With all the talk about Curtis Granderson signing with the Mets last week, I thought I’d highlight a baseball card the commemorates the last time the Mets signed an aging star to make a statement.
Pedro Martinez was a star of a different order of magnitude than Granderson, of course, but both free agent signings had as much to do with making a statement as they did with baseball.
When the Mets signed Pedro to a four-year, $53 million contract nine years ago next week, they were coming off their third straight losing season and had just hired Willie Randolph to replace Art Howe as the team’s manager.
That move, plus the January 2005 signing of Carlos Beltran, sent a signal to fans that a new era was beginning in Queens. The 2005 Mets team finished with a modest 83 wins and were not in playoff contention in September, but they were a lot more fun to watch – especially on the days that Pedro pitched. (And we all remember what happened the next year… and what should have happened in 2007 and could have happened in 2008)
In 2006, Upper Deck included a “Hot Stove Headlines” insert set in its “First Pitch” product. It featured 20 baseball stars who had recently changed teams and used black and white photos from the players’ introductory press conferences instead of more traditional baseball card action shots.
Besides Pedro, two other Mets were included: Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. There isn’t a lot of demand for the cards in the set – if you can find them, you could expect to pay around $1 per card.
(If you’re seeing rounded corners on the scan, it’s an artifact of my blog theme. The Hot Stove Headlines inserts have standard, 90-degree corners.)