Friday, February 28, 2014

1972 Mets Fantazy Card Opening Day Line-up.

Opening day 1972 was a somber affair for the New York Mets and their fans. On April 2nd Met manager and fan favorite Gil Hodges died of a heart attack near the end of spring training.
Gil's passing was a shock to the entire world of sports. Us Mets fans felt it the hardest. Hodges had taken us so far. And he had more to do. It wasn't supposed to end this way. Gil was gone.

A very sad time in Mets history. Most definitely one of the saddest.
New York would play the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 15th, 1972, the first time the Mets took on a defending World Champion to start the season.

The seasons start was delayed due to a player strike. This was my first experience with such things. It was short and with the loss of Hodges it became a nice cushion between the shock and the season. The eventful news that Yogi would be taking the helm and that the team had traded for Rusty Staub came down during the delay.
The Mets would beat the Bucs 4-0 behind Tom Seaver.
After going 0-8 on opening day since their inception, the Mets had now run off three opening day wins in a row ('70,'71 and '72). Tom would go six innings to start the season, allowing 5 hits and striking out six.
Tug McGraw came on in relief, pitched the 3 final innings and earned the save.
Speaking of Tugger, this an observation worthy of note:
McGraw relieved Seaver to start off the 7th. The Mets were up 4-0 and he was scheduled to lead off for the 8th inning.
Tug went all three innings to get the save, as the rules stipulated. He didn't allow a hit and struck out 3.
In his one at bat, leading off the 8th, he singled.

1) Bud Harrelson would lead off the season at short in 1972.
I would think that if Gil were still with us that Agee would be here in his usual spot, especially with Rusty Staub added to the lineup. I always felt Cleon in his prime was an excellent type of three slot hitter. Staub could clean up. This is all speculation but it's a fact Hodges was no longer steering the ship. Yogi did things a little differently. The changes were felt right away. Not that Buddy was a horrible lead off guy. Bud was good in a 1960's Metly kinda way. But these were the early 70's Mets. I wanted Agee on top of the line-up. I was a big Buddy fan though. I'd have preferred he batted 2nd or near the bottom.
On this opening day in 1972 Buddy had one hit. He singled and stole a base in the 5th and was left stranded on 2nd. His sac bunt in the 7th moved Tug McGraw into scoring position.

2) Ken Boswell will bat second and play second.

Bozz had a rough start in '72 and never quite recovered. He was benched a number of times and even a late season surge couldn't get his average past .211.
The thing I remember most about Ken was his sideburns. I thought as soon as I can I'm going to grow sideburns like that!
It's forty years later and I still can't grow sideburns like that :(
To start the 1972 season Boswell went oh for 4.

3) Tommie Agee batted third and played centerfield.

Tommie had a hot start in '72. By June 1st he led the team with 12 doubles and was right behind Rusty Staub in all the other big offensive categories. His batting average was a robust .306.

Tommie was past his peak days as a Met. His knees were weak and his speed diminished. Maybe this was the thinking going into the 1972 season. Maybe even Gil Hodges would have thought this the case. I'll always think of Tommie as one of the best lead off hitters I've ever seen but that's when speed and base stealing were strong parts of his arsenal. He still could get up to speed now, but no longer had the type of explosive speed that made him a base stealing threat. Even though Agee stole a base in this opening day game, he would only steal a total of 8 bases all season long. Now he might be best suited for the third slot. I wanted him to do well and could not imagine a day when he wouldn't be the center fielder for the Mets.

Tommie reached twice to open the season. He singled, walked and stole a base.

4) Rusty Staub:
On Sunday, April 2nd 1972, the morning of his death, Gil Hodges ran into Rusty Staub while attending church down in spring training. Hodges and Staub exchanged pleasantries and conversed for a few minutes, then went their separate ways.

Reportedly the Met manager knew those ways would be crossing paths again very, very soon. At Hodges request the Mets had traded for Rusty, but because of the players strike the final transaction and announcement was postponed, so Hodges kept the news to himself.

The deal was official on April 6, 1972. The Mets recieved Le Grand Orange from the Montreal Expos in exchange for Tim Foli, Ken Singleton and Mike Jorgensen.
The primary player was considered to be Tim Foli, the number one draft pick of the Mets in 1968.
I liked Foli but if he wanted to be a starting shortstop it was going to be somewhere else. And he wanted to and he went and did become a good one.

As a Met fan who watched the club up close these days I was concerned over the inclusion of Singleton. I thought he was progressing nicely, had a great arm, perfect for right, and he would eventually post some good numbers when given the chance. He did, but not with us. Kind of the same thing for Jorgensen but not as strong a feeling.

These were three fine players who would go on to have fine careers. I did ponder if it was worth it.
In retrospect it's easy to say that dealing all three to the Expos for their star player was overkill, but at that time that's what it took to get Rusty, and I've always looked at this as a great trade.

I had seen Staub play before, knew a little about him. His numbers were very impressive on Monteal. It didn't take long for Staub to allay my fears and forget those departed. Rusty was a vital force who played with a boyish enthusiasm that was contagious. He took right field and made it his. This was new. An every day right fielder who was a proven all-star still in his prime at 28 years old.

In his first official at bat as a Met Rusty singled, starting a second inning rally that plated 2 runs. He was walked intentionally in his second plate appearance, flew out and grounded out his remaining two at bats.

5) Cleon Jones:
After hitting .319 in 1971, '72 was an injury riddled season for Jones, limiting him to 106 games. He hit a dismal .245. Cleon was a hitter though. No offensive player was more important to the Mets in their first dozen years than Cleon Jones. I figured he would bounce back in '73.

Cleon singled in the second and scored on a Kranepool sac fly. He also struck out twice and popped out.
6) Jim Fregosi:
Jim Fregosi started off hot for the Mets. The whole team got off to one of their best starts ever. They played .500 ball in April and then an 11 game winning streak in May found them ahead of the pack. By June 1st the Mets were in first place with a 5 game lead. Fregosi was batting .280 at the end of May. By the end of July it his average was .230. It stayed around there and by the end of August, Fregosi wasn't even starting at third. Good 'ol Wayne Garrett was back in.
Jim passed away recently. Sad news. Not a favorite amongst Mets fans because of the Nolan Ryan trade and Jim's overall pitiful performance in pinstripes. At a certain point it was like he just wasn't interested in playing anymore. I was going to trash Fregosi here, for a number of reasons that didn't even involve that trade. Instead I'll show some respect.
R.I.P. Jim Fregosi.
In Jim's first at bat as a New York Metropolitan he lined a double, driving home Rusty for the Mets first run of the season. A promising start for the new third baseman. He also walked and scored when...
7) Ed Kranepool:
...hit the Mets first Home run of the season on opening day.

Kranepool regarded Gil Hodges as the best manager he ever played for.
“Strategically, fundamentally, he was a sound manager, knew the game, taught you how to win,” Kranepool said. “If he would’ve continued and not passed away, we would’ve won more pennants.”

About new manager Yogi Berra, Kranepool mused, “Yogi was a great guy, fun-loving, well-liked by the players. Very easygoing, but not the leadership Gil Hodges had. The inmates can’t run the asylum.”

Kranepool homered and knocked in three against the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates on April 15, the strike-delayed Opening Day of 1972, but by mid-season, he was struggling (and platooning) again. He ended up batting .269 with New York finishing in third place.

Ed drove in a run in the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly to left as well as going yard for 2 more ribbys in the 6th. In between he struck out once. Ed was the Schaefer player of the game.
8) Jerry Grote:
Grote started the '72 season as the Mets starting catcher. As the season wore on and Grote struggled Yogi Berra went more with backup catcher Duffy Dyer. Jerry had to have surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow in late September and only played in 64 games. Duffy would end up with 94.
Jerry pulled an 0 for 3 in the opener.
9) Tom Seaver:
There's no way Tom couldn't have been thinking of Gil Hodges during this, the first Mets game without the beloved manager who took the team from funny to fantastic in a few blinks of time's eye.

But ever the professional, Seaver went to work, did his job, and headed to the showers a winning pitcher for his third opening day win in a row.
___________Tom just owns the Sadecki Spot. At least so far.
Which begs the question, why isn't it called the Seaver Spot?
Yikes! I have been remiss. I haven't made any Sadecki cards!

This special Golden Ticket is redeemable for a 1970, 1971 & 1972 Ray Sadecki fantazy card.
We lost Gil but Willie was coming home.
The header image is another forced collaboration with the great Peter Max. This time the just as great Bruce Stark joins us with his great portrait of Gil Hodges. Bill Gallo's fantastic Willie Mays portrait adorns the closing image.

>Ed Kranepool's entry was written by Tara Krieger for the SABR.
Baseball 2014 started today with the telecast of Mets spring training baseball. Did they win? Who cares, it's spring.

Travis d ripped a double, Ike homered on a curve, Jacob d and Montero looked fine, I learned there's a Mets player named Cesar Puello, almost nobody got hurt. A good day. Baseball's back baby!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Talking Shop : Project Colorizations / Part 1

I've had a few questions about colorizing black and white photos. I'll do a series of posts called : Project Colorizations where I'll explain several different techniques. And if anyone wants to talk shop on colorization, card making, photoshopping, PsP7, etc., feel free to do so in the comments.
I can also be reached by E-mail at

In this series of posts (spread out over time between others) I will display the colorizations completed for Mets Fantazy Cards Like They Ought To Be! project and in each instance I will break down how I colorized the image.

Sometimes they come out great. Other times, not so much.
It's not a crap-shoot though. Besides patience it takes determination. Sometimes things are done from necessity and I've learned a lot as I ran into problems and worked them out.

First of all, I primarily use Paint Shop Pro 7.02. It's a graphic program that's well over ten years old but it's still one of the best for basic graphic imaging (I have tried PsP9 and PsP11- both fell short and I returned to PsP7). PsP7 is very deep and it really did take me a long time before I could use it to it's potential. I didn't say fullest because I think there is more to learn.
Now I pretty much know my way around the program and what does what. And it does zillions of things. Still, after over 12 years of using PsP7 I discover something new that it can do every once in a while. PsP7 is simply a fantastic graphic imaging program that came bundled with a pretty impressive (for 1999) animation shop.
I have GIMP and CorelDraw6 but it's rare that I need to use them.
PsP7 is a very light program that cost me 99 bucks at the turn of the century. Best $99 I've ever spent on a PC program.
___________Colorization in general

I don't always do colorization's the same. I dabbled with colorizing years ago when I first got PsP7. After a long time of not doing that type of thing, and learning other things that PsP7 could do, I returned to colorizing recently
with a better understanding of how other functions of the program could help in doing colorization.
So I'm really not all that experienced at colorization itself. But I've been cramming a lot lately.

I've learned stuff just by looking at the work of other colorists like the folks from Baseball Birthdays and OOTPdevelopments. These guys do great work and they, like the custom card makers out there, are inspirations to this project. And as David Wright would phrase it: "Well, obviously I'm somewhat inspired by the Mets."
Colorization does take time. The more the better. But because I don't always have the time I have a number of overall processes that vary. How much time I have to complete it, how important I consider the work to be, and the quality of the original source image, stuff like that dictate the process. Spending any time colorizing a bad quality (or small in resolution or size) image is not a good idea unless you absolutely have to. I've had to.

There are fast & loose ways to colorize the image and get pleasing enough results.

There are also slow & deliberate ways in which you break each individual subject in a photograph down to its own layer and colorize each one separately.

Colorizing is done through use of coloring filters as well as by hand, (or mouse, with painting tools in a graphic type program like PsP7) manually working certain color additions and details. After all the color work is done, I'll merge all the layers back into one single layered image (.bmp or .png) and save it.

Now having said that, sometimes you hit a bump & you have to improvise as you work it.

I can tell you from experience that sometimes I get great results using the fast method. On the card above I used it. While doing the page it was on, at the last minute I needed to make that rookie card and I wanted it in a half hour topps. Jesse Hudson took maybe all of 5 minutes to colorize, Les Rohr around 15 minutes. Time-wise these are exceptions and also small images that I was forced to use because of the lack of photos available of these guys.

Now, basically because the original images were small, the color work was done directly to the images at the small size (always avoid enlarging a digital image). Considering the time put into them, these two came out great and I was happy with them.


The average time spent on a color job is around 2-3 hours for a decent to nice sized, mid to hi-resolution picture. But sometimes it can take days to get it right. Salty Parker took about 5 days of work at about an hour a sitting. I wanted this one to be as good as I could so I gave it all the time it needed. I did tests, or takes, of different colorization filters, lighting, contrast and whateverelse on each layer and chose what I thought looked the best. That's a lot of time, but well worth it, especially since there are so few color images of Parker out there.

The Salty colorization was done in the more time consuming layer method and I believe it shows. Pictured is the complete work and the merged layers consisting of his face and skin color. The face alone is comprised of five separate layers: skin, eyes, lips, hair with hat shadow, and eyebrows.

Salty Parker Eyes.

Now granted, I like to punch up the saturation and make colors pop on a digital screen, especially blue and orange, so this might not look to you to be natural colors( the green grass is too vivid and, to me, that skin job looks almost 3-D. It's creepy. Or is that just his nose?). The thing about going over the line is the entire completed work can be taken and dialed back a few notches to look more natural.

Yikes! It is his nose.

Sometimes using the more complicated and time consuming process, the end result is less than I had hoped. But usually...,strike that, always, however much time and attention to detail you put into the color work the better it will be, regardless of using layers. Because the colorization is not finished until it's finished.

Right before I posted this page I blurred the face and hat. L'il bit. Now the skin is not so shiny looking. I couldn't do anything for that nose.
So you can always step off from it & go back later if you think of something that can improve it. And I suggest you do step off before you consider it finished. Look again after a time, even ask others to look at it, to get another sets of eyes to see if it's on track and where it might need additional work.
Well, at this point I am really sick of looking at this one, so it's finished.

Went back into this after not looking at it for a long time. Tweaked gamma and background tints.

UPDATED- 11/14

Z-Tip: When applying color to the black & white image it can sometimes be helpful to take the original photo and lighten it a little bit,or ramp down the contrast. In this way it will accept color changes better, colors not getting lost in the dark areas. Later, after completed, you can always adjust the contrast again to whatever best suits you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1970 Mets Leaders / 1971 Fantazy Cards

Okay. I've worked myself into a corner with some of these leader cards. I want players to get their just due but not at the expense of knocking an actual qualified batter right off the card. This season I have to make the distinction and still include those who played smaller roles.

Agee was flying high off his 1969 heroics, topping his .271 average of the championship season by an impressive margin.
Cleon could not duplicate his amazin' .340 batting average of '69 but still was a very solid contributor to the club.
Shamsky, part of a platoon situation, only had 403 at bats.
Still, from a Met fans point of view, he and Donn's performances are worthy of digital cardboard.
Agee had his best all around season in 1970. He led the team in almost every offensive category. He won the gold glove for best centerfielder in the National League, becoming the first man of color to win the award in both leagues (he also won it in '66 while on the Whitesox). Tommie was at his peak as a Met and as my idol on the field.

Donns first and only full season with the club, yet he still only played in 121 games. He managed to pump out 22 HRs to match his uniform number.
Wayne Garrett starting to gain more acceptance from the team in his role as third baseman and he responds with 12 dingers.

This image of Tom Seaver on the '71 Mets Leaders Fantazy Card is the same one that's on his Topps leader card & Topps Super card. This was the "go to" pic of Tom for Topps this year. So I'm going to go to it.
Tom had a typically terrific year, again displaying the talent that made him one of the best pitchers in the game at that time. From 1969 to 1975, maybe the best.

Koosman was my own personal favorite underdog pitcher. He got beat for the ROY award in 68 dispite fantastic numbers( 19 wins, 2.08 ERA, 17 complete games and 7 shutouts) and always seemed to be in Seavers shadow. During these years, every season I was rooting for Kooz to win 20 games more than anybody else. This season, injury kept him from getting anywhere near twenty wins.

The Mets weren't exactly sure what they had in Gary Gentry but they were starting to figure that he would never be the pitcher they had hoped he would be when they kept him and traded Nolan Ryan. Not especially wild, Gentry still would never harness his command.
Well, I'm all caught up with the team leader cards so we should start picking up speed a bit in our trip back to the future.

>TALKING SHOP :Project Colorizations PT.1/The 1962 Al Jackson

I'll describe what went into colorizing the 1962 Al Jackson photo.
If anyone has any specific question's about colorizing black & white digital images feel free to ask.

>The 1972 Mets Fantazy Cards, Opening Day Lineup & Team Leaders.
__________A very rare unopened 72 Mets Fantazy Wax Pack.