foxx, Ty Cobb was generally regarded as a real Ahole. Cobb is one of the greatest hitters of all-time, there is no question about this. He was also so unliked that hardly anyone showed up for
his funeral. He made enemies on and off the ball field. He was notorious for playing hard, sliding hard with sharpened spikes and he wasn't afraid to go into the stands to pummel would be hecklers. One such
heckler turned out to have no hands, yet Cobb slugged, spiked and kicked him. When fans shouted that the man had no hands, Cobb said "I don't care if he doesn't have feet." To make it complete, Ty Cobb was
also a bigot. Cobb almost had it all- fame and money, but he didn't have many friends or people that loved him. Maybe that was the problem to begin with. Cobb still ranks 2nd on the all-time hit list (behind
Pete Rose) and very high on the hell raiser list as well.The above 1911 T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb (above left) was issued with various brands of tobacco during Cobb's playing career. In 1933 Goudey Gum
produced not only a baseball set but also a set of "Sport Kings" cards. Entitled "Sport Kings Gum" the cards included big names in the world of sport including Jack Dempsey, Knute Rockne, Bobby Jones,
Duke Kahanamoku and a few baseball icons as well including Ty Cobb, who had long been retired. All vintage Ty Cobb baseball cards are expensive; however as an alternative you can pick up a 1973 Topps All
Time Leader Ty Cobb card or 1976 Sporting News All Time All-Star card for a few bucks or less or so.
1967 Venezuela Topps #192 Mickey Mantle
1967 Venezuela Topps #192 Mickey Mantle (back view)
Mickey Mantle was a country boy from Oklahoma who ended up playing his entire career with the New York Yankees. The legendary slugger was also a legendary drinker. The big lights and night
life of New York City must have been irresistible to Mantle. As he stated later, "I never thought I'd live past 30." Mantle's father Mutt and his grandfather both died at an early age, probably due to
working in the coal mines. Mickey Mantle ended up living longer but he didn't take care of himself. It was sad to see him late in his career, his liver failing and Mickey Mantle looking nothing like
Mickey Mantle. But to his credit he spoke up about his alcohol abuse and how he "wasted his life." Maybe it's because of these faults that we are attracted to these almost "mythical" figures. Mickey
Mantle played with serious injuries and sometimes when he had been out on the town the night before. But Mantle played and most of the time he played well. Generations of kids grew up worshipping
him. A sort of "Achilles" type hero, Mickey Mantle is still adored by millions of fans.
Leo "The Lip" Durocher
1953 Bowman Color #55 Leo Durocher
Long time infielder and Hall of Fame manager Leo "The "Lip" Durocher. Nicknamed Leo "The Lip" because of his way with words, Durocher made friends and enemies wherever he went. He was actually suspended from
baseball while managing the Brooklyn Dodgers (for associating with known gamblers and other assorted "undesirables") and afterwards returned as skipper of the rival New York Giants. In 1951 Bobby Thomson hit "The Shot
Heard Round the World" to win the NL Pennant from the Dodgers. The "Gints" lost the Series to the Yankees, but returned in 1954 to beat the Cleveland Indians. Durocher's feuds with umpires and players are legendary. He
baited Dodger outfielder Carl Furillo into a fight in the Giants dugout during a game in 1953, resulting in Furillo suffering a season-ending broken hand (his .344 batting average still ended up tops in the league). Durocher
hung out with celebrities and he was one too. He married Actress Lorraine Day and partied with guys like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (no slouches when it came to drink). Durocher later became coach for the Dodgers
before managing the Cubs and Astros. One of the great quotes attributed by Durocher is the infamous "Nice Guys Finish Last," which became the title of his book.
1951 or 1954 Original cartoon artwork of Leo Durocher for
the "Sports Ear."
1889 Old Judge Ed Delahanty
Ed Delahanty was one of five brothers to play ball in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Ed Delahanty was the best of the five, hitting a lifetime .346. At one time or another Big Ed led the league in hits, doubles (5
times), triples, Home Runs (twice), Runs Batted In (3 times), batting average (.410 in 1899!), and even stolen bases. In just a 16 year career, Delahanty would have averaged .346, 46 doubles, 16 triples, 9 HRs (remember
this was the "Dead Ball Era"), 129 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases! Unfortunately for Big Ed, he loved to drink. On July 2, 1903 he was put off a train because of being intoxicated and unruly near Niagara Falls New York. As
Delahanty approached the draw bridge, the night watchman tried to warn him that the draw was open. Delahanty ran ahead and plunged off the bridge to his death. His body was found the next day. The death was ruled
"accidental." Delahanty was more than likely impaired due to his consumption of alcohol and he did not realize the draw bridge was open in the darkness. Ed Delahanty was voted into Baseball's Hall of Fame by the
Veteran's Committee in 1945. For Delahanty's obituary, click HERE (courtesy of Baseballreference.com)
Baseball cards of Ed Delahanty are very rare and expensive. Old Judge began issuing baseball cards in their tobacco products beginning in 1886 and through 1890. They are among the first baseball cards ever produced.
This 1889 Old Judge baseball card features a very young Ed Delahanty. This particular card lists for $6000 in VG (Very Good) condition (2009 Sports Collector's Digest Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards). Graded
examples (by reputable grading services) would fetch significantly more.
|1962 Topps #153 Pumpsie Green 1962 Topps #187 Gene Conley (Green Tint variation)
This is the stuff of legend. I am going to quote the story from the best baseball card book ever produced, "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book"
by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris (Little, Brown & Company, 1973). "One summer weekend in 1962, when after a particular humiliating defeat at the hands of the New York
Yankees, he (Pumpsie Green) and Gene Conley, the erratic 6'-8" basketball-playing pitcher, walked off the team bus in the middle of a traffic jam in the Bronx and disappeared into
the postgame crowd. They were not encountered again until nearly three days later, when an alert "New York Post" sports reporter spotted them standing in line at Idlewild
International Airport attempting to board a plane for Israel - with no luggage, no passport, and in what in all candor must be described as a markedly inebriated condition. Needless to
say, they did not make the plane. No explanation was ever given for their behavior. Green was returned to Louisville shortly thereafter. Conley was given his release at the beginning of
the next season." Thankfully we have these 1962 Topps baseball cards to remind us of this legendary duo, "The Pumpsie & Gene Show." God bless 'em both.
The 1962 Topps baseball cards featured a "wood grain" border and the picture was made to appear as if it were "pasted" on the wood (note the picture curling away to make room for
the player and team name in the bottom right corner). The photos were pretty drab compared to other Topps efforts (especially the 1960, 1963 and 1967 Topps sets) but regardless
they are still classic today. The "wood grain" border was originally used on the 1955 Bowman baseball "TV" cards, 1958 Hires Root Beer, and on Topps baseball sets in 1962 and 1987.
1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball #10 Ed Delahanty (back view)
I know I already have a vintage Ed Delahanty Old Judge baseball card on this page, but I saw this card on eBay and it brought back some memories as I remember getting this card as a kid and
reading about how Delahanty fell over Niagara Falls. While this 1975 Fleer "Pioneers of Baseball" card is not expensive, it is cards like this that "school" a young kid on the history of
baseball. I was only 12 years old in 1975 and I knew about Ed Delahanty. I never saw Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams play but I knew all about them from reading baseball books and
studying baseball cards. Too bad I didn't put the same effort in learning about baseball that I put into school. "I could'a been a contender." (Marlon Brando- "On The Waterfront")
1933 Goudey #11 Paul Waner
Don't let the "angelic" look on Paul Waner's face deceive you. Paul Glee Waner ("Big Poison") was a Hall of Famer for the Pittsburgh Pirates but he was also a Hall of Fame drinker.
Waner once said "You know, they say that money talks. But the only thing it ever says to me is good-bye." Like Jimmy Foxx, Paul Waner probably picked up the tab on more than one
occasion. Remarkedly Waner had a lifetime .333 batting average with 3152 hits (including 605 doubles). His brother, Lloyd Waner ("Little Poison") is also enshrined in Cooperstown.
1933 Goudey #211 Hack Wilson
Cub's slugger Hack Wilson was a renowned drinker. Wilson himself said "I've never played drunk; hungover yes, but never drunk." Regardless, Wilson had one of the most awesome
seasons ever in 1930 when he hit .359 with a NL record 59 HRs and 191 RBI's. He played only 12 big league seasons, yet he led in HRs four times and RBI's twice. Over a 162 game
schedule Wilson would have averaged (per season) 29 HRs with 128 RBI's and a .307 batting mark. Hack Wilson died at the age of 48 in 1948. He was voted into the Baseball Hall Of
Fame in 1979 by the Veteran's Committee.
"How's my credit here, Lloyd?" (Jack Nicholson from the movie "The Shining")
1958 Press photo Johnny Unitas hoisting a brew
I, in no way imply that the great Johnny Unitas was a beer guzzler or hell raiser. The guy was a class act and was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. This picture surprised me as I did not even
know Johnny "U." drank. Maybe this is a Coke or root beer. But it sure looks like a bottle of beer to me and I would know. Haha. Salute!
"Tastes Great." "Less Filling." "You're Fired Billy!" (George & Billy in happier times)
"A picture says a thousand words..." (Nicholas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas") One of the All-Time Great Drummers (& Drinkers) - The late Keith Moon
of The Who
Charles Bukowski painting Charles Bukowski hanging out
Charles Bukowski is one of my favorite writers and drinkers. The guy made a career of it (both writing and drinking), so much so that there is at least 2 major motion pictures based on his life
("Barfly" starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway and "Factotum" starring Matt Dillon). Like Bukowski, I like to write and I like to drink. I just can't do it all the time. Nor do I get paid for it.
What I like about Bukowski is he says it like it is. It may not be pretty. It may not be what you want to hear. But like it or not there are two types of people in this world; those who conform and
those who do not. Bukowski chose the later and actually got away with it. You gotta love it. I wish I could get paid writing and spend all day drinking beer and hanging out in bars. Hey, we all
can't be Doctors, Lawyers and CEO's. But check out the Bukowski photo above (right). That right there folks is a little slice of heaven. Shoes off, hair slicked back and an ice cold brew in hand.
Does Charles Bukowski look worried or afraid? Hell no. He is "King" of his realm, wherever that may be. It could be at home, sitting in a dive bar, or walking down the street hoisting a bottle.
What a guy, Charles Bukowski.