Here’s another Yogi Berra Mets baseball card that my friend Greg found for me. It’s from the 2001 Upper Deck Legends set, a product that contained a mix of retired legends and current stars.
Unlike most relic cards, which at least give the impression that they contain fabric swatches from a player’s jersey, this one clearly notes that it contains “an authentic piece of a pair of pants used by Yogi Berra during an official Major League Baseball game.”
While this is a very neat baseball card, I still have mixed feelings about destroying pieces of baseball’s past to make new baseball cards.
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.
I got a box of about 500-600 recent New York Mets baseball cards as a birthday present last week. This 2006 David Wright card stood out for a couple of reasons:
David Wright has the Shea Stadium anniversary patch and Tug McGraw‘s signature phrase, “You Gotta Believe,” embroidered on his right uniform sleeve, so the photo is from 2004 – ten years ago.
I have no recollection of this set.
I still remember watching Wright bat seventh in his major league debut against the Montreal Expos – a team that doesn’t even exist anymore. It doesn’t really seem like that long ago, but of the 14 players who appeared in that game for the Mets, I think only Wright, Jose Reyes and Ty Wigginton are still active major leaguers.
Some quick internet research tells me that Upper Deck didn’t release the 2006 Future Stars set until January 2007. Cards 1-75 follow an attractive “stars” theme and look like Wright’s, while cards 76-159 follow the “Clear Path to Greatness” theme and are some of the ugliest certified autograph baseball cards ever produced. Hobby boxes included 24 packs with four cards each, and guaranteed five autograph cards.
With all the talk about Curtis Granderson signing with the Mets last week, I thought I’d highlight a baseball card the commemorates the last time the Mets signed an aging star to make a statement.
Pedro Martinez was a star of a different order of magnitude than Granderson, of course, but both free agent signings had as much to do with making a statement as they did with baseball.
When the Mets signed Pedro to a four-year, $53 million contract nine years ago next week, they were coming off their third straight losing season and had just hired Willie Randolph to replace Art Howe as the team’s manager.
That move, plus the January 2005 signing of Carlos Beltran, sent a signal to fans that a new era was beginning in Queens. The 2005 Mets team finished with a modest 83 wins and were not in playoff contention in September, but they were a lot morefun to watch – especially on the days that Pedro pitched. (And we all remember what happened the next year… and what should have happened in 2007 and could have happened in 2008)
In 2006, Upper Deck included a “Hot Stove Headlines” insert set in its “First Pitch” product. It featured 20 baseball stars who had recently changed teams and used black and white photos from the players’ introductory press conferences instead of more traditional baseball card action shots.
Besides Pedro, two other Mets were included: Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. There isn’t a lot of demand for the cards in the set – if you can find them, you could expect to pay around $1 per card.
(If you’re seeing rounded corners on the scan, it’s an artifact of my blog theme. The Hot Stove Headlines inserts have standard, 90-degree corners.)
Wilson still has a decent glove, but his bat will probably make us remember Alex Cora if he ends up signing with the Mets. Nakajima is a bigger mystery with a significant potential upside. On the other hand, the Mets have not had a lot of luck with signing players from Japan… remember Kazuo Matsui? (Interesting note:Nakajima succeeded Matsui as Seibu’s shortstop when Matsui signed with the Mets.)