1970 TOPPS WORLD CHAMPIONS
This here is a totem.
I was five-years old back in 1970, and flush with a new enthusiasm for baseball in general, and the Mets in particular.
Every Sunday after church my family would drive to the local stationery store, and assuming that I hadn’t tested anyone’s patience too greatly during the week, I was allowed to grab two items from the candy rack.
One spring morning, I scooped up a couple of wax packs of Topps baseball cards. The tightly wrapped red, white, and yellow slabs promised both 10 cards and a stick of gum, so selecting them felt kind of like gaming the system.
In retrospect, the gray-bordered cards seem to be a dull compromise between the dominant white-bordered template of the preceding decades and the dramatic black borders of the 1971 set. But to a young boy thumbing through his first packs and seeing the name of his favorite team in white or red or black or yellow block letters at the top of the bounding box, these gray gems were the alpha and omega.
And sitting right at the top of the set, number 1 on the checklist, was this Mets team card. Unlike the other team cards in the set, it didn’t carry the name of the franchise, but instead displayed a bold, electric description of the gang pictured below: World Champions.
I’ve pulled this card out numerous times over the past couple of weeks, and run a gentle ritual finger over the light stanchion, the partly cloudy skies, the flat-green outfield fencing, the faces frozen in that brief photo-day moment.
The incantation then starts lightly, but grows ever stronger: Let’s. Go. Mets. Let’s go Mets. Let’s go Mets!