We’ve spent the last couple months looking at the best Mets baseball cards. But its time to look at the flip side, and I don’t mean the place with all the stats.
For every 1986 there is a 1979. Opening Day is nearby, and before we turn away from cards we need to consider the very worst Mets cards offered up by Topps and some of the others companies.
Several things determine a bad card. I’ll allow companies to have an occasional off design, especially when they were issuing dozens of sets for a while.
And you are going to find some dull, lifeless photos. Not every player is Mr. Charisma.
But the ones that get my goat tend to be the cards that show a total lack of caring. We’ve seen great cards, so we know what the companies are capable of. But here’s what happens when they just stop giving a darn.
In year order:
1969 Tommie Agee
Agee played 132 games as a Met in 1968, 61 of them at Shea Stadium, a short drive from the Topps offices. So why does the company show Agee in an old photo in an air-brushed White Sox uniform? It’s not even a classic Topps headshot here, someone airbrushed the uniform. The 1969 set is notorious for its use of recycled photos, even for stars like Tom Seaver. But this just terrible. Tommy deserved better.
1972 Jim Beauchamp
I’ll forgive the airbrushing since Beauchamp arrived in 1972. But couldn’t the photo at least find a shot with his eyes open? It’s not like headshots are all that tough to shoot.
1981 Bill Almon
Hey, Topps photog. When you twist the lens on the front of the camera, you can actually bring things into focus. Brutal.
1983 Rick Ownbey
This is one of Topps best sets, and the design is intended to have a big action shot of a player and a small headshot in the inset. Ownbey appeared in only 8 games in 1982 and 10 in 1983, so I’m glad he has a card at all. But the inset is virtually the same size as the posed shot, and it’s clearly from another shot in the same roll.
1992 Donruss Vince Coleman
Somebody forget to tell the person cropping the photo that we’d rather have a complete Vince in the picture than the complete number 3. This is like a photo of the outfield wall that just happens to include Vice Coleman instead of the other way around.
1992 Topps Stadium Club Bill Pulsipher
Topps did the high school yearbook thing for a number of young players in this set and the Bowman set. I have no idea why. There are too many of these for it to be a fluke, with the company caught without a photo. And the glove shows that there was some thought in the pose. But the shirt, the hair and the off-camera glance make this the worst of a bad bunch.
1997 Fleer Metal Mark Clark
I’m not panning Fleer for trying something a little – well, a lot – different with the fantasy inspired Metal sets. Some of them are pretty cool in an odd kind of way. But it seems like they forgot to include Mark Clark in this Mark Clark card. I look at this and expect to see the stats for the fire-breathing monster on the back.
2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Jose Reyes
This is an artsy painting of Jose Reyes. I know this because it says “Jose Reyes” on the bottom, and not because the painting above bears even the slightest resemblance to our favorite shortstop.
2005 Donruss Champions Roger Cedeno
I’m using this one card to call attention to an entire set. This was a premium issue. I know the companies were looking for some niche audiences. This must be the set aimed at people who didn’t want photos of baseball players cluttering up their bland background baseball cards.
2005 Topps Gallery Kaz Matsui
I suspect this might have been a nice painting of Matsui before some intern left it out in the rain. I know, the Gallery cards where supposed to be artsy fartsy. This painting might even work as a program cover or something. But it’s not a baseball card.
2010 Topps National Chicle Nolan Ryan
I know it looks like I’m down on the art cards. That’s not true, as you can tell from the previous posts. But I’m down on bad art cards. I’d say that it’s nice Topps hired Mrs. Cooper’s third-graders to illustrate a set, but I don’t want to be unkind to third-graders. This looks more like John Maine than Nolan Ryan. Heck, it looks more like me than Nolan Ryan.