Four Mets cards, Four Decades

1963 Topps Al Jackson
You can look at Al Jackson’s 1962 rookie season in two ways:
Glass is half-empty: He lost 20 games and won only 8.
Glass is half-full: He got 1/5th of all the Mets wins for the season.

As you can see on the card, he was also on the Topps Rookie All-Star team, which says something about how much of a hard-luck pitcher he was that year.

1972 Topps Dave Marshall
One of my handful of 1972 High Numbers… You can tell from the scan that it’s got it’s share of creases.  Marshall was another All-Star Rookie, but that was with the Giants in 1968.  After the 1972 season, he was traded to the Padres for Al Severinsen, who was from New York but never got in a game with the Mets.

1981 Fleer John Stearns
John Stearns came from the Phillies in the infamous 1974 Tug McGraw trade, was an All-Star in 1982, but would only play another 12 Major League games after that season.

I really liked 1981 Fleer and  this 1982 set was a huge disappointment for me.  Blurry photos, “Meh” design… I’m generally a proponent of “Less is more”, but in this case it’s too minimal, or minimal in the wrong way.

1993 Donruss Diamond King Eddie Murray
I so thoroughly associate Eddie Murray with the Orioles that it still seems a bit odd to  me that he played two seasons for the Mets – even though I saw him playing first at Shea.

Heritage High Numbers – The Dangers Of Buying Into The Hype

When Topps announced last fall that it would be selling an online-only update to the 2012 Heritage set, and that it would be limited to 1000 sets, my immediate thoughts were “Well, those are some Mets cards I’ll never have”.

I was wrong.

I think I bought into the Topps Hype Machine a little too much.  While 1,000 cards aren’t many for Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, it’s sufficient for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jon Niese.  When you think about it, if someone had told me “The Topps Update set will include Heritage inserts which will be numbered to 1000”, I probably wouldn’t have written them off like I’d written off the Heritage High Numbers.  I wonder why that is.

Anyway, I got these during last March’s “Spring Cleaning” promotion on COMC.

Jon Niese had a nice year last year, winning 13 games for a team that only won 74.  This year he’s not been as good, and he’s been on the DL since June with a partially torn rotator cuff.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Jonathon Niese

Jordany Valdespin is currently with AAA Las Vegas, and either has no shortage of confidence or is a cocky SOB, depending on how you want to look at it.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Jordany Valdespin

Andres Torres spent one year as a Met then went back to the Giants as a free agent.  If the Mets still had him, they might not have Marlon Byrd or Eric Young, both of whom I’ve enjoyed watching this year… and who would’ve thought that the Mets would have a better record than the defending World Champions?

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Andres Torres

I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis enough to be able to spell his name without looking at the image.  Although I like him, I’ll freely admit that the dude needs to hit above the Mendoza Line if he wants to stick in the majors.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In 1977 and 1978, the Twins had a minor leaguer named Bart Nieuwenhuis, but if he’s any relation to Kirk, isn’t telling.

Bart Nieuwenhuis went to Tombstone High in Huachuca City, AZ.  How cool would it be to go to Tombstone High?

1982 Renata Galasso “20 Years Of Mets Baseball” Set

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, if you collected baseball cards you knew the name Renata Galasso.  If you didn’t know the name from the sets produced by Renata Galasso, Inc., then you knew the ads that were in national sports publications… Like this ad from a Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook in my collection:
Renata Galasso ad from 1978 Street & Smiths Baseball
…and in case you’re wondering why the ad says “1978 Topps Baseball” but clearly shows 1975 cards, it’s because the same basic ad was used every year, and they just updated the details.

Every year I looked longingly at the Renata Galasso ad, but I’d never actually ordered anything.  Later in life, though, I did pick up a set produced by Renata Galasso, Inc. in 1982 to commemorate “20 Years Of Mets Baseball”.  Despite the name, the set didn’t pay tribute to the entire 20 years, just the memorable first team that set a record for futility by going 40-120.
RGI 1962 Mets Casey Stengel

As you can see, the cards are pretty basic. The photos were black & white, and look  like the official team portraits used for newspapers, magazines and the like.
RGI 1962 Mets Richie Ashburn

The backs are simple, but appealing.  FYI, 1962 would be Richie Ashburn’s last season in the Majors.
RGI 1962 Mets Richie Ashburn back

There were supposedly only 2,500 sets created, but there’s someone on eBay who’s regularly selling lots of 5 team sets, so it would seem that they’re not hard to come by. I got mine at a show up on Long Island years ago – late 80’s, early 90’s if I had to guess.
RGI 1962 Mets Gil Hodges

I scanned these cards a few months ago, and I remember having a reason for scanning Vinegar Bend Mizell instead of Roger Craig, Marv Throneberry, Choo-Choo Coleman or any of the other ’62 Mets… But damned if I can remember that reason now.
RGI 1962 Mets Vinegar Bend Mizell
Was it to emphasize that the set includes even players who were only on the 1962 Mets for a couple of months? …Or to mention that Mizell served as a Congressman from North Carolina for 6 years?

I’m sure it’ll come to me sometime tomorrow, after we’ve moved on.

The Disappointment Of A Kellogg’s Team Set

A recent series of posts over in The Phillies Room inspired me to get my Post and Kellogg’s cards organized and entered in my homegrown Access database. I got my checklist info entered, entered my inventory, and then went back and generated wantlists of New York Mets.

I have fewer than 30 Kellogg’s cards altogether, and they were all picked up on random occasions without any sort of game plan, so I was surprised to find that I didn’t need any Mets from 1977 to 1980. I went back and looked at the checklists for those sets and realized that there was good news and bad news.

The good news was that it wasn’t bad data or any issues with my database, I did actually have a complete run of Kellogg’s Mets for those years.

The bad news was that the reason I have a complete run was because there are damn few cards to be had. Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about, this is the Mets “team set” for 1978 Kellogg’s:

1978 Kellogg's Lenny Randle
Yep, that’s it. One card.

To be fair, the Mets were not a good team and had traded away Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman the year before. But Lenny Randle? I have nothing against Lenny Randle, but I’d assumed that there must be other Kellogg’s cards solely because they wouldn’t give Lenny a card while ignoring Jerry Koosman, would they?

Apparently they would.

What’s especially irksome is that the Yankees had 7 cards in that set and the Dodgers and Philllies had 5 cards each. Meanwhile, the Mets had company in their misery in that the Braves, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, Brewers, Expos, Padres, Giants, Mariners and Blue Jays also had a solitary card in the set… at least, according to the information in the checklist I’ve got.

That’s it, I’ve had enough of this crap! I’m boycotting Kellogg’s for something they did 35 years ago!

…Yeah, like you’ve never heard of worse reasons for boycotting a company.

I Went To A Show And Got This 1962 Elio Cha— Hey, Is That Frank Robinson???

1962 Topps Elio ChaconI’ve been working on my 1960’s Mets team sets, and got a bunch at a recent show.  The most interesting of the cards was this Elio Chacón card.  This is card #256, which means it’s from the 3rd Series, but it also pictures Chacón in a Reds uniform (The Mets got Chacón from Cincinnati in the expansion draft).

…So, if we look at the left-hand side of the card, we see a player in a Reds uniform wearing #20… Gotta be Frank Robinson, don’tcha think?

This wasn’t the only “run in” that Elio had with a future Hall-Of-Famer; Chacón got into a brawl with Willie Mays during a Mets/Giants game in 1962.  Chacón had a grudge against Mays from a spiking in 1961 that resulted in 10 stitches, Orlando Cepeda was angry with Mets pitcher Roger Craig for a beaning in the 1st inning, and it all boiled over on an attempted pickoff of Mays at 2nd… check it out:

…So now you can say you went to a baseball card blog and a fight broke out.

Here are two other Mets cards I got at the same show, both well-loved.
1963 Post Roger Craig

I’ve been adding Post & Kellogg’s cards to my Mets collection as I run across them, but I’m starting to wonder if I should go after these sets more aggressively.

1970 Kellogg's Tommie Agee

I guess it would help if I knew what cards I don’t have, wouldn’t it?  I think as far as Mets are concerned, collecting Post means just 1963.  Kellogg’s is another matter, though.  Guess I’ll have to work on that.

1970 Topps Cleon Jones Booklet: Don’t Judge This Book By Its Cover!

I got “The Cleon Jones Story” at a show not long ago, mainly because it was a Mets oddball. These booklets were inserted into packs of 1970 Topps.

You’ve got to admit, it’s not very exciting when you look at the front…
1970 Topps Booklets Cleon Jones_0001

…or the back.
1970 Topps Booklets Cleon Jones_0002

But just when you’re thinking of heading off to the recliner to take a power nap, you pull it out of it’s penny sleeve, open it up and — TA-DA!!! Instant fun!
1970 Topps Booklets Cleon Jones_0003

1970 Topps Booklets Cleon Jones_0004

1970 Topps Booklets Cleon Jones_0005

So what’s not to like? It’s entertaining, colorful and edumacational! Normally, these are truly little booklets, but this particular one came apart into two different sheets, which made it easy to scan.

I’ve also got the Tommy Harper booklet (part of my Seattle Pilots collection), and I might have to keep an eye out for more of these… Mike Cuellar would fit in my Orioles collection, and I’ll buy anything with Rusty Staub’s picture on it.

I’ll bet Al Ferrara’s booklet is interesting… He was working on an acting career, and by the time these booklets came out, he’d already done guest spots on TV shows like Gilligan’s Island and Batman… and no, he didn’t play a baseball player named “Al”.

If anyone else has posted entire booklets on their blogs, feel free to leave a link in the comments; I’d be very interested to see them!

Oversized Load: 1984 Donruss Champions

1984 Donruss Champions Keith HernandezIn recent weeks, I’ve been featuring cards from the oversized Donruss Action All-Star sets of the early 1980’s. Today I’m going to highlight a little side trip Donruss made in 1984, the 1984 Donruss Champions set.

This set, which is the same 3.5″ x 5″ size as the Action All-Stars, featured a subset of “Grand Champions” painted by Dick Perez. The “Grand Champions” were Hall of Famers who held either a season or career record in certain statistical categories. The remainder of the 60 card set was made up of current players who were supposedly in a chase to surpass that “Grand Champion”.

Chase… chase… where have I heard that recently?

I decided to go ahead and share all the Mets cards from the set. There were a good number of Mets in the set, probably because of the number of older players with healthy numbers. Keith Hernandez, at 30, was the “kid” of the bunch.

Tom Seaver was no longer a Met by the time this set came out; he’d been drafted by the White Sox in the free agent compensation draft in place at the time.
1984 Donruss Champions Tom Seaver

Dave Kingman was also gone in 1984; he signed with the A’s as a free agent.
1984 Donruss Champions Dave Kingman

George Foster was with the Mets and manning left field in Shea.
1984 Donruss Champions George Foster

Rusty Staub was also with the Mets in 1984, but in a part-time role. His games and plate appearances are nearly identical.
1984 Donruss Champions Rusty Staub

These cards were sold in cello packs of 5 cards with the legally obligatory Donruss puzzle pieces, this time picturing Duke Snider.

Mets Monday: 1993 Jimmy Dean Eddie Murray

Even though they did a pretty nice job of removing the Mets script from the front of the jersey, this lovely oddball is nothing exceptional as far as these Junk Wax Era oddballs go…
1993 Jimmy Dean Eddie Murray
…until you get to the back.

And that’s when I did the proverbial LOL when I saw the “drawing” of Eddie Murray.
1993 Jimmy Dean Eddie Murray back

Is that really Eddie Murray, or is it Detective Harris from the TV show “Barney Miller”?

Nah, Det. Harris would never mess his hair up by wearing a cap. To be fair, I don’t think Eddie’s HOF plaque looks much like him, either.

And as long as I’m making 1970’s references, I can’t look at this card, or anything related to Jimmy Dean sausages, without thinking of the David Essex song, “Rock On”.

See her shake on the movie screen
Jimmy Dean.

Jimmy Dean.

Rock on.

Enjoy your Memorial Day, everybody! I’m off to mow the lawn. Woo hoo.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Go With What’s Easiest (1966 Ken Boyer)

1966 Topps Ken BoyerI have a couple of “Mets Monday” posts in the works, but nothing ready for posting. I went to see if any Mets were born on this date, and came up with Ken Boyer.

Ken Boyer was the NL MVP in 1964, a 7-time All-Star and 5-time Gold Glove winner, but those days were behind him when he was traded to the Mets after the 1965 season. He was the starting 3rd baseman for the 1966 Mets, leading the team with 61 RBI, hitting 14 homers and batting .266.

The following July, he was traded to the White Sox in a deal that also saw Sandy Alomar Sr. going to the Chisox and J.C. Martin heading for Shea.

Boyer passed away in 1982.

Have You Seen Me?

Does anybody know what happened to this guy?
2005 Bowman Heritage Philip Humber

Specifically, what happened to Philip Humber, the Mets 1st round draft pick, 3rd overall, in 2004.

The guy who was part of a package of highly-regarded prospects the Mets sent to the Twins for former Cy Young winner Johan Santana.

The guy who threw a perfect game against the Mariners, as I commemorated on one of my customs.
2012 Card #17 - Highlight Humber

One would think that a former first-round draft pick who pitched a perfect game within the last year or two would at least have decent stats… but last year with the White Sox he was 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA and 1.539 WHIP.

This year with the Astros – where all they ask of a pitcher is that he have a pulse, keep the team within 5 runs and hey, 4 or 5 innings would be really nice – he has gone 0-8 with a 9.59 ERA and a 2.019 WHIP.

This weekend, Philip Humber was designated for assignment by the Astros after giving up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning.

DFA’ed by the worst-in-the-Majors Houston Astros.

Just to add insult to injury to Mets fans (not to mention the Mets organization), he’s the second former top Mets prospect to get DFA’ed by the Astros this year…
2007 Bowman Heritage Prospects Fernando Martinez
Fernando Martinez, who was at or near the top of the Mets Top 10 several years running, was DFA’ed by the Astros last week.

Lastings Milledge was another “can’t miss” top prospect. Baseball America rated him the #9 prospect overall before the 2006 season.
2004 Bowman Heritage Lastings Milledge
After playing with the Mets, Nats, Bucs and Chisox (for two games), he’s now playing in Japan.

Yes, this is an exercise in wallowing in Mets fan self-pity while showing off some recent (and reasonably-priced) acquisitions. But you also have to ask “What the heck is going on here?”

I don’t have any answers, so I’m going to fall back on Standard Mets Fan Protocol 13A: Blame former GM Omar Minaya while hoping that the current front office has a clue.