Today is the 179th day of 2018.
1974 through 1978 are the first five sets I collected (and among the first I completed).
Combining them together allows me to revisit cards from my early days of collecting.
1974 Topps #179 – YOGI BERRA AND HIS COACHING STAFF
This is the first Mets coaching staff I was ever aware of, and also the one which had the biggest impact on my collecting goals. Rube Walker, Eddie Yost and Joe Pignatano All came to the Mets as part of Gil Hodges’ coaching staff in 1968; Roy McMillan joined in 1973. I have modest player collections of everybody on this card… less so for Yogi only because his vintage cards are quite a bit pricier.
Yost and McMillan would coach with the Mets through 1976; Walker and Pignatano through 1981.
1975 Topps #179 – TOM BRADLEY
Bradley was a solid pitcher for the White Sox and had a couple of seasons where he won 15 games and struck out over 200 batters. He tailed off after a certain point, possibly due to overuse stemming from Chisox manager Chuck Tanner’s experimentation with a 3-man pitching rotation.
I had a small epiphany regarding Tom Bradley; forgive my small side-trip in explaining…
In early 1986, Joe Jackson came out with his “Big World” album. Coinciding with the release of the new album, the Alternative Rock station I listened to at the time played a bunch of his older songs. That was when I came to realize that the guy who had new songs like “Wild West” and “Right And Wrong” was the same guy who did “Is She Really Going Out With Him”, “It’s Different For Girls”, “You Can’t Get What You Want”, “Breaking Us In Two” and “Sunday Papers”… I’d just never put the pieces together before that. After that realization I became a JJ fan.
For me, Tom Bradley was the baseball version of that. In writing this up I realized that I have all of his Topps cards from 1972 to 1976 (I still need his 1971 rookie card), but for some reason never mentally put them all together as the same guy’s baseball cards.
1976 Topps #179 – GEORGE FOSTER
Foster finished second to teammate Joe Morgan in the 1976 MVP voting, and would be the MVP in 1977. One of these days I should make an all-star team of big name players who the Mets acquired after their prime. I think George Foster is the left fielder on that team… although he wasn’t bad for the Mets, just in his 30’s and exposed in the batting order.
1977 Topps #179 – PAUL HARTZELL
This is the rookie card for Paul Hartzell, who played four full seasons for the Angels & Twins and parts of two others with the Orioles and Brewers. He was one of four players the Angels sent to the Twins for Rod Carew.
I pulled this card out of the 9-pocket sheet and the first words out of my mouth were “Wow, I’ve got to upgrade this thing”. While the creases readily show up in the scan, it’s also got water damage like it had been rescued from a puddle. I’m normally pretty passive about upgrading my childhood cards, swapping them out only if I happened to come across something significantly better, but I’m starting to look at some of these and thinking “Man, that is ugly”. I’m going to put a little more effort into upgrading the cards which are truly “Poor”.
1978 Topps #179 – DICK TIDROW
Dick Tidrow began as a starter and would be a reliever on two Yankees World Champion teams in 1977 and 1978. He’s currently with the San Francisco Giants as the “Senior Vice President, Player Personnel and Senior Advisor to the General Manager”.
Something I hadn’t known before: Dick Tidrow was the 1972 Sporting News Rookie Pitcher Of The Year… that came while he was a starting pitcher with the Indians.
Something else I hadn’t known before: Tidrow is one of a handful of players who have played for the Mets and Yankees AND Cubs and White Sox. Tidrow pitched 11 games for the Mets in 1984 before being released (and thus ending his MLB career).
Tidrow’s time with the Mets came after his last baseball cards (which showed him with the White Sox), so “Dick Tidrow as a Met” gets added to my “someday I’ll make a custom of this” list.