Sunday, January 29, 2017

mfc FABER TEACHES-HoF Weekend, 1964

This is a play off the 1964 Topps card "CASEY TEACHES", one of my favorite Met cards from the 1960's.

I learned a lot about "Red" Faber in the making of this card. Here's some cool stuff I could not squeeze in on the card back:
> He pitched a perfect game in the minor leagues for Dubuque.
>  In his 1915 season, he won 24 games to tie for second in the American League behind Walter Johnson, and he led the league with 50 appearances. In one game that season, he pitched a three-hitter with only 67 pitches.
>  In one game against Boston he stole home, a rare feat for a pitcher.
> Perhaps his last great performance was a one-hitter at age 40 in 1929.


This card below goes out to Stubby, who reminded me of the Stengel/ Chris Cannizzaro story. One of Casey's most famous quotes was the tale line to this beaut involving Cannizzaro, whose name Stengel never quite got right.

"I got this Canzoneri whose supposed to be a defensive catcher, only he can't catch the ball. The pitcher throws. Wild pitch. Pitcher throws again. Passed ball. Throws again. Oops! Ball dropped out of his glove. And all the time I'm getting dizzy watchin' all these runners running around the bases in circles on me. Makes you wonder. Can anybody here play this game?"

Yea, I stuck Stengel in there, more than likely harping on Canzoneri. As Stubby pointed out in comments on an earlier post, Cannizzaro was a pretty damned good defensive catcher throughout his career. So it must have been an especially bad game when that quote about Chris was uttered. I think if I was Cannizzaro I'd have been a bit upset by what Stengel said. It was kinda cruel, although all saw it as comic relief. Fortunately you rarely see the entire quote as everyone latched onto the "Can anybody here play this game?" line and the Canzoneri section became buried in Metropolitan History.

Up next in Metropolitan History:
Roger Craig, Ralph Kiner, Elio Chacon, and Wes Westrum get all Z'd up.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017mfc•4-MH-0•METS FIRST WIN• Jay Hook

(Text originally published by the Daily News on Tuesday, April 24, 1962, written by Dick Young)

Pittsburgh, April 23 - The Mets had just won the first game of their young life tonight when Casey Stengel led them, with jaunty step, into the clubhouse and said, cavalierly, "Nutin' to it!" He was a new man; suddenly he was 72 years young. The cross had been lifted from the manager's back - the burden that had grown heavier and heavier, day by day, through the nine-game, record-tying getaway slump, until he thought it would never end.

Daily News front cover 4/24/62
THEN, SUDDENLY , all the pent up frustration in the Mets exploded in a burst of base hits and base-running - and they won, 9-1. What's more, they beat the unbeaten Bucs, who had rolled through 10 straight to tie a big league record of quick getaways.
(mfcNOTE:The Pirates would go on to beat the Mets 16 times during the 1962 season, tied with the L.A. Dodgers for most wins vs. New York)

The explosion came early: six runs in the first two frames. Never before had the Mets scored six runs in an entire contest. Never before, as they did in the second stanza, had they batted around during an inning. Never before, as they did to Tom Sturdivant this night, had they kayoed a pitcher.

ALL THIS they did, and there was laughter in the clubhouse and wisecracking usually seen only in winning clubhouses of World Series teams.

"Break up the Mets!" roared Joe Ginsberg - and they laughed.

A photog snapped a picture of winning pitcher Jay Hook. Stengel grinned and said: "If you want to get a good picture, follow us the next 26 days! We're going to win 26 straight!"

IT IS IRONIC that Hook should be the first winning Met pitcher; that he should be the first to go the distance. He was the young man who was pounded so mercilessly in exhibitions this spring, and who had wept from sheer shock after one such beating. Tonight, after holding the Bucs to five hits, he almost wept from joy. He giggled nervously as he spoke to the large knot of newsmen around his locker, and he couldn't think straight.

"I got through the seventh," he said, describing the mounting pressure, "and I said to myself, 'Well, that's only seven. I got three left.'"

A REPORTER stared at the man who holds a degree in mechanical engineering, and who is nearing his masters. "Seven and three is 10," said the newsman.

"I mean two," giggled Jay.

Daily News back cover 4/24/62
He had been helped by the big park. There were numerous Pitt shots that drove the outfielders to the walls; others, liners that hummed directly at infielders. Throughout the losing streak, Met pitchers had been tormented by pop flies dropping among torpid outfielders, and topped balls which infielders couldn't make plays on. Jay let them hit the ball hard enough to be caught - proving the value of a college education.
HOOK FONDLED the ball that had been hit on the ground for the last out - the historic out that clinched victory.

"Are you going to send the ball to Cooperstown?" said a newsman.

Again, the nervous giggle. "No," said Hook. "I'm going to give it to my dad for his office. He keeps them for me." The office of the senior Hook, a pharmacist, is in Grayslake (Pop: 3,000), Ill., Jay explained.

Over to the side, Stengel said: "That Chacon! He played like he owned Venezuela!"

Chacon had set the pattern for the Mets' audacious base-running during the decisive first two frames. He and his roomie, Felix Mantilla. They got on, tagged up, and they ran. Five men, in the first two frames, advanced on fly balls as the exhilarated Mets played Stengel's favorite, entitled: "Run, Sheep, Run!"

MANTILLA OPENED with a hit and buzzed to second as Virdon momentarily bobbled the ball in left-center. Chacon followed with a bloop single to center, putting Felix on third. With Bell up, one of Sturdivant's knucklers danced, half-blocked, past the catcher, and Chacon dashed to second. The wild pitch was too short for Mantilla to move, but when Bell lined out to left, Felix tagged and scored - and Chacon tagged and moved to third. Then Thomas flied out to left, and Chacon tagged and scored.

NEXT STANZA was the Mets' supreme moment. They batted around. They kayoed Sturdy. They built up a 6-0 bulge. They were the Yankees and the Gashouse Cards, all at once. Neal started it with a double to right-center. Then Hickman walked and Cannizzaro walked - and Sturdivant took a walk, mumbling at the plate ump as he departed.

Hook, a righty pitcher who bats lefty, smacked reliever Diomedes Olivio, a southpaw, for a two-run single to right-center - perhaps the most important hit of the game. Mantilla flied out to center, and Cannizzaro tagged and scored. Hook, who had taken second when his hit was thrown to the plate, tagged and went to third.

CHACON SINGLED to right-center, scoring Hook, and Bell followed with a bloop hit that sent Chalky to third. Then Bell, swept up by the tempo of the game, tried a delayed steal of second - and was out from here to Christmas.

Illustration by Charlie McGill

That was just about the ball game. It was 6-0, and all Hook had to do was hang on. It was the most pressurized big lead in history. The kid kept thinking about the first win, about the horrible spring, about his momentary wildness in the sixth, when the Pitts scored their run on two singles and a groundout.

Geegee Smith, lol.

BY THEN the lead was 7-0, and Hook had scored that extra run after getting on via Groat's throwing error. The wrap up two, in the eighth, off Jack LaMabe of Farmington, L. I., resulted from Geegee Smith's triple, delivering Mantilla and Chacon. Mantilla had stroked his third hit. Chacon, who already had three hits, had walked.

That's the way it happened. You'll just have to believe it, because it wasn't on TV. Imagine, the first Met victory - and the first game not televised. Somebody goofed.


The following excerpt is by Robert Lipsyte, former N.Y. Times sports journalist.
Pitcher Jay Hook told me he expected to do well with the Mets because he would finally have a chance to play. The previous season, his last with Cincinnati, he caught the mumps and mononucleosis and sat out the pennant drive and a World Series loss to the Yankees.

This time, Hook got his playing time. He started and lost the Mets’ first spring training game, at Al Lang Field against the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched three seasons for the Mets, failing in his childhood dream of being a 20-game winner (he lost 19 in his first season as the Mets lost 120), but he got credit for the team’s first victory (in its 10th game).

Hook and his wife, Joan, had decided to get out of baseball in 1964.

“I was 28, an average player, and our oldest was just starting school, so the family wouldn’t be able to travel with me,” he said. “Also, we didn’t make the kind of money current players do, so I thought I better start a career in business. It was the right decision.”

Hook, who had worked on his master’s degree in thermodynamics as a Met, was remembered for explaining Bernoulli’s Law, which describes how planes stay aloft and baseballs curve. When the diagrams he drew appeared in The New York Times, Stengel said, “If Hook could only do what he knows.”

“I’ve dined off that line for years,” Hook said recently. “It has great business implications. But the biggest thing I learned from Casey that spring was to always take care of my customers. I watched the way Casey kept you sportswriters entertained so you would write about the team for his customers, the fans.”

Hook took care of his customers. After Chrysler, he rose to senior management positions at Rockwell International and Masco before retiring to become a professor in Northwestern’s M.B.A. program. He always played down his baseball career. He thought it would distract people from teaching him what they knew.

It was only recently, after retiring from academia, that he began reaching out to those who remembered him as a Met. When he asked me six years ago for a copy of his Bernoulli’s Law story, he said that he didn’t want his 13 grandchildren to think he was merely a science geek.

Last month, in New York, with the former Mets teammates Al Jackson and Frank Thomas, Hook attended the Baseball Writers Association of America dinner as part of a Mets 50th anniversary celebration.
 He got a big laugh recounting Stengel’s response to Bernoulli’s Law. Hook also went to several card shows and awards lunches. He sounded excited to have met the Tigers’ ace, Justin Verlander, and to have talked baseball with Joe Girardi, Don Newcombe and Tommy Davis. He felt reconnected to the game, now and 50 years ago, a prospect again on a brand-new team.

“I’d forgotten what a good time I had,” he said. “Casey was so terrific, he used to play with my kids. The fans and sportswriters were nice. Maybe I’m just getting to the age when the past means more, but I remembered what fun it was being there.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

mfc MH- Mets First Spring Training, 1962.

The latest mfc card is another Metropolitan History card. I do enjoy making these cards. The Mets first win of the 1962 season will be up next.


Currently colorizing this photo below to use on a card in the future. I think the rarity of the photo (and the great quality) was the main reason I chose to colorize it. The caption is pretty detailed with it's information: Hall of Fame inductee Red Faber gives pitching tips to members of the New York Mets during the 1964 Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown.

That's a lot of info. It must have been the annual Hall Of Fame game in 1964. Can anyone name the players? I'm sure of all but two of them. If anyone has more knowledge pertaining to what's pictured please share. I have no idea other than the caption what to put on this card back, so if anyone wants to embellish writing one up for it, knock yourself out. I'll use it and credit you
And it's not do hard the writing (opposed to the layout). You just add those baseball cliche lines we grew up reading over and over

The 8-MH-4 card back pictured above was written by Robert Lipsyte, a former New York Times columnist who covered the Mets’ first spring training for the newspaper. He is the author of the memoir “An Accidental Sportswriter.

mfc8-MH-4 source photo for  colorization from Bettman/Corbis:

Uhh, lets go, Mets....


Monday, January 16, 2017


Updated mfc Mets Scoreboard Card
(1984 border changed to 1980)
I want to thank John Leon, Andrew Padaetz, Steven Green, Charlene Juliano Worker, Dennis Raicacos, and Greg Prince (from Faith And Fear in Flushing) for commenting on facebook and making me aware that this mfc scoreboard card had the wrong years border attached to it. 

All my researched pointed to 1983 (84 border), but I must stand corrected because it turns out to be from 1980. Mr. Prince, the author of AMAZIN' AGAIN, suggested I use the 1980 Topps design, and I thank him. If anything I want these cards to be accurate.

This will be substituted for the error card on the mfc SCOREBOARD page.

Greg, if you're tuning in (and anyone else who might know) does that mean that this info on the Shea Stadium poster is incorrect?
Exactly what year did the BIG beer ad go up? I thought it was in 1983. I think those dates will have to be changed. The poster must be accurate.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017mfc 4-MH-0- The 1962 Mets Team Card

I know I am releasing these Mets history cards out of order but I'm a little backed up with the colorizations. Colorizing this team pic was a pain in the buttinsky. It was only 6 different colors used but all those tiny heads and minuscule orange NY's were tantalizing. I am happy with how this came out though.

Next up will either be another spring training card or a card 
commemorating the Mets first win. Both will be colorized for use on their cards. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 9, 2017


The Old Perfessor Casey Stengel's thoughts on the stolen base:

"There's nobody on my ball club that doesn't go from first to third on a base hit, or from second to home. Every time you steal a base, you're taking a gamble on getting thrown out, and taking the bat out of the hitter's hand."
 So Stengel was not a big fan of the stolen base. I didn't know that. Maybe that's why it took 12 games before the team stole one. And Casey did try.  

On April 17th, just five days into the '62 season, the Mets were playing the Houston Colt 45's in the first meeting ever of the two National League expansion teams. 

Mets 3rd bagman Don Zimmer made an attempt steal home! I wonder if that was Casey's doing. I would assume so. He had Gil Hodges up. It was the eight inning, New York was down 2-1.  Lets take a closer look at that inning, the bottom of the eight. Right hander Jim Golden was on in relief for the Colts with a 2-0 lead. 
After Richie Ashburn failed to pinch a hit to open the frame Felix Mantilla drew a base on balls. The Mets manager had Ed Bouchee bat for "Hot" Rod Kanehl, and Bouchee stroked a single sending Mantilla to third. Stengel then put in Elio Chacon to run for Bouchee with Don Zimmer up.

Zimm tapped one back to the pitcher, who threw home, but Colt 45's catcher Hal Smith couldn't handle the throw. The run scored and he was awarded an error. Chacon went to third, Zimmer to second on the throw.

Frank Thomas then bounced a grounder to third. Chacon took off and was gunned down at the plate by future Met Bob Aspromonte, Zimmer quietly pulling into third during the play. Then, with Gil Hodges up, Zimmer tries to steal home! And the Houston battery of Jim Golden and Hal Smith erased him from the basepaths!
I know old Casey knew his baseball but still, Don Zimmer? Hodges up? Crazy stuff.

The Mets manager tried to snag a bag again after another four games had passed. On April 22nd the Mets had a 2-0 lead in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. It was the teams 9th game of the season and they had yet to win one. This time it was Bobby Gene Smith who got caught on a straight steal of 2nd base in the sixth. New York would go on to lose this game as the Bucs got to Mets starter Roger Craig for three and the lead in the very next inning.

Stengel didn't wait too long before giving it another shot. New York had finally won a game on April 23rd (mfc MH card coming up soon) and stood at 11-1, 9½ out on the 25th. They would play the Reds at Crosley Field. Bob Purkey had the mound for Cincinnati and one of the Bob Millers would get the start for New York. Aging speedster Richie Ashburn had already singled leading off the game for the Mets. Elio Chacon drove Ashburn to third but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double. Richie then scored on a ground out to short to give New York a 1-0 lead.

The Reds came back to tie the game in the 2nd and Ashburn would single again with two outs in the 3rd. With Elio Chacon batting Richie wasted no time and took off for second early in the count. He beat the throw for the first ever Metropolitan stolen base. He was stranded there however, as Chacon struck out, and the Mets would go on to lose this game 7-1, the lone run scored by "Whitey" Asburn, the first Mets player ever to steal a base.

>Box & Play by play at Baseball Reference<


Chris Cannizzaro, an original 1962 Met, has passed away, the San Diego Padres announced last Friday. He was 78.

Cannizzaro played 59 games for the Amazin’s who lost 120 games that season and stayed with the club through the 1965 season. He hit .236 with zero home runs, 30 RBI over his four seasons spanning the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium. He led the league in caught stealing percentage in 1962 (56%) and 1965 (53%).

The Mets drafted Cannizzaro from the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1961 expansion draft. They traded him to the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1966 season.

Cannizzaro, an Oakland, Calif., area product, player for six different teams over 13 seasons, including an All-Star appearance as a member of the expansion Padres in 1969.

Cannizzaro had been suffering from emphysema in recent years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

All new cards created will be added to their corresponding blog page (62mfc,64mfc,etc.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

RIP Mr. Bob Lemke, the grandpa of custom card makers. :(

I really can't type anything now. I'm in shock. I just found out.

I couldn't put it any better than Night Owl anyway, so please follow the link below and read his beautiful tribute to the late Bob Lemke, grandpa of the custom card making community and master of the baseball card back.

A kindred spirit unmet-Night Owls Cards

I also would have loved to have met the man, shared a brew, talked baseball cards. Rest in peace Mr. Lemke. So much hobby knowledge in one man. You will be missed. We still have your fantastic blog though, and thank you for all you've shared over the years.

                                 A late addition from Jason Carter of  
                                                        The Writers Journey.

Goodbye, Bob Lemke

Some of Mr. Lemke's work: