Monday, August 01, 2005

Off-the-Wall Mets Treasures are Part of the Fun

Some of the fine relics Will and I saw at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago last weekend were valued at thousands of dollars — hundreds of thousands in the case of the famed Honus Wagner card that was on display.

But my favorite purchase of the day set me back a whole buck.

See, while I can appreciate the expensive stuff, I'll never afford it. Luckily, I've developed a fondness for the strange and the fun, the off-the-beaten-trail treasures you usually find in the bargain bins.

I’m talking about items like my new Mets outlet cover.

Hey, anybody can walk out of there with a Startling Lineup figure. Lots of dealers were selling them. But I also like the stuff you come across once in your life.

This particular treasure was in a box in front of a table stacked high with McFarlane sports action figures, which are amazing. But I cheered when I pulled out the outlet cover, about as loud as I did when Will found the affordable stack of 1971 Topps high numbers.

It’s just too strange. Think about it. I’ve seen Mets switch plates before, and that makes sense. Light switches are in visible places. But outlet covers? I usually hide them behind the book shelf.

And that’s what makes it cool.

There are a bunch of wonderfully off-beat items decorating my basement baseball room, from the Mike Piazza yo-yo to the Tom Seaver super-ball.
There are even some semi-useful things, like the Mets logo salt and pepper shakers, the Gil Hodges coasters and serving tray and the Tom Seaver Action Baseball game, where you hit a marble and it rolls into different slats. All are fun, all are on display.

Then there are the "what in the heck were they thinking" things. Those are the classics.

Clearly some company paid the Major League Baseball properties licensing fee, then wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Mets fly fishing lure: What can you catch with this? Marlins, of course.

The Mets toothbrush: It’s shaped like a bat, and hangs in a little adhesive-backed stand with the logo.

The Mets bike reflector: You gotta keep safe biking home from night games.

The Mets pocket radio: This might be able to pick up “Mike and the Mad Dog” — if I was standing right next to the transmitter.

The John Franco “Happy Birthday” greeting: This is a cassette where Franco reads a generic birthday greeting, then shares a baseball memory. It’s fun, it’s in his own voice and I’d love to get it on my iPod somehow.

Other than the Franco tape — which I just had to hear — I don’t know if these work. I keep them in their package and hang them on a cork-covered wall in the basement with the Mets subway ads, player buttons and other glorious relics.

The best head-scratcher in the bunch isn’t actually a Mets item, but it’s still amazingly cool.

It’s an official SkyDome international time zone calculator. There’s a photo of the stadium on the front, and when you open it up there’s a map of the world with the time zones and a little wheel so you can calculate what time the game starts when the Blue Jays are in Seattle. Or Asia.
So keep the Honus Wagner card. I’d rather save space for my new outlet cover.

In Other Words...

One of the best things purchased at the National was “The Fenway Project,” published by the Society of American Baseball Research. SABR collected 64 stories of Fenway for the book, including one from Will that starts on page 35. We’ll have complete coverage of the convention at


Christopher Trottier said...

Tell me, what's the attraction of the Mets?

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Well Chris, looking at your blog I see you are a poet. (Nice site, by the way) So I shall try to put this in poet terms. The Mets are "The Road Not Taken." The bandwagon jumpers follow the Yankees, and it's easy to do. But to follow the Mets means you are aquainted with both victory and defeat, mostly defeat. And victory, when it does come, is laced with tragedy or great drama or comebacks that arrive when all hope is lost.

And that is the attraction of the Mets.