Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This week on Mets360, I covered the gloriously ludicrous 1972 Topps set in general, and the ludicrously glorious boyhood-photos subset in particular, so I won't trouble you with redundancy.

Rather, this is an entry in “We Flip 'Em So You Don't Have To.” Here's the text on the reverse of the Seaver boyhood-photo card, under the heading “Young Tom Seaver”:

“Tom graduated from Fresno High School in Fresno, California in 1962, he played baseball and basketball and was named to All-City teams in both sports. In 1964 Tom won 11, lost 2, and was named to the All-Valley Conference team. Tom attended the University of Southern California for two years majoring in Public Relations and played varsity baseball. In 1965 he won 10 and lost 2 and was named to the All-California Intercollegiate Baseball Association Second Team. A veteran of Little League and American Legion Baseball, in 1964 Tom helped lead the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks to the state semi-pro title and second place in the National Baseball Congress Tournament at Wichita, Kansas. He won two without a loss in the national tournament and hit a Grand-Slammer, was named to All-Alaska and NBC All-America teams.”

You can find some more info on Seaver's stint with the Goldpanners here.

And yes, I own two of these cards, more out of absentmindedness than affection...

Friday, November 11, 2011


This card is the Frick to the Fracking gorgeous Shaw/Sutherland rookie that I wrote about in the previous post, and I scored it in the selfsame $65 deal.

Near as I can tell, Sandy here is part of the only father/son pair ever to play for the Mets, along with Hall-of-Fame offspring Roberto.

Sandy didn't exactly light it up in his brief tenure with the team. In 22 ABs that year, he logged a .000 OBP-- no hits, no walks, no nothing.

Well, he did score one run, presumably as a pinch runner, so he didn't leave Flushing empty handed.

This '67 card is even kind enough to tell us in a tacked-on note that Sandy was "sent to Jacksonville" on May 23...

He went on to have a thoroughly decent career as a middle infielder for the Angels, Yankees, and Rangers, retiring in '78. He logged 1,168 hits, over 1,000 of which were singles.

And who better to write about on 11/11/11 than an inveterate singles hitter?

Friday, October 28, 2011


Well, would you look at that...

A couple of weeks ago, I landed one of the cards near the top of my want list, at the Chantilly show down here in NOVA.

The amount and quality of vintage graded material seems to have increased at this show over the course of the last couple of years.

You've always had your big dogs with their big dollar cards at the front of the hall, but I'm finding a better selection at some of the smaller tables along the side streets and alleyways.

And as much as I hate to sully this blog with price-taggery, I also have to report that I was very happy with the deal I got on this card.

The particular dealer from whom I purchased it had a nice array of '66 and '67 high numbers, many in PSA 8 or equivalent condition. The slabs were priced prominently and clearly with a round white sticker.

My eyes fixed immediately on the Shaw/Sutherland and another '67 high number, each of which carried a $40 price tag. Now, having been a longtime eBay groupie for the Shaw/Sutherland specifically, I was thrilled-- more often than not, specimens in this condition will close in the $80-$100 range.

So I presented both cards to the person manning the table, and asked “What can you do on these?”

He was apparently just watching the booth while the real dealer was off making a deal with someone else, so he walked away. “I'll be right back.”

A couple of minutes later, he rounded a corner, and our eyes met. “$65 for both?” he asked.

Well, needless to say, I quick-drew my wallet and handed him $70. He returned the cards and a $5 bill.

And I put this up for auction the very next day...

Monday, October 10, 2011


Please sir, can I have some more?

Another round of food, glorious food for you this week.

Back in the mid '70s, Hostess began printing three-card strips on the box bottoms of their various snack cakes. So if you took home some tasty Twinkies, Ho-Hos, or cream-filled CupCakes, you might be lucky enough to score a panel of, say, Garry Maddox/Carlos May/Bud Harrelson.

And if you were anything like me, your tween scissor skills were kind of erratic, and you probably ended up slicing a long gash through Bud's primo porn-star stache.

Fortunately for posterity, the card-collecting hobby was well-formed enough at this point that folks would break down the boxes and save the package flats intact.

Then at some future date, someone would cut out singles with laser-like precision, leaving us with gem-mint 10 examples such as this one.

Topps supplied the photos for these cards, but it seems pretty clear that they mostly went with their second-tier portrait shots, like this one of Bud pretending he's a left-handed hitter.

The card backs contain a five-year run of stats, a basic biography, and full player names. I'm looking at you, Derrel McKinley Harrelson.

All in all, the set is more gruel than foie gras, but we hungry orphans of the '70s knew better than to be picky, and I'm happy to have it in my collection today...

Friday, September 16, 2011

1963 JELL-O GIL HODGES #193 SGC 60

You see, we had the box of the Jell-O and there on the bottom of the box we had the ballplayers and the frazzle snazzle and the bleeble blabble...

OK, OK, I'll turn off the Cosbyizer.

Continuing the theme of Gil Hodges in snack form, this is a 1963 Jell-O card.

The picture on the front is one of the best I've ever seen of Gil as a Mets' player, and the text makes plain why it's a travesty that he is not in the Hall of Fame. To wit:

“Gil holds two NL records-- for most HRs by a right-handed batter (370) and for most grand slams (14). He is tied for most consecutive seasons (11) with 20 or more HRs... In 1957 he received the Gold Glove Award as outstanding major league fielder at 1B and the NL Gold Glove Award for 1st baseman in 1958-59.”

So power hitting at then-historical levels, fielding prowess, not to mention a leadership role on the 1955 Dodgers club that beat the Yankees is not enough to garner more than 63.4% of the vote? I mean, Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez rate, but not Gil?

Even this card ends up giving Gil the business. Right there at the bottom of the text box is a small line that reads as follows:

“Note: Gil had no Grand Slams in 1962.”

What the what? Who in the wide world of sports thought it was necessary to insert this little finger-wagging nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah of a note to this card?

Was it you, Trebek?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Adventures in grading, part 2.

To see the grade, you'd think I really spit the bit on this one. But as far as I can tell, there are no obvious issues with the card. The centering is good, the corners are acceptable, and I don't see any apparent creases.

I suspect that what knocked this card down was its surface. The good folks at Beckett probably didn't know what to make of all that slickness...

I bought this Gentry several years ago in a Topps Vault auction, where it was classified as a “slick proof.” It was one of a run of 1971 high numbers to which Topps had applied a layer of some sort of varnish. I imagine that this was an early test for the type of coating that would enter commercial production with later issues such as the 1983 all-star glossy send-in set and the 1984 “tiffany.”

The card has a complete back, which leads me to wonder exactly how Topps executed the test. Did they coat a finished sheet of cards and then cut them as well? Or was it a piece-based process, where they just pulled some individual cards from the high-number series and brushed on a layer of gloss?

It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Beckett 4.5 slab, and I love this card for all that...

Friday, August 5, 2011


A bit of a change of pace here.

Last week, I picked up some older unopened packs, and shot a pack-rip video.

Now, I give you fair warning: this thing is pretty epic. It's about as long as your average sitcom.

Hell, at the 12 minute mark, Mr Furley bursts through the door and we have a wacky misunderstanding over a Rusty Kuntz card.

Epic. Again, you've been warned.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Adventures in grading, part 1.

There's an excellent chance that this is the only graded card in my collection that I've actually held in my hands in raw form.

You see, until recently, I'd never graded any cards of my own. The whole process just seemed too Byzantine and expensive. Fill out this form, fill out that form, join this club, pay for grading, pay for return shipping...

So my stance has been, “Thanks, but if it's all the same with you, major grading companies, I think I'll just buy my PSA 8 1972 Don Hahns on eBay for $6 or $7 shipped.”

But then I received a Beckett coupon for two free submissions, and I figured I'd take the plunge. I debated long and hard regarding the two candidate cards.

I considered sending in a 2010 Bowman Strasburg purple refractor numbered out of 999. It's a purty card, sharp and well centered-- before Stras went down, I was offered $100 for it out at the Chantilly show, but I declined.

I know, I know...

I also thought about pulling a couple of cards from my 1970 set (which, by the way, is almost complete now-- down to just Rose and Frank Robinson). I have a passable Ryan card that I thought might garner a 6, but I kind of like seeing it there in the sheets in sequence, tucked between Ed Brinkman and the Pilots team.

Finally, I identified two cards, one of which was this 1964 Topps Stand-Ups Al Jackson.

I bought this card in my early days of graded collecting, before I knew about all of the rogue, fly-by-night operations that would grade counterfeit/trimmed cards, and/or severely overgrade. So once upon a time, I was thrilled to win this FGA 9 for $10, not realizing it was essentially a Magnetbox.

One evening, I broke out my toolbox and liberated Al Jackson from the surprisingly sturdy FGA case. My loupe was back at the office, but to my eyes, the card looked nice enough. I turned it over several times in my hands, being extra careful not to pop the die cut, and then placed it in a penny sleeve and a rigid plastic holder, ready for the mail.

About a month later, I received an e-mail from Beckett letting me know that my order was complete, and I was pleased to see the card get a BVG 7.

And I have to say I like it all the more for having once held it briefly in my hands...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My card collection is very ordinary.

No high-dollar, high-grade specimens meant to shock and awe, or win any ribbons at the county fair.

It's mostly vintage Mets, which by definition means it's mostly commons.

I'm happy with 7s and 8s, and will brook the occasional lower grade for a Seaver or a scarcity.

The majority of my cards are not special in any way, shape, or form.

But I'm going to crow about this one a bit...

The 1954 Dan-Dee set was distributed one card at a time in bags of Dan-Dee potato chips. The cards were unwrapped, and sat in their bags marinating in “hylo-ized” goodness.

And no, I don't have any idea what “hylo-ized” means, but it must have been very popular in the mid '50s, since the term is featured both on the bag and on the backs of the cards. Perhaps the process of hylo-ization somehow produced the “radiant energy” that is claimed on the front of the bag.

I don't know about the chips, but “radiant energy” is as good a description as any for this Gil Hodges card. It is a grease-stained, rough-edged, soft-cornered force of nature.

Gil is featured in a casual and engaging pose, his Brooklyn Dodgers' hat bisecting a lowering sky, and his Adam's apple acting as a perfectly centered focal point. The grease stains that helped earn this particular version a PSA 4 add a beautiful element of natural toning to the card, both on the obverse and reverse.

It really is an extraordinary card...

Thursday, June 16, 2011


OK, the fact that I own a PSA 9 Ed Whitson card might seem perverse at first blush.

You might think that I derive from it a shameful joy in remembering that long ago time when the Mets ruled New York. When Ed Whitson became a symbol of every boondoggle Yankees' free-agent signing, reviled in his own house and bar-fighting with his unstable manager...

Ah, good times.

But actually, I'm more interested in the card because it commemorates another Topps mini-card boondoggle.

Topps had gone down this road ten years prior, no doubt in an effort to see if it could reduce paper costs. The 1975 cards were produced in fairly large quantities and distributed in different regions (Michigan and California, primarily) in wax, cello, and rack packs.

These 1985 minis were a bit larger than their 1975 counterparts, and only 132 cards out of the 792 cards in the regular set were produced in this format. The cards were never released officially, but they have trickled into the hobby market over the years and are not hen's-teeth rare. They are cute but not cloying, and I highly recommend adding at least one to your collection if you have any affinity for the 1985 Topps set.

And Eddie Whitson? Well, from late June to September of that nightmarish 1985 season, he actually went 9-1 with a 2.27 ERA. But then came the aforementioned battle with Billy Martin, and a rough start in 1986 sealed his fate in New York. He was dealt back to the Padres, where he eventually recovered and managed to put together a few thoroughly decent valedictory seasons before he retired.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I ain’t ashamed of this card.

Yes, it’s ugly. A lowly PSA 1.

But I love it, the same way people might love a Shar Pei or the Hold Steady.

Some of these Venezuelan Topps sets are easy to distinguish from their US counterparts.

The ’62 set has Spanish-language backs. The ’64 set has black backs, as opposed to the US orange. And ’67? That one’s a dream, with narrower borders on the obverse and totally reconfigured reverses.

This ’66 set, though, hews pretty close to standard Topps in terms of design. Hell, it even carries a US copyright line.

The Venezuelan Topps cards typically show signs of having been glued into albums, and this one is no exception. There’s a bit of tell-tale paper loss on the back, but it’s nothing too extreme.

And anyway, these signs of wear indicate to me that the card lived a good card’s life before it came to rest in this slab.

Someone cared enough about it to paste it in an album, and they even added a bit of tape to the corners to make sure it would stick. Maybe they built the whole set of 370 cards, and maybe this Swoboda was that last elusive card they needed for weeks. Maybe 45 years ago this card brought someone simple and immeasurable joy.

Nope, I ain’t ashamed of this card at all…

Friday, May 13, 2011


I like to take the last names of both guys on these two-player rookie cards and make of them one full name. So in this case we end up with “Dillon Locke.” Which is a totally cool name.

Dillon Locke drives a red Camaro. He's got a Blaupunkt in there, and a 100-watt amp.

You can always hear Dillon Locke coming.

The 1964 set is rife with two-player rookie cards-- here's the roster of names:

Nen Willhite
Ellis Queen
Alou Herbel
Priddy Butters
Britton Maxie
Howard Kreutzer
Ward Oliva
Gatewood Simpson
John Chance
Brumley Piniella
Boccabella Cowan
Bowens Bunker
Grote Yellen
Allen Hernstein
Shannon Fanok
Gibbs Metcalf
Conigliaro Spanswick
Fisher Gladding
Ferrara Torborg
McCool Ruiz
Ackley Buford
Woodward Smith
O'Donoghue Williams
Haas Smith
Stewart Burdette
Knowles Narum
Skeen Smith
Garrido Hart
Parker Werhas
Charton Jones
Green Monteagudo
Norman Slaughter
Carty Kelley
Bakenhaster Lewis
Briggs Cater
Mikkelsen Meyer
Salmon Seyfried
Knoop Lee
Alley McFarlane
Horton Sparma
Arrigo Siebler
Dickson Klaus
Duncan Reynolds
Bloomfield Nossek
Elliot Stephenson
Roof Niekro
Hertz Hoerner
Schurr Speckenbach
Kelley Siebert
Bennett Wise
McCabe McNertney
Gagliano Peterson
Gray Egan
Hinsley Wakefield
Gonzalez Moore

But are any of these as golden as Dillon Locke?

Ellis Queen? I think my grandmother used to read his mystery magazine.

Priddy Butters? Wasn't she in Candy Stripe Nurses with Robin Mattson back in the '70s?

Britton Maxie? That's the pad for days what have a heavy flow it is, guv.

Bakenhaster Lewis? That was Merriwether's dim brother, who set out to claim the “Specific Northsouth for the Unitated States” back in the early 19th Century. He was never heard from again.

McCabe McNertney? Divil' a man can say a word agin' him.

Still and all, I have to stick with my man Dillon...

Friday, May 6, 2011


Sarcasm does not suit you, Topps.

“Mets Maulers” indeed. Our Maulers here combined for 24 HRs in 1966. Kranepool batted .254, and Swoboda contributed a robust .222.

But perhaps the lack of an apostrophe in the card title is telling. Maybe Eddie and Ron are looking off camera at a fast-approaching panther with a sinister blue glint in its eyes...

Truth be told, I never cared much for these posed multiplayer cards. They are the cardboard equivalent of an awkward conversation.

And the '67 set is just lousy with them. In addition to the Maulers, the set contains the following combos:

The Champs
Cards Clubbers
Tribe Thumpers
Bengal Belters
Pitt Power
Hurlers Beware
Twin Terrors
Atlanta Aces
Fence Busters
Tribe Hill Aces
Bird Bombers

The general theme here is offense, the only exceptions being the Tribe Hill Aces (Sam McDowell and Sonny Siebert) and the extremely odd pairing on the Atlanta Aces card (pitcher Tony Cloninger and “ace” shortstop Denis Menke).

Topps offered these strained multiplayer cards again in '68 and '69, but then stepped back from the abyss as the decade turned. And part of what I love about the '70 and '71 sets is their near-complete lack of gewgaws, gimcracks, and gimmickry. The sets are spartan, gray, and black, with all killer and no filler.

The '72 set has the equal appeal of being completely batshit insane, but that's a story for another day...

Friday, April 15, 2011


Speaking objectively, this is not an attractive card.

Mostly it's the hat, which is probably an airbrushed Expos' cap, but looks more like a Mets' lid that's been dropped in a barrel of Judge Doom's Dip.

Yet even though the card is plug ugly, there's something oddly compelling about it.

It's kind of like a shirtless mid '70s Iggy Pop, or Hilary Swank in a bikini.

Perhaps part of the allure is its relative scarcity. Like all 1971 Mets high numbers, this is a short print, so it can be difficult to find a nice copy.

There was an auction for a PSA 8 running concurrently with this one, and that card closed over $100. I was very happy to get this PSA 7 for a little more than $10.

Part of me wants to file it away in a box sandwiched between the Matlack/Martinez/Folkers rookie and Ron Taylor, but part of me cannot look away...

So I ask you, gentle reader, what do you consider to be the ugliest regular-issue Topps Mets card from 1962-1973?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


A quick translation: In Metspeak, “John DeMerit” means “In the beginning…”

Why? Well, because this 1962 card is—sequentially—the first Topps Mets card ever.

(Note that some pedants would argue that the proper Metspeak translation for “In the beginning…” is “Hobie Landrith.” These folks are heretics, and not to be trusted.)

I know that some people have an aversion to this set on aesthetic grounds. Me, I give it points for trying.

Sure, the wood-grain borders would bedevil condition-sensitive collectors for years to come. But speaking as a condition-sensitive collector, I say: screw the condition-sensitive collectors.

Topps was seeking to give the kids something different in ‘62, and these borders were a nice effort. Of course, it would have been a plus if the printer(s) could’ve held on to a consistent shade of brown throughout the run, but whatever…

The picture-peeling-at-the-corner motif was a nice touch as well, lending the cards a cool illusion of dimensionality.

The card backs, I’ll grant you, are somewhat fusty.

Yes, fusty.

I like the toothy smirk on John’s face here, and the red ball-cap band on his forehead.

I like the way that the piping on his Milwaukee Braves jersey makes it look like he’s wearing a stethoscope.

John took the last 16 ABs of his big-league career with the ’62 Mets. On May 16, he hit the last of his 3 career HRs, a solo shot leading off the bottom of the 5th against Dick Ellsworth of the Cubs.

The Mets went on to win that game, improving to 9-18, while the Cubs fell to 9-23. At this point in the season, the Cubs were actually 2½ games behind the Mets in the standings.

And it was good.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I’ve been a bit obsessed recently with Topps’ silver-age business model.

Now, I admit I’m no Adam Smith, but I’m completely baffled at how producing baseball cards in the ‘60s and ‘70s was ever a profitable endeavor.

I mean, I can grasp the current business model easily enough. Ten cards per $2 base-set pack, distributed through mass-market retailers, plus packaging variations on that basic theme. Then, a slightly more robust version of that base set is sold through to hobby dealers at a higher price point.

And really, the base set is just meant to function as a gateway drug to higher-end product—the $50 packs out of which the majority of users… er, collectors… will pull an Andre Dawson memorabilia card with a street value… er, average eBay sale price... of $5.

But 1970? That I don’t understand.

Topps offered cello packs and racks back in 1970, but let’s look at the dominant configuration: wax.

A 1970 wax pack contained 10 cards and a stick of gum, and retailed for 10 cents.

Now consider at least some of the expenses that went into that 10 cent pack:

  • Printing/material costs for the cards and wrappers, plus production costs for the gum.
  • Staff expenses, for everyone from designers to product jobbers.
  • Distribution to all the mom/pop stores across the country.
  • Payouts to the players (around $200/per, if my memory of Ball Four serves me).

And let’s not forget the scratch-off inserts and such that were a mainstay in packs from this era.

Sweet Sy Berger, how did they ever do it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


My father was a Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan.

I have a water-damaged 1942 letter from club executive Larry MacPhail in response to a missive from my 11-year-old dad.

Family lore tells that dad had recommended that the Dodgers adopt a particular tune-of-the-day as their official fight song. There is nothing to support this notion in the text of MacPhail’s response, which is quick and polite:

“Thank you for your letter of April 10. We are happy to know of your interest in the Dodgers and thank you for the good wishes you extend.”

Like many grieving Dodgers’ fans, dad picked up on the Mets when they came to town back in ’62, comforted no doubt by the presence of guys like big Gil here.

By the time I became aware of the Mets, he was a full-fledged fan, and I can still hear the elongated vowels of his frequent rallying cry: “Cleeooooon baaaaaaabyyyyyy!”

Dad died in ’77, and I am now the same age that he was when he passed.

And now Duke is gone, and there are very few of those old Dodgers left.

So rest in peace, dad. Rest in peace, Duke. Rest in peace, Gil.

Rest in peace, all good men and women of Brooklyn…

Saturday, February 26, 2011


So yeah, I don't usually post at 6:50 on a Saturday morning.

But it seems appropriate, since that is the time and place where I first met these cards.

The back of a box of Frosted Flakes was pretty much my bible when I was a kid. I'd prop an elbow on the breakfast table, dig a fist into my cheek, and read from top to bottom, doing my level best to divine secret meanings between sugar rushes.

Usually the text would be a description of the giveaway in the box. Wind this up, dip that in water, wear this around your neck, slip that onto your finger...

In the summer of 1970, the box made a wondrous claim: Free inside! Autographed “3-D” baseball cards.

There was probably fine print somewhere that explained that these were facsimile autographs, but the quotes around “3-D” seem gratuitous. The illusion of depth created by the blurred backgrounds and plastic overlays was really quite impressive.

The cards were produced by Xograph, the same company that had printed the wildly elusive 1968 Topps 3D test set, and they sat in the bottom of the box in an opaque paper wrapper.

The intent of the packaging was probably for kids to pour out the card with the last bowl of cereal in the box. But of course we pushed up our pajama sleeves and thrust our skinny arms into full boxes, scraping blindly along the bottom until we had our prize.

Kellogg's released a new “3-D” set each year through to the mid '80s (except for 1973, when they distributed a more traditional “flat” set), and some of those designs were quite strong. But I think the 1970 set might be my favorite.

Because you never really forget your first...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Pitchers and catchers reported this week, and it's time to give some love to the catchers.

“Pitchers and catchers” is an evocative phrase. It has rhythm and meter. It's contrapuntal.

But without the catchers, it's just a word: pitchers.

And where's the poetry in that?

Plus, if the pitchers reported without the catchers, they'd be nowhere. A bunch of prima donnas throwing the ball back and forth, getting all petulant.

“Squat, dammit!”

“No, you squat!”

So I say: All hail the catcher.

Wait, better yet: All hail the backup catcher.

We loved Duffy Dyer when we were kids for that alliterative name, its syllables thumping along like a cartoon rabbit.

We loved him because, yes, we would call him Duffy Diarrhea and then convulse in laughter.

Sure, Duffy was a light hitter, but he was secure in his role backing up Jerry Grote. And like Grote, he was a fine defensive catcher with a strong and accurate arm.

All hail Duffy Dyer!

(Fun fact: In the spring of 1980, the Expos traded Duffy to the Tigers for... Jerry Manuel.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Break out your stereopticons, boys and girls. It’s 3D time!

In order to get the full effect here, you need to follow these easy steps:

(1) Enlarge the picture at the top of this post.
(2) Press your nose gently against your monitor screen or mobile device.
(3) Stare at the center of the image for 7 seconds.
(4) Draw your face away from the screen slowly, until you’ve reached a distance of exactly 7”.
(5) Unfocus your eyes by staring through the picture.
(6) Chant “Loopenark” 7 times in slow succession.
(7) Steady Eddie should now jump off the screen in full, rapturous 3D!

If you can’t get this to work, there’s a good chance that you have a rare visual disorder known as an “astigmetism”…

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I own this card, but I'm still not convinced it exists.

I was quite fond of the 1966 set as a young collector, and a fair number of these high-number cards passed through my hands. I would have sworn that I knew my Choo Choo from my Chi Chi.

But then it happened one night several years back that I was trolling eBay for vintage Mets, and this popped up. It was the first one I'd ever seen, so I blinked a couple of times, and then examined the card closely.

I was struck immediately by the quality of the photo, and the layout of the card. Lou stoops into the frame from the border and gives us a nice view of the logo on his shoulder and the emblem on his hat.

Additional patches of radiant blue (his left sleeve, a snippet of uniform number on his back, and the rectangular Spalding emblem on his glove) pop against a flat background setting of brown dirt and browning grass.

The yellow and purple “METS” banner in the upper corner balances out Lou's pose, and the condensed font on his nameplate in the same color combination pulls the whole thing together.

How could I have never seen this card before? Maybe it was an elaborate hoax, a deft parody of a 1966 Topps high number.

I mean, even the name reads like a put-on: Lou Klimchock.

It's an anti-euphonious name. A Don Martin sound effect of a name.

But real or not, I'm keeping my copy just the same...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


For the longest time I've coveted the 1967 high-number N. League Rookies card of Shaw/Sutherland, but the asking/ending price is always too dear.

So one day on a whim, I hatched an ingenious plan. I came across a newly listed copy of this N. League Rookies Hernandez/Gigon card at a reasonable buy-it-now price and I pulled the trigger.

Now, the plan was that the sheer ardency of my devotion to the Mets would have an alchemical effect on this card, and eventually transform it within its holder to a Shaw/Sutherland. I was even willing to see it step down a half grade during the transmutation.

Well I've had the card for almost a year, and much to my dismay it's still a Hernandez/Gigon.

I haven't given up on the whole alchemy thing just yet, but if anyone's willing to trade a PSA/SGC/BVG 7 Shaw/Sutherland for this card, the end result would be just as satisfying...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


This card is walking like a panther.

It's so effing ineffably kool that I need to stop myself from buying it again whenever I see it for sale. Maybe one day I'll just liquidate the rest of my collection and pursue a stack of 200 or so of these babies.

What makes it such an amazing piece of cardboard? Well, the lineup of player photos helps.

Memory tells me that it's rare to see a vintage three-player rookie card where everyone is wearing actual big-league hats. This card looks like a winning pull on a Mets' slot machine.

Then there's the general mien of the players themselves. Matlack smirks like he knows he's going to win the 1972 ROY award. Teddy wields his pine-tarred bat, defying you to call him a light-hitting utility player.

And Rich Folkers? Well, he might look like a math teacher, but I'm pretty sure I got my young mouth washed out with soap for saying his name around the house.

Finally, there are the inks. The clear blue-sky background in each frame, the deeper blues of the aforementioned hats, and the orange/yellow player names all just dance off the black card.

And while the other Mets' cards in the 1971 set used orange for the team name, this one (and the low-number Bobb/Foli rookie) utilized a deep red ink. It's like Barnett Newman designed the damn thing.

Let everybody know...

Thursday, January 6, 2011


This card represents layers of missed opportunities.

If you're a Mets' fan, the top layer is obviously the very fact of the trade. The team relinquished the eventual all-time strikeout king and author of 7 no-hitters for 364 Jim Fregosi at bats. 5 HRs, 43 RBI, and a .233 average later, Fregosi was sold to Texas.

The truly surreal thing about the trade is that Nolan Ryan was part of a package of four players that the Mets shipped to the Angels in the deal. Is it any wonder that Nolan put the no no-no hoodoo on the Mets in return?

Another key missed opportunity here is the Topps layer.

The 1972 Traded subset adds extra flavor to the high-number series. The removal of the team name from the marquee and the blocky “TRADED” stamp are great design elements, and the initial run of players is pretty unbeatable: Carlton, Morgan, McLain, Frank Robinson...

But then Fregosi breaks the spell, and things wind down with Wise and Cardenas.

And believe it or not, this is actually Fregosi's third card in the 1972 Topps set. He appears as an Angel on #115, then as a Metropolitan in a boyhood photo on #346, and finally on this Traded card.

Ryan, on the other hand appears once, as an airbrushed Angel on card #595.

In the 1972 set in my mind, there is a Mets' Ryan card in series 1 or 2, and a Traded card picturing him as an Angel in the last series...