Mets Card of the Week: 1966 Warren Spahn


The ghost of Warren Spahn haunts the 1966 Topps set.

Spahn appeared on a 1965 card as a Mets pitcher/coach, head balding and face well lined. He was 44 at the time, and had by then won 356 games, thrown 5,046 innings, and given three prime years of his life to service in World War II.

1965 Spahn

Spahn went 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA for the Mets that year, the high point of his tenure being consecutive complete-game wins against the Dodgers and the Giants during a West Coast swing in April.

His record stood at 4-4 with a sub 4.00 ERA on May 24, but his fortunes turned, and the Mets made what must have been the difficult decision to release Spahn on July 17. Two days later, the fourth-place Giants picked him up, and his veteran leadership helped guide the team to 95 wins and a second-place finish behind the Dodgers.

Spahn announced his retirement following the 1965 campaign, but early iterations of the 1966 Topps second-series checklist catalogued him as card 115 in the set. This was soon corrected, and he was replaced on the checklist by Bill Henry of the Giants.

Over the years, this has led to tantalizing speculation that there might have been a 1966 proof card created picturing Spahn in a San Francisco uniform, but nothing has ever turned up in the Topps archives.

The only sighting of Spahn in the 1966 set is his apparitional appearance on this variant checklist…

Spahn error

6 comments for “Mets Card of the Week: 1966 Warren Spahn

  1. Patrick Albanesius
    May 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I love a good mystery, especially about baseball cards. Very cool!

  2. Jim OMalley
    May 7, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I love the 65 Topps set … I remember scaling these cards against the wall of the gym during lunch….if your card landed on another card, you won both cards. If yor card stuck in the little crack between the wall and and the floor, it was called a Hindu and you won all the cards on the floor.

  3. May 9, 2014 at 3:17 am

    I did not realize that there were Spahn/Henry versions of this checklist. Looked at my cards and found two of each version! I recently read a book titled “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched” about Spahn and Marichal locking horns for their 16 inning 1-0 game. Awesome story about both players and baseball in the 60’s.

    • Doug
      May 9, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Thanks very much for the book recommendation, Skid!

  4. Paul Dervis
    May 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for your research. I have spent decades talking to my friends in the business and asking them about if theoretical Spohn card. I still believe that somewhere in some vault is Warren Spahn’s 1966 card that was never released. Here’s hoping!

  5. Doug Parker
    May 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Paul. I hope one turns up someday– I’d love to see it!

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