As I mentioned earlier this week, I wanted to clear out my folder of unposted autograph scans before the end of the month. It may be the last day of February, but fortunately these are the last three.
Doug Flynn was a light-hitting, slick-fielding second baseman who had the misfortune to be traded for the most popular player in Mets history. I think it’s probably a good thing that he played in the late 70s and early 80s, because I’d hate to see how modern Mets fans would treat him.
Fleer’s inaugural 1980s offering doesn’t seem all that impressive, but I guess it was a big deal at the time. The design itself isn’t that bad, but the photography leaves something to be desired. Still, I prefer the 1981 set to the 1982 offering where nearly every card seems to use a shot that’s out of focus.
Mike Piazza, Gary Carter and Jerry Grote are probably the three most popular catchers in Mets history. It will be awhile before I add Piazza’s autograph to my collection, but I do have Carter and Grote. I don’t want to focus on them today; I want to showcase a different pair of former Mets catchers.
Joe Pignatano was a career backup who played most of his career with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished his playing career with the 1962 New York Mets. In his last Major Leauge at-bat, Pignatano hit into a triple play.
Pignatano went on to become a coach for the New York Mets, a role he held from 1968-1981. He was famous for growing tomatoes in the bullpen. He was also one of the last people to see Gil Hodges before the Mets manager suffered a fatal heart attack in 1972.
Mario Ramriez was a utility infielder with the Mets and the San Diego Padres in the early 1980s.
Ramirez played in 18 games for the Mets in 1980, but the Padres took him in the Rule V draft that off-season. Ramirez spent parts of the next five seasons in the majors, playing in a total of 166 games for the Padres.
The Mets went into the All-Star Break with a 53-39 record, trailing the Cubs by just 5 games… not bad for a team that had never finished higher than 9th place. (Those 53 wins were more than the Mets had managed over the course of the whole season in 1962, 1963 and 1965.)
Randy Jones is the most accomplished player I’ve featured in the “Autograph of the Day” segment in a while. He won the Cy Young Award in 1976 and was a two-time All-Star. Twice he won 20 or more games in a season. Of course, all that happened with the San Diego Padres.
By the time Randy Jones got to New York, his career was winding down. In a strike-shortened season in 1981, Jones went 1-8 in 13 games (12 starts.) He fared a bit better in 1982, his final season: 7-10 in 28 games (20 starts.)
The photo used on the 1991 Wiz Mets card is not the most flattering one. I’m surprised the Mets publicity department didn’t try for a better headshot back in the 80s. Jones had six or seven other cards picturing him as a member of the Mets from 1981 to 1983, but for whatever reason I didn’t track any of those down.
Jones has an interesting signature, one that sylizes his initials to a certain extent and omits most of the other letters of his name. He added his uniform #35, which he wore for most of his career. In 1981, though, Jones wore #25 for the Mets. (Ed Lynch had #35.) The following year, Jones reclaimed his preferred number, which saves me from having a card signed with the “wrong” uniform number (something of a pet peeve.)
I’m a bit late with today’s autograph of the day post, so I may as well use the card that came in today’s mail.
Bill Latham had a brief Major League career, pitching for just two seasons.
In 1985, he was a New York Met. He pitched in seven games (making three starts) but managed just a 1-3 record with a 3.97 ERA. During that off-season, he was part of a package of players traded to the Minnesota Twins for Tim Teufel.
Latham’s Minnesota career also lasted just seven games (two starts) in 1986. He went 2-2 with a 7.71 ERA, which I assume was the result of one bad outing, though I didn’t check the box scores.
He signed a 1991 Wiz Mets card that I mailed to him, and he’s got a pretty nice signature for a lefty. He never appeared on a regular-issue Major League card, though he does have a variety of minor league issues from his playing and coaching days as well as a few other team issues.