Herm Wehmeier’s 1952 Topps Card

Cincinnati Reds’ hometown hero Herm Wehmeier arrived in the majors with quite a resume. He won 54 consecutive American Legion games and was a standout athlete in three major high school sports.

As a Major League player he struggled with control, often leading the league in walks, hit batters, and wild pitches. His saving grace was an ability to be an effective innings-eater if enough offense was present. He did that well enough, chewing through nearly 2,000 innings and being requested in a trade with the Cardinals in exchange for 20-game winner Harvey Haddix.

Control issues are unfortunately not the most interesting story about Wehmeier. That would arrive in 1973 when he died of a heart attack while testifying against a co-worker in an embezzlement trial.

The two-tone background is interesting. This is the last card is Series 1 and is difficult to find in top condition due to storage methods employed by early collectors.

Non-1952 Card Focus: 1955 Topps #29

I feel like Topps was starting to mess with Wehmeier by 1955. Earlier cards noted his erratic pitching but always played up his reaching double digits in the wins column. No longer with the hometown crowd in Cincinnati, Wehmeier’s first card with the Phillies includes a baseball trivia question on the back asking which team recorded 11 walks inside a single inning. The biographical text borders on the diplomatic, describing him as possessing “unusual pitching talents” but still manages to note 11 wins in 1948 and 1949.

The action shot on the left shows a high leg kick in progress. What is interesting is that Wehmeier does not appear to be looking at a batter, but rather somewhere up in the sky. I wonder if this played a part in his control issues.

At least he looks happy.