Collectibles: ‘Tom Seaver on Right Hand Pitching’

Tom SeaverRecently a copy of an original Tom Seaver 8mm movie recently became available. This film was produced by Action Films, Inc. of Mountain View, California which put out a 12-volume baseball set in 1970. In the movie, Seaver provides instruction and tips on:

1) Stretching, kicking, and striding
2) Holding runners on base
3) Grips for pitching
4) Fast ball, curve, & change-up

The movie came packed in its original 2 5/8″ x 6″ x 1″ box which features a color photograph of Seaver in uniform (with Mets logo on cap) plus facsimile autograph.

Seaver is the first player featured in the set. Other players featured are:

Dave McNally – “Left Hand Pitching”
Bill Freehan – “Catcher”
Willie McCovey – “First Base Play”
Don Kessinger & Glenn Beckert – “Double Play”
Brooks Robinson – “Infield Play”
Hank Aaron – “Right Hand Hitting”
Reggie Jackson – “Left Hand Hitting”
Pete Rose – “Outfield Play”
Lou Brock – “Base Running”
Willie Davis – “Bunting”
Rod Carew – “Sliding”

By 1970 and based on the group of players featured in this 12-volume set, Seaver had established himself as an elite player. Seaver and the Mets, fresh off the 1969 World Championship were at the height of their popularity. In 1969, Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA en route to his first Cy Young Award.

To purchase a copy of the Seaver film, it might cost anywhere from $30.00 to $60.00 and the complete baseball collection, if you could find it, might cost approximately $225.00. The Action Films company put out other series as well, including Golf, Skiing, Hockey, Tennis and Football.

The Alou brothers have nothing on this Mystery Met

MysteryThis IF-OF only played one season with the New York Mets but spent 18 years in the major leagues.

He arrived at Shea fairly late in his career. He hit .284 over 46 games. He was acquired by the Mets in a mid-season trade with the Chicago White Sox. I remember him as being a reliable hitter but in researching, I see that he is more widely remembered for not coming through in the clutch when a long flyball he hit to right field was caught for a rally-ending final out in the bottom of the eighth inning. In his one year with the team, he hit 1 HR and knocked in 11 RBIs; he even stole a base. He had two brothers who also played in the major leagues and one of them played his one and only major league game against the New York Mets, going 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs and 4 runs scored.

Mets Card of the Week: 1970 Ed Kranepool

1970 KELLOGG’S ED KRANEPOOL

Ed KranepoolWhat makes this card special, is that aside from it being the only time Ed Kranepool was on a Kellogg’s card, it
was also the very first card in Kellogg’s very first set.

In 1970, the Mets were coming off their championship season. Three of Kranepool’s teammates were also featured in the 75 card set: Cleon Jones, Tom Seaver, and Tommie Agee. The Kellogg’s cards were available in selected brands of their cereals. These cards were 3-D with the players shot appearing in front of a blurry stadium photograph. The cards were smaller than the standard Topps card and measured up at only 2 1/4 x 3 1/2. These cards tended to become brittle and their top layer would crack if not taken care of properly.

It is interesting that Kranepool was one of the choices. He was a contributing member of the team but Donn Clendenon, the MVP of the World Series, wasn’t represented in the set and neither was Jerry Koosman (who won two games in the World Series including the deciding game) nor Ron Swoboda (who made a spectacular catch in the Series).

If you wanted to put together a complete set of these, it might cost you around $125.00 or so. Don’t forget to factor in a Bob Gibson variation with his 1959 IP numbers showing up or not showing up depending on which version of the variation you have.

Kranepool, of course, walked into team history when he replaced Gil Hodges at first base on September 22, 1962 at the tender age of 17. He would later become an excellent pitch-hitter for the club and was inducted to the team’s Hall of Fame in 1990. Overall. in 18 years with the club, he compiled a .261 BA in 1,853 games.

He is also still a fan favorite and was one of the team’s former players to appear at the first QBC two years ago.

Mets Card of the Week: 1971 Tim Foli

Tim Foli1971 TOPPS TIM FOLI

This week’s card is the Rookie Card for Tim Foli card. It is card #83 of a 752 card set and it is valued at roughly $2.00. Catcher Randy Bobb is also featured on the card.

Foli is a bit of a galvanizing figure in team history. He is noted for being a number one pick in the draft (in 1968). He is known for being part of the deal which sent Rusty Staub to the Mets. He is known for getting into fights with both Ed Kranepool and Joe Pignatano.

He is also one of a handful of players who left the team and eventually came back (Jonathan Niese is the most recent inductee to that exclusive club). He also belongs to the exclusive, “played for both the Mets and Yankees” club, having made a 61 game appearance with the Yankees in 1984.

If you read fan recollections of Tim Foli, you’ll encounter quite a wide swing of sentiments. Some fans despised him. Some fans think he got what was coming to him when Kranepool tangled with him in the dugout. On the other hand, some other fans think he was a gutsy little player (a la Wally Backman) who always played steady defense (mostly at shortstop) and knew how to move a runner into scoring position so that the guys who were paid to drive in runs, could drive in those runs.

Looking back at his statistics now, he really didn’t play too many games for the Mets prior to his trade (along with Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton) to the Expos. Between 1970 and 1971, he appeared in 102 games. When he returned to play in 1978 and 1979, he played in 116 games.

The 1970 Mets Organizational handbook notes that in 1968 (his first year in the pros), he led all shortstops in the rookie Appalachian League in putouts, fielding percentage, assists, and double plays. In 1969, he led the California League in double plays.

As a shortstop at the major league level, Foli led the National League in double plays in both 1975 and 1976. He led the National League in putouts in 1972 and 1975. He also led the National League in fielding percentage in 1980 and the American League in 1982.

I want to say that I didn’t like him. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the nickname (“Crazy Horse”). Maybe he wasn’t part of the 1969 team and wasn’t part of that exclusive club. Maybe it was the fisticuffs and he was fighting with members of the beloved ’69 Champs. Maybe it was just because he wasn’t Bud Harrelson.

Mets Card of the Week: 1964 Ron Hunt

1964 TOPPS STAND-UP RON HUNT

Ron HuntToday’s card is a 1964 Topps Stand-up, Ron Hunt (#35). This standard-size card was part of an unusual 77-card die-cut issue. At the time, Topps had not issued a die-cut set since their 1951 All-Star set.

These cards stand out due to their vivid yellow and green backgrounds. Four New York Mets are featured in the set: Hunt, along with fellow teammates, George Altman (#3), Jesse Gonder (#28), and Al Jackson (#36). These cards are not terribly difficult to find. Altman, Hunt, and Jackson might cost around $10.00 each in good condition, whereas Gonder (one of 22 short prints in the set might cost upwards of $25.00 to $30.00 in decent condition.

An interesting aspect of this set is that it is in alphabetical order so Hank Aaron is the card number one and Carl Yastrzemski is card number 77. Mickey Mantle is the most expensive card in the set and could run a collector over $300.00 to acquire it.

For his part, Hunt certainly deserved some special cards (and attention). After being purchased by the Mets from the Milwaukee Braves in October of 1962, he played in New York from 1963-1966. In his rookie, 1963 season, Hunt hit .272 with 10 HRs and 42 RBIs; he also finished second in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting behind Pete Rose. In 1964, he batted .303 and was the team’s first-time-ever starting player in an All-Star Game.

Eventually, in November of 1966, he was dealt to the Dodgers along with Jim Hickman for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith.

In four years with the Mets, he appeared in 459 games and amassed 1,887 plate appearances. He hit 20 HRs, knocked in 127 runs, and stole 23 bases.

Overall, he became known for his ability to get hit by a pitch. In 12 major league seasons, he was hit 243 times leading the league seven straight seasons (1968-1974), including an incredible 50 times in 1971.

Who is this former Mets pitcher?

right side upThis New York Met right-handed pitcher never made it to the majors. He spent parts of four seasons in the minor leagues mostly with the Mets. He also spent some time in minor league organizations of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Senators.

His first pro season was in 1961, when he split time between B and AA ball, going 2-5 with a 3.95 ERA. His final pro season was 1964, when he went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 32 inning pitched for Mets’ AAA Buffalo ball club.

Overall, he went 19-32 with a 4.39 ERA in his career.

Mets Card of the Week: 1970 Cleon Jones

Cleon Jones1970 TRANSOGRAM CLEON JONES

I picked up three 1970 New York Mets Transogram cards last week. Along with the pictured Cleon Jones card, the lot also included a Jerry Koosman and a Tom Seaver from the same issue.

These Transogram cards were printed on the back of the cardboard boxes the corresponding Transogram figures came in. The quality of the figures was none too special. They were roughly equivalent to what you might expect to find on the top of a baseball-themed birthday cake. The statues did reflect differences in skin colors to reflect the ethnicity of the players. They were sole in single packs as well as in packs of three.

Transogram manufactured these for two years. The first year, they produced a sixty-figure set featuring the 1969 “All-Stars” which included Ron Swoboda (#44), Koosman (#46), and Seaver (#48). The card numbers didn’t appear on the card but on the flap of the cardboard box.

Transogram came back for a second season in 1970 with two sets. Again, they issued a thirty-figure “All-Star” set which Jones (#3), Seaver (#12), and Koosman (#15). But Transogram also capitalized on the Miracle Mets phenomenon by issuing a fifteen-figure “World Champion New York Mets” set. These were sold in five groups of three figures each. The groups were:

1) Ed Kranepool, Al Weis, Seaver
2) Ken Boswell, Koosman, Jerry Grote
3) Art Shamsky, Gary Gentry, Tommie Agee
4) Nolan Ryan, Tug McGraw, Jones
5) Swoboda, Bud Harrelson, Donn Clendenon

Not surprisingly, a Near-Mint Ryan Transogram card is the highest valued card, one earlier today being auctioned off at a mere $475.00. If you were lucky enough to possess the three-figure set which included the Ryan figure in the box with the cellophane in Near-Mint condition, you might be looking at an item valued at three-four times Ryan’s single card value. Comparatively speaking, you might be looking at paying between $30.00 and $60.00 for a Near-Mint Seaver card.

See this Sports Collector’s Digest article for more information about the Transogram company.

Who is this former Mets player?

photoThis ex-Met infielder appeared in 39 major league games with the team and logged in 55 total plate appearances. He scored one run, had two hits, and knocked in two runs.

Despite his brief stay in the majors, he managed to appear in 17 games at third base, nine games at shortstop, and three games at second. He was plucked out of the Red Sox organization as a Rule 5 draft pick by the Mets in their 1962 season.

What makes him even more interesting is that he is the last player to bat in the Polo Grounds (hitting into a game-ending double play).

Who is this former Mets player?

P2190097This Met was renowned for his speed and except for the fact that he only logged in a handful of ABs in his career, he might have been included in the company of Jose Reyes and Mookie Wilson.  In fact, this outfielder logged only 13 major-league ABs in 18 games over a two-year (two years non-consecutive) career.  His success rate for SBs was not that great; he swiped four bases but was caught stealing three times.  Despite his reputation as a speedster, he might be best remembered for an extra-inning HR he hit against the Montreal Expos. His minor league SB statistics were astronomical though.  He was originally drafted by St. Louis and then acquired by the Mets.  He also spent time in the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles organizations before ending his career in 2006.

Who is this former Mets pitcher?

Who am IThis ex-Mets pitcher appeared in exactly 162 games over an eight-year career. In fact, he appeared, disappeared, reappeared, disappeared and then reappeared again at the major league level. This might explain the pensive look on his face in this photograph.

Originally signed by the Detroit Tigers, he appeared in 11 games for the New York Mets, all in the same season. He got neither a win nor a loss but earned a 2.16 ERA in a little over 16 innings pitched. He even made an appearance in the 1969 post-season.

He was known more for his love of coffee and Lucky Strikes then he was for his palm ball. He never made an error at the major league level but once received a standing ovation for grounding out to third base.

Mets Card of the Week: 1982 Donruss Mookie Wilson

1982 DONRUSS PROOF MOOKIE WILSON

MookieThe card of the week is not really a card but a proof of a card. It is a 1982 Donruss Mookie Wilson. We call these blues in the print industry. This is the front-only from the Wilson card cut to size. It would have been used by the printer to confirm to Donruss that what they wanted to appear on the front of the card did, in fact, appear.

Each card in the set would have had a blues proof. I actually also picked up a Pat Zachry blues proof from this set too.

The envelope it came in is equally neat-o. Its from E. Strauss at 116 Nassau Street, in New York City. 1982 is also the year I graduated from Hofstra with an English Degree and got a job at Simon & Schuster in the book manufacturing department. So, starting in July of that year, I began spending dozens of hours going through blues proofs searching for broken type and dust spots (mark that dust spec with ablack grease pencil!)

E. Strauss would have shot these photos with a camera the size of a Corolla and then vacuum sealed them for proofing and lithographic printing.

By 1982, a lot of the New York City printing was moving out to where salaries were a bit more beneficial to the press owners. States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Tennessee were all seeing the migration of the business benefit them. Modern technology like faxes, overnight UPS or FedEx services were allowing things to happen at faster and faster rates.

So here is a young Mookie on this proof coming into NYC at a time when the people who were manufacturing this card were beginning to move out. Such is the ebb and flow of commerce.

Who is the Met wearing #26 in this picture?

#26This 15-year veteran never appeared on the team’s major league roster but he came through the organization and was a key piece in one of the most important deals in New York Met history.

After being a pitcher at the University of Kansas, he was signed by the team as a first baseman and had over 1,000 PA as a batter in the minors. But ultimately he returned to the mound and made his mark there. In the majors, this pitcher totaled 580 PA and had a .215 batting average

Our mystery Met had two 15-win seasons in the majors and as a 37 year old he went 11-6 for a team that made the playoffs. However, he never appeared in a postseason game in his career in the majors, as manager Gene Mauch went to a 3-man rotation for the playoffs