I loved the 1975 Topps MVP subset when I was a kid, and spent a lot of time poring over the images of vintage Topps cards. I’ve decided if getting all of the featured cards isn’t a realistic goal for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t get *some* of the cards.
Here’s my card from the 1975 subset, one that I’ve had for 47 years…
And here’s the card I got earlier this year:
Before I get into why Dick Groat was the NL MVP, I should mention that all 22 of the first place votes for NL MVP were divided among three Pittsburgh Pirates: 16 for Groat, 5 for 3B Don Hoak (who finished 2nd overall) and 1 for Roberto Clemente (who finished 8th).
The Pirates were not heavily favored going in to the 1960 season, having gone 78-76 (4th place, 9 GB) in 1959. They won the National League pennant with 95 wins (7.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Braves) and would beat the Yankees in the World Series in 7 games, with Game 7 being one of the greatest games in history (which I mention even though the World Series does not factor into MVP voting).
Why was Dick Groat the 1960 NL MVP?
Lead the NL with a .325 batting average, beating Dodger Norm Larker on the last day of the season. A National League shortstop would not lead the league in batting again until Hanley Ramirez in 2009
Lead the Majors with 154 singles and was third in the NL with 186 hits
Went 6-for-6 in a May 13 game against Milwaukee; he had 3 singles, 3 doubles, 2 runs and also had two hits in the Pirates’ 8-run 7th inning
Overall I presume that this was a matter of “You have to see him play every day”, because everything I found on Groat’s 1960 MVP season boiled down to “He was a flashy shortstop who got a lot of hits”, and while that’s impressive it doesn’t in and of itself say “MVP!”
Before I go, I’ll mention that Groat was a basketball All-American at Duke University and went from Duke to the Pirates without ever playing in the minor leagues.
I loved the 1975 MVP subset when I was a kid, and spent a lot of time poring over the images of vintage Topps cards. I’ve decided if getting all of the featured cards isn’t a realistic goal for me, that doesn’t mean I can’t get *some* of the cards.
Here’s my card from the 1975 subset, one that I’ve had for 47 years…
And since I have both of the actual cards – my oldest such pairing to date – I’ll feature both and touch on what got Brooks Robinson and Ken Boyer their league’s MVP awards.
Why was Brooks Robinson the 1964 AL MVP?
Lead the AL with 118 RBI, a career-best, and played in 163 games
Brooks won the Gold Glove for the 5th consecutive time, lead American League 3rd basemen with 153 putouts and 327 assists, had a .972 fielding percentage and was involved in 40 double plays
Batted .464 in September
Over the season he hit .317 with 28 homers, 35 doubles and 82 runs
Brooks got 18 first place votes, with Mickey Mantle getting the other 2 first place votes.
Why was Ken Boyer the 1964 NL MVP?
Boyer played in all 162 of the Cardinals’ game and lead them to their first pennant (and world championship) in 18 years.
He lead the Majors with 119 RBI, the first NL 3rd baseman to lead the league in RBIs since Heinie Zimmerman in 1917
He batted .295 with 30 doubles, 10 triples, 24 homers and 100 runs scored
Boyer got 14 of the 20 first place votes in the MVP voting. Other players who got 1st place votes are Philadelphia’s Johnny Callison (2 1st place votes), St. Louis’ Bill White (2 votes), Milwaukee’s Joe Torre (1 vote) and Lou Brock (1 vote). Brock split the season between the Cubs and Cardinals.
Although the World Series wouldn’t have factored in to the MVP voting, Boyer hit 2 homers against the Yankees, including a grand slam off of Al Downing in the Cards’ 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium. In game 7, Boyer had three hits, including a double and a home run, and scored three runs as the Cardinals won their first world championship since 1946
My semi-recent COMC shipment contained the last couple of cards needed to complete my 1964 Topps Mets team set… the last card acquired was a high-numbered Ed Kranepool that I largely paid for by selling a 2018 Topps Heritage Ichiro variation.
In recognition of completing my oldest team set (an honor previously held by my 1965 Topps Mets team set), I decided to do one of my “Team Reviews” of the 1964 Mets.
The 1964 Mets finished in last (10th) place with a record of 53-109-1… But, they also opened the sparkling new Shea Stadium and finished 2nd in the league in attendance, pulling in 1.7 million fans. Only the Dodgers 2.2 million was higher in the National League.
The Mets were managed by Casey Stengel, who would turn 74 years old during the 1964 season. This would also be his last full season as the Mets manager, as he would retire after breaking his hip during the 1965 season.
Normally when I do one of these Team Review posts I list the best players and best rookie cards, but keep in mind that with the 1964 Mets this is all relative. However, I will start with a category that people can appreciate:
HOFers in the set (other than Casey Stengel)
Duke Snider was with the Mets in 1963 and was the team’s All-Star representative… however, his contract was sold to the Giants on opening day of the 1964 season.
Best Position Player
In 1964 Ron Hunt became the first Met to start an All-Star Game, plus he lead the team with a .303 average so I feel like I have to go with him
Second-best Position Player
Joe Christopher lead the team with 163 hits, 78 runs and 76 RBI, plus batted an even .300, so I feel like I should give him some credit as well
Wow… The 1964 Mets had four pitchers who had 16 or more losses, and Tracy Stallard lost 20. Galen Cisco lost 19 against 6 wins, but he had the best WHIP (1.231) and his 3.62 ERA was the best of any Mets starter so I’ll go with him.
Best Rookie card
This is a tough one, because none of the rookie cards in this team set were particularly noteworthy… Guys like Larry Elliot, Steve Dillon, Ron Locke, Jerry Hinsley and Bill Wakefield are known only to some Mets fans. John Stephenson had the most notable career, paying in 451 games over 10 seasons.
Notable rookie card for other reasons
Grover Powell pitched in 20 games in 1963 but would suffer an injury playing winter ball after that season and would not pitch in the Majors again. The reason he’s here is because he’s one of the handful of players to wear #41 for the Mets before Tom Seaver (the others being Clem Labine, Dennis Musgraves, Jim Bethke and Gordie Richardson)
Best Subset card
The Last Card I Got
Ed Kranepool is a favorite among long-time Mets fans, and why wouldn’t he be? He’s a New York native, was drafted out of James Monroe H.S. in the Bronx and appeared in each of the Mets’ first 18 seasons, starting with a September callup in 1962 when Kranepool was just 17. He held many Mets career records until David Wright came along, and there was a time when I felt the Mets should’ve retired his #7.
Weirdness In the 7th Series
Interesting thing about the Mets in the 7th (high-numbered) series is that there’s a lot of them: 9 Mets out of 81 cards. If that kind of ratio existed through the entire set, there would be 65 Mets in 1964 Topps instead of the 33 that there are.
There’s also a string of Mets that are numbered 10 apart:
536 Larry Elliot / John Stephenson
546 Joe Christopher
556 Steve Dillon / Ron Locke
566 Ed Kranepool
576 Jerry Hinsley / Bill Wakefield
The Original Frank Thomas
This Frank Thomas had been a 3-time All-Star in the 1950s but by 1964 he was a utility man who split the season between the Mets and the Phillies
Other 1964 Mets Who Were (Relatively) Good Enough To Be Included In 1964 Topps Coins, Tattoos, Stand-ups or 1964 Bazooka
Jesse Gonder was the Mets starting catcher and had been named to the 1963 Topps All-Star Rookie team. His defensive struggles behind the plate lead to him being traded to Milwaukee and then fading from the Majors
Duke Carmel played 104 games in 1963, split between the Cardinals and Mets, and 20 additional games scattered over three seasons. He spent all of 1964 with AAA Buffalo and the Mets would go from two Dukes to no Dukes.
Carl Willey was a former Braves prospect who had a good year for the Mets in 1963 — 9-14, 3.10 ERA, team-leading 1.191 WHIP — before injuries derailed his career.
Al Jackson was a good pitcher with some awful Mets teams, and had identical 8-20 records in 1962 and 1965. His .433 winning % in 1963 was the best a Mets starting pitcher would have from 1962 to 1965. Jackson would later be traded to the Cardinals as part of a 3-player trade for former MVP 3rd baseman Ken Boyer
George Altman was one of two players acquired when the Mets traded Roger Craig to the Cardinals. He patrolled left field for one season before being traded to the Cubs.
Jim Hickman was a regular with the Mets in their first five seasons and would be an All-Star and the Comeback Player of the Year with the 1970 Cubs
The card from my recent COMC shipment that I want to feature because I’ve already scanned it
Larry Bearnarth was a local kid – he went to high school on Staten Island and then went to St. John’s University – who was a reliever in four seasons with the Mets. In 1964 his three saves was second on the team to Willard Hunter’s five.
I’m a lifelong Mets fan, so it’s no coincidence that all of these cards have a Mets connection… but don’t worry, it’s safe reading for fans of all teams.
Donn Clendenon was the MVP of the 1969 World Series, but in 1964 he was the Pirates’ starting first baseman.
In case you’re wondering about Clendenon starting at 1st for the Pirates when future Willie Stargell was on the team… Pops was a 24-year-old all-star who split his time between first and left.
Roy McMillan’s 1964 card shows him with the Milwaukee Braves, but after a May trade he spent the bulk of the season as the Mets’ starting shortstop.
McMillan was an All-Star twice and won three Gold Gloves, all with the Reds in the late 1950’s. He managed the Brewers for two games in 1972 (in between Dave Bristol and Del Crandall) and managed the Mets after Yogi Berra was fired in August, 1975, but wasn’t brought back in 1976.
I have something of a Ron Hunt player collection, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’m sure many of you can identify with that. Sure, he was one of the Mets first young stars, and the first Met to start an All-Star game (in 1964), but I have a nearly-complete run of Ron Hunt Topps cards, from his early cards with the Mets through the Dodgers, Giants, Expos and unfortunate 1975 airbrushing into something approximating a Cardinals’ cap (and he only played 5 games with St. Louis).
The main piece coming back to the Mets in the Ron Hunt trade was Tommy Davis, and interestingly enough both players played just one season for their new teams. Before the 1968 season Hunt was traded to the Giants and Davis to the White Sox.
Finally, we’ve got Norm Sherry listed with the Mets, but he was photographed in a Dodgers uniform and had the logo airbrushed out.
Sherry would play 1963 with the Mets and 1964 with the AAA Buffalo Bisons before retiring and becoming a minor league manager. Sherry would manage the California Angels in 1976 and 1977 and would appear as a “thumbnail” on the 1977 Angels team card.
I gained some traction in my organizing efforts this week, but in the process I left myself almost no time for blogging.
Among my newer scans were two 1960’s Mets cards I got on COMC, one a HOFer and the other a player that many have argued should be a HOFer. I figured these cards didn’t need a lot of backstory, so here they are.
1964 Topps Casey Stengel
1962 Topps Gil Hodges
Two more steps towards completing my 1960’s Mets team sets, a goal that may never be reached because of the Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan rookie cards. …But hey, one has to try, right?
No lead-in today, right to the cards. Oh, wait, is that a lead-in?
I don’t remember buying this Billy Williams card at a recent card show, but here it is mixed in with the other card show scans. I suppose the fact that I don’t remember buying it probably indicates that I didn’t spend a whole lot on it.
I do remember this Thurman Munson. It’s always nice to pick up a star player on a Hostess card, that’s one fewer I have to deal with. I wonder who the older gentleman in the background is…
My issues with Hostess goes a long way towards mirroring issues I have with my collection. I would ideally like to complete all five sets, but that’s a very long term goal. I might make better progress if I focus on one of the five… 1975 is 41% complete… but would I miss any bargains for the other four sets? This is why I don’t publish goals at the beginning of the year with everybody else.
I knew that Gus Triandos was an All-Star and a fan favorite on some not-good Orioles teams in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, but I somehow missed that he was involved in the largest trade in MLB history.
The original trade had the Yankees trading Triandos, Gene Woodling, Hal Smith, Willy Miranda, Jim McDonald, Harry Byrd and players to be named later to the Orioles for Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Billy Hunter and players to be named later. Several weeks later, each team named four players-to-be-named, including Darrell Johnson, who would later manage the Red Sox, Mariners and Rangers. In all 17 players were involved in this trade.
This card is interesting in that Bill Virdon replaced Danny Murtaugh as the manager of the Pirates… and Danny Murtaugh would replace Bill Virdon as the manager of the Pirates. It helps to know that Danny Murtaugh had four different stints managing the Bucs.
Somewhere along the line I’ve become a Bill Virdon collector. Virdon was the Yankees manager back when I was young, naive and thought it was OK to like both the Mets and the Yankees. He’d also managed the aforementioned Pirates, as well as the Astros and Expos. Later in life, I started picking up baseball cards of players who I remember as managers in the 1970’s… between that and seeing Virdon patrolling center field while watching Game 7 of the 1960 World Series when it was broadcast several years ago, I somehow latched on to Virdon without fully realizing it.
Ladies and Gentlemen… The President of The Shlabotnik Report
Madam Speaker… Mister Subwoofer… Members of the Blogosphere… My fellow Collectors…
2015 was a notable year for The Shlabotnik Report and for the collecting community. Flagship Topps had an outstanding design; Stadium Club’s photography had everybody talking. A lot of accomplishments were made, but there are a lot of challenges remaining as we move into a new year.
However, 2015 was also a year without structure, a year of following impulses rather than pursuing the declared objectives. There’s a lot of good to be said about following impulses and doing what feels right at the moment, but the end result is a number of unfinished projects, unopened packs and box sets.
While we’ve been successful in keeping our spending in line with previous years, and also in keeping a handle on incoming cards, the fact is that we’ve had a large drop-off in the number of exports in the form of cards leaving the house. As you can see from this table…
…During Fiscal 2015, the number of cards leaving the house (listed in the “Outbound” row on the above table) were significantly down from prior years. While it’s true that 2013 was an aberration caused by the recycling of large quantities of junk wax doubles, the truth remains that 2015’s totals were still nearly 6,000 cards below the previous lowest amount. Similarly, the number of cards removed from the collection were down in 2015. Better efforts need to be made to return these to their previous levels.
In light of these shortcomings and challenges, a series of initiatives are being considered; some may be implemented as they stand, some may be modified before being implemented, others may get vetoed.
While a “budget” has often been referred to in this blog, the truth of the matter is that “I’m on a budget” is often a euphemism for “I’m cheap”. That being said, I don’t have a handle on how much is spent on the hobby during any given year. One initiative being considered for 2016 is tracking the money spent on cards, mainly out of curiosity but also to see whether the return on investment is there for certain expenditures (i.e. lunchtime Target runs).
Similarly, alternate retail strategies are being considered. In 2014 and 2015, the plan was to buy factory sets of flagship Topps while getting most of the pack-busting stimulus from Heritage. Studies have concluded that while factory sets are economically prudent, there is a significant shortfall in the amount of “fun”. While Heritage expenditures will continue in fiscal 2016, alternates to the factory set strategy are being explored.
One such strategy being floated is to focus more on Opening Day than on flagship Topps, which would allow for an easier set-building goal plus more enjoyable inserts. However, it’s recently come to this administration’s attention that 2016 Opening Day will no longer have 3-D cards, which diminishes the projected return on the Opening Day investments.
An initiative being explored is a two-pronged effort to devote more time towards domestic resources rather than imported resources; in other words, being more involved with cards already in the house rather than those in stores or on COMC. Part of this initiative would involve spending more time and energy with cards already in the collection, while the other part would involve exploring the vast cardboard reserves believed to exist on the surface of my dining room table.
One obvious place where cutbacks can easily be made are with inserts and with current cards of retired players. More and more studies are finding that inserts provide a short-term level of enjoyment; they may seem appealing when acquired, but later become something of an afterthought. I’m proposing a more strenuous screening process that would allow entry only to those inserts and retired players who fall into the collection in some predefined way. For instance, Cal Ripken would be allowed, as there’s a established Cal PC. Nolan Ryan would be welcomed if pictured with the Mets, but Nolan Ryan with any other team would be turned away… This is due to a distinct surplus in non-vintage Nolan Ryan cards.
Finally, several existing programs, – “1966 Batman” project and the “Steelers Team Sets” project, just to name two – will be temporarily put on hold and reevaluated at an undetermined future date.
In conclusion, we are pleased with the state of the collection as well as that of The Shlabotnik Report, and there is no doubt that 2016 will be a landmark year for both.
For additional statistics on 4th quarter performance, I refer you to the following statistics, illustrated by some imports from The Republic Of COMC.
The numbers here reflect changes since September 14th.
Net change in the collection since 9/14/15: +147 (442 added, 295 purged)
Net change to the # of cards in the house since 9/14/15: -1425 (1304 in, 2729 out)
In the below figures, “to date” means since I started tracking this stuff on 10/16/2011.
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 11,784
Net change to the collection, to date: -1,476
Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 44,743
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -25,533
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 51,662
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 17,623
…which means I’ve got at least 69,285 cards in my collection.
I’ve been pretty quiet about the playoffs so far, and I would guess that some of you are wondering why a Mets fan hasn’t weighed in on the subject.
I’ll admit, part of my silence was not wanting to jinx the Mets.
When this season started, my expectations were “This is the year we don’t suck!” A wild card spot would be cool, but being something other than painful to watch (not to mention putting the whole “LOLMets” meme to bed) was my wish for the season.
Halfway through the season, that’s about what it looked like. The Mets were a decent team, but didn’t look like world-beaters.
…But then again, neither did the Nationals (despite all the preseason talk of 100 wins and a championship).
Then the Mets made a move where they actually traded away prospects for major league talent, rather than the other way around. They picked up Kelly “The Happy Wanderer” Johnson and Juan Uribe for two fringey pitching prospects. I liked the deal, and thought that would be THE big move towards acquiring mid-season help. After all, the Mets weren’t going to be serious contenders until next year, right?
They also picked up Tyler Clippard to bolster the bullpen, another nice trade to help the team without selling out on the future.
Then, much to my surprise, they picked up Yoenis Cespedes. It was at that point that I realized that they had more than meaningful September baseball in mind.
But all along, I kept in mind that this wasn’t necessarily supposed to be happening. I enjoyed the Nationals falling apart because that franchise’s arrogance annoys the crap out of me (a subject for another post, another day), but I didn’t get carried away about the division title… Hell, both wild card teams had better records than the Mets.
I tried to keep in mind that the Mets, like Dante in the movie “Clerks”, were “not even supposed to be here today”.
They beat the Dodgers, which was thoroughly enjoyable because I’d run across a fair number of Dodger fans who were beating their chests about how unbeatable Kershaw & Greinke were…. Plus I’m still pissed about the Dodgers beating the Mets in the 1988 NLCS.
The Cubs made the NLCS difficult for me because the Cubs were my second-favorite team in the postseason and I have a few friends who are Cubs fans. As games between the Mets and Orioles have taught me, it’s harder to enjoy a game when you like both teams.
…which is why, after the Mets swept the Cubs, I switched my AL rooting interest to the moderately obnoxious Royals. I decided that, win or lose, the World Series would be more fun with a bad guy. Hopefully I won’t come to regret that.
So here we are, on the cusp of Game 1. I still maintain my mindset that this season is already an overwhelming success, and anything else is just gravy. Sure, I want the Mets to win, but given all the unexpected joys of this season, all I really ask for is that the World Series be fun to watch.
If you’re looking for anything cohesive or with a unifying theme, well… Keep looking.
I got this Willie Davis sometime in 2013 and I can’t remember if there was a specific reason for it, or if it was an “it’s cheap and a nice-looking card, what the heck, toss it on the pile” purchase.
For a guy who was as reknowned for his fielding – he won 3 Gold Gloves and frequently lead center fielders in fielding %, putouts and assists – he seems to always be pictured posing with a bat. Just a quick scan through his cards on COMC I find 16 batting poses, 5 batting action shots, 3 on-deck circle poses, 14 portraits, and a Topps insert poster that also shows him running. Doesn’t matter if it’s Topps, Bell, Post, Kellogg’s, Milton Bradley, Transogram, SSPC, TCMA… Ruboffs, stamps, candy lids, Supers, coins… 38 photos but not an outfielder’s glove to be seen. I dunno, I just thought it was interesting.
Also, if one discounts reprints and buybacks, there are damn few Willie Davis cards from the last 35 years. Memo to the Topps Archives product manager… We want Willie!
I’ve been collecting for over 40 years without ever taking a break (dang, I’m old) and in all that time, I’d never owned a 1954 card until I picked up this one last year.
Because I’m primarily a Mets fan, I just never made a huge effort to pick up any pre-Mets cards unless they more-or-less fell in my lap, and I guess no 1954’s ever did. It may not be the best card to be the sole 1954 in my collection, but it’s got as much of a Mets connection as any 1954 card might have; Roy McMillan played for the Mets, was a coach with the Mets and served as interim manager in August and September of 1975.
“McMillan! Mmmmmmmm!” (Let’s see if anyone gets a “Beyond The Fringe” reference)
1957 is a funny set. I like the design in theory, but it’s in the execution where so many 1957 cards fail. This Bob Boyd card is a fairly good specimen in that there’s fairly decent contrast between the text and the photo.
1957 was a breakout year for the 37-year-old Boyd, who’d spent most of his career in the Negro Leagues and in the minors. He finished fourth in the AL in batting average, lead the league in putouts, was second on the team in runs scored and was the first Oriole to hit .300 over the course of a season.
Felix Mantilla was one of the better players on the 1962 Mets… this card wasn’t so much “I want a Felix Mantilla!” as it is “I want a 1964 card and here’s a Mantilla, that works”.
Since I can’t think of much else to say about this Mantilla, I’m going to share a Top 5 list of songs that contain “Easy” in the title. There’s a reason behind “Easy”, but it has nothing to do with nothing and you might as well consider it completely arbitrary. The songs are in the order in which I found them – see, that’s arbitrary as well!
“Take It Easy” – The Eagles
“Nothing Is Easy” – Jethro Tull
“It Don’t Come Easy” – Ringo Starr
“Easy Livin’ ” – Uriah Heap
“Easy Money” – Billy Joel
Honorable (and not so honorable) Mention: “It’s So Easy” – Linda Ronstadt (or Buddy Holly, if you prefer); “Easy To Crash” – Cake; “Pure And Easy” – The Who; “Over Easy” – Booker T & The MG’s; “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” – The Eagles; “Easy Target” – The MEN; “Easy To Be Hard” – Three Dog Night; “Easy Lover” – Phil Collins & Philip Bailey; “Easy” – Barenaked Ladies; “Easy” – The Commodores; “It’s Easy” – Boston
In The Blogroll Penalty Box
A little over a week ago I angered the Blogroll Gods by absent-mindedly using a 3.3MB Jpeg as my “primary image”. Blogger could be heard muttering “…and the horse you rode in on” and since then my blog has been taking many hours to appear on blogrolls.
I’ve been posting every day since this happened, so if you think I’ve been quiet lately, you might want to scroll through the recent posts and see if you’d missed anything.