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Mets baseball card of the week: Jonathon Niese 2009 Upper Deck: A Piece of History gold 46/50

Jonathon Niese's 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History baseball card (gold version)
Jonathon Niese’s 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History baseball card (gold version)

Before I got sick this weekend, I spend some time trying to make a little headway organizing the baseball cards that I’ve acquired over the past few months.

I had overlooked the Jonathon Niese card pictured above when I originally opened my package from last season’s Tribecards baseball card giveaway. Upper Deck’s A Piece of History set never seemed all that exciting to me and I didn’t notice the gold foil serial numbering on the front. I haven’t been obsessed with chasing after parallels since they were the new, exciting thing in the early 1990s…but it is still kind of cool to have a card that there were only 49 other copies of were created.

Back in 2009, it seemed funny for Niese (or almost any rookie, really) to be included in a set called “A Piece of History.” But in 2014, Niese really is a piece of history. He, along with David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell are the last current Mets who played at Shea Stadium – which only closed six years ago.

Depending on how things go this winter, it’s possible that Wright will be the only Shea Stadium Met who’s still with the team on Opening Day. I don’t know about anyone else, but that makes me feel a little bit sad.

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Throwback Thursday

Cover of a New York Mets  ticket sales brochure from 2008
Cover of a New York Mets ticket sales brochure from 2008

Believe it or not, it will soon be six years since the final game at Shea Stadium…. and yes, I still miss the old ballpark sometimes.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Uncategorized

Autograph of the week: Bob Friend

2013 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashback card signed by Bob Friend (from my collection)
2013 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashback card signed by Bob Friend (from my collection)

Bob Friend played in the major leagues for 16 seasons from 1951 through 1966, primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won 197 games, including a league-leading 22 victory season in 1958. (He also lost 230 decisions, including two separate 19 loss seasons, and two others where he lost 18.)

Friend was a three-time All-Star and received votes for the Cy Young Award in 1958 and the MVP Award in 1955, 1956 and 1958.

One particular victory that came during Friend’s Pittsburgh Pirates career is notable in Mets history. Although he started seven Opening Day games in his career, Friend did not draw that assignment in 1964. Instead, he pitched the third game of the season – which just happened to be the first official game played at Shea Stadium.

As he noted in the inscription on the Baseball Flashback card I sent him, Friend was the winning pitcher in that first game and he notched a complete game – one of 13 he’d throw that season.

While the Mets went on to their third straight 100+ loss season, they put up a fight during that stadium opener. After future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell got the first hit at Shea – a solo home run in the second inning – the Mets responded with three runs of their own in the fourth.

Pittsburgh responded with single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to tie the game at 3-3, and another future Hall of Famer, Bill Mazeroski, drove in Stargell in the top of the ninth to provide the Pirates’ margin of victory.

Two years later, Friend became a Met, where he finished his career.

Now 83, Bob Friend appears to enjoy receiving autograph requests through the mail. SportsCollectors.Net has over 600 logged and Friend has returned 98 percent of them, most in about a week.

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On Matt Harvey and a gem of a pitching performance

Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey pitches against the Miami Marlins on June 8, 2013 at Citi Field (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Today’s big baseball story is that Matt Harvey is going to have Tommy John surgery that will almost certainly cause him to miss the entire 2014 season.

Funny how the Mets try to bury bad news by announcing it late on a Friday afternoon, isn’t it?

Except this particular bit of bad news isn’t really much of a surprise, and I’m not even convinced it’s all that bad.

No matter what Sandy Alderson says, it’s unlikely the Mets are going to be playoff contenders in 2014. Isn’t it better for Harvey to get the surgery now than put it off, pitch for a while and then have his ulnar collateral ligament finish tearing?

(To someone without any kind of a medical background – and especially with the Mets’ fortunes – that seems like something that would definitely happen somewhere down the road. If anyone does have the appropriate expertise, please correct me if I’m wrong.)

I’ve seen a few people saying that they have no reason to watch the 2014 Mets without Harvey pitching for them.

I say we don’t even know who is going to be a 2014 Met yet. It’s time for Alderson and Terry Collins to give us a team that shows some visible progress, but I still have enough patience to wait until next spring before I even think about writing the season off.

I like the way Joe Giglio is looking at the Harvey situation:

Continue reading “On Matt Harvey and a gem of a pitching performance”