1979 TOPPS JERRY KOOSMAN
In 1976, Jerry Koosman won 21 games and finished second in the NL CY Award balloting. The next two years weren’t quite so good. He went a combined 11-35 those two years, including a 20-loss season in 1977, making him one of just seven pitchers since 1960 to win 20 games one season only to turn around and lose 20 the next. Here are the other hurlers since Koosman to turn the trick:
1974 White Sox 20-19 3.60 ERA
1975 White Sox 16-20 4.11 ERA
1972 Phillies 27-10 1.97 ERA
1973 Phillies 13-20 3.90 ERA
1972 White Sox 21-16 3.60 ERA
1973 White Sox 18-21 3.57 ERA
1968 Indians 21-9 1.60 ERA
1969 Indians 9-20 3.71 ERA
1965 Yankees 20-9 2.63 ERA
1966 Yankees 12-20 3.80 ERA
1964 Cubs 24-11 3.14 ERA
1965 Cubs 14-21 3.85 ERA
Randy Jones, who beat out Koosman for the CY Award, turned the trick the opposite way, losing 22 games in 1974 before winning 20 in 1975 and 22 in 1976.
Koosman was essentially a league-average pitcher his last two seasons with the Mets, despite the won-loss record. The Mets traded him in the offseason before 1979, making this card a reminder he wasn’t on the team. Seeing this card didn’t bring anger, like the 1977 Mickey Lolich or the 1980 Richie Hebner did. Instead, it was just a reminder of what was once and what certainly wasn’t happening currently with the Mets.
But removed from the emotion of the time, the thing that stands out about this card is the action shot, specifically the near-Tom Seaver knee to the ground. My mind has the visual of Seaver getting his knee dirty, Koosman with his straight-out leg kick and Jon Matlack with his rocking-chair windup.
The 1979 set was a disappointment to me at the time. The design was a little too similar to the 1976 one. But it was also a case where I had passed the peak of my collecting, even if it was still a part of my life at the time. And it’s likely the sad state of the Mets played a factor. But seeing this card now makes me happy.
Still, it can’t hold a candle to the 1969 Topps Koosman.
1972 TOPPS DANNY FRISELLA IN ACTION
The previous year, Topps introduced on a wide scale action shots into their set. But too often those action shots looked like they were taken by a child with an Instamatic 110 camera from the mid-60s. Could they at least have gotten a shot of Tommie Agee’s face in his ‘71 Topps card, or was that too much to ask?
In 1972 Topps stepped up its action shot game and they didn’t do it quietly, either. They produced separate action shots for various players, which immediately followed their regular card. There were these “In Action” shots of stars like Hank Aaron, Pete Rose and Tom Seaver. And there were also “In Action” cards of lesser players, like Frisella here. It’s a great action shot, showing him in the middle of his delivery. It’s a lot better than the action shot of Seaver, where he’s bending over looking like he just gave up a base hit.
To be fair, Frisella had a very good year in 1971. In 53 games, he pitched 90.2 innings and went 8-5 with 12 Saves and a 1.99 ERA. He had developed a forkball, a pitch he picked up while playing winter ball in Venezuela. He learned the pitch from Diego Segui and used it instead of a slider, which had contributed to an earlier arm injury. The “In Action” card didn’t propel him to further heights, however. Frisella dealt with a pinched nerve and was essentially a replacement player in ‘72 and was traded away in the offseason.
Frisella continued to battle injuries and he bounced from Atlanta to San Diego to St. Louis and finally to Milwaukee. He seemed to find a home with the Brewers, as he went 5-2 with 9 Saves in 32 games after coming over in a mid-season deal in 1976. Those were pretty welcome numbers for a team that ended up losing 95 games.
The Brewers were counting on Frisella to be their closer in ‘77 but Frisella was a passenger in a Dune Buggy accident on New Year’s Day and did not survive.
Somewhat surprisingly, Topps had Frisella in its 1977 set. And not an “In Memoriam” card like they did for Ken Hubbs in the 1964 set. Hubbs died in a plane accident in February of 1964, a full month later than Frisella. At least the card was a good one, showing a game action shot of Frisella after he just released a pitch. And it was in a Brewers’ uniform, too. Not the terrible airbrush job they did with his 1975 card, where they put him in a yellow jersey to acknowledge that he had been traded to the Padres.
Frisella was well known for his sense of humor so perhaps he would have enjoyed having a card in the ‘77 set. It was weird to see at the time. It’s much better to think about this ‘72 card, instead.
In the second half of the 1970s, there was another major baseball card set distributed nationally available to collectors. These were the Hostess Baseball Cards, which were issued in both individual size and in three-panel formats if you bought a box of Ding Dongs or Twinkies. These were officially licensed, too, so you had the full logos and no airbrushed caps. There were good selections of players in these sets, produced from 1975-1979.
By the time these came out, it was well known that the Post cereal cards from the 1960s were more valuable if you had the entire panel, rather than cutting them out along the dotted lines. Still, the panels came with those same cut lines if you just simply had to have them at a normal card size.
My collection includes a bunch of panels from the initial set, yet fewer as the decade grew on. Not sure why this is. Maybe they were traded for other cards. Or maybe Hostess products got more expensive and mom started buying No Frills stuff, instead. And that was ultimately the issue with collecting these Hostess cards – if you were a child of the 70s, you had to depend on mom to buy these for you. Kids would go to the store and buy packs of cards. But generally we didn’t go to Shop Rite, Pathmark or the A & P and buy a whole box of Suzy Qs to get three baseball cards.
I can remember going to Mary’s department store, the only place in town that sold rack packs. And even though it was a cramped little store, and even though those rack packs were right by the register, I would look through them all to see the cards that were on the top and the bottom, looking for Mets cards or cards that were needed to complete my set.
But did mom do that with these Hostess cards? No, she just grabbed whatever box was most convenient. Which means there was a shocking lack of Mets cards in my collection. No doubt other kids’ moms were going through those boxes, looking for the Tom Seaver ones. At least that’s what I tell myself now, when noticing the almost complete lack of Mets Hostess cards in my collection.
That’s what makes the panel with Lenny Randle stand out.
The Mets got Randle because he got into a fight with his manager. Not just a shouting match, a case where Randle actually punched his manager in the face. It was a story, a big story in fact, at the time. But to my recollection, there was no outrage that they traded for a violent guy. If that happened today, Randle would likely have to go on a major PR blitz to rehabilitate his image, perhaps even to get a chance to play again.
Back then, all he had to do was play. And he ended up one of the few bright spots on that 1977 Mets team, as he hit .304 in an era when being a .300 hitter meant just about everything. That big year led to his inclusion in the 1978 Hostess set, alongside better known 70s stars Frank Tanana and Oscar Gamble.
Being included in the Hostess set didn’t spur Randle on to greater heights. He hit just .233 that season and the Mets released him during Spring Training the following year. Randle went on to play four more years in the majors and had another signature moment in his career, this time with the Mariners. Randle got down on all fours and successfully blew a slow-hit ball foul. Hey, it’s better than being known for punching out your manager.
And on that same note, my mom shouldn’t be known only for her failure to search for Seaver cards on Hostess boxes, either. In the winter of ‘73-’74, she took me and my brother Gary to a card show in Manhattan that was absolutely mobbed with people. And she didn’t balk as we spent all the money we – well, mostly Gary – had buying every Hank Aaron card we could find, including his ‘54 rookie.
I had a lot of fun that day and still think about that trip fairly often. And as an adult and parent, I got to thank mom for doing it. She didn’t think it was anything all that special – but it was. I’m sure she’d rather be remembered for taking me to the Grand Canyon or to Mount Rushmore. And those places were important to see, in their own little way.
But they couldn’t hold a candle to going to a baseball card show. Thanks mom – I miss you.
Do you keep your ticket stubs? I do, or at least try to. My main problem is remembering where they are. It’s like there are supply lines all over Asia or something and where they are is a big mystery, much less where any one specific one is.
Last night my wife found a box of mine with a mismatch of old stuff, including an old cigar box that was falling apart. The cigar box itself was fun to find. It was given to me by a friend of my older brother and it had a bunch of his duplicate cards, going back to the late 50s. Now, these were mostly in sad shape but it was the first time possessing those 57s and 58s and 59s. So, it was pretty cool.
The cigar box now had, among other things, Coke caps, buttons, old schedules and ticket stubs. The stubs were particularly fun to find, especially since it had one in particular that was important to me. Check out the green one in the photo – you can click on the photo to enlarge the image. Seemingly a meaningless game in the dark ages of the late 70s. But that was the game where Pete Rose set the NL hitting streak record. It’s always been a goal of mine to get Rose to sign it. Not that a Rose signature is all that rare – just thought it would be a neat collectible.
While confirming that this was indeed the game where Rose set the record, found this game story from Joseph Durso of The New York Times. Here’s the lede of the gamer:
Pete Rose broke one of baseball’s most glamorous records last night in Shea Stadium when he,lined a single to left field in his second time at bat and stretched his hitting streak to 38 pamec. (sic)
Today, a hitting streak doesn’t seem all that glamorous, especially if we’re not talking about Joe DiMaggio’s record. But it was a big deal at the time. It seemed that Rose was going to challenge DiMaggio’s streak but he didn’t even reach 50 games. And if memory serves, Rose was the opposite of gracious when it did end.
The other stub that immediately brought back memories was the big one on the bottom left. Another game against the Reds, although this was in 1985 and it was a good Mets team this time. Anyway, this is the game that – admittedly, a few years later – solidified my belief that you can’t tell anything from watching one game in person.
Bruce Berenyi was the starting pitcher for the Mets that night. Once a heralded prospect of the Reds, Berenyi was done in by the one-two combo of unrealistic expectations and injuries. But on this day, Berenyi was pretty much unhittable. His final line was 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 6 Ks and he out-dueled Mario Soto, with the Mets winning, 1-0, with the only run coming thanks to a Gary Carter HR.
It was one of only three games Berenyi pitched that year. I spent a lot of time lamenting his absence and hoping for him to be healthy again. He pitched 14 more games in the majors and finished his career 44-55 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.478 WHIP. But because of that one game, Berenyi was right up there with Tim Leary in my mind of pitchers that could have been great.
It’s great to know where these stubs actually are now. There were somewhere around 50 tickets in this cache. My goal is to have one central place to keep all of them that have been accumulated throughout the years. There’s no hope of ever finding the stub from my first game in 1970. But it was nice to find the Rose one. Now the top one on my “find” list is the game where John Valentin recorded an unassisted triple play.
Yesterday the time travel was all through the 1970s up until around 1986. Who said you could never quarantine the past? There were two shelves of … stuff that had been quarantined for at least 34 years. Found some neat items, things that brought me back to certain times and places and people.
From a Mets perspective there were a bunch of scorecards and yearbooks but the thing that made me the happiest was a collection of sticker albums that I distinctly remember getting but wasn’t sure was still in my possession. The item in question was the Dell Today’s 1971 National League Eastern Division collection of team booklets. The six booklets were inside an enlarged manila folder-like sleeve.
They’re called stickers but that’s a little misleading. There were lines to cut them out of the booklet but it’s not like they had any sticky substance. And if you were to cut them out, there was nothing that would have been suitable to keep them in. Given my cutting skills at the time, it’s a really good thing that they’re still in the book.
If cut correctly, the stickers would measure 1-7/8 x 2-15/16 inches. The front was a picture with a facsimile autograph and the back had a brief bio. Each team had 24 stickers over two pages. The players for the Mets were:
The front of the booklets carry the stamps of MLB and MLBP (no A at this point) which meant they were allowed to use pictures with team logos. Chance, Aspromonte and Sadecki were all in other team uniforms besides the Mets. And the facsimile autographs look like they were all signed with the same pen. And somehow Agee signed his first name “Tommy.”
This isn’t particularly valuable but it was a joy for me to come across because I remember getting it. This was delivered without begging for it – it was a complete shock to get. Maybe one of my older brothers got it for me – don’t remember the particulars but it was given to me and that’s what matters.
Now, if only my Danish Go-Rounds All-Time Baseball Greats cards would materialize like these sticker albums did…
“Oh how I love things as they used to be,
Don’t show me no more, please.”
Back in 1966, the Mets weren’t considered a good team but they did participate with a few other major league teams in a gas station plastic cup giveaway promotion. That year, the Mets joined the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers in giving away these cups featuring the baseball sports portraits of Nicholas Volpe.
The other Mets featured in their team set are: Yogi Berra, Larry Bearnarth, Jack Fisher, Rob Gardner, Jim Hickman, Ron Hunt, Ed Kranepool, Tug McGraw, Roy McMillan, Dick Stuart, and Ron Swoboda.
In 1966, Lewis was coming off his best professional season in which he had hit 15 HRs, 45 RBIs, and batted .245. He played both right field and center field and was considered to have one of the best arms in the league. His throwing prowess led to his nickname, “The Gunner”. For Mets fans, he is often remembered for beating Jim Maloney and breaking up his extra-inning no-hitter.
Some people might look at Lewis’s career and say that he didn’t live up to his potential but he survived the tragic loss of his wife early in his career while with the Cardinals and later returned to them as a coach, scout, and minor league manager.
These cups aren’t too costly if you can find them. The most expensive being the Berra cup which could cost around $50-75 dollars in excellent condition. This Lewis cup could run between $10-25 dollars.
Here is toast to the memory of Johnny Lewis and the 1966 Mets!
In 1977, RC Cola had a series of cans with pictures of MLB players on it. Since this came in the prime of my card collecting years – have two complete sets that year, one a factory set and the other a hand collated one – these were part of my collection, too. Now, this was an MLBPA production only, so the players had caps with the logos blurred. Cans are far from the ideal way to present collectibles. And if you’re a poor boy like me, you have to decide if you can buy a soda and not drink it in order to keep the can mint.
Of course, I couldn’t do that. So, my ’77 cans all have the tops popped. Still, it was a neat item, something completely different from the cards, yearbooks, booklets and posters that made up the vast majority of my collection. Even though they’re bulky and not easy to store – and kind of ugly – they still have a special place in my mind.
Awhile back, a buddy of mine said he had an RC Cola can commemorating the 1986 Mets and wanted to see if it was anything that would pique my interest. Told him yes and he delivered it the other day. This can is much more visibly pleasing than the 1977 ones. Also, it has the added benefit of an intact top, although there’s a pin hole in the bottom that let the liquid out.
There are no players pictured in this series. Mine commemorates the regular season and ebay has one for the World Series, too. Perhaps there are others. One of the World Series ones for sale had a little bio on it, saying it was a regional issue. Which certainly makes sense, as it never made it down to my neck of the woods.
The only complaint is with the can itself. The 1977 cans that were already part of my collection were sturdy – they could be used as a weapon if someone broke into your house. This one is the thinnest aluminum you can imagine. But if you think of an American-made car in 1977, they were made of much heavier material than cars today, too.
Anyway, it’s always fun when you get to add to the collection for free. Let’s Go Mets, even more so now that it looks like there will be a season starting in late July.
Even among collectors of oddball sports cards, the Transogram baseball issues of 1969 and 1970 have long been a source of confusion, thanks to both their distribution methods and their short lived, out of nowhere run in the sports collecting hobby.
During the spring of 1969 Transogram figures popped up in toy store aisles, representing both the American and National Leagues. Boxes featured red and blue writing on white cardboard, with a transparent place piece to allow shoppers a clear view of the players inside. Behind the plastic figurines was a red or yellow cardboard rendering of the inside of a stadium featuring an action shot.
The side panels of the boxes show a small head shot of the featured players. Many collectors snipped these side panel cards and saved them separately. The figures themselves featured a player in full team uniform, complete with logos on the jerseys, cap, socks, belt, and glove.
In 1969 and early parts of 1970, The Amazing Mets, the champions of baseball took the nation by storm. To capitalize on their popularity, Transogram dedicated their second 1970 series to the Champs, featuring 15 different members of the 1969 team. Issued three to a package, the Mets box was orange and blue, the teams colors. The box was called “1969 World Champion Collector Figurines”. The yellow cards featured three players from the basic 1970 set: Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, and Jerry Koosman.
Whether collecting the full boxed figurines or single cards, serious Mets collectors should add these wonderful pieces to their Orange and Blue collections.
Editor’s Note: This article was posted in November of 2019 but in the following September it was pointed out that the author blatantly plagiarized the piece. After consulting with the real person who wrote it, he asked that I leave it up and put a link to the original article, which you can find here — https://www.baseball-fever.com/blogs/milladrive/3297893-collecting-mets-yearbooks-1962-5
The 1962 edition is the most collectable and valuable year for Mets yearbooks, and rightly so. This was the first Mets season in the Major Leagues as one of the National Leagues first two expansion teams. They played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan (the former home of the New York Giants, who moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season), and relatively few people purchased the first official yearbook. Today the editions from 1962 command the most money, and finding them in better condition can fall between $200- $500.
There were five editions of Mets yearbooks issued in 1962, and collecting all can be quite expensive, since one of these is considered one of the rarest pieces of sports memorabilia is history. Making things more difficult is that none of these variations have any markings on the cover indicating their differences.
The cover of the 1962 yearbook was designed by Willard Mullins, one of most famous cartoonist of his time. Mr. Mullins designed many yearbooks of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants along with providing his drawings for the New York Daily News. The cover of the yearbook features “baby met” wearing nothing but a diaper, cleats, and a Mets cap. It is said “baby met” is was a caricature of Mullins grandson Ted Rhodes. The back cover is adorned by Kathy Kersh, also known as Miss Rheingold. The Rheingold beer ad is one of only two advertisements in the entire yearbook ( along with a local hotel). A far cry from today’s phone book yearbooks which is mostly advertisements.
The yearbook contains spread features on new manager Casey Stengel, his coaches, and players, along with a huge spread on the new home of the Mets then named Flushing Meadow Stadium later named Shea Stadium. The “new beautiful” ballpark was to be ready for the 1963 season, but unforeseen costs and a bad winter pushed the opening to 1964.
The first two issues of the 1962 yearbook have rosters dated April 8. The difference between them is the back cover. One of them is in black and white the other in color. The black and white is less difficult to find. The color version dated April 8 is one of the rarest pieces of all baseball collectables. It is considered the “holy grail” of both Mets collectors and baseball collectors in general.
The third issue has a roster dated April 13, which is the date of the first ever Mets home game at the Polo Grounds. The fourth and fifth issues of has a roster dated June 25, which has features of former Brooklyn Dodgers Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider and former New York Giant star Willie Mays. When the Giants and Dodgers came to town to play the Mets the crowds at the Polo Grounds doubled or even tripled. The National league fans of New York loved their new team but also missed their Dodgers and Giants.
If you’re a Mets collector always be on the lookout for these rare yearbooks. They’ll make a wonderful addition to any Orange and Blue collection.
July 24th, 1975 The New York Mets played the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium. It was an ordinary midseason game between two National League rivals. The rivalry took off in the 1973 National League Playoffs, when the Mets defeated the heavily favored Reds in five games. The series was marred by a game-three fight between Reds All-Star outfielder Pete Rose and diminutive Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. Fans threw whisky bottles and other objects at Rose when he went out to left field during the next half inning. Umpires threatened to forfeit the game in the Reds’ favor if the fans didn’t stop. Manager Yogi Berra, along with stars Rusty Staub, Tom Seaver, and Willie Mays pleaded with the fans to cease throwing the objects at Rose. Ultimately the fans stopped and play resumed with the Mets winning the game, 9-2. However the fans ire towards Rose would remain for many years to come. This midsummers night game would be no exception.
Among the 41,00 plus in attendance that evening was a seven year old baseball fan from Northern New Jersey, going to his first ever baseball game with his dad and his coworkers. I had looked forward to this game for months since dad bought two tickets in early April. Baseball cards and issues of Baseball Digest were spread out on my bed all that summer in anticipation. We met up with dad’s friends, all of whom knew how much of a Mets and baseball fan I was, happily snapping pictures of me in my Mets t-shirt (Felix Millan, which I wore until it disintegrated) and Mets cap. We boarded an old school bus and were on our way to Shea!
It was a warm early evening as the school bus pulled into the Shea Stadium parking lot. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the huge stadium upper deck, it seemed like it went on forever. We filed out of the bus, given our tickets and sandwiches. I held Dad’s hand as we approached Gate A and Nirvana. As we were entering the gate an older gentleman asked me if this was my first game. I stammered something which I think was yes. He chuckled and pulled my cap over my eyes. We were finally here.
There are moments in our lives which we remember forever: meeting first loves, marriage, birth of children, and of course first baseball games. If time travel was possible the first place I’d go back to would be my first game. The moment stepping through the tunnel and seeing the field, I was in love. The grass was so green. The lights of the scoreboard lit up the night’s sky. It was overwhelming. Dad took out his instamatic camera and took a picture of my face as I saw Shea for the first time live. He took my hand as we headed for our seats in the mezzanine.
The details of the game are blurry but I do remember vividly Tom Seaver getting his 2,000th strikeout, Millan getting three hits, Rose getting booed loudly, and a foul ball whizzing past my ear hit by Reds first baseman Dan Driessen. Seeing a major league game for the first time was beyond my expectations. I tried to take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the ballpark. The beer vender with the booming voice. The cotton candy guy with the long hair. The young lady who walked around selling programs and yearbooks. She caught my attention. I’d always wanted one of those. Dad flagged her down and bought me my first yearbook, telling her it was my first game. She smiled as she handed it to me. I leafed through it during the half innings, scouring the pictures and statistics. Still have it.
Unfortunately my Mets lost the game 2-1. However it didn’t dampen my excitement of going to my first game. As our group headed for the exits, dad told me I could pick out anything I wanted at the souvenir stand. What could a seven year old need? A stuffed Mr. Met, no. A Mets pennant, no. A Mets pencil and pen set? no. ( Ironically all part of my Mets collection now). Finally I picked a Mr. Met plastic drinking cup, which is still the cornerstone of my Mets amalgamation.
Whenever I add something to my Mets collection I always think about the Mr. Met cup dad bought me. It’s not the most valuable, but it contains memories I’ll remember forever. Dad passed away in 2014. He not only took me to my first Mets game, he also cemented my love of baseball. For that I’ll always be grateful. Thank you dad. I love and miss you.
Recently 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.