Saturday, February 8, 2014

______1971 Mets Fantazy Cards Plus______

Welcome to the 1971 Mets Fantazy Card page.
I went a little overboard on this one. Li'l bit. This one's like a freakin' book.

I will have some extended pages during these early years ( I refer to when I both started collecting cards and following the Mets, which went hand in hand ) because they were special times, special memories. In later seasons, after I moved from N.Y.C. in the late 70's, there were years I didn't even get to Shea to see a game (I'd still see them at least half a dozen times a year at the Vet in Philly). But back during '70- 75 I went to a ton of games at good 'ol Shea Stadium. And these pages will reflect that.

I probably should have split this up to a few posts but I'm gonna stick with my plan. I will be getting a little bloggy with it now because now I'm speaking from first hand experience.
__________On to the '71 cards:
I didn't want to mess with the '71 design too much cause that's kinda blasphemous in my book.

Yet, I will mess with it. Li'l bit.
(*shrugs shoulders*)
It's what I do here.

Every card collector (past or present) is partial in relation to the first few years he or she collected baseball cards. The design, the layout, front and back, the type of picture used, don't mess with that stuff. It could be considered sacrilege or simply unnecessary.
I used to feel that way.
And as far as what year or what design, it's all relative to the person. Yes, even Topps 1968 totally weak burlap bulletin board borders are loved by someone. 1971 was the first year I collected a whole set of baseball cards. They were just such kool looking cards. (Much more on that below the Mets Fantazy Cards for '71)

Messing around with 'em:
The flipped name to the bottom might get a 'wow' from someone. Looks strange to me. The changes to the horizontal type card are simply to allow for a larger space with a bigger player image. I really like how the changes in the horizontal card look. Some things, like white autographs, started out of necessity because of a dark backround on a few cards. I liked it so I used the white auto on a few more (many of these cards were made a while back & this post was started weeks ago).

Action shots were a novel staple of the 1971 Topps set. I wanted to use mostly action shots but there are also some great portrait shots that are time sensitive. So for this year and 1972 I also want to work in my favorite posed shots. I wanted to have them in these borders, two of my favorites.

That photo of Gil is probably my favorite picture ever taken of him. Hodges managed the Mets to a 83-79 record , procuring a fourth place finish in the National League East. There's Yogi being Yogi^.

I finally found nice photos of the coaches so they can have there own cards for this year.
Simply Rube^.

 What a classic photo of Pignatano^. Yes, it's an actual (not photoshopped) photo of Joe taking a picture of himself with a bulb in his mouth. I did colorize that for use here. Piggy's known by Met fans for his gardening work in the Mets bullpen as well as his coaching.

"The Walking Man" Ed Yost is a very hard subject to get good quality color photos of.
As far as coaches go Yost would get my vote for the Mets Hall Of Fame. But then all these guys would (not one coach is in the Met hall, is there?).
I loved this group of coaches who were around for what seemed like forever.

Eddie was third base coach for the Washington Senators while Gil Hodges was the teams manager. He came to the Mets when Gil became Mets manager and selected him for his coaching staff. Yost coached third base for the Mets from 1968 to 1976 & then was a coach with the Boston Red Sox from 1977 to 1984.

Ed was considered one of the best lead off men (and third basemen) of his era. He played mostly for the Washington Senators in a MLB career spanning from 1944-1962. Yost got his nickname as he led the American League in bases on balls on six different occasions and logged 1,614 over his 18-year career, ranking him 11th on the all-time walks list.

In 1956, he had a .412 on-base percentage while posting a .231 batting average, the lowest batting average with a .400 on-base percentage in major league history.

Eddie hit 28 home runs to lead off a game, a record which stood until the 1970s.

From what I recall Ed Yost was aways happy, in great shape til the day he died (in 2012), and served as a great coach for the Mets.
Tom Terrific gets an alternate card and an O-Pee-Chee card back for he is the King Of The Sadecki Spot ( he also had a damned good season in '71). This is his second appearance at the spot here in Fantazyland (card front #2)^(his first is on his '71 Opening Day card back).

I really loved the '71 O-Pee-Chee card backs, which I did not get to see until a card show in the mid 1980s. I was surprised they were so different. Maybe that's why I feel that way. They still fell short with the lack of year by year stats, like their U.S. counterpart.

Tom's card back isn't much of a custom deal. Aside from the picture used and the card number it's exactly the same as the actual one. My source image was fuzzy and there was one French word I couldn't make out. I used "bloom" there.

Tommie needed a card where we could see his face.

Buddy on the run: He would tie Tommie for team lead in stolen bases this season with 28.

Koos had an off year in 1971. He tore a rhomboid muscle in his upper back and spent time on the disabled list. Jerry started 24 games and went 6-11.

Cleon led the team in hits (161) and tied for the team lead in home runs (14) with Agee and Kranepool.
A look at Cleons card indicates that I take care of my virtual cards as well as I did my real-life cards :(
Ryan's getting a big head. Quick, trade him!

I kid but we all know that this is Ryan's last season as a New York Metropolitan.
He had an amazin' start to the season, going 6-1 with a 1.08 ERA by the end of May. From that point on he went 4-13 with a 4.50 ERA.

This was pretty much par for the course with Nolan on the Mets. He would look like a dominating pitcher one outing, and throw like a wild man the next.

On my birthday (4/18) in 1970 Ryan pitched a one-hitter for his first major league shutout, striking out 15 Phillie batters in one game(Seaver's 19 K game mentioned on the Z-Pee-Chee card back would occur four days later). Everyone knew he had the potential to be great. But then he began progressing backwards, his walk totals (1968= 78 / 1969= 53 ) ballooned in 1970 & 71 to 97 and 116.

The Mets were about to give up on the young flamethrower who suffered from recurring blister problems. The team felt they needed a third baseman badly. In trade negotiations for Jim Fregosi the California Angels initially asked for pitcher Gary Gentry. The Mets said no way and countered with Nolan Ryan. Not only did the Mets want to move Ryan, he himself wanted out. He said his wife was not happy in New York.
Nolan, who pretty much kept to himself, did have this to say:
"There wasn't much communication from Hodges and Walker, and it's my feeling that one of the reasons I never achieved anything with the Mets was because I never received any instructions."

Hodges, for his part, said:
"He could put it together overnight but he hasn't done it for us..."
I was going to title this card THEN & THEN AGAIN but that would break the nostalgic spell created. 
I now return you to the year 1971.

Donn was like a shooting star in the Mets universe. He came, he shined, and whoosh, he flew off to retirementland. The Mets released him at the end of '71. He played 61 games for the Cardinals in 1972 and then hung 'em up.
Wayne Garrett is just waiting to be appreciated as the Mets go through 3rd baseman after 3rd baseman. He played 53 of his 56 games at third, and had a weak year at the plate.

Steady Eddie just workin' his way through his life as a Met.

For the 1971 Topps set, chock full of player action shots for the first time, an IN ACTION series would have been redundant. Still, lets take a look at how one might have looked.^
Tugger had a fine and interesting season in '71. Even more interesting in retrospect, compared to how relievers are used these days. Us Mets fans only knew we had one of the best firemen in the game who could relieve a pitching staff in any way necessary. And he looked like he was having a ball doing it. I watched him shag flies in right during batting practice once, maybe 1971, early 70s for sure. He would get under the fly ball and as it was coming down he would lean forward and catch the ball behind his back. And then strut around right field like a chicken, looking up at us kids and laughing as we did. A true character of the game.

Closer, middle relief, long man, spot starter he could and did do anything he was called on to do. He was usually used when the game was at its pivotal point, whether it was the 9th,7th(& stay on for all 3 to close), 4th,...whatever.

In '71 the lefty appeared in 51 games, starting one of them. McGraw logged 111 innings, most by any pitcher not in the starting rotation.
He went 11-4 and saved 8, second on the team behind Danny Frisella's 12 saves. His earned run average was lower than Tom Seavers (1.76), an amazin' team leading 1.70 ERA.

I have this penchant for going outside the lines, so to speak, on the borders, and pity the info that gets obscured. So in case you don't know who Duffy is, he's Don Robert "Duffy" Dyer, Mets back up catcher.
In 1971 played in 59 games and batted .231. Perhaps his best game that year occurred on May 29, when he hit two doubles and a triple while calling signals for the young Nolan Ryan in a 2-1 victory over San Diego. Ryan fanned 16 Padres that game.
Here's a great story about how Duffy got his nickname from SABR (written by Adam Ulrey):
There was an old radio show called Duffy’s Tavern and the family would sit around and listen to it every week. Duffy’s mom was quite pregnant and laughing very hard at a joke on Duffy’s Tavern. Suddenly, she fainted. When she came to, she was in the recovery room of the maternity ward, and still in the twilight zone.

“How’s Duffy?” said Mrs. Dyer faintly.

“Oh, he’s doing just fine,” said one of the nurses, who was, of course, accustomed to such mutterings. The nurses started calling the infant boy “Duffy,” and so did Mrs. Dyer.

“Honest,” says Duffy Dyer. “That’s how my mother told me it happened.”

Be careful Milner. You'll put someone's eye out!

I'm not positive that is Aspromonte at third^, mostly because that does not look like a #2 on his back.
Looks like Felipe Alou sliding in. Interesting picture. Buddy looks like he's suddenly thinking of covering second. If that's Cleon, he's done with the play. Gil Hodges might have to go out there and pull him from the game. And who is that in the upper right and what is he doing? Sneaking up for a pick-off? Maybe someone rounding the bag at 2nd is what got Harrelson's attention? The coach in position. The ump too.
A great baseball photograph.

Ron Swoboda was gone but I'll squeeze another Met card out of him. Thanks for the memories Rocky! We got Don Hahn from the Montreal Expos for Swoboda ( & Rich Hacker) right before the start of the 1971 season.

Mets Rookie Supremes that one^ BingBangBoom!

If the 1971 card design was introduced these days instead of those, I imagine they could possibly have looked more like this:

...still kool.

______________The 1971 Topps Set______________________

As I stated at the top of the page, there's something about a baseball card in relation to when you started collecting. It makes every years card design a favorite of someones.
This is mine, although the '72 Topps card is virtually tied with this for my favorite. And there are some 1980s designs that come pretty close. Topps 1970 design, while not horrible, was rather blah and cold looking with its gray borders. In '71 & '72 Topps shook things up with two designs that were like polar opposites. I'll get more into the 1972 Topps when we get there.

The 1971 Topps cards, like all the early 1970s cards, hold a special place for me. This is the first baseball card set I completed.
In 1951 Topps first set of baseball cards they ever released consisted of 52 cards. The 1971 set would contain 752 cards (up from 720 in '70) and, until the 80's baseball card boom, the last time I attempted to complete a set.

Topps sets were still released in series format (7 series in '71) back then and it was a pain to complete it. Not saying it wasn't fun, but difficult. Lets say challenging.
The 6th and 7th series came out during the last 10 weeks of the season. You had to check and make sure the candy store had the right series on the counter. Sometimes they would not have the right box out. I don't remember how you could tell. Was the series # on the box? The wax? I don't recall. I do recall that finishing the set was almost a nightmare.

The cards in the last few series were even more difficult than I expected. Not only were they scarce as far as store stock goes, I was back in school and my time to chase the last cards down was also scarce. Those days no one went in and bought a box of cards. At least no one I knew. I split a partial box with a friend once (7 packs each) and thought that was pretty crazy and extravagant. We had to ask the candy store man for the empty box. He was going to throw it out. After the cards were off the shelves and football cards took over I had to negotiate a number of serious trades for two series 6 cards ( Tugger and Mike Jorgensen were eluding me) that I never got in a pack.

I believe the most I ever bought in one trip was a dozen packs. Imagine you need 7 cards, get 12 packs, and you get only two of em. Series 7 only had a little over 100 cards in it but the amount of doubles was mind numbing. This is what it was like. Fun and thrilling when you did get the card, but eventually frustrating when you realize you spent, what was to me then, an incalculable amount of moolah (probably about 3 to 5 bucks total getting those 7. I never really kept track except ALL the money I had in those days went to those last seven).
Every fan of baseball cards should agree: '71 Munson=Koolest card in the set and one of the top 5 kool cards of all-time.

The '71 card itself was a stunner. I don't know what hit me first, the black borders or the action pictures. ACTION PICTURES! I loved World Series cards so much because they showed baseball action and was so thrilled Topps did this. The borders, monolith black with a bright and colorful team name. The white inner border. Coolness incarnate. I doubt anyone at the time was worried about how they would age.

I never knew one person to ever protect their cards in plastic back in the early 70s. The best way to store em were stacks of 50-70 cards wrapped in a rubber band or two, in a shoe box or a drawer. Or if building the set, have em in a shoebox, standing in order. Maybe they had special card boxes back then but I never saw those til the late 80's. Condition wasn't that much of a factor. I would be concerned about the quality of the print and always preferred a well centered card, but I never worried about dingin a card corner. Cripes we'd play games with the cards, abusing them.
Most of us had a second collection of cards just for playground games: doubles of stars, commons, badprints, etc.

Card flipping (or colors) was kind of hard on a card, and creasing was a common result.
We played another game where you flicked the card at the base of a wall. The closest to the wall won the other cards. If you got your card to land standing up against the wall (also if your card landed on top of another players card) it was special, but I forget what you got for it. (These guys remember the details, but I think things were a little different in different neighborhoods. Lil' bit.)
These kinda games banged up cards pretty good. This is the main reason (this and bicycle spokes) why older cards are and should be worth more in great condition.
I do remember actually howling in delight at a few of the Met cards. And other non-Met cards like the Munson. Alot of "wow" cards in this set. Tommie Agee's card of him sliding into second: classic. I was all WOOT! and then it occurred to me to wonder what Tommie thought of the card. Because you couldn't even see his face. Didn't matter to me.

Harrelsons was also a favorite, applying a tag to lil' Jimmy Wynn, The Toy Cannon. Like Agee's, a horizontal type of card. A big plus today is that Nolan Ryan is in it. Back then, you noticed, but Nolan was no big deal. He was a flamethrower, for sure, and fun to watch pitch when he had a good game. But I never imagined he would have such an amazing career. I just thought: kool, Boswell & that Ryan guy are in it too!

It was established at The Crane Pool Forum that the pictures in both cards were taken during the same game, on May 30th 1970, when the Mets played the Astros at Shea. Even though it appears Nolan Ryan was indicating the Astro runner out, both Agee and Wynn were safe.

These days, and pretty much since the baseball card boom of the 80's, everyone is looking to get a players rookie card. And it's understandable. But back then we kids didn't want a rookie card (though I collected the Met ones)). I may have known some of these Met rookies but I didn't know the rookie class in general. I didn't care either. What my friends & I wanted were the cards of our favorite players with their best season stats on the back.

For instance, back then, if given the choice between Tom Seavers rookie card or a succeeding years card, I'd pick either the '70 Topps that showed he won 25 games in '69 or the '72t that shows his excellent '71 stats. To me and my friends this was a more desirable card. Did we consider the future value of a card? Some did. I suppose I did peripherally. But even then I never thought in terms of what it would be worth to others. I'd think: Oh, I hope I still have this Buddy Harrelson card in 20 years. That would be worth a lot to me. But did I take better care of a superstar like Seavers' card in hopes of someday selling it? Nope. The condition of the card, reasonably speaking, was not important to me. Only one thing was.

Possession of the card.

If you asked me what non-Met card I wanted to have the most in 1971, it would be easy to answer. Because of the season that he was having, and the late position of his card in the set, everyone and I down in the playground were waiting to get a certain players card more than others.

Across the nation Vida Blue was a sensation that caught our imagination.

The fact that he came on the scene just a year earlier (& pitched a no-hitter) was a factor, but we didn't scramble (or even check our box of last years cards) to possess his rookie card. We wanted '71's card for what he was doing in '71, and next summer, his 1972 card which displayed the stats of his phenomenal '71 season.
In 1971 Topps added player pictures to the back of the card. I believe this was the first time they did that. The picture idea was cool, and it looked nice, but if my neighborhood buddies and I were any indication they must have gotten backlash from the lack of stats. There was no internet and I didn't hear or read if it was an issue then. I know it has come to be now, and as awesome as this set is it's placing in the top ten sets of all time is hurt by the lack of player season by season/career stats.
The '71 World Series cards are one of my all-time favorites. The vivid color action shots from the games look fantastic in the black border. The multicolored words & numbers set on the black looks so early 70's to me now, like the '64 Topps design captured the sixties.

My first thought when I saw the '71 WS cards was :damn! Why didn't they make last years Met ones in color! lol. Seriously. But now I was watching the World Series every year. After that great performance by Brooks Robinson I spent the whole winter reading about Brooks and looking for pictures of his WS catches. I waited in anticipation for '71 WS cards, wondering what kind of card they would have for Brooks and his classic plays.

Now most people seem to think this card is one of the worst WS cards ever made. And they have a point. I mean, wtf is he doing there? Crawling through the desert? I had seen SOOOO many better pictures of Brooks catches, although iirc most were in B&W.

But I loved this card. And you know why? Because I had never seen the photograph before. I thought I had seen em all and in those pre-web days that meant I had to buy and/or look through a lot of baseball magazines. But I had not seen this shot. Sometimes a silly picture on a baseball card will get a major "WOW!KOOL!" from me. This one did.

I colorized what I think is the #1 picture of all taken of Brooks in the field for the '70 series just for this card. This is what I fantasized the card would look like back in '71 before I saw the actual card. That made the real card all that more surprising.
More sidetracking:

I saw this picture of Johnny Bench and my first thought was how kool it would look in a '71 border. Like the Munson card, a play at the plate!

Okay, that was my second thought. My first was: SEAVER! AWESOME!

So I whipped up a 71 Bench. It does look very kool. I had considered making this a 1971 Topps Seaver card but that would be sillier than Brooks' buttocks.

Hmmmm, maybe....

I needed to know who that was sliding in at home plate. I tracked it down to a home game vs the Reds on August 20th, 1973. The Fantazy '71 Bench cards picture is from 1973! Moving a player through time...not good. Now the 73 set had some really wierd pictures that I really dug, like the Bob Didier card with Cleon Jones sliding in the foreground. Classic. A must for any serious Met baseball card collector.

So ignore the '71 Fantazy Bench card. It was more a passing thought. Don't even scroll up and look at it again. It does not exist.
Avert your eyes! Loooook Awaaaaaay!!
And The card goes to......(drumroll)....

RON HODGES gets a '73 Fantazilly card!!!
Is this the same play?

Steve Blass made the '71 World Series fun to watch and the game seven faceoff between he and Mike Cuellar was just beautiful baseball. Cuellar only gave up 6 hits and 2 runs, Blass, 4 hits & 1 run. A classic duel.
Back then there were visiting players that I would go out of my way to see. Players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench to name a few. Roberto Clemente was one of those after the '71 World Series. And I was a fan for such a small window of time due to his untimely and tragic death. When I found out the details about the plane crash I was all the sadder. Never mind his ball playing, which was superb, human beings like Roberto Clemente are few and far between.

I guess we won't be seeing anymore cards showing collisions at the plate.

Note: Yours is still topps J. H. - Why? BOOM> Leo >


The picture used for Cleon is supplied by Fat Jack of Baseball-Birthdays (picture on the left). Thank you Jack and all you Baseball-Birthday people for the great work you do and share. The picture on the right is Fat Jacks image photoshopped to match more closely how Cleon looked in 1971.

______________ Joe Pignatano
______________The Brooks Catch
Some of these come out better than others. I have a loose process that usually gets me close to what I consider a good coloring job. If there is interest I will post tutorials on card making, photoshopping, and colorizing black & white pictures.
______________ Rose/Fosse 70 ASG play at the plate:
Feel free to use these or pass em on. Credit would be nice but I won't come running after you if you don't. I just like getting these things out there. I am available on a professional basis if anyone is looking to have a black & white picture colorized.

I have always used google and bing to search for pictures of Mets to use for the cards (& have collected quite an amazing number of Met photos over the years). I would spend a lot of time pouring over search results looking for the "right" pic. Now when I do a search for Mets stuff, sometimes my cards turn up in the results.
This totally thrills me like a kid opening a pack of baseball cards and getting all Mets. :) Okay, this kid.
Like I said at the start, this one's like a freakin' book, so I'm going to dedicate it:

This is dedicated to my mother, Dorothy, who was born on this day (Feb.8th) in 1928.
Mom, you will live forever in my heart.


  1. Way too much good stuff for one post. Makes me wish I were a Mets fan. Or that somebody with your talents and passion was a fellow Chicagoan.

  2. Thanks Big H. I'll make you a Met fan yet ;)