I’ve always enjoyed flipping through baseball media guides. In the days of Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com and MLB.com’s own player information pages, paper reference books seem kind of quaint. But before the Internet and even during its early days, media guides were one of the few places you could look for information about teams and players.
After more than a decade of Topps Heritage sets, not to mention various other vintage-themed sets, baseball cards featuring current ballplayers on classic designs almost seems overdone.
In 1984, it was a novelty. Baseball Cards Magazine included a Dale Murphy card in the style of Topps’ classic 1953 set with its August issue that year, starting a trend that continued through 1993.
I say “baseball card,” but the “repli-cards” you got in the magazine weren’t exactly the same as the cards you’d find inside a wax pack made by Topps, Donruss or Fleer. Instead of the poly-bagged promo cards you might find bundled with some current magazines, Baseball Cards Magazine included an insert stapled (or glued) into the spine that was printed on thin cardboard. If you wanted your new collectibles to look like baseball cards, you had to be pretty good with the scissors when you cut them out from the panel.
The New York Mets inducted John Franco into the team’s Hall of Fame last night, then went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1. They’re now in a three-way tie for first place, percentage points behind the Washington Nationals.
Thanks to ESPN and my own stubborn desire to stay for the last out if at all possible, I’m very tired this morning.
(By the way, is it just me, or is John Franco’s plaque not really the best likeness?)
Tonight, the New York Mets will honor their all-time saves leader John Franco by inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame. Franco appeared in more games (695) than any other Mets pitcher and is one of only three Mets players to be formally named team captain.
I’ll admit that he often made me want to reach for the antacids when he came in from the bullpen, but I hope there’s a nice crowd at Citi Field tonight to see him honored… with the game getting picked up to ESPN, I don’t know how much of the ceremony will be televised to fans at home.
I talked about Franco’s saves, his 14 years with the Mets, and his selection as the team captain. I did not mention any particular fond memories. I wanted to remedy that this morning, but I’m drawing a blank.
I think part of it is the teams Franco played for. Of his 14 years in a Mets uniform, I was really only paying attention to baseball for about half of them. Between the 1994 strike and the 2000 World Series, I don’t think I watched more than a couple of dozen major league baseball games. And except for the almost-but-not-quite contenders in 1990 and 2001 (and the 2000 playoffs), Franco was not playing on very good teams when I was paying attention.
Part of it is that Franco was the kind of closer who made fans (and, I’m sure, managers) crazy. He’d start an inning and put men on base, but more often than not he’d strand them there… somehow.
So I guess my favorite John Franco memory was meeting him at a Brooklyn Cyclones event a few years ago. It was great to take a photo with a former Mets captain who probably had a longer playing career in Queens than anyone other than Ed Kranepool.
So how about you… what are your memories of John Franco?
(Oh, and the spring training countdown has reached 24 days… just in case you thought I forgot 🙂 )