1969 DECKLE JERRY KOOSMAN
Most Topps inserts from the 1960s and 1970s get a big thumbs up from me. And then there’s this deckle insert from 1969. It would be curious to know the exec who greenlighted a glossy, black and white offering. And if that contrast wasn’t bad enough, we have the “deckle” edging. It’s hard to believe that the kids of the late 60s wanted an imitation of imperfection. Because this kid of the 70s wanted nothing to do with these.
If all of the above wasn’t enough, you had a handful of cards in this set featuring players with a cap with no logo, indicative of the trademark issues that Topps (and to a lesser degree, Kellogg’s) was having at this rough time period. Fifty-odd years later, the ones with the cap logo displayed, like this Jerry Koosman, don’t seem so bad. The blank cap ones are still ugly as sin.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for a Mets fan about this set is that it includes Koosman but not Seaver. There were 33 cards in this set, with two numbers featuring two different players, bringing us to 35 total. And the Mets, coming off a 73-win season in 1968, only merited one player. And they chose Koosman, who just finished a 19-win season with a 2.08 ERA.
It’s weird that the Reds got two players, with Tommy Helms joining Pete Rose. There were probably half a dozen players on the ’68 Reds who deserved a card in this set rather than Helms. And also making it harder for multi-player recognition for the Mets was the fact that both the Giants and Tigers had three players in the set.
But since they opted against including Johnny Bench or Hank Aaron, along with Seaver, that makes this set more affordable today. The borders alone make this hard to acquire in great shape. Then you toss in the fact that most of these have terrible centering, it only adds to the challenge. And for the final kick in the pants, the backs are mostly white, which lends to smudging and even pen/pencil marks from bored kids.
After swearing that this would never be part of my collection, I now have 27 of these. The change in tune came for two reasons. The first was my new-found appreciation for smaller sets. Having put together 750-plus card sets, my preference now is for 100 or fewer and this one fits the bill. The other is that a deal was made to acquire many of the 27 for a ridiculously low price. So, there’s that.
One of the missing ones for me is this Koosman, so feel free to send it to me if you have an extra.