The George Brunet Collection
When one asks where a ballplayer comes from, Ahmeek, Michigan is not exactly the expected answer. In 2021 California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia topped the charts. Among the sixteen Michiganders to play in 2021 MLB, all were from the Lower Peninsula, typically near Detroit, while Ahmeek is in the northernmost county of the Upper Peninsula-- more of an area where one would expect snowmobile racers or cross-country skiiers. Maybe a football player or two, like Notre Dame legends Hunk Anderson and George Gipp.
And Brunet did play football, a halfback at Calumet High School. But he became known more for pitching American Legion ball up in Keweenaw County where he was discovered by a Detroit Tigers scout in 1953. Over thirty-three years, he would pitch for thirty teams in three countries, including 324 games with nine major league teams between 1956 and 1971. He is in the Mexican Baseball Salon de la Fama, was called "The Most Interesting Player You've Never Heard Of" by a writer for MLB.com, and had his left arm interviewed by The Hardball Times.
In the off-season, he lived next door to my dad and grandparents in the town of New Allouez, MI. In 1992, my parents and I went through my grandparents' house one last time before my grandmother moved into an assisted living facility and in the attic we found a bunch of cards from 1962 and 1963. None of Brunet, but that rekindled my dad's interest in cards a bit and he got all of Brunet's Topps releases, eventually giving them to me with the rest of the cards we found. Since then, I've started adding more, picking up more recent releases like the Tristar Obak and Orioles Crown cards. I'm always looking to add any other non-Topps releases, buybacks, or international Topps releases.
I'm currently the #4 Brunet collector on TCDB. I'd like to get to #1 by the end of 2023.
Me at the New Allouez sign mentioning Brunet, July 2016
Local coaches with Brunet and my dad in Calumet, MI, October 1963