This holiday season, I was able to add a few new baseball cards to my collection. Among them was this Gary Carter insert from 2012. Part of a 30-card set inserted one per box in retail blasters of Topps Update, it highlights the blockbuster 1984 trade that brought Hall of Famer Gary Cater to the Mets.
All-Star Stitches is my favorite long-standing insert found in Topps Update because it’s the last relic card that actually makes any kind of claim about what game or event that the relic it contains is from. The Mets had one All-Star representative this year, and it was Daniel Murphy. There are versions of his card with red and blue jersey material swatches… since they were relatively inexpensive, I picked up one of each.
There are also a few more limited All-Star Stitches cards featuring Murphy: a gold parallel serial numbered to 50, a unique platinum parallel, a jumbo patch card serial numbered to 6, and a combo card featuring jersey swatches from both Murphy and Derek Jeter serial numbered to 25.
Geof surprised me with a couple of envelopes filled with Mets baseball cards this week. Here are a few of my favorites and some that just caught my eye.
I had just gotten back into baseball card collecting in 2002, so I really don’t remember whether “Heroes of Baseball” was a full set released by Upper Deck that year or just the name of this insert series. This card, #HTS3, commemorates the April 22, 1970 game when he struck out the last 10 batters en route to a 19-strikeout performance.
Mets fans of a certain age undoubtedly remember that game. Younger fans might remember hearing about it during a Mets broadcast – particularly during the era that Seaver was a TV analyst for the Mets, it seemed to come up quite often.
Hall of Famer Gary Carter will be honored tonight before the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays play the first Major League Baseball game in Montreal since the Expos left after the 2004 season.
Carter’s widow Sandy and daughter Kimmy Bloemers will represent the late Expos and Mets star, who died of brain cancer in 2012.
“It is going to be hard. It hasn’t been two years yet, but I knew we had to be there,” Sandy Carter said. “I agreed when I heard there would be a game at the old park and then when I heard it was the Mets, I knew it was right.
“It’s like two pieces of our hearts joining together that night.”
While football fans are getting excited about the Super Bowl next week, baseball card collectors can look forward to the the arrival of Topps Series 1, marking the beginning of the baseball card collecting season.
For Mets fans, Topps did a better job this year than in 2013 – almost all of the players appearing in the Series 1 base set as Mets are still on the team. Highlights include “Rookie Cards” of Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores, even though most collectors probably won’t view as “true” rookie cards.
Zack Wheeler, David Wright, Nolan Ryan and Travis d’Arnaud are among the players who have signed autographs for this set.
We’ve finally reached the end of 2012. On both a personal level and for the baseball teams that I follow, it wasn’t really a good year.
I’ve watched my father’s health decline throughout the year. I don’t usually get too personal on here, but my dad’s the one who taught me about baseball and took me to my first games – I can’t really talk about the game or look back on 2012 without thinking of him.
I didn’t know Gary Carter, but his death was a loss for me and many other baseball fans as well as those who did know him personally. Carter was one of the rare few members of the 1986 Mets who tried to do admirable things off the baseball field as well as on it, and he will always be my favorite baseball player.
Moving from the sad to the frustrating, the New York Mets collapsed again after a strong start to the season in 2012. Only the disaster that was the Miami Marlins saved the Mets from finishing in last place in the National League East. The team’s finances continue to be the most interesting story surrounding the Mets this off-season, and the biggest trade that Sandy Alderson made sent the Mets’ second-best player to Canada for talented prospects who aren’t likely to help before 2014 or later.
The Newark Bears muddled through another losing season, finishing the year 30 games under .500 and with the lowest attendance in the Can-Am League.
Yep, not really a banner year anywhere.
But even so, there were bright spots. For the Bears, Mike Ness had a magical afternoon on July 11th when he pitched a no-hitter against the eventual league champion team despite a defense that committed six errors behind him.
It took 50 seasons (and a missed call by an umpire), but the Mets finally got their own no-hitter on June 1st.
And if Johan Santana was amazing that night, R.A. Dickey was amazing all season long. Despite an offense that seemed to go days between scoring runs in the second half, Dickey became the Mets’ first 20-game winner since Frank Viola and their first Cy Young Award winner since Dwight Gooden.
Dickey’s one-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on June 18th was the best baseball memory I’ve had at Citi Field. That night, he became the first pitcher in all of baseball to throw back-to-back one-hitters since Dave Stieb did it for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988.
David Wright set new franchise records for RBIs and hits – I was in the ballpark when he set the RBI mark in April. During the off-season, he signed a contract extension that will likely allow him to retire as a Met, so we can watch him extend and set more franchise career records.
Jonathon Niese and Ruben Tejada took steps forward, and Matt Harvey made a positive impression once he was promoted from the minor leagues. And if Ike Davis‘s overall numbers for 2012 aren’t especially pretty, he did finish strong after a terrible start.
And on a personal note again, I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made who I’ve gone to baseball games with, who have helped me with my autograph or baseball card collections, or who’ve just spent time talking baseball with me here, on Twitter or on Facebook.
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things…. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
This year’s almost gone, and next year promises another pile of good and bad things for us. Let’s try to enjoy the good ones – such as those magical performances at the ballpark, or times spent watching the game with friends or family – and not let the bad ones spoil the rest.
What stood out for you in 2012? What are you looking forward to in 2013?