Saturday, December 31, 2016

mfc2017 Metropolitan History Cards: #1a & #1b

 In the 2017 Mets Season Set there will be a number of "Metropolitan History" cards. These will be a lot of fun to make because we have such storied team tales. There was so much to the game in which the Mets first grand slam was hit I felt I had to get it all on the back of the card. It took two backs, hence two cards for this one. Another notable occurrence in the game, Gil Hodges last career home run, and Gil will get a nod on the first card front.

mfc Metropolitan History Card 10-MH1a

Gil Hodges will have a few more Mets history cards since he hit the teams first HR and also the first inside the park four bagger. All Mets firsts will be covered.

If anyone one knows of a Mets first, "Metropolitan Magical Moments" (see bottom of post), or anything pertaining to "Metropolitan History" that they feel deserves a card, please just leave word in the comments. When you think about it, a set of cards like these could end up running at least a few dozen. WOOHOO, more fun. I have to say making card backs are a bitch though. Hopefully over time I'll pick up the pace on those.
The color work. That's Gil and the actual 370th home run ball. 

mfc Metropolitan History Card 10-MH1b

For these I decided to go with a 1977 Topps card design because it afforded so much needed space for the text. Baseball cards have their own little fashion of laying things out on their cardboard backs. Short spurts of info, directly to the point, keeping it compact yet still successfully painting a picture of the action. There is an art to card back text. A style. I can't say I have it completely down. 

Truth is I feel there could be more info included. Like, exactly why did Casey pinch hit for Frank Thomas in that situation? Frank had struck out twice in the game but he also had a single. He led the team in long balls with 15 on the day of that game. Was Stengel's move just one of those "gut" things? A better match-up pitching wise? Maybe someone out there knows. I'd like to add those details but as you can see things are already a bit cramped.

Real 1977 Topps card back.
All us students of baseball cards know that there is a certain "card back lingo", and deciphering that as you go along, translating the action into these small baseball cliches really is an enjoyable exercise in baseball card nostalgia.

So do they make the cut?
Did I misspell anything? I took some liberties because, for instance, I didn't know where the HR landed. So a little imaginative dramatic license has it zipping down the left field line into the short porch. Is that accurate? I dunno but it sounds good. But maybe someone out there does.

The beauty of this project is that I can run this by viewing Mets fans and baseball card aficionados and you can give me input and these things can evolve as they go along. A living, breathing, Mets baseball card set brought to life by baseball card fans. And that's what I'd like my Mets Fantasy Cards to be all about. :) 

If you read the card backs you'll see it was such a typical example of a 1962 Mets game, one where we finally stepped on a front running team (for a change as opposed to being stepped on) and displayed some exciting albeit wacky baseball (Casey, what's with all those bunts?!). If you read the game memories for this contest at the UMDB you will see that this game actually converted some Yankees fans to Mets fans, and that momentum and fan growth inexplicably continued as the team reeled off 120 loses in their freshman year. 

That tells you all you need to know about the New York Metropolitans. People in The Big Apple were so happy to have National League baseball back that it didn't really matter what the team did, as long as they played, and as long as we could root for them against those N.L. teams N.Y. fans were so familiar with from the days the Giants and Dodgers once played here. And the early Mets were so bad it was funny. Yet fans still filled the Polo Grounds and rooted for the team to turn the formidable tide they seemed to have against them. The Mets were the ultimate baseball underdogs from 1962 to around 1967/68, when Tom Seaver came aboard and Gil Hodges returned to manage the team. 

For Mets fans who took the compete ride from 1962 to 1969, I envy you (my first Mets game was in 1967 or 68). That must have been some kind of build up and payoff to experience.

I know there are some fans out there still with us who experienced this rise. Feel free to write of it in the comments section and don't be surprised if I make a card from your shared memories.

^Courtesy of  Ultimate Mets Database

^Courtesy of  Ultimate Mets Database
These images of the box score and scorecard are from The Ultimate Mets Database, my ultimate stop when I want to look up Mets info. When I was a kid I had to go to the library and buy all those Mets Yearbooks/ Baseball Digests (not to mention baseball cards, my #1 source) to consume Mets player stats. But now thanks to the wonders of the internet we have the Ultimate Mets (library &) Database, the best team website known to man and the universe. That's fitting because our team logo also owns the same distinction.


This is going to be a most interesting year, and I expect the Mets to contend and I pray that they stay healthy. That's always the big question mark, when you have a team that you believe has all the pieces needed to make the post season. Just stay healthy. And some breaks from the Baseball Gods wouldn't be a bad thing either.
The '17 Met are ready and New York means to bring the world championship back to Queens!

That's the best rally call I could come up with. Kinda weak but it don't suck. Too many syllables.

^Mets Happy New Years Gif, suitable for giffing webwide.

We Mets fans have seen many magical moments over the teams fifty-five year existence. So expect some Mets Magical Moments cards like in 2015 & 2016.

As I said earlier, if you feel so inclined, please note your personal magical moment, not just of 2016, but of Metropolitan history. Cripes, we're are gonna have another two dozen special series subset cards! But these are more fun to make than the regular player cards, so I'm looking forward to this part of the project.

This years design will look exactly like this:

More post season cards in '17? Who knows, it's baseball, but I feel pretty confident. I also wanted to re-post this card cause I think it's the koolest Thor card I've come up with more recently. Who's the best of our young guns? Thor, deGrom, Wheeler, Harvey, Matz? This is the year we find out, and good fortune to all of 'em.

A brief biography of Rod Kanehl
From Wikipedia :
Roderick Edwin Kanehl (April 1, 1934 – December 14, 2004) was an American second baseman and outfielder in Major League Baseball who played his entire career with the New York Mets (1962–1964). Beloved by Mets fans, his attitude was exemplary for a team that lost a modern-era record 120 games in its inaugural season. Kanehl hit the first grand slam in Mets history on July 6, 1962 at the Polo Grounds.
Before making the major leagues, Kanehl played for eight seasons in the New York Yankees' and Cincinnati Reds' minor league systems. In 1962, at age 28, he was given an opportunity to try out for the Mets' opening season. Through spring training, he worked tirelessly for a spot on the roster. He leaped over an outfield wall in pursuit of a ball and he scored from second on a wild pitch. His attitude and all-out play earned him the nickname ′′Hot Rod′′.

Despite the objections and criticisms of the Mets' general manager George Weiss, manager Casey Stengel stuck with Kanehl. Stengel liked Kanehl's hustle and determination to play the game.
In a three-year career spanning 340 games, Kanehl batted .241 and accrued six home runs, 47 RBI, 103 runs, 23 doubles and 17 stolen bases. A highly versatile utilityman, he played every position except pitcher and catcher.
Kanehl played his final major-league season when Shea Stadium opened its doors in 1964. After the 1964 season, the Mets did not invite Kanehl to spring training, but also prevented him from taking a minor league coaching job he had been offered by the Yankee organization. He worked in construction, sold insurance, and later owned a restaurant. When Stengel died in 1975, Kanehl was the only former Mets player who was present at the funeral.(<question from me: is that a fact?)

After suffering a heart attack, Kanehl died at a hospital in Palm Springs, California at age 70.


  1. I have to agree with you that card backs are a bitch. For several years, I've made sets of all the former major leaguers who die in the course of the year. For the last 3 years, I've made them with backs (I had made card backs for assorted other projects prior, but my "Death Squad" sets number over 200 cards per year--don't try the math as I also include significant pop culture deaths--and that's a lot of card backs). The three years are completely different. The first year was sort of an early Score design, the second close to a '69 Topps style, and the third were more like yours above--pretty much just text. Emphasis, obviously, is on the text, since I was trying to sum up someone's entire career (or life), and you always want to say more than you have room for. I'll say this. The middle year (almost '69 Topps) includes cartoons (though made with clip art, since I can't draw for squat). Those were the most difficult and maddening to make, but easily the most satisfying to look at. Nothing makes a baseball card back so satisfying and enjoyable as a cartoon. OTOH, creating over 200 relevant cartoons with just clip art is about as miserable a task as I've ever undertaken, which is one reason they didn't reappear in year 3. I believe I'm done with these sets. I did them, originally, to learn more about players who were before my time (and to polish my colorizing skills). It was fascinating to learn about players like Bob Powell who spent roughly six months in the major leagues without ever getting an at bat (he appeared in 2 games--both as a pinch runner). In 2016, too many of those who passed were players I grew up with and it just got...sad.

    1. Stubby, I am one of your biggest fans, as I've said in the past.

      When I started this project and went searching for material I consistently ran into your stuff. I always mean to contact you at Baseball Birthdays but like cardbacks, time can also be a bitch. I'd say 95% of my time on the PC I'm doing some kind of graphic work. So I never get around as much as I'd like. But I wanted you to know, like with John Hogan with the custom cards (and your cards as well, maybe more so because of the old Mets you had created), you opened up my mind to the world of colorization. I had dabbled in it before, but your stuff inspired me to want to really do it good. As best as I could. I developed a whole layer process that I have described here from time to time. You will see my latest colorization on the next mfc post dealing with the Mets first win. I have a Richie Ashburn (SB) and Chris Cannazzarro ( in action!-RIP) in the works. Stay tuned.

      I totally agree with you about cardback cartoons. And I considered adding them briefly. But when I did my first draft of the text I knew I was going to have space problems. Now these card backs, that are simply text, they can make for quick work once you have everything edited to fit. That's always a kind of a bitch to make sure each line fills in properly balanced, spaced, and all that. But the real bitch, for me, with card backs is when you have stats! The years, the numbers, etc. all have to line up just so and I have pulled out clumps of hair working out such arrangements. So the real player card backs, with career stats, those are the ultimate bitch in my book.

      I do draw, and I have drawn cartoons for use on cards. I like to dash them off so it looks like that 'ol card style. I draw them on paper & scan em, then I can do additional things to the toon in Paint Shop Pro. Does Bob Lemke do his own cartoons? Because his cardbacks are like masterworks. If you want to add a cartoon to one of your cardbacks gimme a yell. Tell me what you would like it to show and I'll give it a try.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

    2. If I recall correctly, Bob used to repurpose existing Topps cartoons from the sets he was adding to. Use the picture, change the text, that sort of thing. I could be wrong about that. But my faulty memory recalls that he used to discuss his process when presenting his customs and that, on one occasion (at least), he discussed the difficulty in finding an appropriate cartoon for one.

      As for colorizing, you surpassed me long ago, my friend. But I'm always trying to get better. I always said colorizing is like that board game Othello -- an instant to learn, a lifetime to master.

    3. He did brilliant stuff. That's kinda what I did with the Tommie Agee comic book, used other baseball comics. Re:color work, your too kind. Your stuff is excellent. I think colorization is like golf. Every once in a while you hit that perfect drive. Then the next few curl off into the woods.
      Can you believe I've never played the game Othello? I googled it and recognize the box (everyone else must have had it) and all but never played it. I'm going to have to check that out.