8.24.2009

1983 Topps Mets baseball cards: tops.

Rusty Staub joined the Mets in 1972. In 1973, he injured his shoulder during the World Series: in game 4 of the playoffs with the Reds, he made a dramatic, game-saving catch in right field, reaching up to catch the ball at the warning track as his shoulder slammed into the wall. A dramatic play in Mets history. In 1975, he set a Mets record with 105 RBI—the first Met player ever to surpass 100 RBI—and that would not be matched until 1986, when it was tied by Gary Carter. The record wouldn't be broken until 1990, by Darryl Strawberry, who recorded 108 RBI.

When Mr. Staub was traded for Mickey Lolich, it was incomprehensible to Mets fans; we felt it insulted him. Rusty drives in 105 runs so let's trade him for a 12-18 pitcher who's best years were behind him! Mm hm, makes sense.

Anyway, Mr. Clutch played with the Detroit Tigers for a while and returned to the Mets in 1981 as a free agent and a player-coach in 1982. In 1983, he tied an NL record with eight straight pinch-hits and also tied the Major League record of 25 RBI by a pinch hitter.

Le Grand Orange retired from baseball at the age of 41 in 1985. He, Ty Cobb, and current Met Gary Sheffield are the only players to hit home runs before turning 20 years old and after turning 40 years old. I vaguely remember that he always changed batting gloves when he reached first base. And the orange and blue tiles that became visible through the subway window on the way to a Mets game--that always reminded me of Rusty. Mets orange. Mets blue.

Rusty Staub should make the Hall Of Fame. He has 2716 hits, 292 home runs and 1466 RBI's. If not that, then how about a Nobel Peace Prize? He has done so much in helping the widows and children of New York's Finest and Bravest through his New York Police and Fire Widow's & Children's Benefit Fund. Rusty Staub is one of baseball's true class acts. Pete Falcone was born in Brooklyn, and was quite good at not allowing hits when runners were in scoring position. In September 1984, then 30 years old, he said he planned to retire after the season and kept true to his word, indicating he was tired of the baseball lifestyle. "The game is a game, and a certain part of it is enjoyable, but everything else, forget it.”
I don't think I've ever met a Mets fan who didn't like Mookie Wilson. He was a good player, a switch hitter, incredibly positive, and yes, Mookie is the batter who, in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, 1) avoided being hit by a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score in the bottom of the 10th. And 2) his ground ball later in the same at bat went through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the winning run to score. The ball that rolled through Buckner's legs is the one baseball we'd like to own, but shucks it's in the Seth Swirsky baseball collection. Mookie Wilson was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1996. He's the uncle of Preston Wilson. He's also another class act.
Ed Lynch debuted with the Mets at the end of the 1980 season, 1-1 in four starts. He remained in the starting rotation until pitchers on the 1986 squad squeezed him out. In 1987, Terry Leach won ten consecutive games for the Mets and finished the year 11-1.
Ron Hodges played his entire career for the Mets (1973-1984) and he appeared after injuries felled Jerry Grote and Duffy Dyer. He played in one game in the 1973 World Series, drawing a walk in his only plate appearance.
Well, trivia-wise, Mike Jorgensen is the only major league player to be born the same day Babe Ruth died. His second spell with the Mets lasted until June 15, 1983 when the team sold him to the Braves the same day they traded pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey (both pictured in this 1983 set, see above) to the Cardinals for Keith Hernandez. And what would Seinfeld have done without Keith Hernandez?
Charlie Puleo may best be known for being the pitcher the Mets traded in order to reacquire Tom Seaver before the 1983 season.
Wally Backman played for the Mets from 1980-1988. He was an important part of the 1986 World Champion Mets because he hit .320 and played a solid second base. He's had recent serious legal and financial problems. He did rock that 'stache on his 1983 Topps card.

Injury-prone during his baseball career, Ron Gardenhire now manages the Twins.Another Seaver connection in Pat Zachry: in the mid-1977 season, he was traded to the Mets in exchange for Tom Terrific. Zachry became a regular starter for and won seven games and lost six for the 1977 last-place team. *sigh*

We thank gentleman baseball card blogger Steve at White Sox Cards for first helping us appreciate 1983 Topps cards. In our recent questions about 1980s cards, readers and bloggers agreed that this design represented the high point of that decade for Topps. The set had 792 cards issued in wax, cello and rack packs. Subsets include All-Stars, League Leaders, Record Breakers, Super Veterans, and Team Leaders.

1 comment:

Fuji said...

1983 Topps baseball rocks!