Monday, December 06, 2010

Topps top 60 countown: Ed Kranepool, after all these years

No. 9, 1972 Ed Kranepool

Do you think that when Ed Kranepool was picked by the Mets in the 1962 amateur daft that he ever imagined he’d still be atop the team’s leader boards 31 years after retiring?

Sure playing 18 seasons with one team will do that. But if the New York media will go nuts just because Derek Jeter accumulates enough at-bats to pass a dead Yankee or two, well, we can celebrate our Steady Eddie.

Kranepool’s played 1,853 games in a Mets uniform – and only a Mets uniform. He’s got a 500-plus game lead on Bud Harrelson, and 800 games on David Wright, the closest active player.

He’s also atop the rankings for at-bats, plate appearances, hits, total bases, singles, times on base, and sacrifice flies. Wright only recently passed him on the doubles list.

Eddie’s also the leader in times grounded into double plays. But look, he did it 138 times. Mike Piazza is second with 132, and he played 10 fewer seasons for the team.
He wasn’t too bad with the glove, either, leading the league in fielding percentage in 1971 and 1975.

Kranepool was even a Met before Mr. Met came along – the mascot arrived in printed form in 1963, a year after Eddie.

With so man chances, Topps did well by Kranepool on numerous occasions. The 1980 farewell card is in the top 60, and the 1964 and 1970 cards are pretty sweet, too.

But my favorite is the 1972 card. It is, well, perfect. The design is legendary, of course. But the photo is magnificent. Eddie is leaning on the batting cage, bat resting shoulder, confident and friendly smile.

Likely shot in 1971 – though with Topps, you never know – we have a mid-career Eddie who remembers Casey and the Polo Grounds, was an All-Star in ’65, likely celebrated the arrival of Seaver and, despite being all of 24, was a veteran when the team won a World Series, even hitting a home run in Game 3.

It was, most definitely, good to be Ed Kranepool. And this card shows it.

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