Mets Now & Then: Justin Turner and Wayne Garrett

In his first full season with the Mets, Justin Turner has become a fan favorite. He’s a gritty ballplayer willing to do whatever it takes for his team to win. Turner has played second base and third base for the Mets here in 2011 and even a part of a game at shortstop. If you’ve been a Mets fan for awhile, you might recognize some similarities between Turner and a guy who played on the club’s first two World Series teams in Wayne Garrett.

In addition to being guys who were fan favorites, both Garrett and Turner came to the Mets from other organizations. New York claimed Turner off waivers from the Orioles, while Garrett was a Rule 5 selection from the Braves. Each player saw considerable action at both second and third base. Both players had skill sets that would have been appreciated more in a different era. And to top it all off both Garrett and Turner are redheads.

It’s far from a perfect match. Turner bats righty while Garrett hit from the left side of the plate. Turner is a second baseman who also plays third while Garrett was a third baseman who also played second. Turner hits for a better average while Garrett had much better patience at the plate and more pop in his bat, too.

But if you look at OPS+, which normalizes for park and league, Turner’s 2011 season would fit in nicely on Garrett’s Baseball-Reference page. After 102 games, Turner has an OPS+ of 92. From 1970 to 1978, Garrett produced an OPS+ between 90 and 118 in eight out of nine seasons, missing out only on 1971, when he played just 56 games due to his military obligations.

Starting in 1974, Garrett put up the following OPS+ numbers: 91, 116, 93, 104, 90.

Garrett was someone who could have been a competent starter but the Mets spent considerable time and resources trying to upgrade the position and the results were disastrous. They gave up Amos Otis to get Joe Foy. That didn’t work out so they gave up Ron Herbel to get Bob Aspromonte. That didn’t work out so they gave up Nolan Ryan to get Jim Fregosi. If only they would have been content to get essentially league average production from their trouble spot of third base, they could have kept a Hall of Famer and a five-time All-Star who amassed 2,020 hits in the majors.

It was mentioned earlier that Garrett had more power than Turner but the Mets were never satisfied with his HR output, one of the reasons they were constantly trying to upgrade the position. Garrett’s high in HR was the 16 he hit in 1973. Garrett was the type of player who would get a hold of the ball and seemingly crush it, only to have it die on the warning track for a long out.

If Garrett played 25 years later, when weight training was a normal part of a baseball player’s routine, he could have potentially been more of a HR hitter. Even if he didn’t, his skills in drawing walks and reaching base certainly would be more appreciated in the 21st Century more so than when he was playing. And on the flip side, Turner’s ability to hit for a high average would have been viewed more favorably back in the 1970s.

If Turner can end up playing 1,092 games in the majors like Garrett did, it will be quite an accomplishment for a guy picked up off the waiver wire. In an ideal world, Turner would be a backup for the Mets and never again approach the playing time he’s received here in 2011. But he’s a major league quality player and a good guy to have on the team.

And more than a little like Garrett.

Mets Card of the Week: 1964 Roy McMillan

1964 TOPPS GIANTS ROY MCMILLAN

If I asked you to name the worst-hitting season by a Mets player with at least 400 PA, you would probably name someone like Rey Ordonez or Doug Flynn or Bud Harrelson. Those are all good guesses but not the right answer. An inspired selection would be Rafael Santana, who posted an OPS+ of 52 for the 1986 champions. But that was only good for second place.

The distinction for the worst-hitting season in team history belongs to Roy McMillan in 1964, who posted a .211/.246/.251 line in 405 PA after coming over in an early-season trade with the Milwaukee Braves for Jay Hook and Adrian Garrett. And while the trade spared the Mets from ever fielding a lineup with both Garrett brothers, it didn’t do much for the team’s offensive firepower.

Of course 1964 was part of the deadball 60s, where offense was at its lowest levels since Babe Ruth. But OPS+ adjusts for league and park and McMillan’s output translates into a 42 OPS+, which comfortably rests below Santana’s 52 OPS+.

Now, McMillan was a fine player before he landed on the early Mets. He was a two-time All-Star, he won three Gold Glove Awards (he would have won more but the award did not begin until he had been in the league for five full years) and drew MVP votes in five different seasons, including 1961 when he had a 64 OPS+. It’s important to remember that in this era not much was expected offensively out of shortstops. Still, you had to be pretty impressive in every other facet of the game to convince someone you deserved an MVP vote when you posted a .598 OPS.

McMillan’s regular 1964 Topps card had him on the Braves, but the Topps Giants test card set was issued later and featured the bespectacled shortstop on the Mets. The 60-card set is packed with stars and the set’s checklist can generally be considered a register of the game’s top players. McMillan’s reputation helped him represent the Mets in this set, although it’s not like there was a lot to choose from back in 1964. Galen Cisco also was featured in this set and no one was throwing him any MVP votes.

The next season McMillan played the entire season with the Mets and to prove that his 42 OPS+ was no fluke, he posted a 64 OPS+ in 1965, which is the 11th-worst mark in team history. He was on pace to post another all-time lousy hitting season in 1966, but shoulder injuries limited McMillan to 76 games and 246 PA.

He tried to come back for 1967, even at age 37 and possessing what Mets trainer Peter LaMotte called “the ankles of a 60-year old man.” But he re-injured his shoulder during Spring Training and his career was over.

McMillan remained in baseball and later served as a coach for the team. He was the interim manager in 1975, taking over for the fired Yogi Berra. He was a baseball lifer and a fine player in his prime. It’s just that by the time he joined the Mets that prime had long since past.

*****

The Topps Giants are a great way to get stars of the 1960s like Aaron, Clemente, Mays and Koufax at a fraction of their regular cost. A 1964 Topps Giants NM/MT Mantle can be purchased for $75 and picked up at an auction cheaper than that. Meanwhile an auction of Mantle’s regular issue 1964 Topps card, in just VG condition, starts at $150.

*****

Mets Then & Now: Steve Henderson and Angel Pagan

I’ve been a Met fan for as long as I can remember. I could say since 1967, but I was two-years-old and don’t really remember much. I could have been swayed to the Yankees at the time, since when people would ask me who my favorite baseball player was and I would reflexively answer “Mickey Mantle”: he was the only player whose name I knew. But my Dad was a Met fan, so he and 1969 made sure that didn’t take. I’m eternally grateful for that, but that’s one of the great “What ifs?” of my life. In any case, I was for sure a Met fan by the time I got to my first game in 1973.

That’s kind of a long way to go just to say that I’ve seen a lot of men wear the orange-and-blue (and sometimes black). With that in mind, I’m starting a new – at least occasional — series here at the ol’ 360, “Mets Then & Now.” I’ll be looking back at Met teams of yesteryear – the great and the horrid – and comparing and contrasting individuals (mostly) or entire squads (sometimes) with the modern day counterpart, if not equivalent. To me, it’s not always a matter of hard statistics, but also of perception. This is where the fan in me will come out – player A of today reminds me a lot of player B from 1962-2010. This may or may not be backed up by fWAR or OPS+.

Which brings us to the two mentioned in the title.


A quick glimpse of Baseball-Reference.com tells me that these two players are nothing alike statistically. Steve Henderson would hit you more than a few home runs and steal you a couple of bases a year. Angel Pagan will steal you more than a few bases and hit you a couple of home runs a year. Henderson was a so-so defensive left fielder and Pagan is an occasionally brilliant centerfielder. Henderson finished second to future Hall-Of-Famer Andre Dawson for the 1977 Rookie Of The Year award; Pagan appeared on nobody’s ballot his first year.

And yet…

They look and play an awful lot alike to this untrained eye. The will both get a big hit when it’s needed – in Henderson’s case, a legendary one – and they can both make the surprising defensive play. They both have shown a disturbing propensity to lose their respective “baseball instincts” in the field and on the bases at the wrong time, but their overall games could both be considered exciting and entertaining. And, they both represent something to the franchise: the trying present and the promising future. Both players are fine as starters for a team going nowhere and could be valuable spare parts for a contender.

After four years, Henderson was dispatched to Chicago in exchange for the less-than-triumphant return of Dave Kingman, and while that was ultimately unsuccessful in result, the process was a good one. That trade was the first major splash of the Frank Cashen era – the first attempt to win back fans who had defected after the Midnight Massacre, ironically enough the night Steve Henderson arrived.

One can’t help but wonder if Angel Pagan will face a similar end to his Met days as Sandy Alderson upgrades the current squadron with a sensible process as well.

Mets Card of the Week: 1990 Tim Teufel

1990 LEAF TIM TEUFEL

We all have our favorite Mets’ mannerisms.

As a child of the ’70s/’80s, here are some of the player tics and techniques that I would emulate in the Shea Stadiums of my backyard and my driveway and my mind:

Tom Seaver dragging his right knee across the downslope of the mound. And my mom wondered why I always needed patches for just one leg of my jeans.

Jerry Koosman‘s geometric leg kick was my favorite kind of math.

Tug McGraw thumping his mitt against his thigh. I brought this particular percussion to the mound in many a B-Minor Little League game.

Felix Millan choking up so much that he could’ve hit the ball with either end of his bat. I tried this once in a wiffle-ball game and knocked myself on the chin with the yellow plastic knob of the bat. Ouch.

• I assume that John Pacella ordered his hats 1/8 of a size too large, because try as I might, I could never shake my lid like him. Threw my glasses off my face a few times, but the hat stayed put.

Richie Hebner tugging at the back of his shirt. If I make myself do this now, it still feels kind of natural.

And then there was Tim Teufel‘s waggle. This card from the 1990 Leaf set does a great job of capturing intimations of the waggle. Hell, if you shake it just a bit from side to side, the card practically comes to life. And damn– my hip just twitched.

So what was your favorite Mets’ mannerism?

It’s hard to see Davey Johnson manage in the NL East

And not for the Mets.

It was weird looking in the other dugout this weekend and seeing Davey Johnson with that goofy script “W” on his cap. Overall, I was conflicted about seeing Johnson in the opposing dugout. It’s a shame that he was out of the majors so long, so I’m glad that he’s back where he belongs. At the same time, I felt a touch of dismay that he was not the manager of the Mets.

I was not Terry Collins’ biggest fan during the Mets’ managerial search. By default, I was a Wally Backman backer, not because I thought that Backman deserved the job, but because I thought Collins and Bob Melvin left a lot to be desired.

In fairness, I don’t see how any Mets fan is unhappy with the job that Collins has done. He kept the team afloat after a 5-13 start and has kept them on the fringes of the Wild Card chase despite injuries claiming six position players and two starters for varying lengths of the season. While many felt that this was no better than a .500 squad if everyone stayed healthy, Collins has guided the team to two games above .500 after roughly two-thirds of the season while basically running a M.A.S.H unit.

Collins has been better than anyone could have hoped for, yet I still wished that the Nationals manager was here instead. What does Collins have to do? But I think that speaks for the ultra high regard that I, along with many other Mets fans, hold Johnson and not anything against our current manager.

Johnson took over a team that had been floundering for years and immediately put his stamp on the organization and turned them into a 90-win club. Some might say that he was in the right place at the right time, but it was Johnson who pushed for Dwight Gooden, it was Johnson who recognized that Backman’s offense more than offset his defense and it was Johnson who broke in the rookies while handling the veterans.

In his six-plus years with the Mets, Johnson was 595-417 for a .588 winning percentage. They were lousy before he got here and they were lousy after he was let go. If the Wild Card had been in existence, the Mets would have went to the postseason five straight seasons.

And whenever Johnson got a job after his time with the Mets, he was successful. He made the Orioles relevant, he succeeded under Marge Schott while with the Reds and he finished 10 games over .500 with the Fox-era Dodgers.

So, it’s a little scary seeing Johnson in the dugout of a National League East rival that should have money to spend. Next year the Nationals should have a full season out of young flame throwers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and with Johnson involved in personnel matters, chances are they will make better use of their free agent dollars. There could soon be another power in the division.

Davey, it’s great to see you back in the majors where you belong. If Jack McKeon can manage at age 80, I see no reason you can’t be a success in your late 60s. This time I have to root against you, though. But I hope you realize that deep down I wish you were wearing blue and orange again.

Mets Card of the Week: 1972 Jim Fregosi

1972 TOPPS TRADED JIM FREGOSI

Right now everyone’s mind is on the trade deadline so what better time to break out this classic Topps card with TRADED bolded and stamped across the groin of poor Jim Fregosi. This was one of seven cards in the last series of the 1972 set to be so branded. When Topps released cards in series, the last series came out when the season was more than half over and we had already seen more than enough of Mr. Fregosi at that point (and heard what Nolan Ryan did in the other league) to want any part of this card.

To a young Mets fan, let’s call him me, Topps had three choices for a TRADED card for this set and picked the worst one. There had been no Rusty Staub card in the set, surely he should have been the choice. It’s impossible to explain nearly 40 years later how much I wanted to see Staub in a Mets card. But there was no card of him in either ’72 or ’73. Most likely this was due to a monetary dispute with Topps but as far as I know the complete story of why has never been published. So, Rusty, if you’re reading this drop me a line and let me know. Did they just forget? Did they lowball you? Were you going to start your own trading card set? Was the photographer someone you hated? Or was it just an elaborate joke on your part?

If it wasn’t Staub, then it had to be Willie Mays. It was such a huge deal when Mays came back to New York. Of course now everyone will tell you that Mays embarrassed himself with his play with the Mets. Let me go all caps here and throw in a swear word for extra emphasis: THIS IS SIMPLY NOT F!@#$%G TRUE! In his first 53 games with the Mets, Mays went .283/.432/.467 for an .899 OPS. He finished the ’72 season with an .848 OPS with New York, which was good for a 145 OPS+. Mays was still great – he just needed more days off at age 41 then Yogi Berra and the Mets were willing to give him.

But it seems likely that Mays was not included in this TRADED set as he was dealt during the 1972 season (May 11th). The seven players in this subset were dealt in the offseason or Spring Training. The latest transaction involved Denny McLain, who was dealt by the Rangers to the A’s on March 4th.

And so it became Fregosi. I was so thrilled with this that I took scissors to my copy of this card and winded up spending decades before finally acquiring a clean version for my set. While Ryan quickly became a star, Fregosi merely became a stiff, another in a long line of third basemen who failed for the team.

Yet, it wasn’t his fault. Let’s start by reading the sponsorship of Fregosi at his Baseball-Reference page.

“The best Major League shortstop from 1961-79, and most productive expansion-draft pick ever. Injuries prevented a Hall of Fame career.”

Now this probably says as much about the quality of SS in this era as it does about Fregosi, but we should remember he was an outstanding player from 1963-1970, when he posted a 7.4 fWAR. In 1971, Fregosi developed foot problems which would plague him the rest of his career. And then he broke his thumb in Spring Training with the Mets in ’72.

When he got on the field, Fregosi got off to a hot start with the Mets, as he posted a .306/.376/.510 line over his first 26 games. But it was all downhill from there. He didn’t produce and he didn’t seem to care. Later Fregosi allegedly said he was going to write a book and had the title: The Bases Were Loaded and So Was I.

The funny thing in remembering the Fregosi trade is that at the time fans were at least as much worried about losing another player in the deal – Leroy Stanton – as they were Ryan. There wasn’t anywhere near as much publicity surrounding minor leaguers then as there is now, so chances are if you had heard of a guy in the minors, he was a pretty good prospect.

Stanton had a .324/.374/.540 line at Triple-A in 1971. But that year the Mets had Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee and Ken Singleton in the outfield in the majors and there was apparently nowhere on the roster for Stanton. He ended up being a solid major league player but never developed into a star with the Angels. Overall, he played nine seasons in the majors.

Anyway, maybe we should hold out hope that when the Mets trade Carlos Beltran that in return they’ll get a future HOFer and a guy who plays nine seasons in the majors. It’s good to have hope, sometimes that’s all you’ve got. Now let’s just all wish that we don’t have to see Beltran with a large TRADED stamp across his chest.

Mets Card of the Week: 1979 Lee Mazzilli

1979 TOPPS LEE MAZZILLI

I am one of those people who favor an inclusive MLB all-star game, with at least one representative from each team selected to participate.

And it all comes down to my Metsian DNA.

Many years during the late ’70s/early ’80s, I would sit glued to the game waiting to see if any of the token Mets players would get to make a cameo. All I asked for was 1/3 of an inning for Pat Zachry, or a late-game AB for John Stearns, but all too often our boys stayed on the bench.

Then came 1979. Stearns was joined on the NL roster by Lee Mazzilli, that switch-hitting amalgamation of Vinnie Barbarino and Arthur Fonzarelli.

Come the top of the 8th inning in the Kingdome, the AL was up by one run, and Maz finally made it into the game, pinch hitting for Gary Matthews. And before you could say “Sit on it!” the game was tied—home run down the left-field line off Jim Kern.

The game stayed tied until the top of the 9th, when Maz drew a bases-loaded walk off Ron Guidry to drive in what would prove to be the winning run.

It rankles me to this day that Dave Parker won the game’s MVP award over Maz. I mean, sure it was a nice throw, but without Carter’s tag, it’s nothing. Plus, he threw out Brian “The Incredible Hulk” Downing, who stole a total of 50 bases (and was caught 44 times) over the course of a 20-year career.

Is it too late to demand a recount?

Mets Card of the Week: 1985 Tom Gorman

1985 TOPPS TOM GORMAN

It became a yardstick of sorts. Did you possess the right mixture of fanaticism, masochism, and sheer love of the theater of the absurd to make it all the way through to the end?

Perhaps we should add to that list “a profoundly impaired social life”– after all, it was the 4th of July…

We talked about it for days afterward. I myself was a proud completist– I found only one other friend who could make the same claim.

I stayed home that night to watch another 1985 Dwight Gooden start. And really, given the choice between fireworks and 1985 Doc, I’d make the same call every time.

Well, Doc didn’t last long– he was pulled after a rain delay in the 3rd inning.

But along with the rough Georgia weather, we got a 6:10, 16-13, 19-inning glorious mess of a game. The Mets racked up 28 hits, and the Braves bounced back to tie the game in both the 13th and 18th innings, the latter on a preposterous home run by pitcher Rick Camp. It was the only career homer for the .074 lifetime hitter.

Tom Gorman was both the hero and the goat that night. He did yeoman’s work out of the bullpen, going 6 innings and ultimately picking up the win. But he also let up a game-tying home run to Rick Bleeping Camp.

So Mets’ fans of a certain age, where were you on July 4th (and 5th) of 1985?

*****

Here’s the game’s boxscore

Mets Card of the Week: 1985 Dwight Gooden

1985 TOPPS DWIGHT GOODEN

I caught some of the Yankees’ Old-Timers Day ceremony over the weekend.

It was not a moment of apostasy– I just like baseball history. And unfortunately, my team has not given me a regular, institutionalized Old-Timers Day since back in the early ’90s. They say it died of unpopularity, and out of concern for the dignity of older men who might not want to wear a uniform in middle age or beyond.

But I say that is rubbish.

What I saw during the Yankees’ celebration was pride. Whether it was Jesse Barfield or Bobby Brown or Charlie Hayes or Whitey Ford, these men did not slink out of the dugout when their names were announced, staring down at their feet abashedly. Instead they bounded onto the field with whatever measure of spring they had left in their steps, and they doffed their caps regally to reveal gray, white, or absent hair. They were warmed by the applause of the present day, and heard in it the deep echoes of ancient summers.

Baseball more than any other game we have is about pathos. It is all about the resonance of seeing Dwight Gooden in his current state and thinking back to the promise of the 19-year-old kid on this piece of Topps cardboard. The one with the devastating high heat and the knee-buckling Lord Charles. Our Dr K.

And make no mistake about it, Dwight Gooden is ours. Sure, he donned some late-career pinstripes, and even pitched that galling no-hitter for the Yankees. But Dwight Gooden– both in his glory days and his lesser days– belongs to the New York Mets.

We cannot let the Yankees usurp our history by the simple, passive act of ignoring our history. So here from a small corner of the blogosphere is a call to arms (and bats):

Bring back Mets’ Old-Timers Day!

How the 2011 Mets rate in franchise history in HR

The Mets scored 14 runs Saturday without hitting a single home run. While that’s nowhere near close to the major league record of 27 runs scored by a team without the aid of a HR, it is still quite unusual and points out the team’s problem with the long ball with Ike Davis and David Wright on the DL and Jason Bay’s power being MIA.

The Mets have hit just 47 HR in 77 games, the third-worst mark in the National League. Wright played his last game on May 15th. Since he’s been out of action, the Mets have hit 11 HR in their last 37 games and are 19-18 in that stretch.

If the team keeps up its current pace of hitting home runs, the Mets will finish with 99 HR. That will be one of the worst marks in recent history, yet will not crack the top 10 of worst-hitting HR teams in Mets history. Here are those infamous squads:

T 10. 1963 Mets: 51-111, 96 HR
Jim Hickman led the team with 17 HR. Frank Thomas, who hit 34 in the club’s inaugural season, finished second with 15. Five starters finished with double-digit homers but the remaining three everyday players combined for just 7 HR. The highest HR total from anyone on the bench was by Joe Hicks, who hit five.

T 10. 1974 Mets: 71-91, 96 HR
John Milner led the squad with 20 HR and Rusty Staub was one behind with 19. Wayne Garrett and Cleon Jones each had 13. After those four, Jerry Grote and Dave Schneck were the next highest with five each. And to make matters worse, not a single pitcher hit a homer all year for the team.

9. 2009 Mets: 70-92, 95 HR
The year when everyone hit the DL and things really fell apart for the Omar Minaya-era Mets. Daniel Murphy led the club with 12 HR and four others tied for second with 10 apiece, including Gary Sheffield, who the club picked up off the waiver wire at the beginning of the season, and Jeff Francoeur, who the Mets acquired in a mid-year deal. Angel Pagan had 11 triples, meaning the club’s HR leader was nearly surpassed by the club’s triples leader.

8. 1992 Mets: 72-90, 93 HR
Anyone down on the current version of the Mets would be well served to go back and remember the early 90s Mets. Bobby Bonilla took time out from showing reporters the Bronx to lead the team with 19 HR. Eddie Murray (16) and Darryl Boston (11) were the only other players to hit double digits.

7. 1977 Mets: 64-98, 88 HR
John Stearns, Milner and Steve Henderson tied for the team lead with 12 HR. And Henderson didn’t play his first game until June 16th, the day after being acquired in the Tom Seaver trade. Ed Kranepool gave the team a bench player with double-digit dongs, as he hit 10 in 309 ABs.

6. 1978 Mets: 66-96, 86 HR
Willie Montanez led the team with 17 HR yet the starting infield combined for only 20 round-trippers. The double-play combo of Doug Flynn and Tim Foli produced just the one homer by the shortstop, while 3B Lenny Randle managed just two. Joel Youngblood provided power off the bench with 7 HR and Bobby Valentine contributed the last homer off his career.

5. 1973 Mets: 82-79, 85 HR
Milner again led the team, this time with 23 HR and a .432 SLG. Yes, the NL Champions, the team that held a 3-2 lead in the World Series, were topped with a .432 SLG. The four starters up the middle (Grote, Felix Millan, Bud Harrelson and Don Hahn) combined for 6 HR. Willie Mays led the bench with six homers.

4. 1967 61-101, 83 HR
In his only season with the Mets, Tommy Davis led the team with 17 HR. This team would have been even lower on the list if not for the power of 2B Jerry Buchek, who finished second with 14 HR. Flynn and Millan are confused how a second baseman could hit so many. Bob Johnson, acquired in early May from the Orioles, led the bench with 5 HR. After the season, Johnson was dealt to the Reds for Art Shamsky.

3. 1968 73-89, 81 HR
One season after hitting just three homers, Ed Charles led the team with 15 HR. The rest of the infield (Kranepool, Ken Boswell and Harrelson) combined for seven. Shamsky led the bench with 12 HR. His .698 OPS was good for a 108 OPS+, an indication of how pitching-friendly the year of Bob Gibson and Denny McLain really was.

2. 1979 63-99, 74 HR
Youngblood was now a starter and he led the Mets with 16 HR, one more than Lee Mazzilli. The starters did not do too awful in the home run department this year. But the entire bench combined for 9 HR, led by Seaver-trade acquisition Dan Norman’s three. No pitcher hit a homer for the team. If they did they would have become manager Joe Torre’s top pinch-hitting option.

1. 1980 67-95 61 HR
Mazzilli was the only starter on the team to crack double-digits in homers with 16. Claudell Washington finished second on the club with 10 HR. Starters Alex Trevino, Flynn and Frank Taveras combined to hit zero homers. That made Jerry Morales (3) and Elliott Maddox (4) look good in comparison. Hubie Brooks hit his only homer of the season in Game 161 to allow the team to tie Roger Maris.

*****

The 11 teams listed above went a combined 740-1041 (.415) or a 67-95 mark over a 162-game season. Only once did a team on this list finish with a winning record, which was the small-a amazing 1973 Mets. That the 2011 Mets have this little HR power and are basically .500 is a real achievement.

The 1981 Mets hit 57 HR but that team also played in just 103 games due to the strike. Pro-rated over a 162 game schedule, the 1981 squad would have hit 90 HR. Dave Kingman had 22 HR that year while Mazzilli finished second with six.

Mets Card of the Week: 1967 Seaver/Ryan RC

This is not a real card but it could have been, as Tom Seaver’s rookie card was issued in 1967 and Nolan Ryan’s came a year later. Ryan appeared in two games for the Mets in 1966 but military obligations limited him to just four minor league games in 1967.

Instead, Acme Reproductions made this card in 1990, using the ’67 set design and editing in the picture from Ryan’s actual rookie card.

I purchased this at a card show back in 1995 or so and paid $5 for it because I thought it was cool. On the back of the card in an invitation to purchase another “RYAN SEAVER ROOKIE CARD” for $29, along with a phone number and mailing address.

Numerous attempts to call the 201 area code number listed on the back all resulted in a fast busy signal. A quick online search for “Acme Reproductions” did not yield worthwhile results.

I checked on ebay where I found several copies of the card for sale, including one seller asking $380 for it. I guess you never know unless you ask but with several other copies available at less than one-tenth that price, I’m guessing that auction will end without a sale.

Interestingly, some ebay auctions of this card also include another Seaver/Ryan rookie card interpretation by Acme Reproductions. This one has the same boxed-window layout with individual poses of the two players, except this one has windup poses of both Seaver and Ryan, and has Ryan wearing uniform #34.

Most of Ryan’s tenure on the Mets he wore uniform #30 instead. According to the invaluable Mets By The Numbers, Ryan wore #34 during his tenure with the club in 1966. When he returned to the majors in 1967 (did not pitch), Cal Koonce was wearing #34 and Ryan switched over to #30.

This other Seaver/Ryan rookie card interpretation was a numbered edition and 10,000 copies were made.

I have no idea how many copies were made of my version and frankly I don’t care. The card spoke to me that day when I saw it on the dealer’s table and I enjoy it for what it is, not how scarce it might be.

If you enjoy this fake card, click here for an artist’s idea on how a 1967 Topps Ryan might have looked. Scroll up and down for some other fake card ideas.

Mets Card of the Week: 1981 Mark Bomback

1981 TOPPS MARK BOMBACK

During a game in the recent Mets-Phillies series, talk in the broadcast booth turned to hitters who over the years have owned the Mets.

And as these discussions are wont, the topic soon shifted to Willie Stargell and his 60 career HRs against our boys.

In an effort to lionize Stargell, Ron or Keith mentioned some of the great Mets’ pitching staffs against which Pops had accumulated those numbers.

Ron and Keith continued to chatter on the subject, and one of them mentioned that Stargell also had the luxury of hitting against some not-so-great Mets’ staffs. The name “Mark Bomback” was brought up derisively as an example of such subpar pitching.

Now, imagine you’re Mark Bomback, and maybe you’re watching this broadcast. You’re getting ready to celebrate your 58th birthday (April 14, if you’d like to send a card), and you look back with pride on the fact that you once pitched in the bigs.

Hell, you’re extra proud of your one season with the Mets, when you went 10-8 with a 4.09 ERA for a team that finished 67-95. You were the only arm on that squad to win in double digits.

And then along come these blathering renaissance Mets, defaming your abilities.

Well, let history show that in addition to having a solid year in 1980, you never faced Willie Stargell even once in your career.

Let history show that we faithful appreciate what you did for us at the shadowy dawn of our most prosperous decade.

Let history show that we praise you, Mark Bomback.