So what of Topps and its abiding fascination with cloth?

Seems someone in the hallowed halls held fast to the hobby-horsical notion that the kids wanted to see cloth versions of their cards.

In 1972, Topps created a test set of brown-backed cloth stickers. These made it out of the factory in uncut sheet form in some abundance, and the fledgling hobby broke out its collective X-ACTO knives and got down to the business of creating singles.

Then in 1976, Topps produced ragged cloth versions of two cards (Duffy Dyer and Bob Apodaca), utilizing a number of different materials. Samples of these also found their way into the hobby, and today will set you back about $50 a pop.

These 1976 cards were no doubt a run up to the widely distributed 1977 Topps cloth stickers, a little-loved set, then as now.

The cloth contingent within Topps then lay dormant until 1988, when another cloth test set was produced in sheets. This set is somewhat generously dubbed an “experimental” issue in the hobby literature, due to the unique tactile feel of the end product.

There has long been speculation that these 1988 cards were meant to turn into sponges when soaked in water, but a quick search of “1988 Topps Cloth Experimental Issue Experiment” on YouTube will demonstrate that they have no absorptive power whatsoever. ShamWow’s they ain’t…

And what of our Mets’ man of the cloth here?

Well, Barry Lyons was the quintessential backup catcher for a few years, giving Gary Carter some much-needed days off in the late ’80s.

I think the most-fascinating thing about Barry is the fact that he spent time with eight different organizations, but never once in his career was he traded for another player. Each and every time he moved to a new team, it was via the release/free agency route.

I defy you to find me another modern player cut from quite the same cloth…

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3 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: 1988 Barry Lyons (Experimental)

  • Brian Joura

    OK – I’m not sure whether to tip my hat or punch you in the stomach for that line at the end of this post. Actually, it’s a very good line, so I doff my cap to you, fine sir!

    My main memory of Lyons is him crashing into the Cardinals dugout and breaking Tudor’s leg.

    Finally, how about our old pal Gary Matthews Jr? He was waived twice, released twice and left as a free agent twice – the second one of these seems odd, as it was how he left the Reds last July.

    Three other times there was a player involved in his transaction. Once he was traded for John Bale, another time it was Rodney Myers and finally Brian Stokes. It may not be cloth, but for a guy who made a lot of scratch in his career, that’s not much of a haul.

  • Doug

    I don’t know– I felt like I kinda sorta earned the punch in the stomach…

  • Charlie Hangley

    Barry Lyons’s other claim to fame was a that he hit a homer, a double and two singles off Tom Seaver in a simulated game when Mr. Franchise was making his comeback for the Mets in 1987. It was Lyons’s performance that prompted Seaver to make his retirement permanent.

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