Thursday, November 18, 2010

Too many Mets in Topps Top 60? Blame Topps -- and go deeper to find other teams

Difficult accusations have been made about the legitimacy of our countdown of the Topps Top 60 Cards of All Time.

It appears there are some people, mostly my fellow cardboard crusader, who believe that my list is too Mets-centric, and that I have ignored cards of other players simply because they played for other teams.

This is shocking. Shocking, I tell you.

Upon review it does appear that the Mets have been blessed with a number of quality cards, at least in the section of the count between No. 60 and 31.

Hey, blame Topps! It’s not my fault the Brooklyn-based company apparently rises to the occasion when it has to produce a Mets card.

And it’s Topps fault that the company only listed its top 60. I’m fairly certain that there were a number of cards depicting non-Mets in slots from No. 61 to 80.
What? Trust, but verify?

Sigh. If you insist.

Let’s pause the count at No. 31, set back a little and see what might have been included in the countdown had Topps asked voters to rank cards starting at No. 80.

No. 80, 1973 Bob Didier.

See, there you go. The 1973 set had some amazing action shots, and some rather distant and unusual ones, too. This is one of the best, with the Braves catcher looking up to the umpire to see the call after attempting to put the tag on a player who looks suspiciously like Cleon Jones of the Mets.

No. 79, 1991 Roger Clemens.

Clemens used to be a good pitcher before he turned into an alleged roid-using, bat-tossing, wife-blaming, Canada-dissing, McNamee-bashing, All-Star-game trashing weasel. Allegedly. But this card is a classic.

No. 78, 1995 Larry Walker

The 1995 Topps set is both wonderful and terrible. The photos are among the very best the company has ever produced. Great portraits, awesome actions shots and even some collages. But the gold foil writing makes it darn near impossible to read the players’ names. This shot of Larry Walker going all Swoboda is magnificent.

No. 77, 1952 Gus Zernial

Will loves this card, and for good reason. “Ozark Ike” is posing with six balls stuck on his bat, commemorating the six homers he hit over the course of three games. Zernial is from Beaumont, Texas where I spent a week last year. But he retired to Fresno, Calif. in the early 1960s. Fresno, of course, produced some amazing players, which leads to:

No. 76, 1982 Tom Seaver In Action

Seaver is back at Shea, where he never should have left, in this action shot. True fact: Seaver doesn’t appear in a Reds home uniform in any of his base cards. Perhaps Topps was signaling that home was always in New York even if he played half his games in Cincy.

No. 75, 2005 Craig Biggio

Speaking of people who call New York home, future Hall-of-Famer Biggio also is depicted at Shea. The pride of Smithtown is attempting to put the tag on David Segui.

No. 74, 1973 Tommie Agee

In yet another game at Shea, Tommie Agee is seen patrolling centerfield. I don’t know how I missed this transaction, but apparently the Mets also traded Rusty Staub and Ken Boswell to the Astros, too.

No. 73, 1986 Tom Seaver All-Star set

These were cards that were included in rack packs. Topps didn’t use too many action photos of Seaver when he played for the White Sox, so this one is a rare treat.

No. 72, 1987 Tom Seaver

Seaver sure did find his way into some really great cards. Red Sox Nation embraced Tom’s mid-season arrival, and he led them all the way to the World Series – which the team lost to the Mets. Luckily for the Mets, Seaver was injured and couldn’t compete.

No. 71, 1971 Johnny Bench

Will loves this card, and it’s easy to see why. His man JB is in his classic batting pose in the quirky yet awesome 1971 set. It’s a beautiful card. And he was Tom Seaver’s catcher, too.

No. 70, 1992 Cal Ripken Jr.

My brother played catch with Cal Sr. Really. We had credentials for a game at Memorial Stadium, and Cal Sr. was hitting fungoes. A throw back got away and ended up at my brother’s feet. Cal asked him to throw it back. He did, and I’m forever jealous. This shot shows Cal Jr. about to break a record held by a Yankee, so that’s all good.

No. 69, 1982 Tom Seaver All-Star

Man, we are looking at a serious Mets drought here. The slackers at Topps are openly dissing the Mets at this point. Just like the Cy Young voters dissed Seaver, giving what should have been Tom’s fourth award to Fernando Valenzuela.

No. 68, 1972 Willie Mays

This a near-perfect card for a near-perfect player in a near-perfect set. And during this season, Willie would be headed to Shea.

No. 67, 1961 Bill Mazeroski World Series

Mazeroski was a phenomenal fielder, but his most glorious moment was a walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series that sent the vile Yankees packing. He earned his Hall of Fame plaque right there, even it took them years to give it to him.

No. 66, 1973 Hank Aaron

Card No. 1 in one of Topps’ all-time best sets is devoted to the home run king, the only time Topps has done a card like this.

No. 65, 1984 Traded Set Tom Seaver

After the ordeal of losing Seaver the first time, losing our hero through a front office blunder was just brutal. The 1984 base set card is probably a top-10 card, this late-season inclusion is good, too, uniform not withstanding.

No. 64, 1992 Frank Thomas

Frank’s awesome, and this card – using a photo from Sports Illustrated – is perhaps his very best. After the absolute disaster that was the 1990 set, Topps rebounded nicely.

No. 63, 1979 Tom Seaver

A great action pose, and a rare back shot, with the big 41 and last name there for all to see.

No. 62, 1972 Roberto Clemente

Talk about your heroes. Clemente would have a card in the 1973 set, but of course he died before the calendar flipped to that year. Head down and tossing a ball in the air, Roberto almost looks sad. Knowing what we know now, it fits. But I wonder what the reaction was in 1972.

No. 61, 1956 Jackie Robinson

Jackie’s a national hero, and a de facto Met given the front entrance to Citi Field. This card’s a national treasure, too. Jackie’s big smile and the background artwork all are brilliant.

Whoa! We made it all the way without a single Met in there. That was a long streak with a bunch of Reds, a couple Astros, a number of Sox both White and Red, some Braves and even Pirates, Dodgers, Giants and Astros! You guys shouldn’t have doubted me!


Anonymous said...

And here we go, a few of the real best cards ever ... plus cards of Tom Seaver and other assorted folks playing at Shea.

Yeah, no question that 1982 AS card of TT looking like he's trying the one-cheek sneak was better than the 1993 Kirby Puckett, the 2004 Aaron Rowand or the 1976 Kurt Bevacqua Bazooka card. (Google them.) Whatever.

Dave, you're a card-carrying card-worshiping fraud of the highest order. No one was fooled by your "verification." Go home and put on your Yankees gear.

I'm calling my shot right here: The "top 10" will include at least six Seaver cards. Imagine the coincidence that Topps would just happen to give of all people Seaver that many classic cards!

(And that 1979 Seaver looks suspiciously like the Terrific One is donning the home whites.)


Anonymous said...

And one more thing, after looking at this collection again, it's clear to me:

1952 Gus Zernial = Greatest Card of All Time.

Hey, we all know dang well that the list that Topps created is going to put a certain card from the same 1952 set at No. 1. Right set, wrong card. The Zernial just has too much nuttiness going on to deny it its rightful place. It was a glorious Christmas morning many moons ago when the card of the smiling, pink-t-shirt-wearing, six-balls-on-bat-waving, hi-sign-giving slugger magically appeared in my stocking.

In inch-thick Lucite to protect it from any future nuclear blasts, of course.