Black Friday: Working On My Mets Teams From Three Decades

I  hope you enjoy seeing what I got on COMC during Black Friday weekend, because I still have a bunch to go…

The first two cards nicely illustrate why I’m happy that Topps Heritage has gotten to the point where the sets are “color-coded” by team… other than a little line of type at the bottom, there is absolutely nothing about these first two cards which says “Mets”.

…not that these cards are Heritage cards, but the designs were the basis for recent Heritage sets and … awwww, you know what I mean.

Charlie Neal – Topps seems to be the only ones spelling his name “Charley” – was one of those players who were like gold to the First-year Mets:  A former Brooklyn Dodger who was available.  In this case, he was obtained from the L.A. Dodgers in a late 1961 trade.
1962 Topps Charley Neal
I was surprised to find that during his peak years of 1959 and 1960 he won a Gold Glove, was named to two All-Star teams and lead the N.L. in triples.  That’s pretty recent success for the famously bad 1962 Mets.  He put up some decent numbers in 1962, batting .260 and hitting 14 doubles and 9 triples.

Tracy Stallard was obtained from the Red Sox in a late 1962 trade;  he would go on to a 16-37 record with the Mets over two years, and in 1964 he lead the NL with 20 losses.
1963 Topps Tracy  Stallard
During that 20-loss season he had a career-high 118 strikeouts, a 3.79 ERA and a 1.267 WHIP, which are pretty decent numbers… but the 1964 Mets lost 109 games, there’s only so much one guy can do to counteract that…

In 1965, Stallard would go 11-8 with the Cardinals.

Jerry Robertson never got to trade his day-glo airbrushed hat for a real Mets hat.  The Mets picked  him up at the end of 1971’s Spring Training, but he only pitched for the AAA Tidewater Tides before an injury forced his retirement.
1971 Topps Jerry Robertson
I know this card is a high number and probably a last-minute addition to the set, but couldn’t Topps have figured out some way to not have the signature run across Jerry’s face?

Lee Mazzilli was one of the bright spots on a bad 1979 Mets team.  In that year’s All-Star game, he hit a home run off of Jim Kern and got the game-winning RBI in the 9th when he drew a bases-loaded walk off of the Yankees’ Ron Guidry.  When your team loses 99 games, getting the best of a Yankee on a national stage is as good as it gets.
1979 Topps Lee Mazzilli

I feel like I should have more in this post, but I’m out of time… So here are three Mets acquisitions from the 1980’s without any additional commentary from me. Lucky you!
1984 Topps Mookie Wilson

1985 Topps Darry Strawberry DP

1985 Topps Dave Johnson

…So What Happens When Jeter’s Gone?

In yesterday’s post, I got to wondering how much the Yankees will miss Robinson Canó, and while they have what looks like a hole at second base, I was also thinking on a grander scale.

I think the Yankees were right to stick to their guns and not get into “crazy-ass money”, but they’re on the verge of losing what made them different from the other teams which were assemblages of high-priced talent.

The great Yankee teams always had at least one “real Yankee” who spent his career in pinstripes or were so thoroughly associated with the Yankees that he may as well have done so.

I don’t have to tell you about the long line of All-Star caliber players who are associated with the Yankees and only the Yankees… Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, blah blah blah.

1977 Hostess Thurman Munson

When I was a kid, Thurman Munson was that guy until his untimely death in 1979.  By the way, this is the first card I’m featuring from my COMC Black Friday haul.

To my thinking, Ron Guidry became THE GUY for a number of years…

1979 Topps Ron Guidry RB

(…and this is the second Black Friday card I’m featuring…)

Overlapping with Guidry, Don Mattingly picked up the mantle (pun only slightly intended).

1985 Topps Don Mattingly

Before Donnie Baseball faded to black (or navy blue), we had Bernie Williams…

1997 UD Collectors Choice Bernie Williams

…and we also had the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

2000 Pacific Derek Jeter Portrait

But once Jeter retires or spontaneously combusts, who else will be the guy who epitomizes the Yankee Way? Brett Gardner? Brett Gardner is a good player, but is he worthy of being at the top of the Yankee Yooniverse?  Will he even make it to 2014 with the Yankees?  Will prospects like Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams pan out in time to carry the torch?

I mean, I don’t know if Canó really was THAT GUY to begin with, but he was certainly the highest profile guy to break in with the Yankees in the 21st century.

So what happens post-Jeter?  Will the Yankees become just a gathering of highly-paid mercenaries without the heart and soul of a Yankee dynasty?

One can only hope…  But I suspect that the Yankees will be fine.


1976 SSPC: #243 Gorman Thomas (And Three Pitchers I Wish Gorman Thomas Had Faced)

1976 SSPC #243 Gorman ThomasHi, I’m Gorman Thomas!  You may remember me from… A 13-year Major League career that included twice leading the AL in homers, playing in the 1982 World Series and being named to the A.L. All-Star team in 1981.

‘Round here, folks call me:  Stormin’ Gorman.

In 1976, Gorman Thomas… played himself into spending 1977 in Spokane.  Perhaps his limited playing time kept him from getting into a groove, but in 267 plate appearances he batted .198 with 6 homers and 36 RBI.  Fortunately for him, he’d later turn it around.

So… take your time… and tell me… Is it Shea?  As cool of a portrait as this is, there’s no way to know where it was taken.
1976 SSPC #243 Gorman Thomas back

I can’t believe it never occurred to me that… had things gone a little differently, Gorman Thomas could’ve batted against Thomas Gorman. How cool would that have been?

During the 1980’s, the Mets had a pitcher named Tom Gorman… but since Tom Gorman never pitched in the A.L. and Gorman Thomas never played in the N.L., we never got that matchup. Pity… It would’ve made an excellent 1980’s Fleer combo card.

What’s even more interesting is that there have been three Major League pitchers named Thomas Gorman.

The first Tom Gorman pitched in 4 games for the 1939 New York Giants. He’d never pitch in the majors again, but would later switch to umpiring and was an N.L. Umpire from 1951 to 1977.

1984 Fifth National Convention #1 - Tom Gorman UMP - Courtesy of

1984 Fifth National Convention #1 – Tom Gorman UMP – Courtesy of

The second Tom Gorman pitched from 1952 to 1959, first with the Yankees and later with the Athletics. He pitched in the 1952 and 1953 World Series.

1956 Topps #246 - Tom Gorman - Courtesy of

1956 Topps #246 – Tom Gorman – Courtesy of

Finally, the third Tom Gorman pitched from 1981 to 1987, mainly with the Mets but also with the Expos, Phillies and Padres.

1985 Topps Tom Gorman
When I started writing this particular entry, I didn’t expect it to be more about Tom Gorman(s) than Gorman Thomas, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I’ve Softened A Bit On 2013 Archives… But I’m Still Bugged By Things Like THIS

A few weeks ago, I bought a rack pack of 2013 Archives and my reaction at the time was “meh”.

Since then, I’ve put the 18 cards I got into my binders of current team rosters, and I have to admit, I like the way they look in those binders.

But little things about this set just bug me. At the top of that list is this card:
2013 Topps Archives Gio Gonzalez

On the surface, there’s nothing objectionable about the card, except when you consider that a 1985 Expos card looks like this:

1985 Topps Dave Palmer

I expect to get a little “Natitude” from Nats fans who insist that the Nationals are NOT the Expos.  Fine, I’m not going to argue that point.

…But why use the color scheme used on the Cardinals’ cards when the Expos scheme would’ve looked much nicer?  …Especially given that there’s red and (navy) blue in the Nats colors, but no yellow.

OK, I’ve said my peace.  You can all get on with your day now.