Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hostess cards and the betrayals of 1977

I’m in a bad place this week -- an ugly place. Which means it is a good time to talk about the 1977 season and the Hostess set.

As we said earlier, 1976 was a fun, buoyant time. We had no idea what kind of nasty storm was approaching.

Part of the problem is that I’m too loyal to people, teams and places and I always think that people, teams and places whom I give love and devotion will continue to treat me and mine well. So I spend a fair amount of time in shock and disbelief when they do not.

Yeah, I know.

So the 13-year-old Mets Guy took the events of 1977 very personally.

The team stumbled out of the gate, with manager Joe Fraizer getting bounced after a 15-30 start, replaced by Joe Torre, who became the Mets first player-manager, with the player part lasting about two weeks.

Then came the massacre, the June 15 trade deadline that found the team shipping Tom Seaver to the Reds for four players. While management was at it, it sent Dave Kingman to the Padres.

I distinctly remember watching the news on television, pounding on the floor that Charlton Heston at the end of “Planet of the Apes.”

The team spiraled down for the remainder of the season, finishing 64-98, the Mets’ first last-place finish since 1967.

Making it worse, the Yankees won the World Series and most of the neighborhood kids jumped on the bandwagon to the Bronx Zoo as Shea became Grant’s Tomb.

Not me, of course. I voiced outrage over Steve Henderson getting robbed by Andre Dawson in Rookie of the Year voting and expected Pat Zachary to be the new staff ace.

The Hostess set was again 150 cards, five of them Mets. That includes Seaver and Kingman. The others are Jerry Koosman, who suffered a 20-loss season despite a respectable ERA, Jon Matlack and Felix Millan.

The design is pretty drab – though not as drab as what was to come—with white borders and player names in a semi-circle.

Looking back, I realize that heading to Cincinnati was painful but probably the best thing for Seaver, who piled up wins, pitched his no-hitter and would have been handed a fourth Cy Young Award had writers not gotten swept up in Fernando Mania.

Hopefully I’ll look back at the events of this week in the same way.

3 comments: said...

Am a year younger but felt the same way and had the same cards--still have the Hostess cards from 1976-77, some have disintegrated and others have been nibbled by mice who recognized the cards' former proximity to cupcakes in cellophane). Never could understand how people could just abandon their team in 1977. To me, it was like taking a dog to the shelter because it peed the rug.

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Anonymous said...

Here, let me pour more fresh poo on the proceedings. ;-)

As you can imagine, I had a slightly different take on the Seaver trade. My overwhelming feeling was shock more than joy: I can't freakin' believe Tom Seaver is coming to Cincinnati!!! TT was one of favorite players--top 5 for sure--and now he was going to be throwing to my favorite--Johnny Bench. Some might argue, and now that I think about it, I would argue that that's the greatest battery of all time. The handful of pitchers who rank with or ahead of Seaver never had a catcher who was as great as Bench to throw to. Cochrane and Grove are the only ones who come close, and it might be fun to do a more in depth study of the issue than I have time for here.

Anywho, I was overjoyed. Fuh shizzle, even though we trailed the hated Dodgers by 10 games, there was no question WE were coming back now that we had Seaver and heading on toward a three-peat. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.