Thursday, March 27, 2014

1973 Mets Fantazy Cards Series One

Lets rip open a pack of 1973 Mets Fantazy Cards!

What are the odds that Yogi would be the first card?

Well, one out of twelve since series one of the 1973 Mets Fantazy Card set consists of these twelve cards.

Nope, you don't get doubles in fantazypacks.

Yogi Berra was now in his second year managing the New York Mets. It was during this season that Yogi spoke what may be his most famous Yogiism.

Mid season he was asked if the Mets were out of the race for the pennant. The team was dead in last place, 11 games out of first. Berra replied " It ain't over til it's over." One of those simple observations that only Yogi could find a way to immortalize in words. But if the '73 Mets didn't make it to the big dance would the saying be as well remembered?

Fans still loved him but his managerial honeymoon with the media was over. At least when the New York Post ran a poll to see who Mets fans thought should be fired Berra came in third place behind Bob Scheffing and M. Donald Grant.

Yogi would have the last laugh in 1973. At the end of the third year of his managerial career ( the 1963 Yankees- '72 & '73 with Mets) Berra had won 2 pennants, one in each league.

Jon Matlack, just coming off winning the Rookie Of The Year award, hit a few bumps in early 1973, and that included a bump to his forehead.

He was 2-5 when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Atlanta's Marty Perez on May 8th. Upon his return he went 7-14 before turning it around at the end of July. Going down the stretch in August and September Matlack won seven out of eight decisions.
>More on Jon and his thick skull here< ________
Rusty bounced back from his hurtin' year in 1972 and was one of the constants in the lineup. He had a solid season at .279 with 36 doubles, 15 homers and 76 RBI in 152 games. The 36 doubles were a new Met team record at the time.

I used to dig how sometimes Rusty would try and get something extra on a throw by throwing himself with the ball. I'd emulate this playing baseball throughout my limited career in the C.Y.O. league (and years later playing softball) and it did feel like I was getting some additional giddy-up on the throw.
More so, it just looked cool.

The only other regular starting player who was as solid as Rusty, if not more so, was Felix Millan.

The Mets got Millan before the 1973 season for two established Metropolitans, Gary Gentry and Dan Frisella.

It was one of the better trades the Mets ever made. Felix played in 153 games, establishing new Met records in at-bats (638) and hits (185). And Millan would be a productive second baseman for New York for another five years.

Millan had this funky batting stance where he choked half way up on the bat and held it up and back behind his shoulder. I had seen batters choke up but not like this. It was extreme and seemed to serve him well. And if you were a kid playing down in the playground in the early seventies I'm sure there was a day when you came up to bat and said "Hey look, I'm Felix Millan!" and choked up like Felix did. Everyone had to try that once.

Jim Fregosi started the season with the team but soon would be gone. When he was sold to the Texas Rangers on July 11th he was batting .232 with no homers and 11 RBI. He sucked at this point of his playing career and one thing I'll give him credit for is he knew it.

In 1978 Fregosi would be Nolan Ryans manager with the California Angels. Yep, with Jim ( & Mets fans) it always comes back to Nolan. Did I mention that Ryan threw his first two no-hitters in 1973? I probably shouldn't. Yeeeeaa.

Fregosi was out and Wayne Garrett, finally, was in. Wayne was in the prime of his career. He stepped up in '73 and played 140 games, 129 of them at third base. He knocked 16 dingers and drove home 58. He only batted .256 but if New York needed a big hit in a big game Mets fans would be glad to have had Wayne Garrett at the dish.

Steady Eddy was a good all around bench and back up guy in 1973. Mostly due to injuries he played 51 games at first for John Milner and 30+ games relieving Cleon Jones in left. Kranepool was thirty years old now and had played for the team for 12 years. He would play for us for seven more.
Jerry Grote was out of the line-up due to Dyer injuries (broken forearm) early on. He would return from his break in August and to his role as starting catcher as the season wore on.

And, as a matter of fact, when he returned to be the everyday catcher the Mets began to win in earnest and make a run for the pennant that nobody seemed to want.

Jim Beauchamp was a power hitting slugger who dominated in the minor leagues during the early 1960's. In 1963 & '64 he had 31 and 34 home run seasons. Jim won the 1963 Texas League MVP Award, and a large billboard showing him batting stood outside Tulsa's Oiler Park until the stadium was demolished in 1980.
He was called up a few times in the early sixties but never could getting it going at the major league level. When he would be sent down, once again he would rip up the minors. In both 1966 and '67 he hit 25 long balls for the Richmond Braves. He floated around between the Cardinals, Astros, Reds, and Braves and would never be more than a light hitting replacement.

Beauchamp was a very good fielder whether manning first base or roaming the outfield. Coincidentally, "beau champ" in French translates as "beautiful field."

For the Mets he was what he was. A good light hitting pinch hitter and bench back-up guy. The five round trippers we got from him in 1972 was a nice blip (he totaled 14 career HRs over 11 seasons), but in 1973 he showed no power. He did bat a healthy .279 with some big & important pinch hits.

Beauchamp came to New York through a 7 player trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards got Art Shamsky, Rich Folkers, Jim Bibby and Charlie Hudson from the Mets. We received Beauchamp, Tom Coulter and Chuck Taylor. Beauchamp was issued Art Shamsky's old number, 24, which he wore until mid 1972 when Willie Mays came home to New York. Jim switched to #5.

We also got Harry Parker in the deal, who would play a small yet vital role on the '73 team as a spot starter and reliever. While Tug McGraw was struggling to find his groove Harry plugged the gap. Parker won eight games in a season we needed every win we could get. He also saved five games in '73, second on the team only to Tug McGraw's 25.

Here Harry takes the pose that would become the Topps symbol for right handed pitchers on the '73 Topps cards.

The 1973 Mets rookie pitching crop. Two of those would be ripe for the picking pretty soon.

I can never see Tommy Moore and not be reminded of the Monty Python Dennis Moore sketch.

"Stand and deliver!"


Krantzbucks of the OOTBD for making the Jim Beauchamp photo presentable for his fantazy card.

Much information regarding Jim Beauchamp is from his Wiki page.

Hey! You forgot your gum!

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