A little while ago I ran across a 1978 TCMA minor league set for the AAA Tidewater Tides, which were the Mets farm team at the time. It seemed interesting, and the price was right, so I went ahead and I got it.
I just wasn’t prepared for how much I would love the set… and I feel safe in saying that one doesn’t have to be a Mets fan to appreciate it. Fans of 1980’s commons will especially appreciate it, because many of the players in this set went on to have careers… Some actually had fame!
I’ll start off with the biggest name in the set, Mike Scott… “Traded to Houston for Danny Heep” Mike Scott… Twenty-game winner Mike Scott… Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott… Three time All-Star Mike Scott…. “Had the Mets’ number in the 1986 NLCS” Mike Scott…
…But in 1978, he was a 10-10 AAA pitcher who was several years away from learning the split-fingered fastball that put him over the top.
Before we leave Mr. Scott, I will draw your attention to the building in the background; it plays a role later in the post.
Here’s the back of the card; nothing at all special.
Next up is Neil Allen… Anyone who’s collected 1980’s cards should at least be familiar with Neil Allen. He was the Mets’ closer for several years before being traded with Rick Ownbey to St. Louis for Keith Hernandez. In addition to the Mets and Cards, he also played for the Yankees, White Sox and Indians.
He’s currently the pitching coach for the Twins.
Juan Berenguer is also well-represented in 1980’s card sets, and also got around a bit. He played for the Tigers, Twins, Royals, A’s, and Giants. He was the International League’s pitcher of the year in 1978.
I always thought he looked like a menacing dude, someone who could’ve, under a different set of circumstances, made a career in movies playing the same types of roles that Danny Trejo plays.
…And there’s that building in the background again. When I first got these cards, I assumed that the photos were taken in the old Met Park in Norfolk, a not unreasonable assumption given the home whites… But I was wrong. I took a closer look at that building and between the Mike Scott and Juan Berenguer cards I could tell the sign painted on the building says “MUENCH-KREUZER CANDLE”, and a small amount of Googling told me that this building was right outside of MacArthur Stadium in Syracuse NY. MacArthur Stadium was later replaced by what is now called NBT Bank Stadium, and the Muench-Kreuzer Candle factory has been turned into apartments.
Little known (and entirely untrue) fact: MacArthur Stadium was originally called MacArthur Park, but they had to change the name because it kept melting in the dark.
Moving right along, here’s a player who’s well-known among fans of the 1981 Topps set.
What do you mean, “Who the heck is that?” It’s John Pacella!
You know, John Pacella!
The guy who lost his hat after every pitch, resulting in his being a cult hero among fans of 81T. Pacella would also appear on cards with the Twins in 1983, but none of those held a candle to this one.
This next one features baseball lifer Dwight Bernard.
Dwight Bernard pitched for the Mets and Brewers, has a 0.00 World Series ERA (he pitched a scoreless inning for the Brewers in 1982), and has been a pitching coach since 1986. He’s currently the coach for the AAA Sacramento River Cats.
Alex Trevino played 13 seasons with the Mets, Reds, Dodgers, Astros, Giants and Braves. He’s been an Astros Spanish Language radio broadcaster since 1996.
Roy Lee Jackson had a decent career from 1977 to 1986, pitching for the Mets, Blue Jays, Twins and Padres…
…But he’s probably best known these days for his 1984 Fleer card which shows him singing the National Anthem… or *a* National Anthem, I guess it could be the Canadian and/or American National Anthem.
Marty Perez appeared on Topps cards from 1971 to 1978, and I had no idea he was ever in the Mets organization. He started the season with the A’s, was dropped in May, picked up by the Mets in June and finished his career in AAA.
I saved the best for last with this set… Not in terms of name recognition, but in terms of sheer visual appeal.
Dan Norman played 192 games over 5 seasons with the Mets and Expos… but nothing he did on a Major League field can compare with the beauty and awesomeness of this card:
The framing of the shot, the angle of the sun, the old-time light towers in the background… I just love this card. This one is worth the price of the set all by itself.