(Check out our other player card posts here.)

One of the biggest local(ish) celebrities in central Indiana during the 1980s was a guy named Bob Braun.

He was a talk show host based out of Cincinnati, and his The Bob Braun Show ran from 1967 through 1984, when he moved west young man (at age 55) to make his fortune in California. Specifically, as a pitchman for Craftmatic Adjustable Beds.

Although he was born in Kentucky and made his name in the Queen City, most of us in central Indiana considered Bob Braun one of us. After all, we could watch him on WTTV 4 for 90 minutes a day, every weekday, for pert’ near two decades.

1982 Topps Larry Biittner

Is it any wonder, then, that the first time I saw Larry Biittner — on his 1982 Topps baseball card — Bob Braun immediately leapt to mind?

I mean, there Biittner was, gazing off to his right with an intense focus in his eyes, a dimple prominent enough to be his trademark and make girls giggle, and a massive crop of well-maintained hair. Maybe not perfectly coiffed, but certainly tending toward movie star quality.

Who else could I think of other than Bob Braun?

I knew they weren’t the same man, of course, because Larry Biittner was wearing a Cincinnati Reds jersey, and Bob Braun was rooted firmly in Indianapolis (or so I thought). And besides, Bob Braun would never be caught dead in anything less than one of his checkered suits or maybe a gaudy holiday sweater on the front of his Christmas album.

But there was something else going on with that Biittner card that was confusing as all get-out and really made me question the whole “he’s not Bob Braun” thing.

Larry Biittner was holding a microphone and appeared to be speaking into it.

Now, mind you, it wasn’t that a reporter was holding the microphone and angling it toward Biittner, as they are wont to do in pregame or post-game interviews.

No, Biittner himself was the mike jockey.

If you didn’t know much about baseball or how things worked around the game or anything about Biittner other than his unusual last name, that 1982 Topps card was dissonant in the most jarring sort of way.

I certainly didn’t know that he already had a long history in the game, spanning from the Washington Senators to the Texas Rangers to the Montreal Expos to the Chicago Cubs to the 1982 Topps Reds.

All I had to go by was that single baseball card.

So …

Was Biittner a first baseman-outfielder, as the card front purported?

Or was Biittner a talk show host?

Or a game show host?

 

Bob Braun

 

At that point, I barely knew anything about baseball and only “collected” cards because my mom bought them for me on her weekly trips to the grocery store. I doubt that I even looked at Biittner’s position designation.

What I assumed, I think, was that he was some sort of team announcer. Someone had to interview players and coaches, I supposed, and maybe Topps needed to fill an extra slot in their yearly set.

There also was a flashing thought that I was holding a golf card in grubby little hands.

Whatever the card was, whoever Biittner was, I figured I’d see him down the line sometime on one of the local stations rolling out the latest Thanksgiving stuffing recipe or showcasing a cute puppy that the Humane Society had up for adoption.

Thatt never happened, of course.

And then, to add iinsult to iinjury, Bob Braun went Hollywood Bigshott on us.

At leastt Ii sttiill had my Larry Biittner baseball cards when Ii fiigured out thatt he really diid play iin the Big Leagues.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)