Wednesday, May 5, 2021

#212 Ron Brand - Houston Astros


Ronald George Brand
Houston Astros
Catcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'7"  Weight:  167
Born:  January 13, 1940, Los Angeles, CA
Signed:  Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent before 1958 season
Major League Teams:  Pittsburgh Pirates 1963; Houston Astros 1965-1968; Montreal Expos 1969-1971

Ron Brand played in parts of eight seasons with the Pirates, Astros and Expos primarily as a back-up catcher to John Bateman (#433), as the two were teammates between 1965 and 1971.  Selected by Houston in the rule 5 draft prior to the 1965 season, Brand served as Bateman's back-up before taking over the position full-time in mid-May.  He resumed his back-up role for the next three seasons with the Astros before being selected 58th by the Expos in the 1968 expansion draft.  Bateman had previously been selected with the Expos' third pick.  While Bateman was the first catcher in Expos history, Brand ended up starting more games than Bateman in 1969 with 79 to Bateman's 64.  The arrangement lasted a few more seasons, with Brand also spending time in the infield and outfield, before he was released by the Expos following the 1972 season.  Brand would later serve as a player/manager for the Class A Bakersfield Dodgers in 1975.

In 568 career games, Brand batted .239 with three home runs and 106 RBIs.  And while he appeared in 349 games behind the plate, he also made a significant amount of appearances at shortstop (41 games), third base (26 games) and in the outfield (21 games).

Building the Set

April 2, 2021 from Manchester, MO - Card #242
It's a strange time.  Spring has arrived, we finally attended a Phillies game in person and it seems as if with the arrival of the vaccine the pandemic could soon be behind us.  But I still find myself anxious, occasionally having trouble sleeping at night, and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  I went the entire month of March without adding to our 1965 Topps set, and as the month came to a close I decided to start off April with the purchase of a group of commons.  In search specifically for series two cards, I veered into the higher series when I found sellers on eBay auctioning off batches of cards from recent set breaks.  Over the course of a few days, I ended up winning 16 cards for $48 for an average of $3 per card.  

This Brand card came from eBay seller ace64cards from Manchester, Missouri for a winning bid of $3.50.  With the weather getting warmer, having enjoyed a beer at a few Phillies games and 16 new cards in our collection, the month is starting off on the right foot.

The Card / Astros Team Set
Brand is wearing a Pirates uniform here and he had spent the entire 1964 season with he Pirates' top farm team, the Columbus Jets.  This is his second Topps flagship appearance, as his rookie card appears in the 1964 Topps set.  His Little League and High School days are highlighted on the back of the card.

1965 Season
As Topps also mentioned on the back, Brand did in fact see "lots of duty with the Astros in '65."  He appeared in 117 games, batting .235 with two home runs and 37 RBIs on an Astros team that lost 97 games.  Brand started 94 games at catcher for Houston, with Bateman receiving 38 starts.  His 17 passed balls were second most in the National League behind only the Cardinals' Tim McCarver (#294) who had 18.

1964 Topps #326
1966 Topps #394
1969 Topps #549
1970 Topps #221
1972 Topps #773

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1964 Topps #326
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (8):  1964-1966, 1968-1972
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1978 TCMA The 1960s I #41

36 - Brand non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 4/10/21.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database
Wikipedia

Previous Card:  #211 Steve Ridzik - Washington Senators

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