Wild Card Wednesday – New York Mets
Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday on Rattler Radio.
This will be a weekly feature with a look at some of my favorites in my Baseball Card Collection. Keep in mind that this collection is from about 1971 through 1986 or so and I do not have a complete collection.
I wasn’t sure where to start with entry number one. I want to save the Brewers for later. I didn’t want to do alphabetical. And working through the divisions seemed like such a Baseball America thing to do.
I chose the most Mehring thing to do and picked a team out randomly….which, if it’s something I would normally do, isn’t really that random after all….
While you ponder that…. Wild Card Wednesday:
Until I went through my pack of Mets cards, I had forgotten that George Foster played for the Mets. That Fleer card of his is from 1983. The Rusty Staub card is also from 1983. Ever wonder why you don’t have a Rusty Staub card from 1972-1974? See the end of the post for the answer. Tug McGraw is the freaking guy! He was the Leadoff Experience guest speaker right before the start of the 2002 Timber Rattlers season. That card is from the 1973 Ya Gotta Believe! season. The Ron Darling and Dwight Gooden cards are from the 1985 season…which would be one year before the Mets became insufferable.
Bud Harrelson is obviously posing with a gigantic prop bat in that 1975 photo on the left. Derrel McKinley Harrelson – as he is known on the back of his 1975 card but not on the back of the ’76 or ’78 card – is also one of the rare men to look older after he shaves his mustache. This is evidenced by his 1978 card on the right. I blame playing for the Mets for that long on that. I like to think that a coach told Felix Millan, “Choke up. Choke up! Choke up!!” so often that he Millan just said, “Like this?! Fine! Is this choked up enough for you?! I’m just going to hit like this all. the. time. now.”
The Steve Henderson and Lee Mazzilli cards are from 1978 and 1980. Henderson joined the Mets from the Reds in a trade on June 15, 1977….Hmmm, who else was in that trade…. Mazilli was the #1 pick of the Mets (14th overall) in 1973 and made his MLB debut in 1976. That first Ron Hodges card is from 1974. The back of that card has a note that “One of Ron’s hobbies is dancing.” That note is accompanied by a dancing baseball player wearing catching gear. Hodges played 12 seasons for the Mets and played over 100 games in a season just once. His second card is from the 1985 season. Hodges played his final major league game on September 30, 1984.
This next panel features cards of managers of the Mets and players who would go on to manage in the major leagues. I like the 1974 Yogi Berra card because it includes his coaching staff. But, my favorite manager cards would be from the 1978 season. That year shows the manager from his playing days along side his current photo. Joe Torre thought the baseball cap would hide the fact that he forgot to comb his hair on picture day. No. Seriously. Ray Knight was a major league manager. Really. Also, Ron Gardenhire was a shortstop for Dave Johnson. Let that sink in for a bit.
Check out the Mets prospects of 1979 and 1981. The checklist for the 1982 Mets team is on the back of the Bating and Pitching Leaders card featuring Hubie Brooks and Mike Scott….Oh, Mike Scott, if only the Astros had won Game Six of the ’86 NLCS to have you pitch against the Mets in Game Seven.
For your tie-in to the Brewers here are players who either had played for the Brewers or – in the case of Ray Searage – would play for the Brewers.
Now, to answer the question about Rusty Staub from up top…in case you didn’t google it.
During his time with the Mets, Staub had a contractual dispute with the Topps company, which was the only one producing baseball cards at the time. As a result, he did not appear in any Topps set from 1972 to 1974, even though he was a major star in Topps’ biggest market, at a time when the sets just about every one in the major leagues, from the loftiest stars to the most obscure bench player.
Back next Wednesday with a look at another team.