Random thoughts inspired by 9 Mets baseball cards

Geof surprised me with a couple of envelopes filled with Mets baseball cards this week. Here are a few of my favorites and some that just caught my eye.

2002 Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Tom Seaver insert card

2002 Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Tom Seaver insert card

I had just gotten back into baseball card collecting in 2002, so I really don’t remember whether “Heroes of Baseball” was a full set released by Upper Deck that year or just the name of this insert series. This card, #HTS3, commemorates the April 22, 1970 game when he struck out the last 10 batters en route to a 19-strikeout performance.

Mets fans of a certain age undoubtedly remember that game. Younger fans might remember hearing about it during a Mets broadcast – particularly during the era that Seaver was a TV analyst for the Mets, it seemed to come up quite often.

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1997 Upper Deck UD3 Todd Hundley baseball card

1997 Upper Deck UD3 Todd Hundley baseball card

I was not actively collecting baseball cards in 1997, but this might have been a favorite card design if I was. I remember early-career Todd Hundley better than the All-Star. For his first five seasons in the majors, Hundley was a good defensive catcher who hit the occasional home run but struggled to keep his batting average significantly above his weight. That all changed in 1996, when Hundley set a Mets team record for home runs in a season and an MLB record for most home runs in a season by a catcher with 41. (It was little surprise when Hundley was implicated in the Mitchell report.)

1993 Donruss Triple Play Doc Gooden insert card

1993 Donruss Triple Play Doc Gooden insert card

There are a lot of wacky 1990s baseball cards, particularly when you get into the insert sets. This one is very understated, with just a rainbow foil effect to Gooden’s nickname making in stand out from regular base cards. I remember dealers asking $2 or $3 for it back in 1993 – now, I imagine it would land in the quarter box if a dealer felt that it was worth bothering with. I’m happy to find a card that evokes memories, though.

Tommie Agee's 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York baseball card

Tommie Agee’s 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York baseball card

In 2001, Upper Deck released a set of baseball cards focusing on the “Legends of New York,” stars from the Mets, Yankees, New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only set that ever featured flocked logos on the baseball cards. I wasn’t actively collecting at the time, but I believe I’ve picked up all of the Mets cards at some point (as well as a handful of the Giants and Dodgers cards.)

I’d love to know what kind of reaction the Legends of New York set received outside of this area, assuming that it truly was a nationally-released set.

2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Gary Carter baseball card

2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Gary Carter baseball card

Gary Carter’s arrival in New York more or less coincided with me reaching an age to recognize and choose a favorite baseball player. His constant enthusiasm (and presence in front of the cameras) made him my obvious choice. I have every nationally-issued baseball card produced during Gary Carter’s career, as well as an awful lot of regional ones and post-retirement issues.

Ron Darling's 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York baseball card

Ron Darling’s 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York baseball card

I’m used to seeing Ron Darling in photos that show #12 or #15 on his jersey, but he did wear #44 as a rookie in 1983 and 1984.  (I don’t  think a Montreal Expos baseball card would look any more strange to me.)

2013 Donruss Hometown Heroes Zack Wheeler baseball card

2013 Donruss Hometown Heroes Zack Wheeler baseball card

I give Panini points for card design – last year’s Hometown Heroes set has a nice retro feel to it without being totally derivative of anything I’m familiar with. But no matter how nice the card design, I still can’t get past the fact that they don’t have a license to use Major League Baseball team names and logos. (Color combinations are also a problem, apparently – orange lettering and trim gets turned white on Mets cards.

Wilmer Flores' 2014 Donruss baseball card

Wilmer Flores’ 2014 Donruss baseball card

This year’s Donruss set also gets points for a cool retro design, with elements reminiscent of the company’s 1987 sets along with the early 1980s logo. But that is an awful photo of Wilmer Flores, who has been digitally manipulated into a generic non-Mets uniform. (To be fair, I think I like the generic look for Wilmer… right now, he looks like he might turn out to be one of those players who is too good for Triple-A but not good enough to stick in the majors.)

2011 Topps 60 Ike Davis insert card

2011 Topps 60 Ike Davis insert card

I can still remember being excited about getting to go to Ike Davis’ major league debut. He was supposed to be a fixture at first base for years, with the potential to become a star. That summer, I spent too much money on a Steiner-certified autographed photo because it was from that debut game. That winter, I waited on line for hours to “meet” Davis and get his autograph in person at a bank opening. He seemed like a very friendly guy that you wanted to see do well.

It didn’t work out in New York, and it doesn’t look like things are going much better in Pittsburgh. Here’s hoping Davis can turn things around next season (just not when he’s playing against the Mets.)

About Paul

NY Mets enthusiast, toy collector, amateur gardener, Christian. I like to take pictures & write things.

Posted on August 29, 2014, in Baseball, Baseball Cards, New York Mets and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I remember seeing, and buying a few, packs of the Legends of New York at the Walmart near where I lived in Chicago Ridge, IL. I thought they were interesting cards, but I can tell you they sold like total crap in the store. It must have been just me buying them., and then one day they were gone. Either someone else came in or they were shipped back. I think the second option.

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    • I’m not surprised. I remember picking up packs of a Topps Archives Brooklyn Dodgers set on clearance in the 1990s (even though I wasn’t actively collecting at the time) and sets of 1969 Mets postcards that included a random autograph for a couple of dollars each… I don’t think the nostalgia stuff sells all that well outside of hobby channels, and then if you compound the problem by trying to interest people outside of the team’s primary market, you probably have a recipe for failure.

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