Sunday, January 30, 2011

Topps countdown at No. 2 with 1970 card No. 1 and a miracle

The real miracle of the 1969 Miracle Mets, in my mind, isn’t that the team won the World Series.

It’s the relative ease by which the team dispatched both the slugging Atlanta Braves in the playoffs and then the mighty Baltimore Orioles in the Series.

Keep in mind; the Mets were a 100-to-1 shot to win the World Series before the start of the season. And despite the growing collection of young talent and able vets, the team had not yet to post a winning record.

Topps showed the team the love it deserved with the spectacular card No. 1 in the 1970 set, the team photo with World Champions above the players.

The photo itself is a little odd. It’s in the Shea outfield, but shot slightly from the side, with most of the players looking to the center, where there must have been another photographer. Why not use the official photo? And check out the ball and glove on the ground in the middle, between Rube Walker and Yogi Berra. Someone was getting a little artsy.

Topps did a nice job with both of the postseason subsets, too. The key moments were captured, and there are two celebration cards.

Not that Braves fans have anything to remember their team’s appearance in the playoffs. Topps used a great photo of Tom Seaver for Game 1, Ken Boswell approaching home after his two-run blast for Game 2 and highlighted Nolan Ryan’s relief appearance for the Game 3 card. The celebration card – with “We’re number one!” shows Wayne Garrett, Ryan, Tommie Agee and, I think, Tug McGraw, just out of the shower.

The Mets were a team built around pitching, but the team scored a whopping 27 runs in the three-game sweep. Braves fans certainly can’t fault Hank Aaron, who launched three two-run homers in the series.

The opposition does make an appearance in the World Series subset. The Game 1 card shows Don Buford heading back to the dugout after the home run he smacked off Seaver to start the game.

But, as Terry Cashman croons, “they made a believer of Mr. Earl Weaver in four games straight.”

The Game 2 card shows Donn Clendenon crossing home after his fourth-inning home run. Game 3’s card appropriately shows off Tommie Agee, depicting the first of his two spectacular catches.

Game 4 shows J.C. Martin’s controversial bunt that pushed across the winning run in the tenth inning. Personally, I’d rather have a horizontal card of Ron Swoboda’s dive, but I can’t complain.

The Game 5 card shows Jerry Koosman “shutting the door,” but that game had enough heroes and highlights that it could have filled a subset of its own, with Cleon Jones’ shoe, Al Weis’ only Shea homer or the big hits from Swoboda and Clendenon.

The “World Series Celebration” card – with “Mets whoop it up” as the caption – is an epic to itself. It’s a scene of clubhouse chaos. Note that Ed Charles still looks stunned that the team pulled it off, holding up an “Amazing Mets” album that came out earlier in the summer. Ed Kranepool and Tug McGraw look gleeful, and I can’t figure out which Met is mugging for the camera in the foreground. Jerry Grote or Swoboda, perhaps? But look behind Charles, as a group of stern looking reporters are interviewing someone off camera.

The whole subset is the highlight on one of Topps’ best sets, but it didn’t get much better that card No. 1.


Anonymous said...

In the 'We're no. 1' card, the fourth person is definitely not Tug McGraw. I believe it's Ken Boswell.

G-Fafif said...

Your No. 2 card was the first card I ever remember pulling out of a pack, specifically one of those trifold "rack packs". It will always be in my Top Three.

Meanwhile, we've waited long enough: Where's No. 1?