This is not to say that everything issued by the newcomers was first-rate. But there were some glorious moments of Mets on cardboard, as we wrap up our look at favorite non-Topps Mets.
1990 Donruss Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez
The 1990 Donruss set has no business being as good as it is. Splattered paint, bright red borders, the drabbest possible backs, “error cards” and massive over-production is not a recipe for a classic issue. But somehow it works. This is one of my favorite sets.
Donruss filled this with great action cards, like this Dwight Gooden, and nice portraits, like El Sid.
1998 Donruss Don Darling.
Not the best Donruss design, but I like this Darling portrait because we get a great view of the script New York the Mets wore on the road uniforms for only the 1987 season. Am I the only one who likes that uniform?
1998 Studio Dwight Gooden, 2003 Al Leiter and 2004 Mike Piazza
I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a black and white set when Studio made its debut, but some of those portraits are beautiful. And Donruss soon found different ways to showcase the portraits, with backgrounds of lockers, cap logos, patches, stadiums and cityscapes.
2004 Donruss Team Heroes Kaz Matsui
Remember how excited we all were when the Mets signed Matsui? Our own Ichiro! Well, that didn’t turn out as we hoped. But I like this card showing Kaz after his introduction press conference posing in Times Square.
1999 Fleer Turk Wendell
Fleer had some great designs. The 1999 set wasn’t one of them. But I love this portrait of Turk and his tooth and claw necklace. Certainly one of the more colorful Mets, Wendell was actually a pretty good reliever, too.
2001 Fleer Ultra Todd Zeile
Ultra was Fleer’s answer to Topps’ Stadium Club, and was usually a decent set. Everything seems to work in this action shot of Zeile, with the pinstripes, the foul line and lots of Pete Flynn’s manicured grass.
Upper Deck Vintage Tom Seaver
UD tried to tap into the Topps devoted fan base by aping some of the company’s best designs for its retro Vintage sets. This set copies the 1965 design, and it gets points for showing Seaver from the 1983 homecoming season, which can’t be saluted enough!
2001 Upper Deck Legends Tom Seaver
Sometimes UD even used one of its own designs for veteran players. I don’t think I’d seen this nice, relaxed Seaver portrait before this issue.
1992 Upper Deck John Franco
I used to argue that that Mets should retire Franco’s number. Now I’m not so sure, but he should most definitely be in the Mets Hall of Fame.
2001 Upper Deck and 2008 Upper Deck David Wright
Now, I do think David Wright will earn his way on to the wall with Casey, Gil, Tom and Jackie – and someday Mike. This posed portrait is a little odd because he’s wearing a jersey with a 2000 World Series patch, a series he didn’t play in. In fact, he was drafted with the pick the Mets earned for losing Mike Hampton, one of the stars of that postseason
I like that Upper Deck used this photo from the All-Star Game, snapped after Wright hit his home run.