Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Cory Lidle was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the New York Mets in exchange for Kelly Stinnett on January 17, 1996. The right-hander began the 1997 season in Triple-A Norfolk, but a poor start by the major-league bullpen brought about sweeping change. The Mets designated Toby Borland for assignment and promoted Lidle to New York. Although never overpowering, Cory had a reputation of pitching to contact. "Our bullpen is comprised of guys who throw strikes," pitching coach, Bob Apodaca described the new look relievers. "They're going to dominate the strike zone, and that's what you want." Lidle made his major-league debut throwing two scoreless innings of relief during the Mets 4-2 loss to the Astros in Houston on May 8, 1997.

The rookie was credited with his first career victory in his second appearance, and would not surrender a run until his sixth. Cory had a perfect 3-0 record with a save and 2.57 ERA during his first ten games. It was assumed that Lidle would return to the minors eventually, but he kept throwing strikes, and kept getting outs. Cory was superb in middle relief. Attempts to pitch him in pressure situations during the eighth and ninth innings was not nearly as successful. In the end his first season in the big leagues yielded a fine 7-2 record, two saves, 3.53 ERA, and only 20 walks in 81-2/3 innings of work.

In October the Mets announced that Lidle was suffering from a stress fracture in his shoulder. Many spectulated that this was just a ploy to deter selection of the unprotected pitcher in the expansion draft coming that next month. "We thought Cory was one of the guys that Arizona was thinking about," said Omar Minaya, then the Mets' assistant general manager. "We thought it was a high probability he was going to be taken." The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Lidle as the 13th pick in the first round of the draft on November 18th. "I don't even know what to think," Cory said. "It hasn't hit me. This is one city I do like. I'm glad to play here."

Lidle would go on to a long major-league career that saw him as a member of the New York Yankees in 2006. While piloting his Cirrus Design SR-20 airplane he crashed into the 40th floor of a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan. Both the 34-year old pitcher and the flight instructor who was riding along were killed in the trajedy on October 11, 2006. Cory left behind his wife and six-year old son.

"We would call him 'Snacks' because he would eat Reese's between innings when he was pitching,' recalled A's teammate, Barry Zito. "He'd have Whoppers, ice cream all while throwing eight scoreless innings."

For years Lidle had raised money for the Make A Wish Foundation with charity golf and poker tournaments. The Cory Lidle Celebrity Poker Tournament drew many famous poker players, as well as baseball greats. "If you come across a table of baseball players at a poker table," Cory was once quoted. "snag a seat or at least put your name on the waiting list because it could really pay off."

I created Cory Lidle's card in the set from a signed index card given to me by my good friend Jessie on February 22, 2011.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Preston Wilson was selected by the New York Mets in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the free agent draft on June 1, 1992. The young outfielder had strong ties to the Mets even prior to that. He is the nephew/step-son of legendary Met, Mookie Wilson. Preston's natural father—Richard Wilson—is Mookie's brother, but he married Preston's mother and adopted him. "He's the only father I've ever known,"said Preston, who first wore uniform No.11 in honor of Mookie's No. 1 with the Mets.

"One thing we've always found time to do is talk about life, the developing personality and being conscious of what you want to be," Mookie said. "And I always told him baseball is fantasy land, that nothing is real, that it's here one day and it's gone. So you have to know who you are in order to deal with that."

Preston impressed many during major-league spring training camp in 1997. "His raw talent is bubbling over," noted teammate Bernard Gilkey. "He looks like a solid player already. I know it's going to take a little time, but he looks like the real thing. He's definitely baseball-minded. And he learned from a good teacher." Wilson showed his potential power at the plate in the minor-leagues during that season. The right-handed hitter slugged 30 home runs, drove in 95 runs and registered a .266 batting average splitting time between St. Lucie and Binghamton.

He finally got his opportunity to come to New York when the club placed Craig Paquette on the disabled list early in the 1998 campaign. Preston made his long awaited major-league debut at Shea Stadium on May 7, 1998. With his father, now the Mets' first base coach, watching the younger Wilson singled in his first at-bat. Mookie was there wearing his trademark grin to greet his son. Preston's mother, Rosa, viewed from the stands, but was visable on the television broadcast "jumping up and down doing that proud mother thing." Wilson would become the first New York Met to collect three hits in his debut during the 8-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Even so Preston said the fondest memory of the night was "probably stealing when he told me to stop halfway."

Wilson would follow up with three more hits the next day during his second game with the Mets. He doublied twice and scored three times in another New York win over the Cardinals. Preston suprisingly went hitless in his next 12 at-bats. Once an injured Edgardo Alfonzo was activated from the disabled list the decision was made to return Wilson to Triple-A Norfolk on May 19th. When asked what he would take from his first major-league experience, he said, "Just the opportunity and the fact that I got to face some of the best."

Days later, on May 22, 1998, the New York Mets traded the talented outfielder with just eight big-league games under his belt, along with Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to the Florida Marlins in exchange for future Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza. Addressing the fans concerns over his father's reaction to the trade, Mets General Manager, Steve Phillips explained, "Mookie's been in the game a long time. He understands these things happen." Adding, "Preston would like to be a Met, but he wants to be a major leaguer more."

Preston enjoyed a fine ten-year baseball career that included a World Championship with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. A club that eliminated the Mets in a hard fought National League Championship Series that year.

Preston Wilson signed his card in the set for me through a private signing held by Tom Orr in Florida on March 12, 2011.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Lenny Dykstra was selected by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the free agent draft on June 8, 1981. The fiery outfielder became know affectionately as "Nails" due to his style of hard play. Lenny's first national exposure as a New York Met came when his name was connected to the famous "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch" story in Sports Illustrated magazine on April 1, 1985. Dykstra was one of the three actual Mets prospects detailed as hitting off the mystical pitcher. The April Fool's Day article serves as the magazine equivalent to the deceptive radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds".

The real exploits of the energetic outfielder became stranger than any fictional account that was ever written. Dykstra established himself as a prized prospect in the minor-leagues, and gained his first opportunity in New York when starting centerfielder, Mookie Wilson was forced to the disabled list. Lenny made his big-league debut on May 3, 1985 in Cincinnati. He appeared as the Mets lead-off hitter facing Reds star pitcher, Mario Soto. "Before my first at-bat, everyone told me how Soto threw so hard, how he was a power pitcher," Dykstra remembered. "He threw me three straight changeups and struck me out. The next time up, I stayed back and hit one out. I ended up with two hits and a stolen base." The home run, his first major-league hit, was the only one he would have in his rookie season. Lenny was sent back and forth between Triple-A Tidewater and New York as Mookie's health warranted until Wilson had shoulder surgery on July 1st. "From my standpoint, I knew I was going to Tidewater from Florida (after spring training)," Dykstra was quoted. "I knew that I'd be here in September, but I didn't picture myself being here as soon as I was. It was unfortunate for Wilson to have an injury. But I'm glad that I got the opportunity."

A strong Mets club entered spring training for the 1986 season with Mookie Wilson on the road to recovering from the problematic shoulder that had plagued him earlier. In a freak accident Mookie was struck in the face with a thrown ball during baserunning drills that severely injured his right eye. Dykstra was installed as the starting centerfielder to begin the regular season. Lenny paired with teammate Wally Backman to become the sparkplugs of the dominant Mets club that rolled to the National League Eastern Division title. "We're partners in grime."
said Dykstra, referring to the hard play that often produced dirty uniforms from the duo.

Not known for his power the 5' 10" outfielder produced one of the most memorable home runs in Shea Stadium history during Game 3 of the 1986 National League Playoffs. His two-run blast off Houston Astros closer, Dave Smith propelled the Mets to a 6-5 comeback victory, and 2-1 game lead in the series. "The last time I hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning was in Strat-O-Matic," Lenny said after the game. "It's a board game where you roll the dice. I played against my brother Kevin a couple years ago and rolled some big numbers." Dykstra would ignite another ninth-inning comeback with a lead-off triple in the legendary Game 6 of that series. He scored the first of three runs which created the tie and forced the 16-inning marathon contest won by the Mets. Nails would finish with a .304 NLCS batting average.

Dykstra added two more home runs and helped New York to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Over the seven games he recorded a .296 batting average and 3 RBIs. Lenny had established himself as a fan favorite and published his book, "Nails: The Inside Story of an Amazing Season" written with Marty Noble.

"Lenny and the Mets" returned to the postseason again in 1988. Dykstra enjoyed another terrific October series and hit for a .429 batting average during the seven games. His effort was not enough to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers from defeating the Mets and denying New York another World Series appearance.

On June 18, 1989, the Mets traded Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Juan Samuel. Also adding Tom Edens into the deal as a player to be named later on July 27th.

Lenny retired from baseball in 1996 and began to manage his own stock portfolio and serve as president of several privately held companies. The most notable of these companies being a group of car washes in California. Success from these ventures allowed Dykstra to purchase his 6.7-acre Thousand Oaks estate from hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky for $17.5 million in 2007.

The next year, Lenny started a high-end jet charter company and established "The Players Club". This was both a magazine and investment annuity designed for former athletes. "Guys are done playing at 35," said the man now known as The Dude. "and there's nothing worse than to make a man change his lifestyle. When the money's flying in, they don't think about paying bills when they get older. 'Cause they never been 35 and outta work."

Nails kept up the appearance of his high-flying lifestyle with fancy cars and private jets, even while his personal finances were falling apart. In July of 2009 he was forced to declare bankruptcy listing $50,000 of assests to upward of $50 million in liabilities. He was divorced from his wife of 23 years and living out of his car a month later. The Dykstra home was a victim of a depreciated housing market and in disrepair rendering it unsaleable. With few choices available, Lenny auctioned off pieces of personal memorabilia in September of 2009. These included the home run ball that Dykstra hit to win Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS ($31,070) and his 1986 World Series ring ($56,762.50). He resurfaced with a new online business venture named Nails Investments. "Everybody hurts the same," said Dykstra in 2010, suggesting he was like many Americans who were caught up in the mortage crisis. "Everybody loses the same, meaning it's all relative. I just happened to play in an arena where there were bigger chips."

Lenny Dykstra signed his card in the set for my good friend Jessie at the MAB Celebrity Services "Philly Show" on March 5, 2011.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


José Parra came to the New York Mets organization when he signed a free agent contract on January 20, 2004. The right-hander had started his major-league career as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995. Following a stop with the Minnesota Twins, he pitched for the Samsung Lions in Korea, and then the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. The Pittsburgh Pirates brought him back to the states in 2000, but Parra was in Taiwan throwing for the Uni-President Lions the next season. José was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2002, but finished that year back in Korea with the Hanwha Eagles. The next season saw him back in Taiwan. So it is safe to say that Parra was a "well-traveled" pitcher prior to coming to New York.

The 31-year old reliever started the 2004 season with Triple-A Norfolk. After recording 16 saves as the Tides closer he was promoted to New York on June 19th. The Mets brought Parra in to switch roster spots with left-hander, Pedro Feliciano who was sent to Norfolk. José made his first appearance that same day in front of the Shea Stadium fans. He worked the first out of the seventh inning, but allowed two Detroit Tigers hits before John Franco ended the scoreless frame.

Parra did not allow a run in any of his first four appearances with the Mets and appeared to be headed to a more prominent role in the bullpen. José earned a long-awaited victory after throwing a hitless 11th inning in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on July 15, 2004. It marked his first victory in the majors since August 20, 1996.

Five days later the Mets acquired reliever Mike DeJean from the Baltimore Orioles. In need of a roster spot New York sent Parra to the disabled list even though he felt he was not seriously injured. José could not recall when he sustained the injury, but woke up around 5 a.m. with soreness in his right hip. He predicted that it might take him only two or three days to return. The Mets, however, needing the roster spot sent him to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hip flexor. "It was surprising that he was hurt," said manager Art Howe. "It made it a little easier for us." José was moved to the 60-day disabled list on August 12th, and eventually released on November 9th. Leaving him with a 1-0 record and 3.21 ERA over his 13 career appearances for the Mets.

Parra returned to Japan after signing a contract to pitch for the Orix Buffaloes for the 2005 season. The New York Mets did resign him to a minor-league contract for 2006, but an elbow injury ended his career that spring.

José came home to the Dominican Republic and served as the pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers academy in that country. The academy is located in Loma de la Sueños, the facility owned by former major-leaguer, Jose Rijo.

José Parra signed his card in the set for my friend, John Guzman in the Dominican Republic during his trip there on March 10, 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Pedro (Aquino) Martinez joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Jeff Barry on December 15, 1995. The left-hander was actually the first Pedro Martinez in New York and followed by the much more famous one in 2005.

Pedro began the 1996 season in Triple-A Norfolk after just missing the final spot in the Mets bullpen out of spring training. He had recorded a 2-1 record, with two saves and a 3.33 ERA in 17 games when New York called him up on June 10th. Martinez made his Mets debut on June 14, 1996 throwing three innings of scoreless relief facing the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Pedro would appear on a total of five games for New York from the bullpen. His only appearance at Shea Stadium was registering the first two outs during the ninth-inning of a 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 20th. The southpaw's last game for the Mets was on July 5th in Montreal. Notable because when he entered the game in the fifth inning it paired him against fellow Dominican and Expos starting pitcher, Pedro J. Martinez. New York would win the contest 9-6, but the left-handed Martinez would be optioned back to Norfolk. He ended his Mets career with a 6.43 ERA during a total of seven innings of relief work. Pedro served in the Tides bullpen until being claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds on September 13, 1996.

Pedro Martinez signed his card in the set for my friend, John Guzman in the Dominican Republic during his trip there on March 10, 2011.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Mike Piazza came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Florida Marlins in exchange for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and Geoff Goetz on May 22, 1998. The trade would serve as the greatest in franchise history and bring to the Mets one of their biggest stars. "This town is ready and waiting for Mike Piazza," Mets owner, Fred Wilpon stated that day. "Mike Piazza is going to be a tremendous force in this town. This is a guy who could become the kind of player people talked about who played in New York 30, 40, 50 years ago. We're talking Mantle, Mays, DiMaggio."

Mike performed as advertised and immediately became the face of the team. Piazza represented the club in six Major League All-Star games during his time in New York. He is widely considered as the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. Mike holds the major-league record for most career home runs hit by a catcher with 396 of his 427 total coming that way. Piazza established a Mets single-season club record with 124 RBIs in 1999, and led the club with a .324 batting average in 2000. It was not surprising that during his best two years the Mets advanced to the postseason. Winning the National League Championship in 2000.

Piazza's biggest moment came at Shea Stadium facing the Atlanta Braves on September 21, 2001. It was during the first game played in New York City following the tragic attacks on September 11th. Mike stepped to the plate in the eighth with the shaken hometown crowd just waiting for something to cheer about. Piazza stroked a long drive over the centerfield fence to provide a 3-2 victory and a brief release from the pain of a nation. "I remember standing on the line during the national anthem - actually when the bagpipes and band came out - I said to myself, 'Please God, give me the strength to get through this," Mike recalled to the NY Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

The Mets ended an era when they granted the slugger free agency on October 28, 2005. "I have to say that my time with the Mets wouldn't have been the same without the greatest fans in the world." Mike said upon his retirement from baseball in May 2008. "One of the hardest moments of my career, was walking off the field at Shea Stadium and saying goodbye. My relationship with you made my time in New York the happiest of my career and for that, I will always be grateful." Former Mets manager, Willie Randolph was quoted, "It's the end of a Hall of Fame career. It was a priviledge to manage him for the short time that I did."

The Mets gave Piazza the honor of receiving the final pitch from Tom Seaver during the ceremony to close Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008. "Todd Pratt used to say, 'It's not much boys but it's home'," Mike said while remembering the ballpark. "It was charming and it was home."

Piazza has enjoyed life as a full-time dad to his daughters since his playing days. He also has found time to serve as the hitting coach for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. The same WBC team he played for in 2006. "They love baseball," said Mike. "They're passionate about it, and I wanted to continue to help them and bring more awareness that baseball is viable in Europe and push Major League Baseball to continue the investment over there."

Mike Piazza signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to Team Italy's training camp in Vero Beach, Florida on March 19, 2011.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Ross Jones joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Sid Fernandez in exchange for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz on December 8, 1983. He had spent his entire time with the Dodgers in their minor-league system, but made the Mets roster out of spring training camp. New York purchased his contract from Triple-A Tidewater the same day they also added Dwight Gooden from that club.

Jones was the third shortstop on a team that also featured Jose Oquendo and Ron Gardenhire. So most of his appearances came as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. His big-league debut came in a Mets uniform on opening day, April 2, 1984. Ross came off the bench to pinch-hit during the 8-1 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. His bigger moment came at Shea Stadium on August 28th. A hitless Jones came to the plate in the ninth inning of a tie game against Philadelphia. The Phillies had their closer, Al Holland on the mound. "Everyone thought I was overmatched," remembers Ross. Instead he delivered a walk-off game winning double to left field. "Great feeling," Jones said. " To be carried off the field and Mets fans going crazy." His first major-league hit would be his only one in a Mets uniform.

Ross was optioned back to the Tidewater Tides soon afterward. Finding his way back to New York for a few more days in July, but finishing the season in Triple-A. In total he appeared in 17 games for the Mets with only seven of those on defense. Jones spent all of 1985 in the minors before being released on February 7, 1986. He would later play in the majors for both the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals before retiring from baseball in 1988.

Jones began a second career after leaving the game. He became a key grip in the motion picture industry. A key grip is the chief supervisor of a union crew responsible for moving lights, dolly tracks, cranes and scenery. Ross is listed in the credits of films like, Up In The Air and King Kong. As well as episodes of the television series, CSI:Miami.

Ross Jones signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on March 17, 2011. Adding the inscription of "April 28, 1984 - Shea Stadium" in celebration of his greatest Mets moment.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Ron Herbel was traded from the San Diego Padres to the New York Mets in exchange for Rod Gaspar on September 1, 1970. The righthander was brought in to shore up a struggling bullpen. Ron was successful in New York during the final month of the season. In his 12 games for the Mets he recorded a 2-2 record, with one save and 1.38 ERA. Herbel actually was credited with the victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis during his very first Mets game on September 1st.

The Mets traded Ron to the Atlanta Braves for Bob Aspromonte on December 1, 1970.

Herbel's struggles at the plate were much heralded during his career. He holds the record for lowest batting average by anyone with at least 100 at-bats. An anemic .029. On the occassion of his first major-league hit in 1965, Ron jokingly told reporters, "In the minors, once in awhile I would close my eyes and get a hit...The pitcher would usually have to hit my bat though."

Ron retired from baseball following the 1972 season. He passed away on January 20, 2000 in Tacoma, Washington at the young age of 62.

I purchased this signed index card from the legendary autograph guy, Jack Smalling and converted it into Ron Herbel's card in the set in January 2009. Jack's website is www.baseballaddresses.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Bob Friend joined the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the crosstown New York Yankees on June 15, 1966. The veteran right-hander was previously a three time All-Star during his 15 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined the New York staff as a starting pitcher and long reliever out of the bullpen. Friend made his Mets debut on June 18th throwing four plus innings as the starter facing the Reds in Cincinnati.

Bob threw consecutive complete games victories for New York on July 17th and July 22nd. However, his greatest performance as a Met came at Shea Stadium on August 30th. The visiting Los Angeles Dodgers were pitching legendary Sandy Koufax that game. Tug McGraw started for the home team, but was lifted in the second inning in favor of Friend. The Mets offense rallied for five runs off Koufax in the third inning and forced his earliest career departure facing New York. Bob would finish the final seven and a third innings to record the victory in the Mets 10-4 win. It was only one of two career losses that Koufax would ever surrender to the Mets and was the final victory earned by Friend in his illustrious career. Bob would retire from baseball following the conclusion of the 1966 season.

Friend was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but returned to the Pittsburgh area following his retirement from baseball. Bob ran for the office of Comptroller of Allegheny County and upon winning served a pair of four-year terms from 1967 to 1975. During that time he was selected as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1968 and 1972. Then a third time in 1980. Over the years he had several encounters with President Richard Nixon, who was always ready to talk sports. "He kept up on different players and what they were hitting," said Friend. "I was really impressed with that."

After deciding not to seek a third term, Bob sold insurance for 25 years before retiring in 2002. It allowed him the opportunity to dedicate more time to his long-time hobby of golf. His son, Bob Friend, Jr. was a professional golfer playing on the PGA and Nationwide tours from 1990 through 2003.

Bob Friend signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on August 26, 2009.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Ramon Castro joined the New York Mets organization when he signed a free agent contract on December 22, 2004. The Puerto Rican native was brought in to provide a backup for catcher Mike Piazza. Ramon made his debut with the Mets on April 7, 2005 in Cincinnati during a 6-1 loss to the Reds. The jovial catcher became the prankster of the team and a very popular figure in the clubhouse. He would have strong numbers for the season hitting eight home runs with 41 RBIs while posting a .244 batting average. Castro filled in admirably when Piazza was injured in August and September that year. Leading to speculation that he might serve as the starting catcher in 2006 after Mike left as a free agent.

New York traded for All-Star catcher Paul LoDuca and returned Ramon to a backup role. Injuries limited Castro to only 40 games in 2006. He spent time on the disabled list from July 27th to September 27th with both rib cage and left knee problems.

The tandem of LoDuca and Castro returned for the 2007 campaign. A more healthy Ramon produced a career-high 11 home runs, while hitting for a .285 batting average. His home run on July 29, 2007 was enough to back John Maine's one-hitter at Shea Stadium. The Mets won 5-0 over the Washington Nationals. "They don't give me the chance I want, but I know what I have to do," said Castro who was playing that day for an injured LoDuca. "I feel I'm ready."

When LoDuca was not re-signed it appeared that Castro might to be given his chance to start in 2008. The Mets brought back Ramon with a two-year contract, but the club also traded for catcher Brian Schneider. "We are glad to have re-signed Ramon back," said Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. "He has developed into the kind of hitter who you want to come up in clutch situations. In addition to what he brings on the field. Ramon is a tremendous presence in the clubhouse." Although back in the accustomed spot of the backup during most of the season, he was the starting catcher for the Mets during the final game played at Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008.

"In a big spot, runners on, you'd always want Ramon up there," said teammate Luis Castillo. "He just hits the ball so hard."

Ramon Castro signed his card in the set for my friend, and fellow Mets autograph collector, Robb Whalen at the White SoxFest in Chicago on January 22, 2011.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Greg Goossen joined the New York Mets when they claimed his contract off first-year waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 9, 1965. When he joined the team, legendary Mets manager, Casey Stengel introduced him to reporters. "This is Greg Goossen," said Casey. "He's 19 years-old, and in 10 years he's got a chance to be 29."

The Mets sent Goossen to the minor-leagues to begin that first season. He was brought to New York when the rosters expanded at the end of the year. The rookie made his big league debut wearing a Mets uniform on September 3, 1965 in St. Louis. Greg was the starting catcher in the 6-3 victory over the Cardinals. Known as a much better hitter than fielder, Goossen was used primarily as a backup catcher when he was in New York. In 1968, he learned first base as a secondary position following a suggestion given to him by his final Mets manager, Gil Hodges.

A good natured teammate who bounced back and forth between New York and the minor-leagues during his four-year stay with the Mets. During that time he posted two home runs, 16 RBIs, and a .202 batting average in a total of 99 games. Goossen ended his Mets' career when the club sold his contract to the newly formed Seattle Pilots on February 5, 1969. Greg was featured in Jim Bouton's novel, Ball Four chronicling that franchise's lone season before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers of today. Goossen remembered switching teams an amazing 37 times during his eight years of baseball in the major and minor-leagues. "Either everyone wanted me or everyone wanted to get rid of me," he joked. "I could never figure out which."

During the off-seasons the ballplayer moonlighted as a private detective working at the investigations agency run by his father, an ex-LAPD detective.

After his baseball career, Greg helped his brother's Dan and Joe operate their boxing gym in Van Nuys, California. The Goossen family training has produced boxers Michael Nunn, and Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, brothers who became featherweight and lightweight champions in the 1990s. "One of our brothers was a pro fighter and we also had a good friend named Randy Shields who fought seven world championships," Dan Goossen said. "Greg would go to Randy's house and spar with Randy's dad and he wanted him to quit baseball and become a heavyweight fighter. Greg didn't do that, but when he left baseball, we had our boxing company going and he trained and worked with fighters until Gene Hackman came along."

The Academy Award winning actor was doing research for a role in the film, Split Decisions. Greg taught Hackman the art of throwing a punch. The two men developed a lasting friendship. Gene created a new career for Goossen as a stand-in for the star beginning with that first film in 1988. Hackman had it written into all his motion picture contracts that Greg be provided a small role in each film as well. Goossen can be seen in the 1996 film, The Chamber as an inmate shouting, "See you soon, Sam," when Hackman's character is being led to the gas chamber. "I've had to stay on the same spot for three straight hours," he explained of the process of the crew setting lights. "But it never gets boring." Their last film together was Behind Enemy Lines in 2001. Greg is credited as a "CIA Spook". Goossen retired from acting in 2004.

His alma mater, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School chose Greg to become the first member of their Hall of Fame on February 26, 2011. Prior to the ceremony Goosen died of a heart attack in his home at the young age of 65. "He was a fun guy to be around, so upbeat," his friend baseball legend Pete Rose told the NY Daily News. "It's a shame that the Good Lord couldn't give him one more day so he could enjoy that hall of fame day. He was really looking forward to that." Jim Bouton responded, "I think the more interesting stuff happened to him after baseball. A lot of people would trade lives with him."

Greg Goossen signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request that was sent to his home on January 5, 2009.