Sunday, March 22, 2015

'67 GOOSE GOOSSEN, THE WHITE WALL, AND THE KIDNAPPING OF A WALLET CARD



Batmagadanleadoff of the Crane Pool Forum recently shared some amazing & rare photographs of Shea Stadium during the first week of the 1967 season. The subject was not Greg Goossen, but Shea Stadium's outfield wall, which can be seen in the background.











  What is going on with that outfield wall?
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From 1964 through to the end of the '66 baseball season, Shea's outfield walls were a lighter green than in the 1970's. The distance markers (371,410,etc.) on the walls were white (see below). The plexi-glass bullpen sections were yet to be added.

Shea Stadium outfield wall 1964



 From early 1967 up until the 1980 rebuild the outfield walls were a dark green, sometimes appearing to be a greenish blue.






Starting the '67 season, the walls were much lighter and the distance markers were no longer white, but black. This was only during the seasons opening homestand. These photographs were taken on April 20th, 1967, as Tom Seaver took to the mound to make his very first career start. 


When the Mets returned from their first road trip of the season the walls had been re-painted the darker green many of us became familiar with.

So, what's the story? Were the Mets trying a new color scheme? It's certainly possible. Were the walls not ready for the season and this is a temporary primer coat before they applied the darker green? That's my theory but it's purely speculation. 

What's the big deal & who cares? This is part of Shea's history and I want the story. The truth is out there (X-Files is returning-WOOT). Does anyone know exactly what was going on with the OF wall in early '67?

Oh, btw, as soon as I saw the Shea photo with Goossen I knew I had to make a card for it. What an amazin' picture. Goose gets a '67t mfc card, thanks to Batmags for sharing these wonderful & rare shots.

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 Blog News ALERT!!!::::::::::::

The Kidnapping Of A Wallet Card

The following story is true. The names have not been used because nobody is guilty of anything.


So we had a little birthday dinner for my fathers 87th birthday the end last month. During a delicious dinner that my sister in law had prepared (and brought over) I told my brothers about The Wallet Card, and how Defgav of Baseball Card Breakdown introduced the concept to the blogisphere.

I had chosen a 1990 Dunruss (ugly card design or ugliest card design ever?) David Cone and I brought the card out from its designated section of my wallet. The card didn't look much worse for the wear as it was passed around the table just like a dish of potatos. When it came back to me I laid it aside and got back to the feast. Little did I know I had sealed Cones fate and set in motion the events leading up to...THE KIDNAPPING OF A WALLET CARD!!!!



Sad part is after everyone left I didn't even notice the card was missing. I thought I had returned it to my wallet since it was no longer on the counter where I put it. I had opened my wallet a number of times since that dinner but It didn't dawn on me that Cone was not there, looking up at me like he had every day for the last few weeks. Out of sight, out of mind. I had no idea that not only was David Cone not in my wallet, he was no longer even in the house!

I should have been more aware! I should have been out searching for him! I should have been wracked with guilt! I was none of these things. Not even when my brother called me 3 or 4 days later with an inquiry that I was not expecting. "How's your wallet card doing?," my brother asked. I leaned forward in my chair, thinking, wow, my brother's actually concerned about my wallet card. "It's doing fine, I guess." I reached for my wallet, opened it and my least fears were realized. Cone was gone! "Shit, it's gone. Where's my wallet card?"

I had to sit through close to a minute of laughter before he was able to communicate further. "Your wallet card is right here in my hand. My wife found it on the floor of her car. lol!" "What?! How'd that happen?" The last I could recall I had laid it down on the kitchen counter.

Well, it seems that my brother's wife had taken a tray of leftovers in plastic Handi-Wrap and put it down on the counter on top of the card. When she was leaving she took the tray, not knowing that David Cone was stuck to the bottom, the plastic wrap trapping him like a web, unwilling to let go.

He must have become unstuck during the trip home and fallen to the floor of the vehicle, where he would stay for some 72 hours, silently suffering. My sister in law found it and was gonna toss it, but then thought it might belong to my brother so she brought it in and showed it to him. I think he then proceeded to laugh for 24 hours straight before he called me.

The following day he came over, returning the card to me, and I returned it to its proper place in my wallet. It got a lil' dog eared on it's adventure, but I have to say the card still looks pretty good. The design might suck but that's some pretty sturdy cardboard they used.






Saturday, March 7, 2015

>>>>>2015mfc NYMets Season Set • #1• #2



If you're a Mets fan you'd have to live under a rock that's under the ocean that's on a different planet that is in another universe to not have heard about Matt Harvey's return to the mound on Friday.

Any questions and worries we had regarding his health and condition were put to rest as he cut through the first six batters in the Detroit Tigers lineup like they were melted butter. Or, for us fans up north, like they were melted snow (which can't happen soon enough). He was masterful, striking out 3 & sawing off bats. He hit 99MPH on the gun twice and introduced his curve ball, which he hadn't thrown since high school.

Is this any reason, only at the very beginning of spring training, for Mets fans to get excited?
You bet your sweet bippy it is. Can you believe that it's been nearly 18 months since Harvey pitched last? Well, us Metropolitan fans are the most patient people I know. We gotta be.


So in the first 2 televised games of the spring the Mets looked good. They did some coming back, showcased some fine pitching and we won Harveys return engagement on a walk-off home run by future Mets shortstop Matt Reynolds. In todays game prospect Mike Conforto slapped three hits including a long double in the deepest reaches of the left-center field gap, while driving in three runs.


I'm not down in Port St. Lucie but I still may have to put on a pair of shades. The future looks bright.

BASEBALL'S BACK BABY!!!!


 Here's an alternate Harvey card that was pulled because it sounded too insensitive to Daniel Murphy.


 I kid. I respect Murphy's views on homosexuality and that for some reason he felt they should be shared. Daniel's one of my favorite Mets and I'd like him to stay a New Yorker so I hope this does not work against him in any way. People are so freakin' sensitive these days.

The 2015 New York Mets spring training is in full throttle now, and in no time at all the baseball season will begin anew. Clean slate. Yay!
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Last season I tried to do a card a game on this blogs sister site  ( Mets Fantazy Cards 2014 Season Set) but I could not keep up with that pace. I ran out of gas in early September. As a fan of Joe Petruccio's blog, My NY Mets Journal, I have a new found respect for the man. He does a drawing for every Mets game. A drawing! Usually funny and always excellent. I can't do that this season (and also do this blog). It was too much. I tip my hat to Joe and hope this season will be one worth putting all the work that he puts into his Journal.

 This season I'll try to do at least one season highlight card a week. Special events and occurrences could make for more. I will be posting them here and not on a separate blog. So enjoy the 2015 season with me here following the Mets Fantazy Cards 2015 Season baseball card Set.

 The Mets Fantazy Card 2014 Season Set Blog will be deleted shortly. If anyone wants images of those cards grab em while you can.


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Photo of Matt Reynolds by Bruce Alder.

Friday, February 27, 2015

He lived long, and he did prosper. Goodbye Leonard Nimoy.


I've been a fan of Star Trek since day one in the 60's, as a child of about ten years old. I grew up with Leonard Nimoy's Spock. The character has to be one of the best known in the world. I don't have to tell you about Spock. When Star Trek was phased out in 1969, Leonard wanted to distance himself as far as possible from the character, simply so he could go on with his acting career. At that point the making of a Star Trek movie wasn't even a consideration. The show tanked. The idea for a Trek movie was germinating, but it didn't really take up a full head of steam til the mid 70's, after the success of Star Wars.

He wrote a book titled I Am Not Spock. He did Mission Impossible in its dieing days trying to break the mold. He played TV guest roles on Columbo and other shows on at the time. 
He even hosted In Search Of...
in the late 70's, when he was still in search of a career. He was in a bunch of made for TV movies between 1970 and 1978.

And then he returned to play Spock in the Star Trek movies starting in 1979, which he probably did more for financial reasons than anything else.
At a certain point Mr. Nimoy realized what Spock was. The role of a lifetime, and he eventually embraced the character, going so far as to write another book, this one called I Am Spock. 

We lost Leonard Nimoy today. If you want to read about Mr. Nimoy I'm sure there's plenty of stuff being written today about him. This is not about the fortunate actor, but more so about his most popular role, First Officer Spock of the star ship enterprise. Because, whether he liked it or not, he was Spock.

The thing about the half human/half Vulcan that resonates with me at this time is not what kind of TV character he was, or how perfectly he was portrayed, but that Nimoy's Spock has been with me every decade of my life. From the age of 9 to now, this character Spock grew old with me. I found this most fascinating, as Spock would say, as I was looking through photos of Mr. Nimoy today.



 




This was reflected in the tributes I prepared for him tonight.
A card based on the  1976 Topps Star Trek trading card set.
 

This should probably say Commander Spock, or even Ambassador Spock, but re-making that font would be too time consuming.

 Since I made a bunch of cutouts for the card I put em together for a little banner tribute.

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 He did live long. And he did prosper.
Goodbye Leonard Nimoy, goodbye Mister Spock.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

1974 mfc/ '73 WORLD SERIES- A's vs. METS /Game 6


 Game 6 of the 1973 World Series took place a little after two in the afternoon on October 20, a Saturday. After 3 dark and cold games in New York City, it was back to the west coast and warm sunshine. We had the best pitching in the National League. We had the A's up against the ropes up three games to two. How could we possibly mess this up??


  



The great Reggie Jackson,
always a reporters delight, was not looking so great entering game six. He was batting .190.

 
When New York beat the Cincinnati Reds in the '73 N.L.C.S. the A's slugger said,"Who Are the Mets? The Met's don't have any big stars except Tom Seaver and Rusty Staub."

Jackson said he would have preferred playing the Reds.
"You beat them, you are the best."

But New York pitching is what got them past The Big Red Machine. Cincinnati had a total of 8 hits in 5 games. There was no doubt that the Mets had superior pitching. I remember thinking: keep flapping your mouth Reggie.

Jax smacked 4 hits in game 2, but New York still beat Oakland in extra innings.  For the Mets, keeping Reggie down was crucial. And they were doing a fine job of it, holding him to only 1 hit in all three games in NYC. If you removed Reggies game two numbers, he was 1 for 15 with 17 runners stranded.

 The Athletics as a team on the whole were pretty feeble at the plate so far, batting .197 with no home runs. NO HOME RUNS!
A's manager Dick Williams: "We're being dominated by their pitching."


 At this point in time we Mets fans felt we were destined to win this series. The way things had gone for the Mets ever since The Ball On The Wall play there was no doubt in my mind that New York was going to drive the World Championship home.

We needed one win and we had Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, and a rested George Stone. Stone made crucial contributions to the '73 Mets, going 12-3 with a 2.40 ERA. The lefty had closed the season winning his last eight games and in 7.2 post season innings he had a miniscule 0.93 ERA.

It was my personal belief that if George Stone wasn't going to start one of these west coast games Yogi was holding him back, like a secret weapon. Kind of like Gil Hodges had done with Nolan Ryan in the 1969 post season.  
And I was okay with that.



In retrospect it's easy to jump on the "Yogi screwed up" bandwagon, but I'm going to be honest. I'm gonna keep it 100. I was okay at the time with Yogi's decision to pitch Seaver in game 6. My simplistic logic was that if Tom said he wanted the ball for game 6, you gave it to him. If Tom's ready to go, get it over in six. And we still had Stone and Matlack for game 7 if needed.
Yogi's reluctance to use George Stone at all as a starter in the series mystified me at the time, but I had faith in Yogi's moves, and like I said I thought he would use him to the teams advantage. An ace in the hole. There were a number of ways the Mets manager could have gone with the pitching staff he had, and it's easy in retrospect to condemn his choice of strategy. In baseball sometimes it's just the way the ball bounces.



So it would be a rematch of game 3, Tom Seaver vs. Catfish Hunter.



  Tom put in 8 innings in game 3, Hunter pitched 6. Both allowed only 2 runs on 7 hits. Both were pitching on three days rest.

















The business about Seaver pitching on three days rest didn't concern me if Tom was healthy and ready. During the season Seaver had pitched with 3 days rest 6 times, one of them in the '73 N.L.C.S.

Four of those times he was coming off wins. In late September, down the stretch, Tom had started two games in a row on three days rest. Starting the run with a win he went 2-1 between September 13th to the 21st. His total record in games with three days rest during the '73 season was 3-3.

I know that's only .500 but we're talking Tom Seaver! At this age I might have been more concerned, or more analytical, but back then I had a kids faith in Yogi, our manager. He had gotten the Mets to the World Series. We were 5 games in and led 3-2. Nuff said. I was really confident that even with choices like this, there was no way we were gonna lose.

Known for our pitching, like in 1969, again our best hitters had posted pretty average numbers for the 1973 season. John Milner led the Mets with 23 home runs while driving in 72. Rusty Staub topped the team with 76 RBI. Not exactly earth shaking.

But in this series the Mets bats were alive. Milner was batting .350 coming into game six. Cleon Jones, a blistering .381. Rusty Staub had to sit out game one because of his shoulder injury in the N.L.C.S.. Staub still could not throw overhand in the field, but at the plate he contributed mightily. Coming into game six he was batting .444. No one else in the series had even come close to driving in 5 runs in one game, as he did in game five.

The A's starting pitcher himself would admit as much in a pre-game interview. "We didn't underrate the Mets' pitching," Catfish Hunter said,"but we underrated their hitters. They came out swinging and they're better than their batting averages indicate."

I really thought that no matter who was on the mound for New York, the Mets were in the drivers seat.

And then they play the game and all you can do is sit and watch.
Tom Terrific warms up before game 6 of the 1973 World Series
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It started out well enough. New York got two runners on as lead off hitter Wayne Garrett walked and Rusty Staub lined a one out single to center, putting runner on 1st & 3rd. The Mets had Cleon Jones and John Milner coming up. I thought this was starting perfectly. Cleon or The Hammer were going to get one of those runs home. But they didn't. Both popped out to center and the Mets half of the first was over.

After dispensing with Bert Campanaris to start the game Seaver gave up a single to Joe Rudy. Tom struck out Sal Bando and had to face Reggie Jackson with two out and a man on first. Jackson was batting .190 at this point in the series. The Mets were keeping Jackson down and that was crucial, but Tom couldn't hold him in check in game six. Reggie ripped a long blast to left center that fell in and went to the wall for a double. Cleon Jones fumbled while retrieving the ball and Joe Rudy had no problem scoring all the way from first base. The A's were on the board, 1-0.

 After a shaky first Catfish Hunter settled down and began setting the Mets batters down in order. From the end of the first to the fifth inning Hunter retired 10 in a row.

Meanwhile, in Oakland's half of the third what Mets fans feared the most finally happened. The fact that Rusty Staub could not throw did not hurt the Mets so far. But it came up and bit 'em good at a most inopportune time. And again, it was Reggie Jackson in the middle of the action.

In the 3rd Seaver got Bert Campaneris and Joe Rudi for two quick outs to start the A's half of the inning. Batting next, A's third baseman Sal Bando followed with a ground single up the middle. This brought up Reggie Jackson, who burned Seaver in the first with an RBI double.

 Jax roped a liner in right-center field that dropped for a single. Rusty Staub got to it quickly enough but Sal Bando was flying around the bases and was well on his way to third. The A's were waiting for an opportunity like this. Oakland was very well aware of Rusty's injured arm. He still could not throw overhand due to his NLCS injury. They hadn't much chance to take advantage of it. Reggie did in game 2, stretching a routine single to right into a double. Bando had no intention of stopping at third base.

Rusty gloved the ball and knew he had to get it in quickly. He forcefully winged the ball to cut-off man Felix Millan who came out for the throw.

Now if Felix fielded the one hop serve from Rusty cleanly, we might have had a play at the plate on Bando. But he flubbed it and had to retrieve the ball from the grass, wasting crucial seconds. Sal Bando zipped home with Oaklands second run and Reggie Jackson pulled up at second with another RBI double.
 
As the game progressed Seaver would allow a runner to reach in every inning from the 4th to the 7th, but gave up no more runs. Meanwhile Catfish Hunter was cruising as the Mets bats went to sleep. After Rusty Staubs single in the first the Mets would not reach base again until the 5th inning, when Jerry Grote led off the inning with a single. He would be stranded at first. In the 7th John Milner would tap Catfish for a 1 out single, but the A's pitcher bore down and got the next two outs without incident.


Oakland manager Dick Williams could see that Hunter was losing a little off his fastball as the Mets came to bat in the 8th. He decided to stick with his ace until he hit a bump. If a Mets batter reached first base in the 8th, he was set to pull him. After Bud Harrelson flew out Tom Seaver's day came to an end. Yogi sent up Ken Boswell to pinch hit for the Mets ace and Bozz ripped a base hit to right, knocking Catfish Hunter out of the game.

 A's reliever Darold Knowles, who had pitched in every game so far, came on to finish the 8th.  But he was ineffective as Wayne Garrett followed with a single sending Boswell to third. 
The A's 2 run lead was in jeopardy as Felix Millan stepped up to the plate. He kept the rally going with a dribbling grounder that managed to make it's way through the hole at second base and New York was finally on the board and threatening. Our big gun was up in Rusty Staub and things were getting exciting. But Knowels, who didn't look to have anything against Garrett and Millan, suddenly got his shit together and struck out Staub for probably the biggest out of the game.
Rusty's shoulder still hurt him.











I got a sinking feeling in my stomach after Rusty struck out. Dick Williams went to the A's bullpen again, this time bringing in relief ace Rollie Fingers to face Cleon Jones. I had the utmost confidence in Cleon, he was so clutch down the stretch. But Cleon could not come through either, popping out to center, and the inning ended with the score A's 2, Mets 1.

That sinking feeling was further magnified in the A's bottom of the 8th. Our ace reliever Tug McGraw would take over for Tom Seaver and be greeted by a line single to center by game 6 star Reggie Jackson. It wasn't the single that bothered me, it was the fact that Don Hahn misplayed the ball and it went right thru him, all the way to the centerfield wall.
 Reggie scooted around the bases and pulled up at third. With no out and a man on third, Oakland had little trouble getting Jackson home as pinch hitter Jesus Alou lifted an easy sacrifice fly to left. Reggie crossed the plate with the A's 3rd run. Tug was able to get out of the inning with no more damage, but now the Mets were down to three outs in the 9th.




Rollie Fingers made quick work of it, getting the Mets in order in the 9th, home-town favorite Ed Kranepool popping out to shortstop for the final out. New York had lost game six.






This wasn't due to Tom Seavers performance, which was not his best, but still better than most pitchers at their best. Tom only allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, walking 2. It was the lack of offense that did in the Mets in game 6. Their hot bats had cooled off, and Catfish Hunter was a tad better, giving up 1 run and scattering 4 hits while only walking one.

 Post Game Quotes:
"I was in a slump when the series began", said Jackson,"I didn't know what was going on at the plate. I felt like I had been asleep for two weeks. I took batting practice today and I woke up."

 "The Tom Seaver you saw today was not the real Tom Seaver. He ate me up in New York," Reggie was also quoted as saying. "He just didn't have his breaking ball and overpowering fastball today."

"I didn't pitch badly," said Seaver after the game," Just badly enough to lose. It was immediately apparent to me that I didn't have good, strong stuff."

Yogi's pitching did not let him down. The Mets batters and fielders did. And so the best-of-seven series became a best-of-one.

                                         Game 6 of the 1973 World Series
                                           Courtesy of John Quinn via youtube.

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Credits
Steve's Photography
MLB Films
Pittsburgh Post Gazette  
ClassicMLB11@youtube -WS 1973 OAK V NYM

  Colorizations
Reggie double #2