Monday, July 24, 2017

George Brunet (#645)

Here is George Brunet’s 1969 card (using the same photo as his 1967 card). Brunet played for NINE teams during his major-league career, and switched teams so often that from the 1963 to 1970 sets, he only appeared wearing a cap in the 1968 set, and THAT one was airbrushed!

He did play for the California Angels from 1965-69, so there doesn’t seem to be any excuse why Topps couldn’t get a decent photo of him in an Angels’ cap from 1967 to 1969.

Brunet began his career in 1953 with the Shelby (NC) Clippers in the Tar Heel League. After 5 seasons in the minors, he made his major-league debut with the Kansas City Athletics with a few games in September 1956. Brunet was back in the minors for most of ’57, all of ’58, and most of ’59.

George began the 1960 season with the Athletics, but by mid-May was traded to the Braves. In May 1962, Brunet was traded to the Houston Colt .45s, 6 weeks into their inaugural season.

He must have felt like a yo-yo, because in July 1963 he was sold to the Orioles, who returned him to Houston the following May. Before he could get settled in back with the Colt .45s, he was sold to the Los Angeles Angels in August 1964. I am surprised today to see that George pitched part of each season from 1960 to 1964 in the minors.

Brunet’s longest stint anywhere was with the Angels, from August 1964 to July 1969. It was also with the Angels that he managed to stay with the big club for the entire season, every season.

From 1965-68 George was a workhorse for the Angels, pitching in 41, 41, 40, and 39 games per season, most of them starts. The Angels were a bad team back then, so he did lead the AL with 19 losses in ’67 and 17 losses in ’68. Still, he remained in the lineup, so I have to think it wasn’t him.

Brunet began the 1969 season in the Angels’ rotation, but was sold to the expansion Pilots at the end of July. He never made it to Milwaukee the following season, as the team traded him to the Senators in December for pitcher Dave Baldwin.

George split the 1970 season between Washington and Pittsburgh, then was traded to the Cardinals before the 1971 season (with outfielder Matty Alou) for pitcher Nelson Briles and outfielder Vic Davalillo. Brunet appeared in only 7 games for the Cards, and was released in early-May 1971.

He played the remainder of the 1971 season, and all of ’72 for the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii. In 1973 he pitched for the Phillies’ AAA team.

While some American players go to Japan to extend their career, Brunet went to Mexico. He played in Mexico from 1974 to 1989, finally retiring at age 54, having pitched professionally for 36 years.

Brunet died in 1991 at age 56. In 1999 he was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.


Stubby said...

Here's why Topps couldn't get a shot of George with an Angels cap. In 1964, the Angels were still the Los Angeles Angels, In 1965, they became the California Angels, but that change wasn't made until September. Up to that point, they were still LA and had been photographed and printed as such. So 1966 rolls around and, not only is California trying to decide whether to continue using the caps from September or change them (my recollection, fwiw, is that the '65 September caps had just a "C"--no "CA"), but they are being sued by LA and LA fans. Topps is in a bit of a pickle. Are they LA or are they California? Not wanting to get dragged into litigation, they settle on just "Angels" and NOBODY gets a cap (the few showing caps in '66 are either airbrushed or obscured).

Same thing happened when Monsanto, the makers of Astroturf, sued Houston over the use of the name which Monsanto had trademarked (at least that's the story as I know it). Interestingly the Astros were the Astros before Astroturf was Astroturf, but I think Houston neglected to trademark the name.

Looking at another example similar to that one (and getting somewhat off topic), I was working radio sales in NJ when, one day, a guy woke up and decided to trademark "New Jersey Giants" and "New Jersey Jets". The teams were playing in New Jersey as New York teams. The guy made a fortune selling New Jersey Giants and Jets merchandise. The clubs threatened to sue him pretty much every day and he would laugh. They had no case. They had not trademarked New Jersey Giants or Jets to protect their brand and he had. The whole point of his exercise, he admitted, was the settlement at the end (substantial), but he also made a fortune in the interim. Needless to say, he was one of our best advertisers.

Anyway, Topps has all black hats (or no hats) for the Astros in '68 and the beginning of '69 and the team is referred to as "Houston".

Back to the Angels. 1967 began the fight between the new Players Association and Topps. Topps maintained they had the right to use your likeness in perpetuity with no further compensation beyond the $25 or so they paid you to pose for the pictures. Players Association thought the money was too little and the rights without additional compensation lasted too long. Between '67 and early '69, many players--especially the veterans who didn't need chump change--refused to pose for Topps. This is why you see so many repeat shots and so many capless shots in '68 and '69. The dispute was settled just before the end of Spring Training 1969.

Topps certainly shot George with the LA cap, but probably did not get him with the California cap until 1969. By the time they shot him in '69, his capless image was already at the printers. And then, of course, he was traded to Seattle. Dexter and MLB got Brunet with the California cap, but Topps wasn't buying rights to other people's photos at the time. And the airbrushed cap in '68? Looks like that was originally a shot of George from when he was with either the Orioles or Braves.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Your Los Angeles/California Angels reason makes sense for the '65 and '66 cards, but many other Angels were shot in the new uniforms from 67-69, so maybe Brunet was just one of the stubborn veterans who refused to pose.

That could also explain why Don Lock is capless in '67, '68, AND '69 (3 different photos!) after being traded to the Phillies prior to the '67 season, whereas Dick Hall (traded in the same off-season) is in a Phillies uniform for his '67 and '68 cards.