So here’s the deal… I recently got this rookie card from COMC:
The rookie card of fan favorite Tug McGraw and 1969 Miracle Met Ron Swoboda… it took a fair amount of searching to find a copy which was within my budget, but I got this one for just over $5. And there was much rejoicing (Yaaaaaaay).
The only 1960’s team set I’d ever completed before was the 1969 Topps Seattle Pilots team set, and the only real challenge with that one is high numbers.
But here I was, holding the last of the long sought 1965 Mets team set, and feeling pretty pleased about it. I decided I would feature the entire team set in a post.
Just as a precaution against looking foolish, I compared the cards I had to a couple of different definitions of a 1965 Mets team set, including the PSA set registry listing for 1965 Topps Mets… and that’s when I noticed a card which had light blue borders rather than green borders and featured the Mets’ Kevin Collins in the lower left corner.
…And I said “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, hell.” Most of the 1965 rookie cards are team-specific, I somehow didn’t think about these “National League” rookie cards. Not only is this a high number, but it’s the rookie card for a Hall-Of-Famer.
I think I’ve got a line on a copy of that card, but for now we’ll have to scuttle the team set post.
Let’s go back to that card I just got so I can go into details on some of the other players… because there’s a story or two in there.
Danny Napoleon played two years with the Mets and would continue to play through the 1971 season. Back in October I featured a TCMA card of him that had been sent by Dime Box Nick.
Ron Swoboda is best known for the catch he made in the 1969 World Series as well as batting .400 in that World Series. He played for 6 years with the Mets.
Jim Bethke spent much of the 1965 season pitching in relief for the Mets. He was just 18 at the time (26 years younger than teammate Warren Spahn). He’d make 25 appearances that year, but never made it back to the Majors afterwards.
Tug McGraw pitched 19 years in the Majors, and along with artist Mike Witte he created a comic strip called “Scroogie” in the mid 1970’s. I remember reading this strip, I really need to get the two Signet paperbacks which compiled the strip.
Now that I’ve spent a lot of time and focus on that card, I’ll mention that I did get another 1965 rookie card in the same shipment….
This card’s been on my radar for a while because it’s the rookie card for 1969 Miracle Met Tommie Agee, and I saw the price come low enough that I decided to jump at it.
I’ve written about Agee’s role in the 1969 Mets before, today I’ll briefly run through Agee’s notable rookie season… Now this card shows him as a Cleveland prospect, but he played just 31 games over three seasons with the Indians. In January 1965 he went from the Indians to the White Sox in a three-team trade which also involved the Kansas City Athletics, Tommy John and Rocky Colavito. Agee wouldn’t land a full time job until 1966, but in that season he was the A.L. Rookie of the Year, an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner while batting .273 with 22 homers, 83 RBI, 98 runs and 44 stolen bases. Over his time with the White Sox, Agee caught the eye of then-Senators manager Gil Hodges, who encouraged the Mets front office to go after Agee.
Before I finish up this post, I’d like to mention something about Agee’s “card mate”, George Culver. Something about Culver’s name was poking at the back of my brain, and I knew it was more than his being in the first set I collected:
When I looked him up, I realized I’ve seen him in action…. as a minor league manager.
He managed the AA Reading Phillies in 1986 and 1987, and that was when I used to go to at least one or two R-Phils games each year (I have friends who live in the area) and also at a time when I’d buy the team sets of any team I’d see play in the minors… So I was able to go to the appropriate binder and scan this card of Culver from the 1987 TCMA Reading Phillies set.
I also found out that Culver no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies while pitching for the Reds on July 29, 1968. Interestingly enough, it’s a no-hitter where Culver was actually losing at one point… in the bottom of the second inning Dick Allen ended up on 2nd base courtesy of two Reds errors; he moved to third on a groundout and scored on a Cookie Rojas sacrifice fly. Phils-1, Reds-0. To quote the title of Joe Garagiola’s book, “Baseball is a funny game”.