Posted in Baseball

Old & new

Last week, John from California found a Nolan Ryan reprint in some packs of 2017 Topps Series 1 baseball cards that he’d opened, and he offered to send it my way.

Ryan is the only Met featured in a 10-card “Rediscover Topps” promo set. The fronts are reprints of classic Topps cards of some of the game’s biggest stars of the past and present, ranging from Jackie Robinson to Mike Trout. The backs talk about Topps’ traditional baseball cards available at retail and hobby shops, Topps Bunt digital baseball cards and Topps Now cards available for 24 hours only at Topps.com.

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Mets baseball cards on the final 2014 Topps Series 1 checklist

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.

Beckett Media has posted the full “final” checklist from Topps, and I’ve listed the New York Mets cards below:

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Posted in Autographs, Uncategorized

New additions to the Mets bullpen & my autograph collection

Staten Island native Jack Egbert, who played college baseball for Rutgers University, is the 35th player to appear on the New York Mets active roster this season. The Mets selected his contract from the Buffalo Bisons on Friday after they optioned Robert Carson back to the Binghamton Mets.

Egbert had a 2-3 record with a 2.08 ERA in 17 appearances (including one start) for the Bisons this year. He walked five while striking out 17 in 26 innings. He has allowed  one home run and has held opposing batters to a .234 average against him. (For more about Egbert, check out this ESPN New York article.)

Should the 29-year-old right-hander make it into a game for the New York Mets, he would become the 930th player in the team’s history. And then I’d be able to add this signed 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition card to my Mets autograph collection.

Signed Jack Egbert baseball card from my collection, obtained through the mail in May 2012

This week, I’ve also added a few other autographed cards to my collection this week, removing three names from the list of players I was missing and “upgrading”   a fourth player to a signed Mets card.

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Link: Nolan Ryan Bit by Coyote, Helps Inspire New Baseball Cards

At the Cardboard Connection, Ryan Cracknell wrote about how a freak injury to Nolan Ryan inspired an unconventional series of baseball cards more than two decades after it occurred.

In 1985, Nolan Ryan, then with the Houston Astros, was bitten by a coyote while reaching into a dog pen. In 2006, Amelie Mancini left Paris to move to New York and fall in love with baseball. These two seemingly insignificant events collide with a new set of handmade baseball cards that mix pain and art.

To learn more, visit Left Field Cards.

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The anniversary of two Hall of Fame trades

December 10th is the anniversary of two New York Mets trades involving future Hall of Famers.

Nolan Ryan's 1968 Topps rookie card (shared with Jerry Koosman)

Forty years ago today, the Mets sent a 24-year-old pitcher named Nolan Ryan and three other prospects to the California Angels for a past-his-prime All-Star shortstop named Jim Fregosi.

At the time, the deal made a certain amount of sense. The Mets had a perennial problem at third base and hoped that Fregosi could provide the answer. He had been an All-Star as recently as 1970, and Baseball Reference calculates that he was worth 44.1 wins above replacement during his 11 seasons with the Angels.

Meanwhile, Ryan was coming off a 10-14 season with a 3.97 ERA for a team that had an incredibly strong pitching rotation. During five years with the Mets, in which he bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, Baseball Reference calculates that Ryan was worth 3.7 wins above replacement.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know the Mets should not have made this trade. Fregosi was a bust in New York, hitting .233 with five home runs and 43 RBI in 146 games before moving on to Texas and Pittsburgh to finish out his career as a bench player.

Ryan went to his first All-Star Game in 1972, finishing the year with a 19-16 record for a 75-80 fifth place Angels team. He led the American League with nine shutouts and 329 strikeouts, and had a sparkling 2.28 ERA. That year alone, Ryan was worth 6.3 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

We all know where Ryan’s career went from there. What we don’t know is what might have happened if he stayed with the Mets… would Ryan have put up the same numbers and helped the Mets win a few more World Series trophies? Would he have pitched his record six no-hitters in the orange and blue? Or would he have continued to bounce between the rotation and the bullpen… or maybe worse – would he have been another part of the 1977 midnight massacre trades?

Twenty-seven years ago today, the Mets made a better deal. They acquired All-Star catcher Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.

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Best wishes for Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions baseball card from my collection

Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan is in a Houston hospital to undergo tests after experiencing “chest discomfort” Sunday, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Ryan is said to be “resting comfortably” and is expected to be released within a few days.

Let’s all hope that Ryan gets good news with his test results.