1984 NESTLÉ RUSTY STAUB
The early ’80s were boomerang years for the Mets, as former players returned to the fold with notable regularity.
And of course Tom Seaver returned in 1983, as the club made a comprehensive effort to exorcise the demons still rattling around Shea from the infamous Midnight Massacre. (Alas, things ended in tears once again, when the Mets left the Franchise unprotected following the 1983 campaign and he was scooped up by the White Sox.)
But my favorite homecoming of all was probably Rusty Staub. Le Grand Orange returned to Le Grand Pomme in the winter of 1980, after having been traded to Detroit in 1975 for a running-on-empty Mickey Lolich.
Staub served as a reliable left-handed bat off the bench until his retirement in 1985. But perhaps more importantly, he served as a mentor to a team of young players who were just learning how to win. He was ultimately inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in that magical year of 1986…
At first blush, the Rusty Staub card featured here might appear to be a bog-standard 1984 Topps issue, but if you look closely at the upper right corner, you’ll see that the Topps logo has been replaced by the Nestlé logo. This is true of the card back as well, where the Nestlé mark sits above the card number.
Nestlé contracted with Topps that year to produce a version of the set as a premium, in uncut sheet form. The company printed 4,000 such sets, which were eventually bought up by hobbyists and cut into individual cards, largely to feed the then-considerable thirst for rare and unusual Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry issues.