Welcome back to PWE Playhouse! Today we’ve got painted Mets, shiny Mets, former Mets prospects and a Sand Gnat! All courtesy of Shoebox Legends!
The reason this post has “AAUGH!!!” in the title is because in my last PWE post, I believed I was caught up on thanking Shane… but just after posting, I found a PWE that I had missed…. AAUGH!!!!
Let’s start with three cards from 1996 Topps Finest, all “Finest Prodigies”, all to become Major League regulars but not quite up to the label of “prodigies”.
Butch Huskey played 7 seasons in the Majors, 5 with the Mets. He was wearing #42 when it was retired by MLB in 1997… Wow, has it been that long? Huskey was not the last Met to wear #42, as Mo Vaughn had also been allowed to continue wearing it, and he’d play for the Mets several years later.
FWIW, Butch Huskey is one of my wife’s favorite baseball names.
Rey Ordonez has another notable uniform number, as we wore #0 in his first two seasons, but would later switch to #10. Rey won three Gold Gloves during his career, and was the Mets’ starting shortstop for most of the time from 1996 to 2002.
Quick question for the Peanut Gallery… If I attempt to take the protective coating off of 20-year-old Finest cards, will I end up removing the front of the card along with the protective coating?
The last of the three Finest cards is Paul Wilson, who joined Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher as the Mets “Generation K”, a trio of young promising pitchers largely felled by Mets manager Dallas Green – OH! Did I say that? I’m sorry, I meant “injuries”… They were felled by injuries which had nothing to do with the way Dallas Green managed his pitching staff. Please do not read anything into my misstatement.
During Wilson’s one season with the Mets he went 5-12 with a 5.28 ERA, and would later pitch for the Devil Rays and Reds.
I noticed something on the back of these Finest cards that I wish Topps would bring back…
1996 Finest was one of those multi-tiered sets that you could collect 500 ways to ’til Sunday, which is something I generally don’t care for… but the thing is that each card TOLD YOU which way you could collect it. If this had been a refrector, it would’ve said “REFRACTOR” under the box. Why, Topps, WHY can’t we have something like that on the back of your cards now? Let us know when it’s a base card, a variation, a parallel, an insert, a short print. Quit playing games with the chase cards, don’t make me squint at the tiny Product Code on the back of the card… JUST FREAKIN’ TELL US WHAT IT IS!!!!!
OK, give me a second while I get off my soapbox…
Getting back to the prospects, failed and otherwise…
Alex Ochoa was a highly ranked prospect for several years… and right there that’s not a good sign. He never made it as anything more than a fourth outfielder in the Majors, but had two different stints in Japan. This is his 1997 Fleer Rookie Sensations card.
One last guy who didn’t quite pan out for the Mets… Tsuyoshi Shinjo was a fan favorite in Japan, as he was of that rare breed – a Japanese “hot dog”. The dude had style and fielded well. He hit better than some expected, given that he rarely put up big offensive numbers in Japan. I enjoyed watching him play, but he only lasted a couple of years here in the States.
It looks a little odd to see someone other than David Wright wearing #5. Shinjo was the last Mets player before David Wright to wear that number… and as I would expect Wright’s number to be retired at some point – he’s the club’s all-time leader in (deep breath) AB’s, hits, runs, doubles, RBI, walks, HBP and needs 18 homers to pass Darryl Strawberry in that category – I think Shinjo will keep that little footnote in Mets history.
Fonzie! Edgardo Alfonzo was also a fan favorite (and a Shlabotnik favorite), plus a 2000 All-star
Since we were talking uniform numbers and Fonzie wore #13, there’s an interesting Mets history involving that number… From 1962 to 1979, the only Met who wore #13 was Roger Craig who was attempting to change his luck after losing 18 straight games. Nobody else on the Mets wore #13 until reliever Neil Allen wore the number starting in 1980, and “unlucky 13” has been in regular use ever since. I’m sure many teams have a similar track record when it comes to 13. The fading of the “bad luck” stigma was part of it, but there’s also all of the Venezuelan infielders (like Fonzie) who wanted to honor national hero Dave Concepcion. Among the Venezuelans who wore #13 are Ozzie Guillen, Omar Vizquel and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Speaking of prospects, fan favorites and Venezuelans, here’s an excellent Pro Debut card of Mets fan-favorite Wilmer Flores! Funny how these things tie together sometimes.
Entomologists may be interested to know that there have been documented cases of Sand Gnats turning into Fireflies… Which is to say that over this winter the Savannah Sand Gnats moved to South Carolina to become the Columbia Fireflies. I love the name “Fireflies”, it’s got the uniqueness that current minor league teams want, but it sounds like it could’ve been a low-level minor league team back in the day.
The Sand Gnats have been replaced by a collegiate team that is unveiling their team name next week. At the first glance of the press release, I thought that the candidates for the team name were Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Popcorn, until I realized I was reading the paragraph about a ticket promotion. The actual candidates are Anchors, Bananas, Party Animals, Ports and Seagulls. I could get on board with the Savannah Seagulls. I think I’d prefer “Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Popcorn” over “Party Animals”. I’m not sure how I feel about the Savannah Bananas.
…A Mr. Richard Feder from Ft. Lee, New Jersey writes in and says “Dear Roseanne Savannah Bananas…”
Sadly, if the team does go with Savannah Bananas, I think I might have just given them their new mascot. “I thought I was gonna die!”
The last three cards in this PWE all have something in common, yet it’s nothing to do with the uniform number or nationality, and is tangential to the fact that all three depict fan favorites… All three of these cards feature paintings, and who doesn’t love that???? (Other than professional photographers)
Starting off with a 1992 Diamond King of Doctor K.
It’s interesting how Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had similar career trajectories, but it seems like Gooden gets a lot more love from Mets fans these days… or maybe that’s just me.
There are damn few Mets fans who don’t love Tom Seaver. This card is from the 2003 Topps Gallery Hall Of Fame Edition.
I’ve spent the past 10+ years saying to myself that I have to get more of these Topps Gallery cards, but I rarely pull the trigger… and here’s one showing up in my mailbox.
Finally, there’s this 2001 Topps Combos card of HOF catchers – I can say that now! – Mike Piazza and Josh Gibson.
These inserts were something of a mixed bag back in 2001, but they’re all better than most of this year’s inserts.
Thanks again to Shane for this fun assortment of Mets!