Completing My 1965 Topps Mets Team Set With…… Tony Perez?!?

A little over a year ago I was elated.

I’d picked up the last 1965 Topps Mets card on my wantlist.  I started writing a post about how I’d completed my oldest team set, but then I was taken over by fear of being embarrassed if I were wrong.  I checked what I had against a couple of different sources;  checklists, grading service team registries and the like.  In the process I realized that I’d missed a card;  a high-numbered National League Rookie Stars card which had the Mets’ Kevin Collins.

Well, shoot.

And then to make matters worse, I realized that the featured player on that card was a Hall-Of-Famer:  Tony Perez.

“Aw, heck!”, I exclaimed (or something to that effect).

Over the next fourteen months I kept an eye on COMC and other potential sources for this card… and then, at a card show last weekend, I found this card within my budget:

At long last, my 1965 Topps Mets team is complete!  It replaces 1972 Topps as my oldest Mets team set (unless you want to count the three Mets from 1963 Fleer as a team set) and the 1969 Topps Seattle Pilots as my oldest team set overall (again, unless you want to count 1963 Fleer)

…But yeah, I paid a premium for 1 square inch of Kevin Collins.

Collins made it quickly to the Majors, having played only 44 games in the minors before 1965. He was just a little past his 19th birthday when he made his debut as a September callup in 1965.  He spent most of his career split between AAA and the Mets, Expos and Tigers.  In 1969 he was part of a trade which brought Donn Clendenon to Queens.

Since I’m trumpeting the team set, I’m going to give you a walk-through tour of the team set, showing you the highlights.

There’s the team card…

Manager Casey Stengel; this would be his last Topps card, as he broke his hip during the 1965 season and retired.

Yogi Berra had been fired as the Yankees manager after the 1964 season, and he accepted an invitation to go across town and become a player/coach for the Mets in 1965. The player part didn’t really pan out, as he started 2 games behind the plate and pinch-hit in two others.

44-year-old Warren Spahn wanted to continue as a starting pitcher, but the Milwaukee Braves had other ideas. Meanwhile, the Mets were looking for a starting pitcher and a pitching coach, so they purchased Spahn’s contract from the Braves.

The starting pitcher part didn’t work out and he went 4-12, 4.36 before getting his release in July. He ended up going to the Giants to finish his Major League career.

The rookie card for Tug McGraw, Ron Swoboda and others (this is the card I *thought* was the last one I’d needed). Both were key players in 1969, and Tug became beloved by Mets fans and Phillies fans.

Mets fan favorite Ed Kranepool, who played 18 years for the Mets and held a lot of team career records, many of which were broken by David Wright and others.

The Mets first-ever starting All-Star, Ron Hunt.

Al Jackson was a mainstay in the Mets rotation during those early years, and pitched well enough that he was kept in the rotation through two 20-loss seasons (1962 and 1965, both times going 8-20)

The rookie card for Cleon Jones (and Tom Parsons).

Cleon Jones had a career season in 1969; aside from the obvious “Miracle Mets” connection. He hit a career-high 75 RBI, and his .340 batting average stood as a Mets single-season team record for nearly 30 years (John Olerud holds the current record by batting .354 in 1998)

Roy McMillan had been an All-star and Gold Glove with the Reds in the mid-to-late 1950’s. In 1965, he was the Mets’ 35-year-old starting shortstop.

Oh, but there’s one last thing…

When I went to put the last card into my Mets binder, I realized that 1965 Topps had one more trick to play on me.

…One more cruel trick…

I came to realize that with the addition of this last card, the total number of cards in this Mets team set…

…is ***28***.

Cue the Vincent Price laughter.

Man Spends His Cashes On Guys Who Wear Glasses

Dorothy Parker once said “Men seldom make passes at women in glasses”… I guess I fall into the “seldom” part, because as someone who’s worn glasses for a terribly long time, I have nothing against women in glasses (as evidenced by the fact that I married one).

Because of my long-standing need for corrective lenses, I also recently started collecting cards of baseball players in glasses. Today’s post contains the first batch of vintage cards I picked up specifically because they show players wearing glasses.

One of the stalwarts of any “baseball players with glasses” collection is Claude Raymond. Raymond is French/Canadian, pitched mostly in relief over 12 years with four teams, and made the 1966 All-Star game while with the Astros. He became a hero to the fans in Montreal as he was the first Quebecois to play for the Expos, and he would later do French-language analysis of Expos games.

Claude Raymond is the second-to-last Major Leaguer to go by the name Claude; Claude Osteen being the most recent (and he last played in 1975).

Players over the past 50 years whose given name is Claude but who didn’t go by Claude: Butch Edge, Jayhawk Owens, Skip Lockwood (another glasses guy).

Pete Mikkelsen pitched 9 years with 5 teams, running up career totals of 45-40, 3.38, almost entirely in relief.

I was wondering why I wasn’t more familiar with Mikkelsen’s name when I found out that he did not appear on a Topps card after 1968 despite his being an effective pitcher for several years after that. It would seem that, like Maury Wills, Tony Horton and Rusty Staub, he had some sort of contractual issues with Topps.

I think of Rich Rollins as the Opening Day 3rd baseman for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, but before that he had been an All-Star with the Twins and lead the league with 10 triples in 1964.

Julian Javier played 12 seasons with the Cardinals and 1 with the Reds; during that time he was a two-time All-Star. He was the starting 2nd baseman for most of his time with the Cards, and appeared in four World Series; 1964, 1967 and 1968 with the Cardinals and 1972 with the Reds (which would be the end of his Major League career). In 19 World Series games he batted .333 with 4 runs, 7 RBI and a homer.

Julian was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team in 1960, although Topps had incorrectly identified him as “Manuel Javier” on his rookie card. He’s also the father of former Major League outfielder Stan Javier.

That’s what I picked up this time around. I’m not sure how involved this particular collection is going to get. More likely than not, it will be just a way to pick out vintage commons to buy.

Does anybody else collect (or at least accumulate) players who wear glasses?

I’m Pleased To Announce The Completion Of A Vintage……………… (Aw, Hell.)

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.

1965 Topps - [Base] #581 - Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, Dave Ricketts - Courtesy of

1965 Topps – [Base] #581 – Tony Perez, Kevin Collins, Dave Ricketts – Courtesy of

…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”.

More Assorted Vintage Because I’ve Time For Little Else

All of these came from the last show I went to… or maybe the show before that. Does it really matter? Nope, not really.

I got this Hal Lanier because I spent a short time using the All-Star Rookie trophy as an excuse to buy vintage cards.  I’ve backed off on that goal just because I had far to many goals in 2016.

In 1964, Lanier batted .274 with 40 runs scored and 16 doubles in 98 games… Not too shabby for a 2nd baseman back when offense was more or less icing on the middle infielder cake.  I think of Hal Lanier as a manager first (Astros in the late ’80’s) and as a Yankee second, even though he only played 95 games in pinstripes… but the beloved 1974 set – my first – shows Lanier with the Yankees, so end of story.

Reasons for buying this next card:  1)  I like it, 2)  it was cheap, 3) I enjoy saying “Rico Petrocelli”.

Rico hit 2 homers in game 6 of the 1967 World Series, and batted .308 in the 1975 World Series.

This Dick Howser card was also fairly cheap, and I can’t resist cheap 1963 Fleer.  I’ve only got 8 of them, but someday when I’m looking for a new vintage challenge, I may go after this abbreviated 66 card set.  Maybe.

Dick Howser is another guy I think of as a manager and a Yankee…  He managed the Royals in the 1980’s and was a Yankees coach during my formative years.  Howser died tragically from a brain tumor in 1987.  He was 51 when he passed, which I’ve always viewed as sad and tragic, but it’s admittedly even more sad and tragic to me now that I’m 51.

Established after his passing, the Dick Howser Trophy is awarded annually to the collegiate player of the year.  Somewhat-recent winners have included David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg and Kris Bryant.

Three From 1965, Front And Back

I got all three of these from COMC this past summer, and the predominant reason for purchasing each of these was “Why wouldn’t one buy cheap cards from 1965 Topps?”

There are other reasons at play. But mainly “Cheap 1965”.

…And because 1965 has the beautiful and cartooniful backs, I will present both sides of each card.

I always think of Fred Talbot as being one of the players written about in Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”. Aside from Talbot’s three-month stint with the Seattle Pilots and the depicted White Sox, he also pitched for the Yankees and A’s.
Given my post the other day about minor league baseball team names, I feel I should mention that in 1960, Talbot pitched for the Idaho Falls Russets. Here we go, Taters, here we go!


Chico Salmon is a Panamanian infielder who played for the Indians and Orioles and played every position except for pitcher and catcher.
Chico was also a Seattle Pilot – during Spring Training. He was the 11th pick in the expansion draft, but was traded to the O’s just before the season began (and as such, never played with Fred Talbot for the Pilots). Salmon does show up in the first series of 1969 Topps as a Pilot.

Mr. de la Hoz was born in Cuba, so he may be “Mike” as much as Roberto Clemente was “Bob”. He played 2nd, 3rd and Short over 9 seasons, but never played more than 81 games in a given season.
On April 1st, 1964, he was the player-to-be-named-later in a trade for… Chico Salmon! I’d love to say that I picked these three cards for the tenuous connection the players have, but it was sheer coincidence that I didn’t learn about until I pasted the images in the post and then started researching.


The card back mentions that he’s played in the outfield, but that was two games in left in 1963, so while it’s technically true, it’s the type of truth that’s more often heard on the campaign trail.

I have to admit that looking at these three cards, and having recently finished the 1968 Topps Game insert as well as the first series of 1971 Topps… it’s kinda got me thinking about maybe making the first series of 1965 a new goal.  It’s not like I don’t already have far too many goals, but this might be kinda fun and hopefully chasing the remaining 68 cards of the 88 in the first series wouldn’t put much of a strain on my budget.  I’ll have to think about it.

Quick reminder… This week we’ve got a poll going to decide the template I’ll use for next Spring’s World Baseball Classic set.  If you haven’t voted yet, the choices are laid out below with the voting at the bottom.  Thanks again!


My Vintage Yogi Berra Collection (Population: 1…. and last month it was zero)

During the COMC Spring Cleaning promo, I was scarfing up all sorts of cheap cards but I realized I was spending too much time and credit on those cheapies… Every now and then I need to remind myself that part of my original intent with selling on COMC was to turn my quantity into quality, so I started looking around to see if there are any bargains to be had on some of my pricier needs… Most significantly, my Mets needs.

I didn’t think I was going to find a Tom Seaver rookie that fit in my budget, and I was right about that…. but I did resolve a long-time need.  For $10 I got this terrific 1965 Yogi Berra.

1965 Topps Yogi Berra
This instantly became my only Yogi which came out when he was still technically a player.  Yogi was a player/coach with the Yankees in 1963, and for 1964 he retired as a player and got promoted to manager.  Yogi lead the team to the World Series, but lost in 7 to the Cardinals… and got fired for his efforts (freakin’ Yankees).  For 1965, he became a coach with the Mets and played in 4 games, which is what this card reflects. Talk about your short-term Mets!  His career statistics show 2,116 games over 18 years with the Yankees, and 4 games in 1965 with the Mets.

Getting back to the card itself, it’s in surprisingly nice shape… Perhaps one of the nicest 1965’s I have, if you look only at the front of the card.  The reason I got this card for the price that I did was because someone wrote on the back in black magic marker. Do I care? Awwww, hell no! Especially since Yogi’s extensive career stats left no room for one of those fantastic 1965 cartoons.

Before this card, my oldest Yogi Berra card was the 1973 card which showed him as the manager of the Mets.

Needless to say, I’m very excited to add this 1965 card to my collection.

COMC What I Got: 1960’s Cards I Just Liked

As mentioned several times before, I did a lot of shopping on COMC during the Black Friday Weekend promotion.  After I finished going through my wantlists, I spent the rest of the weekend dreaming up different things to shop for.

Towards the end of the weekend I decided to go to each 1960’s Topps set and see if there were any inexpensive cards that weren’t on any of my wantlists, but were just cards that I liked for whatever reason.

Here are some of those cards…

As much as I hate the Yankees, I really like cards that show parts of the original Yankee Stadium… Plus I like Woody Held’s far-from-pristine helmet.
1962 Topps Woody Held
Woody’s first name is Woodson and he played for 7 different teams.  According to he’s the only Major Leaguer to have played 100 games at second, third, short, left, center and right… yet he never played at first.  Interesting.

Rich Rollins here is fresh off a guest appearance on “Mad Men”.
1965 Topps Rich Rollins
Rich Rollins does admittedly kinda sorta have another reason for being in my collection;  he was a Seattle Pilot, and as such holds a special place in my heart.

It’s a 1965 card, so I can’t NOT show the back.
1965 Topps Rich Rollins back
“Versalles” mentioned in the cartoon was Zoilo Versalles, who was the AL MVP in 1965.  If I ever go into witness protection and have to change my name, “Zoilo” would be right up there on my list… Although I guess that wouldn’t be terribly inconspicuous.

Even though I know that there were two All-Star games each year from 1959 to 1962, reading that someone “appeared in both All-Star games of ’62” still makes me say “What the what?”

I wish my scanner didn’t tend to “wash out” cards, because I bought it solely because I liked the colors…  The yellow and red of the border combined with the Cardinal red… Wonderful stuff.
1966 Topps Don Dennis
I’d never heard of Don Dennis;  he pitched two years of relief for the Cards, got traded to the White Sox and never appeared in the Majors again.

This is another card that simply appealed to my visual cortex.
1961 Topps Jerry Lynch
Despite the glove in this photo, Jerry Lynch was one of the premier pinch hitters of his time.  He had 116 pinch hits;  while he appeared in 1,184 games he played the field in only 710 of them.

My apologies to Mr. George Alusik, but when I saw this card I said “Damn, I look more like a ballplayer than this guy!”
1962 Topps George Alusik
I’ll be fair, George Alusik looks much more athletic on his 1963 and 1964 cards, both of which picture him with the Athletics (and look like they were taken moments apart in 1962).  Alusik played sparingly for the Tigers from 1958 to 1962, got traded to Kansas City and played more regularly for three years.  He has 23 career homers, but in 1962 he homered in 5 consecutive games.

So that’s it for this particular batch of cards… I’ll be featuring these “COMC What I Got” posts throughout the next few weeks… months… years…

A Post To Put You To Sleep

I’ve been very busy lately.

Being very busy leads to a lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep leads to a lessening of brain function.

Lessening of brain function leads to a post like today’s, where I’m going to combine card images with a “Top 10” list of songs… and since sleep is what I desire, sleep is what you get.

…And because I don’t want to take the effort of winnowing it down to just 10 songs, you get my top TWELVE songs (aren’t you lucky?) with “sleep” in the title.

…Combined, of course, with unrelated baseball cards.

I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles
The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
Sleeping With Your Devil Mask – Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians
1965 Topps Larry Miller
Love Is Only Sleeping – The Monkees
Don’t Sleep In The Subway – Petula Clark
Sleeping on the Sidewalk – Queen
1975 Topps Dwight Evans
I Don’t Sleep, I Dream – R.E.M.
Sleep Walk – Santo & Johnny
Sleeping in the Flowers – They Might Be Giants
1972 Topps Alan Gallagher
Who’s Been Sleeping Here? – Tuff Darts
Sleeping With the Television On – Billy Joel
Behind The Wall Of Sleep  – The Smithereens
1991 Topps Glossy Rookies Sandy Alomar

COMC Spree: Five Cards From The 1960’s

Back at the end of July I made a 100+ card purchase from COMC, and I’m slowly working my way through the stuff I got. Today I’ll share five vintage cards that share the unifying element of being vintage… and being cards. Say, has anybody seen my brain, I could’ve sworn I left it around here somewhere…

I’ve recently had a bit of a fixation on cards picturing players who would later be the MLB managers of my youth. Del Crandall was the manager of the Brewers when I started collecting, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I found out that he was an eight-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner.
1965 Topps Del Crandall

Similarly, Bill Virdon was the manager of the Yankees back when I started following baseball. While I’ve always been a Mets fan, I started out also liking the Yankees… until I came to discover that George Steinbrenner’s style did not match my own. Bill Virdon was fired with a winning record in the middle of the 1975 season… apparently he was fired because Billy Martin became available after the Rangers had sacked his ornery ass. Can you tell I don’t think much of Billy Martin?
1963 Topps Bill Virdon
Bill Virdon the player does not have the same credentials as Del Crandall, but he was the 1955 Rookie Of The Year and was considerate an intelligent player and an excellent fielder. He was also the winner of the first annual MLB “Father Mulcahy” impersonation contest… Jocularity! Jocularity!

Naturally, me being a Mets collector, I got some Mets. Joe Christopher was an original 1962 Met, and is one of only a handful of players to have come out of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
1965 Topps Joe Christopher

For some reason, I’ve latched on to Ron Hunt and collect him with both the Mets…
1965 Topps Ron Hunt

…as well as with other, less lovable teams.
1968 Topps Ron Hunt

You know, I often have a problem with ending posts, so I’m thinking that maybe I should take a page from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, shun the conventions of the medium and just abruptly –


I Bought Them For The Cartoons

Back in when I was young and single and would buy the occasional “adult magazine”, I’d joke with friends that I bought Playboy for the cartoons.  Now I wouldn’t deny that I enjoyed — *ahem* — everything the magazine had to offer, but there was truth behind my joke because the cartoons were the reason I bought Playboy as opposed to other published “men’s entertainment”. Playboy always had a bunch of cartoons, and naturally they were raunchy… but man, they were often pretty damn funny.

The main reason I mention that is because I was recently at a show, looking through some cheap vintage cards, and I did something I’d never done before – I bought a couple of cards specifically because I liked the cartoons on the back.

First up is the cartoon for Lenny Green’s card. I think I’m developing a crush on “Sally”, the cartoon embodiment of the South Atlantic League of the 1950’s & 1960’s.

1965 Topps Lenny Green Back

For anybody who’s seen the British TV show “Red Dwarf”, it’s kind of like Lister’s unnatural longing for a certain cartoon character… “This is crazy! Why are we talking about going to bed with Wilma Flintstone?”

I suppose you might want to see the front of the card, eh?

1965 Topps Lenny Green

Without the cartoon on the back, this card is just a common I have no real connection to… other than being a 1965 Topps card, something you can never have enough of.

I love this next cartoon for its sheer goofiness:

1965 Topps Lou Klimchock back

I have a bit more of a connection to Klimchock than to Green; Lou Klimchock briefly played for my Mets in 1966, having a grand total  of 5 pinch-hit AB’s. It may not have been much, but it got him a high-numbered card in a Mets uniform… and because that’s the way things go, that card pictures him fielding a ball, something he never actually did with the Mets.

Here’s what he looked like with the Milwaukee Braves.  It’s mildly disappointing that he doesn’t actually have 6 arms.

1965 Topps Lou Klimchock

These cards make me think one other thing:  I’m really looking forward to 2014 Heritage.

Oh, before I end this, there was something else…

…not a big deal, just something I wanted to mention…

Today is the second anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report! Yay! Waiter, bring us a bottle of the finest Coca-Cola you have!

Rather than looking back or looking forward, I would just like to say “Thank you” to everybody who’s been reading and to everybody who’s left comments.  In all honesty, it wouldn’t be any fun without you.