Thursday, December 31, 2009


The great pitchers in New York Mets history were unable to throw a no-hitter during the Shea Stadium era. However, an opposing pitcher did manage the feat and it was no less than a perfect game. Jim Bunning, a father of seven children at the time, pitched the best game of his career on the best day he could imagine—Father's Day.

On June 21, 1964, the Philadelphia Phillies visited a brand new Shea Stadium. Bunning took the mound and only needed 90 pitches (throwing 79 for strikes) to record the 27 consecutive outs to register his perfection. Along the way the right-hander struck out 10 Mets' batters and needed a fine defensive play from his infield. "It (a hard hit shot to Tony Taylor) was a great play." Bunning said, "When he did that, I knew I had something special." Jim was reported to have tempted fate during the ninth inning when he called catcher Gus Triandos to the mound. He requested that Gus tell him a joke so he might catch his breath. Triandos could not think of one and laughingly said, "Just get this guy." Actually Bunning broke every superstition during the game. He counted down outs to his teammates throughout, saying "Nine more to go... Six more... three more."

Jim Bunning signed this card from the set through his Senate office in northern Kentucky for my friend, Kevin on August 22, 2009. After his baseball career Mr. Bunning became a politician in 1977 and was first elected to the United States Senate, representing Kentucky in 1998. He was elected by the Veterans Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Bill Connors joined the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the Chicago Cubs on August 20, 1967. Billy served exclusively as a relief pitcher during his career with both the Cubs and Mets. The lone exception came on September 2, 1967 when he got the starting assignment for New York at Wrigley Field. He earned a no-decision after going 4 innings, allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits, while striking out three batters in a 5-4 victory over the Cubs.

Connors became the batting practice pitcher for the New York Mets in 1971. Which lead to his serving as a pitching coach in the Mets' minor league system from 1972-1974. After a time in the Phillies minor league system he would embark on a 17 year career as a major league pitching coach with the Royals, Mariners, and Yankees. In 1996 he was named to the Yankees front office and given a senior level position in player development.

Billy Connors signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 29, 2008.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Gene Walter was traded with Kevin McReynolds and Adam Ging by the San Diego Padres to the New York Mets in exchange for Kevin Mitchell, Stan Jefferson, and Shawn Abner on December 11, 1986. "Initially," Walter was quoted recalling the shock after the trade, "I thought to myself: 'Oh no, not the Mets.' I didn't know where I'd fit in. They'd just won the World Series." He then realized that a strong left-handed reliever was important in helping limit the innings of closer, Jesse Orossco. "I began to see the trade as a great opportunity." Gene recanted. He would pitch well in the bullpen for two seasons, but was overshadowed by the extremely talented pitching staff of those years. Walter was traded by the Mets to the Seattle Mariners for Edwin Nunez on July 11, 1988.

I created his card in the set from an autographed index card that came from the collection of David Seeman. Mr. Seeman wrote a letter to every living ballplayer between 1952 and 1990 before his passing. In this case it was a postcard that had been signed (as instructed) and even had David's mailing address on the reverse side of the signature.

Monday, December 28, 2009

#337) ED HEARN

Ed Hearn came to the New York Mets when he was signed as a free agent on February 3, 1983. He played in the minor league system until joining New York and making his major league debut on May 17, 1986. Ed would fill in admirably for future Hall of Famer, Gary Carter when the starting catcher suffered a knee injury during part of the season. Hearn earned the nickname "Ward" after Ward Cleaver of the "Leave it to Beaver" television program. His teammates felt he exhibited the same clean cut attributes of the fictional character. Ed holds the distinction of being the only member of the 1986 World Championship active roster who did not appear in a game during that series. His contributions to their success came off the field as well as prior to the World Series itself. The backup catcher was given a chance at a starting position when the New York Mets traded him along with Rick Anderson and Mauro Gozzo to the Kansas City Royals on March 27, 1987 in exchange for David Cone and Chris Jelic.

Hearn would suffer a severe shoulder injury while with the Royals that ended his baseball career. Upon retirement Ed discovered the true meaning of perseverance. "Once I stopped playing ball it happened," said Hearn "I believe that because I was a highly-conditioned athlete— and catchers are more conditioned than most—my body masked the symptoms of focal segmental glomerolsclerosis." Three kidney transplants followed that still require dozen of pills and even a device for sleep apnea to allow him to survive. Through the adversity Ed has found a meaning and currently serves as a motivational speaker while establishing a non-profit organization. His book, "Conquering Life's Curves: Baseball, Battles & Beyond.", details his development as a ballplayer and his growth as a human. In it, Hearn expresses his belief that his illnesses are a part of God's plan, and "There is no greater satisfaction in life than knowing you've done something to help somebody out."

Ed Hearn signed his card in the set (adding a World Champion inscription as requested) during a private signing held by Show-Me-State Signatures on June 25, 2009. The proceeds of which went to Ed's charitable organization.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Andy Phillips joined the New York Mets on June 25, 2008 when he was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds designated Andy for assignment when Jeff Keppinger returned to Cincy from the disabled list. Phillips' time in New York was expected to be short lived from the start. The club had starting outfielder, Ryan Church close to return from injury and would need to clear a spot for that to happen. So that opening was to come at the expense of either Andy or current bench player, Trot Nixon. "We just want to see which one is the better fit— Nixon or Phillips." a Mets' executive was quoted saying at the time. Andy arrived just in time to face the New York Yankees in a Subway Series that occurred in both team's ballparks. The well liked player made four game appearances for the Mets and collected a hit in five at-bats. Following the recent double-header a pitching depleted Mets staff found themselves needing to recall Tony Armas. Jr. from Triple-A New Orleans to make a spot start. Phillips was designated for assignment on July 3rd to create that roster spot. He was immediately claimed by the Reds and returned to Cincinnati's roster where he finished the season.

Andy is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and blessed with a terrific singing voice. He once sang the National Anthem prior to a Staten Island Yankees minor league game when the scheduled singer could not appear.

Andy Phillips signed his card in the set for me while a member of the Indianapolis Indians after a game at Victory Field on April 16, 2009.

"The Lord is my light and salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?..." (Psalm 27)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


John Sullivan was drafted by the New York Mets from the Detroit Tigers in the Rule V Draft on November 28, 1966. He served as the Mets' reserve catcher for the entire 1967 season appearing in 65 games. It was the only complete major league season for John, who spent the majority of his baseball career at the Triple-A level. Sullivan delivered a 12th inning pinch-hit two-run single to deliver the walk-off victory for the Mets against the San Francisco Giants on May 2, 1967. New York sold his contract to the Philadelphia Phillies on February 19, 1968.

After his playing career, John became a Minor League manager in the Kansas City Royals system. In 1978, his Omaha Royals defeated the Indianapolis Indians to become the American Association Champions. Following that Sullivan began a 15 year stint as a Major League coach. Ending with the Toronto Blue Jays and their World Championship teams of 1992 and 1993.

It is said that John has an extensive autographed baseball collection of all the pitchers that he faced and worked with over his professional career.

John Sullivan signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 3, 2008.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Bernard Gilkey came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Yudith Ozario, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick on January 22, 1996. Gilkey became expendable to the Cardinals after they added free agent outfielder, Ron Gant. Bernard's first season in New York was outstanding. He slugged 30 homeruns while driving in 117 runs, and recording a .317 batting average. Gilkey also shined in the field compiling 18 outfield assists that season. As a reward for the superior year the Mets resigned Gilkey to a four year contract (with a club option for 2001) that winter. The 1997 campaign would not prove to be nearly as productive for the left fielder. Perhaps Bernard was cursed by the new "ice cream man" all-white cap the Mets added to the uniform that year? Either way his production continued to struggle into 1998, and the team began to question if his vision had a part in it. Bernard refuted the thought stating, "I am not far enough from the pitcher where I can not see." The statement was made in support of his refusal to wear issued contact lenses while playing. On July 31, 1998, the Mets traded Gilkey along with Nelson Figueroa to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Willie Blair and Jorge Fabregas.

During his time in New York he made a small cameo appearance in the 1997 motion picture, "Men In Black". Bernard brought Shea Stadium into the film when he appeared in a scene shot there. Gilkey was seen playing the outfield and becoming distracted by a massive spacecraft above the field which resulted in his being hit on the head by a fly ball.

Bernard Gilkey signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 15 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Jerry Dipoto was traded with Dave Mlicki, Paul Byrd and Jesus Azuaje from the Cleveland Indians to the New York Mets in exchange for Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Roa on November 18, 1994. He pitched from the Mets bullpen for the next two seasons producing an 11-8 record, with four saves and a 3.98 ERA. Jerry was traded by New York to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Armando Reynoso on November 27, 1996.

Jerry's greatest challenge however came far away from the pitching mound. In March of 1994, DiPoto's cancerous thyroid and six lymph nodes were removed. Jerry was back pitching for the Cleveland Indians three months after his surgery. He described himself as "totally sapped" of his normal strength. "I don't know if it is the smartest thing, but it can be done." said Dipoto. As a resurgent pitcher in spring training of 1995, the new Mets pitcher joked, "It looks like I had a little grapple with a stranger. It's much better now. After the surgery I had that Herman Munster staple look." Unfortunately another surgery would end the right-hander's pitching career. A bulging disc in his neck forced an operation that was unable to correct the pain, and Dipoto announced his retirement on March 7, 2001.

After his playing career Jerry became a major league scout for the Boston Red Sox. Then moved on to become the Director of Scouting and Player Personnel for the Colorado Rockies followed by a Vice President position with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006.

Jerry Dipoto beautifully signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 9, 2009.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Tito Navarro was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent on September 2, 1987. Navarro started his professional baseball career with the Kingsport Mets (Rookie League) in 1988 when he was only seventeen. Tito advanced through the system until earning a late season call-up and making his major league debut on September 6, 1993. He would bat lead-off and start at shortstop that game. One of only two times that he was used defensively by the Mets. Tito's other ten appearances, during what would be his only season in the major leagues, came as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. Navarro would return back to Triple-A Norfolk for the 1994 campaign as the major league players ended that year on strike. Tito was released by the New York Mets on April 23, 1995 near the conclusion of the delayed spring training season.

Tito Navarro signed his card in the set for me from a private signing that he did for Warren Johnson on October 31, 2009.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Manny Aybar was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on December 28, 2004. He made his Mets' debut on Opening Day—April 4, 2005 in Cincinnati. Manny would make 22 appearances, all in relief, during that season. The Mets added Danny Graves, and designated Aybar for assignment to make room on the roster for the former Reds' closer. The right-hander finished the season with Triple-A Norfolk and was granted free agency on October 5, 2008.

Manny Aybar signed his card for my friend, John Guzman during one of his trips to the Dominican Republic on September 29, 2009.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


David Wright changed the face of the New York Mets franchise when he was selected in the first round (38th overall pick) of the free agent draft on June 5, 2001. That pick was given to the Mets as compensation for losing Mike Hampton to the Colorado Rockies in free agency. The talented third baseman made his highly anticipated major league debut on July 21, 2004 in front of the Shea Stadium faithful. His rookie season (although a short 69 games) earned him the honor of "This Year In Baseball Awards" Rookie of the Year. Every season following that David drove in at least 100 runs during his time at Shea. Wright represented the Mets at the All-Star Game in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He was awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove award in 2007 and 2008. David also picked up the Silver Slugger Award for National League third basemen in 2007 and 2008. All earned while serving as the "unofficial" team captain and leader.

David grew up following the New York Mets as a youth in Norfolk, Virginia. He regularly attended games of the Tidewater Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Mets. "I love being a Met." Wright said. "It was my favorite team growing up, so to be a Met to me is very special." In 2005 he established the David Wright Foundation. A charitable organization that raises money for various multiple sclerosis organizations and projects. The man who has become known throughout baseball for his unaffected politeness and unquestionable work ethic serves as possibly the greatest example of a New York Met during Shea Stadium history.

On March 21, 2013 the club officially named David as the team captain. "This is probably one of the proudest days of my career so far," Wright said. "To be viewed in this light, both by ownership, by Sandy (Alderson, Genreal Manager) and the front office, by the coaching staff, and probably most importantly by the players—It means a great deal to me, and is something that I am very appreciative of."

David Wright signed the back of a team issued postcard for me when the New York Mets faced the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark on September 5, 2007. I converted that into his card in the set.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Matt Watson came to the New York Mets when he was traded with Scott Strickland and Philip Seibel by the Montreal Expos in exchange for Bruce Chen, Dicky Gonzalez, and Luis Figueroa on April 5, 2002. He would play his first season with the organization in the minors, and make his official Mets' debut as a roster expansion call-up on September 12, 2003. Matt appeared in 15 games for New York that season. He was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics on October 9, 2003. Watson played in both Japan and Korea before rejoining the Mets organization again briefly in 2009. He was added to bolster the number of outfielders in the minor leagues with the promotion of prospect Fernando Martinez to New York.

Matt Watson signed his card in the set for my friend (and fellow Mets collector) Paul before a game when the Lancaster Barnstormers visited the Newark Bears on August 12, 2009.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Dick Selma joined the New York Mets when he signed as a free agent on May 28, 1963. "The reason he went to the Mets back then was that they were a new team." said Selma's mother, Hazel. "I sat in with him in all the recruitment meetings but let him make his own decision. He thought he could really progress with the Mets." Dick made his major league debut as a roster expansion call-up for the Mets on September 2, 1965. In his second career start he defeated the Atlanta Braves 1-0 and recorded 13 strikeouts —at that time a record for a Mets' pitcher. The right-hander would pitch three more seasons in New York as a reliever and spot starter. Selma was drafted by the San Diego Padres in their expansion draft when that club was created on October 14, 1968. He was even credited with the first win of that new franchise in 1969.

After his playing career, Dick returned to Fresno, California and took a job with Fleming Foods, working nights so he could play and coach baseball in the area. In addition to coaching summer and fall baseball teams, Selma was an assistant at Fresno City College and served as the pitching coach at Clovis High School.

Dick Selma passed away at the age of 57 in Clovis, California on August 29, 2001. He had suffered from liver cancer and spent his final days surrounded by friends and family.

I created Dick Selma's card in the set from an autographed index card purchased from Bob Dowen on November 27, 2009.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Gary Kroll was traded with Wayne Graham by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Mets in exchange for Frank Thomas on August 7, 1964. He pitched in nine games during that first season. During spring training of the next year he, along with Gordon Richardson completed something that has eluded all Mets pitchers during the regular season. They combined for a nine-inning no-hitter during a 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 21, 1965. Gary was placed on waivers and then sent to the Houston Astros' Oklahoma City club in the Pacific Coast League on January 6, 1965.

Gary Kroll signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on March 30, 2009.


Jonathan Hurst signed with the New York Mets as a free agent on December 16, 1993. The right-hander appeared in seven games for the Mets during the 1994 season. Making his debut with the club on April 5, 1994 on the second game of the year at Wrigley Field. Jonathan struggled during the month of April and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where he finished the year. The Mets granted Hurst free agency on October 15, 1994.

Hurst pitched in both Japan and Taiwan following his career in the major leagues. He has since returned to the United States and serves as a pitching coach in the Mets' minor league system. His first assignment was with the Savannah Sand Gnats of the South Atlantic League in 2007.

Jonathan Hurst signed his card in the set for my friend, Allen before a Kingsport Mets game on August 16, 2009.


Mike DiFelice first joined the New York Mets when he signed as a free agent on March 31, 2005. He spent most of his first tenure with the Mets playing for Triple-A Norfolk, but did make his Mets' debut on May 17, 2005 at Shea Stadium. Mike appeared in 11 games for the injured Ramon Castro before being released in a roster related move on June 2, 2005. DiFelice returned to the Mets when he resigned as a free agent on May 30, 2006. This time his focus was to be utilized in the minors to mentor the young pitching staff. Ironically both catchers at the major league level became injured and it forced Mike into the starting role in New York during the final two weeks of August 2007.

After his playing career was ended Mike has become a manager in the Mets' minor league system. His first assignment was the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League during the 2009 season. DiFelice said, "Maybe I could be in spring training somewhere just getting a couple of at-bats and going through the thing, but it's time. I've still got my legs. I've still got my arm. I've still got my mind, It's time I put it to better use."

Mike DiFelice signed his card in the set for my friend, Allen before a Kingsport Mets game on August 16, 2009.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Gary Carter came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Montreal Expos in exchange for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham, and Floyd Youmans on December 10, 1984.

Gary made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on April 9, 1985. In heroic fashion, he delivered a 10th inning game-winning home run against the St. Louis Cardinals. The blast drew a standing ovation and chants of "Gary! Gary! Gary!" from the opening day crowd. "What a way to start," Carter said with a grin afterward. "Hit by a pitch, strike out looking, a stolen base, a passed ball and then the home run. There's not enough words to describe what it feels like. I'll certainly remember this the rest of my life."

His impact on the club was immediate. The "Kid" drove in 100 runs, while hitting 32 home runs in his first season and was instrumental in the 1986 World Championship campaign the next year. During his time in New York he represented the Mets in the All-Star Game three times (1986, 1987, and 1988). Carter was named team co-captain with Keith Hernandez before the 1988 season. He was released by the Mets on November 14, 1989 and signed with the San Francisco Giants. Gary was elected to the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2001, and was enshrined into Cooperstown when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

"I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound, including location, what pitch to throw and when." Remembered Dwight Gooden about his catcher. "Even when I didn't have my best stuff, he found a way to get me through the game. He was just a warrior on the field."

"Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played," Tom Seaver said in 2012.

After his playing career Carter remained around baseball by becoming a field manager. He started in the minor leagues with an assignment to the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2005. Then moved to the Independent League team the Long Island Ducks in 2009. Gary preferred to remain closer to his family in Florida so he accepted the position of baseball coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University in October of 2009. "I am looking forward to becoming a Sailfish," Carter said. "My goal is to make Palm Beach Atlantic's baseball program the strongest Division II program in the country. But my primary goal is to help young athletes become better Christians and prepare them for life, not just baseball."

Gary was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and lost his courageous battle with the disease on February 16, 2012.

I created Gary Carter's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my friend, Jessie on December 12, 2009.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Jose Lima signed a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training camp on February 14, 2006. He was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk to start the season, but was recalled to New York on May 7, 2006. The Mets found themselves in need of a starting pitcher so they called upon "Lima Time". Jose did not prove to be the answer as he went 0-3 with an 8.79 ERA in three starts before being designated for assignment on May 20th. After clearing waivers he was returned to the minor leagues. Then once again the Mets recalled him to New York when fellow pitcher, Heath Bell was optioned to the Tides on July 4th. Lima was given a starting assignment on July 7th facing the Florida Marlins. It would prove to be his last game as a New York Met. The low point of the bad outing was when he allowed a grand slam home-run to the opposing pitcher, Dontrelle Willis. Following the game, the right-hander was once again designated for assignment and this time returned to Norfolk to finish the season.

The free-spirited pitcher was the victim of a massive heart attack and passed away on May 23, 2010, at the young age of 37. "Lima was an exceptional man," said Winston Llenas, president of Aguilas Cibaenas, a winter ball team that Lima had played for in the Dominican Republic. "This is a great loss for Dominican baseball and the country."

Jose Lima signed his card for my friend, John Guzman during one of his trips to the Dominican Republic on September 29, 2009.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Todd Pratt was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on December 23, 1996. The veteran back-up catcher had been released by the Seattle Mariners team after spring training in 1996 and was working as a manager of a Domino's franchise. "If I had to go back to it, I could." Pratt told The New York Times, "There is nothing wrong with managing a pizza parlor." After working his way up from Triple-A Norfolk, Todd made his Met's debut on July 4, 1997. Manager Bobby Valentine explained, "Todd Pratt is a credible major league catcher who could be a no. 1 with a lot of teams." He certainly showed capability of delivering in the big moment during Game 4 of the 1999 National League Division Series. Pratt slugged a tenth-inning walk-off home run off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher, Matt Mantei to win the Mets the series three games to one. He was also a member of the 2000 National League Championship team. Serving as the back-up to future Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza. On July 23, 2001 the Mets traded Todd to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Gary Bennett.

Todd Pratt signed his card in the set for my friend, Sam at the Philly Baseball Card Show in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on December 4, 2009.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Jose Offerman signed with the New York Mets as a free agent to a minor league contract on June 8, 2005. He had started the season with the Philadelphia Phillies, but had been released after a slow start. Jose was assigned to extended spring training before joining Triple-A Norfolk and then later added to the major league roster. On June 28th he made his Mets' debut at Shea Stadium. Offerman appeared in 53 games for the Mets, most of them as a pinch-hitter, and was granted free agency on October 15, 2005.

Unfortunately Offerman will be most remembered for an incident that occurred in an Independent League game 0n August 14, 2007. Looking for a last chance in the majors, Jose joined the Long Island Ducks team. That day he was hit by a fastball, and charged the mound with his bat, and swung at least twice, striking the opposing pitcher and catcher. "It was one of those moments that you want to forget. I lost it for about 10 seconds." Offerman told the Connecticut Post. "That's what happened to me. I didn't have any intentions and I feel sorry for what happened and the way it happened." Bridgeport Bluefish catcher, John Nathans suffered a concussion and pitcher, Pat Beech wound up with a broken finger.

Jose Offerman signed his card for my friend, John Guzman during one of his trips to the Dominican Republic on September 29, 2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Jose "Pepe" Mangual was traded with Jim Dwyer by the Montreal Expos to the New York Mets in exchange for Wayne Garrett and Del Unser on July 21, 1976. The Puerto Rican outfielder saw limited action in his first year with the Mets. Mangual then shared time between New York and Triple-A Tidewater during the 1977 season. He appeared in 9 games in the major leagues while accumulating 140 for the Tides. Pepe played exclusively for Tidewater in 1978 until he joined the California Angels organization. Mangual was assigned to the Salt Lake City team in the Pacific Coast League.

Pepe Mangual signed his card in the set for my friend, Benny from his home in Puerto Rico on November 27, 2009.


Ricky Otero was selected by the New York Mets in the 45th round of the 1990 Amateur Draft. His path to the major leagues took a very unique turn during the spring of 1995. Otero who had never played a single game as a major league player was in the middle of the work stoppage caused by the player's strike. The Mets had placed Ricky on their 40-man roster to avoid him being claimed by another club during the Rule V Draft. Because of that he was ineligible to participate in minor league camp during spring training. The native Puerto Rican was now in the position to find a way to provide for himself in the United States without any source of income. Luckily for Otero the strike was resolved, and he began the delayed season with New York. Ricky made his major league debut in a Mets' uniform on Opening Day, April 26, 1995. On May 28th he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after struggling to hit at the major league level.The Mets summoned Otero back on July 7th when Jeff Kent was placed on the disabled list. However, it was a short stay as he played his last major league game of 1995 on July 22nd. Ricky would appear in a total of 35 games for New York before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Phil Geisler on December 14, 1995.

Otero is the shortest man in Mets' team history rumored to be only 5 feet 5 inches tall. (He is officially listed as 5 feet 7 inches.)

Ricky Otero signed his card in the set for my friend, Benny Ayala from his home in Puerto Rico on November 27, 2009.


Pete Falcone joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Tom Grieve and Kim Seaman on December 5, 1978. A Brooklyn native, Falcone is the cousin of legendary Mets' coach, Joe Pignatano. The left-hander pitched during some of the more challenging seasons for the Mets. Evidenced by the fact that during the 1981 campaign he lead all Mets' pitchers in shutouts thrown. With only one. Falcone left the Mets when he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves on January 27, 1983. Joe Torre, who had been the Mets manager for three seasons during Pete's tenure was now in Atlanta and was instrumental in his decision.

I created Pete Falcone's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on November 24, 2009.


Herm Winningham was selected by the New York Mets in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the free agent draft on January 13, 1981. He made his major league debut as a Met on September 1, 1984. Herm had been added as a roster expansion and entered the game at Shea Stadium replacing starting centerfielder, Mookie Wilson. He would appear in a total of 14 games to close the season. On December 10, 1984, Winningham was traded along with Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, and Floyd Youmans to the Montreal Expos in exchange for future Hall of Famer, Gary Carter.

Baseball was in the middle of a work stoppage during the spring of 1995. While the major leaguers were still on strike various players were signed to "replacement player" contracts. Those players for the New York Mets were, Jeff Edwards, Doug Sisk and Herm Winningham. None of these men were on the roster when the strike was eventually resolved and the major league players returned to start the season. So Herm did not see the three men on April 29, 1995 (each wearing t-shirts with "Greed" written on them) leap from the stands and toss more than $150 of $1 bills at the players in Shea Stadium that day.

Herm Winningham signed his card in the set for my friend, Bart during RedFest in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 5, 2009.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Jose Vizcaino joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Anthony Young and Ottis Smith on March 30, 1994. Jose was resigned to a two-year contract after his first season with the Mets even though young shortstop, Rey Ordonez was on the horizon. The team had concerns over the incoming rookie's ability to hit at the major league level. Vizcaino provided another quality option and understood that. "It's a team of the future." he said of the Mets. "It's got a chance to win a championship and I want to be a part of that. I want to play everyday, but I know we've got Rey Ordonez. I've gotta go out and work for a job." Jose was able to do that as he made his way into 135 games during the 1995 season. All of them, save one, at shortstop. During the 1996 season he shifted positions to second base with Ordonez becoming the everyday shortstop. Vizcaino was traded along with Jeff Kent to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinosa on July 29, 1996.

Jose Vizcaino signed his card in the set for me during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 7, 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Aaron Sele signed as a free agent with the New York Mets on January 25, 2007. He was signed to a minor league deal and invited to major league spring training camp. Sele was added to the 25-man roster when the Mets purchased that contract on March 29th. Aaron served as the long reliever out of the bullpen and made 34 appearances with a 3-1 record. He was granted free agency on October 30, 2007.

Sele took the position of minor league pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 31, 2008.

Aaron Sele signed his card in the set for me during the Baseball Winter Meetings held in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 9, 2009.


Kevin D. Brown was traded by the Atlanta Braves to the New York Mets in exchange for Terry Blocker on December 8, 1987. He pitched for Triple-A Tidewater until he made his major league debut at Shea Stadium on July 27, 1990. Kevin threw the final inning of a 10-1 Mets victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Brown would only appear in one more game for New York on August 2nd. Once again throwing a scoreless inning, which allowed him to finish with a perfect 0.00 ERA during his short Mets' career. The left-hander was traded along with Julio Machado to the Milwaukee Brewers for Charlie O'Brien and Kevin Carmody on August 30, 1990.

After his baseball career Kevin Brown has become a pastor of the Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Sacramento, California.

Kevin Brown signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his church on December 8, 2009.


Jeff Conine was traded to the New York Mets from the Cincinnati Reds for Sean Henry and Jose Castro on August 20, 2007. The Mets lost Damion Easley to a severe ankle sprain and turned to the veteran Conine to bolster the bench during a late season pennant run. Jeff had stated from the start of the season that 2007 would be his final year as a player. "This is it," he said. "I cannot think of a better way to go out than doing it in the playoffs in New York." Conine helped out as a pinch hitter, first baseman, and outfielder in 21 games, but the Mets faded at the end of the season and finished second to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Eastern Division. "Niner" left the Mets when he rejoined the Florida Marlins as a free agent on March 28, 2009. Jeff signed a one day deal that allowed him the opportunity to retire in a Marlins uniform.

After his playing career Jeff Conine began training for triathlons and participated in the Ford Ironman World Championship in October 2008. "Mr. Marlin" continues to work for the Florida baseball club as a special assistant to the team president.

Jeff Conine signed his card in the set for my friend, Frank at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 9, 2009.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Takashi Kashiwada joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Yomiuri Giants on April 3, 1997. Kashiwada had a very unique situation that made him a pioneer of sorts. The left-hander was not a star in Japan. In fact, he was a journeyman prospect who pitched more games in the minor leagues than the majors in Japan during the previous three years. Mets manager, Bobby Valentine commented that Kashiwada's success would be an eye-opener for fans in Japan, "The players and fans put the major leagues in America on a very high pedestal, and for someone who is an average player over there to come over here and do well — there is folklore potential in that.'' Takashi Kashiwada became the first player from Japan to appear in a game as a Met when he made his major league debut on May 1, 1997 at Shea Stadium. He would pitch in 35 games from the bullpen with a 3-1 record and a 4.31 ERA. After his lone season in American baseball Kashiwada was released by the Mets on October 10, 1997.

After his playing career Takashi became an international scout for the Yomiuri Giants. His region is the United States.

Takashi Kashiwada signed his card in the set (adding a signature in both English and Japanese) during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 8, 2009.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Michael Tucker was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets on April 26, 2006. He played most of the season with Triple-A Norfolk, and was promoted to fill the roster spot of the injured Cliff Floyd on August 10th. Three days later he would hit a home run to give the Mets the lead in a victory over his former team, the Washington Nationals. Michael made 35 appearances for New York before the Mets granted him free agency at the close of the 2006 season.

Michael Tucker signed his card in the set for me during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 7, 2009.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Carlos Baerga was traded with Alvaro Espinosa and a $100,000 payment by the Cleveland Indians to the New York Mets in exchange for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino on July 29, 1996. A trading deadline deal that allowed the Mets to address one of their concerns. General Manager, Joe McIlvaine at that time called it, "more pop in the middle of our lineup." The move also allowed up and coming star, Edgardo Alfonzo a permanent position in the infield. He had been playing behind Jeff Kent to that point.

Baerga found himself battling injuries for the first two seasons in New York. In 1998 that changed. "...Now I am hitting with power and driving the ball from the right side. I feel good." Carlos reported on May 29th. Trade rumors started, but his importance as a clubhouse leader to the Hispanic players on the team made up for the .266 batting average that final year in New York. Carlos was granted free agency on October 26, 1998, and later signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

After his playing career Baerga joined the staff of ESPN Desportes as an announcer. He became the analyst for the show, "Béisbol Esta Noche".

I created Carlos Baerga's card in the set from an autographed index card I received in a trade from my friend, Dan (of DN in January of 2009.


Todd Zeile became a member of the New York Mets when he signed as a free agent on December 17, 1999. He was signed to a three year contract which brought him in to play first base and fill the void left by John Olerud's departure to Seattle. Todd had been primarily a third baseman the season before with limited time at first base. "This time it is a matter of choice," Zeile was quoted. "I can play third base in a number of cities, or I could weigh the chance to play in New York with a chance to win and voluntarily make the choice." It was a good decision as the Mets would become the National League Champions in 2000 with Todd batting .302 during the postseason.

Zeile was traded to the Colorado Rockies with Benny Agbayani in exchange for Alex Ochoa, Craig House, and Russ Gload on January 21, 2002. Actually a three team deal that also brought Jeromy Burnitz back to New York. Todd himself returned to the Mets on January 28, 2004. He signed once again as a free agent in what was his last season in the major leagues.

In his final game Zeile was inserted as the starting catcher. He had began his career at the position and had not caught in the major leagues for 14 years prior to the appearance on October 3, 2004. It was the second-longest span between appearances behind the plate to Gabby Street. Gabby had been 19 years removed when he caught a final game while managing the St. Louis Cardinals in 1931. Todd homered in his final at-bat and helped Tom Glavine to the victory that day at Shea Stadium.

After baseball Todd has become a motion picture producer forming his company, Green Diamond Entertainment. Their first feature, "Dirty Deeds" received additional financing from Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, Cliff Floyd, with Jeremy and Jason Giambi. Zeile has also made several acting appearances in both film and television.

Todd Zeile signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home address on December 5, 2009.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Julio Franco joined the New York Mets when he signed as a free agent on December 12, 2005. The veteran was brought in to serve as the primary right-handed pinch-hitter, but did receive several starts at first base during his one and a half seasons in New York. Julio established the mark of being the oldest player to hit a home run in the major leagues on May 4, 2007. His blast came off the Diamondbacks' starter, Randy Johnson in Arizona. Franco was 48 years, eight months, and 12 days old at the time. Julio had the desire to play at the age of 50, but the Mets did not agree and granted him his release on July 12, 2007.

Franco believes that his longevity and superb physical condition are a result of three rules. "Eat well, work hard, and get proper rest." Julio said, "There are no magic pills." Franco got his first experience coaching when he served as the manager of the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2009.

Julio Franco signed his card at a Gulf Coast League game in Florida for my friend Tom during the 2009 season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


John Franco became a New York Met when he was traded with Don Brown from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Randy Myers and Kip Gross on December 6, 1989. That began a rich career in New York that featured being named the Rolaids Relief Man in 1990. John is a native of Brooklyn. His father, Jim Franco was a New York City Department of Sanitation worker who encouraged his son's baseball aspirations. John honored his dad by wearing an orange Sanitation Department work-shirt under his jersey. He served as the team's closer through the 1999 season and was a big part of the 2000 National League Championship club. Franco became the third ever Met's captain on May 4, 2001 following a unanimous team vote.

New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani in celebration of Franco's 400th career save presented the left-handed reliever the "Key to the City", and declared April 27, 1999 as "John Franco Day". Mayor Giuliani said, "John is a hometown hero and proof that there are plenty of people in professional sports worthy of our admiration and respect."

He was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the St. John's vs. Georgetown Big East college baseball game at the new Citi Field on March 29, 2009.

Franco was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2012.

John Franco signed his card in the set for my friend Sam during the B.A.T Fundraising Dinner on January 27, 2009.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Jesse Hudson was selected by the New York Mets in the 11th round of the amateur draft on June 6, 1967. The young pitcher appeared in only one game during his major league career. That came at Shea Stadium pitching for the Mets against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 19, 1969. Jesse returned to the minor leagues in 1970 never to return to New York again.

His story as a "Moonlight Graham Met" is told here.

Jesse Hudson signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on September 3, 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Allen Watson joined the New York Mets when he signed as a free agent on January 19, 1999. He was brought on to bolster the starting pitching staff for the 1999 season. The left-hander from Queens, New York was also being pursued by the Cleveland Indians, but opted to pitch at home. Allen made 14 appearances for the Mets, but only four were as a starter. Without a definite role established he was deemed expendable. Watson was traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Mac Suzuki, and minor leaguer, Justin Dunning on June 18, 1999. "I do not know why they went after me in the winter," Allen said, "when they didn't want me to start."

Ironically Watson grew up a Yankees fan and ended up in the Bronx after being released by Seattle. "Everywhere you go, there's a Mets and Yankees fan arguing who's better, it seems." Watson was quoted, "We had fist fights over it when I was a kid. I hated the Mets." When he pitched the ninth inning for the Yankees on June 9, 2000, (after having thrown for the Mets on June 5, 1999) Allen became the first man to pitch for each New York team during the Subway Series. He suffered a year ending injury during the 2000 season and was unable to contribute to the World Series victory that year. However Watson had been a part of the 1999 World Championship team the previous season.

Allen Watson added a beautiful signature to his card in the set for my good friend, Jessie in New York City on November 25, 2009.


Guillermo Mota was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1990. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos from the Mets in the 1996 minor league draft. It would be several years before the peculiar reliever would return to the Mets when he was sent to New York by the Cleveland Indians as part of a conditional deal on August 20, 2006. Guillermo was traded by the Mets to the Milwaukee Brewers for Johnny Estrada on November 20, 2007 in a salary reduction move.

I made Guillermo Mota's card in the set from the signed label off a certified autograph card issue on November 30, 2009.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Tim Harkness joined the New York Mets when he was traded with Larry Burright from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Bob Miller on November 30, 1962. A native Canadian, Tim played with the Mets in 1963, but established his Shea Stadium claim to fame the following year. On April 17, 1964 the Mets played their first regular season game at the new ballpark. Tim was the lead-off hitter making him the first Mets batter at Shea. When he singled in the third inning off Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Bob Friend he had established the first Mets' hit as well. On July 28, 1964, the Mets sold Harkness' contract to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League. A roster spot was needed to add outfielder, Bobby Klaus who had been acquired off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Tim would play a couple more seasons in the minor leagues, but the first season of Shea Stadium would be his last in the majors.

After his active baseball career Tim served as a scout for the San Diego Padres and was named the Canadian Scout of the Year in 1996. Harkness was the manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and led them to a Intercounty Baseball League title in 2002.

On April 17, 2008, the New York Mets commemorated the first team to play at Shea Stadium by inviting back Tim, along with Ron Hunt, and Jack Fisher to change the sign in left-center field counting down the number of remaining games to be played there.

Tim Harkness signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 28. 2009.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Jesse Gonder was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Mets in exchange for Charlie Neal and Sammy Taylor on July 1, 1963. He served as the starting catcher, and clean-up hitter during the first game ever played at Shea Stadium in 1964. Jesse continued to enter into the Shea record books when he hit the first ever triple by a Mets player there on May 8th in a game facing the St. Louis Cardinals. Gonder was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Gary Kolb on July 25, 1965.

After he retired from the game, Jesse became a bus driver for Golden Gate Transit in the San Francisco Bay area, remaining in that position for over 20 years before retiring in the mid-1990s.

Jessie Gonder passed away in Oakland, California on November 14, 2004. "After retirement it was all bowling and poker," his daughter Tanya was quoted. "He was a very good father, a devoted family man. His grandchildren were the apple of his eye."

I created Jesse Gonder's card in the set from an autographed index card purchased from Bob Dowen on November 27, 2009.


Mickey Weston was selected by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 1982 amateur draft. He would play in the Mets farm system until they granted him free agency in 1988. The Baltimore Orioles signed Mickey and he finally made his major league debut with them on June 18, 1989. A full seven years after being originally drafted. Following Baltimore his career had stops in Toronto and Philadelphia. It was after a short time with the Phillies that Weston became a free agent and resigned with the Mets on January 4, 1993.

Weston began the 1993 season with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. On April 13th his contract was purchased from Norfolk. Mickey took the roster spot of outfielder, Wayne Housie who then joined the Tides. He would make his New York Mets debut at Shea Stadium on April 22, 1993. Weston only made four appearances before being returned to the Norfolk Tides to finish the season. He was granted free agency on October 15, 1993. "Wish I could say I had a great memory from being at Shea," Mickey said in 2012. "I wasn't there very long and had only a couple of opportunities to pitch there. I guess the best memory was getting Tony Gwynn (Hall of Famer) to groundout to short."

A devout Christian throughout his baseball career, Mickey now currently serves with Unlimited Potential, Incorporated. UPI is a ministry that conducts evangelistic baseball clinics both in the United States and cities throughout the world.

Mickey Weston signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to UPI on November 27, 2009.

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)


Paul Gibson was traded with Randy Marshall by the Detroit Tigers to the New York Mets on January 22, 1992 in exchange for Mark Carreon and Tony Castillo. "He doesn't light up your eyes with his fastball," said Manager Jeff Torborg, who said that as a manager of the White Sox he had been impressed with Gibson. "But he's got an air about him. He gives you the impression that the game is in control when he is on the mound."

In his first season with the Mets the left-handed reliever struggled through shoulder stiffness that placed him on the disabled list from July 28th to August 29th. He was resigned to a minor league contract and invited to major league camp during spring training of 1993. Paul made it back to New York but was only used in eight appearances before being released on June 11, 1993.

Gibson was raised in Center Moriches, Long Island and grew up being a Mets fan. He currently runs a baseball school named, "Paul Gibson's All-Pro Sports Academy" in Bellport, New York.

Paul Gibson signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 24, 2009.