Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Larry Bowa came to the New York Mets when he was signed as a free agent on August 20, 1985. The 16-year veteran had been released from the Chicago Cubs eight days earlier. Bowa came to a first place New York team that found themselves unexpectedly in need of a reserve shortstop. Rafael Santana had been backed up by Ron Gardenhire that season, but a groin strain forced him to the disabled list. "When Gardy went down I got on the phone and said: 'Get me Bowa'. He's an ideal player of experience for a pennant race." Mets manager, Davey Johnson told the New York Times.

"I didn't expect to get any calls, what with the age factor, and most of the clubs are pretty solid at shortstop," the 39-year old Bowa told the Chicago Tribune. "The only thing that made it easier was the chance to play with a contender." Larry would make his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on August 23rd. Bowa was the starting shortstop for the 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.

The switch-hitting infielder would appear in a total of 14 games for New York and record two hits in 19 plate appearances for a .105 batting average. The Mets would finish the season with 25 wins against 17 losses, but their 98 wins placed them three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for second place in the N.L. Eastern Division. Larry was granted free agency at the end of the season.

After his retirement following the 1985 season, Bowa went into coaching, serving as the manager of the San Diego Padres for two years. He also served as a coach with the Phillies, Anaheim Angels, and Seattle Mariners before returning to Philadelphia for a four-year stint as the manager of the Phillies. He was named the National League Manager of the Year in 2001 after guiding the Phillies to within two games of the division title after a last-place finish the year before. He followed that by serving as a third base coach for Joe Torre with both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Larry Bowa signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 22, 2009.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Pedro Martinez joined the New York Mets as a celebrated free agent on December 16, 2004. The three-time Cy Young award winner left the Boston Red Sox after helping them win their first World Series title in 86 years. "It was more of a commitment from this team than it was money, actually," Martinez said when introduced to the New York media at Shea Stadium. "I gave Boston every opportunity to actually get me."

He became the ace of the staff and posted a tremendous first season with the Mets in 2005. Proving to be the fierce competitor on the mound that made him famous in the American League and the perfect teammate that endeared him to the Boston Red Sox organization. Pedro would strut around the clubhouse adorned in a garish orange two-piece suit before each game of a three-game winning streak. Then wore a trash can upon his head to celebrate a game-winning hit delivered by large-noggined back up catcher, Ramon Castro. Most importantly he ended with a 15-3 record, 208 strikeouts, and a 2.82 ERA for the year. "Carlos Beltran, Cliff Floyd, Jose Reyes...they all play better when I pitch," Pedro bragged following a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Maybe it's my tempo out there. Maybe they just like me and like playing behind me. But our team seems to be doing better when I pitch." The Mets would finish in third place in the National League East with 83 wins, and a renewed optimism.

Pedro's next three years with the Mets were broken up with a series of injuries. His trips to the disabled list began with losing the month of July 2006 due to right hip inflammation. Then back to the DL in mid-August for a month to nurse a strained right calf muscle. Martinez would lose most of the 2007 season rehabilitating from rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder. He returned to the team on September 3, 2007 to make his first start of that season in Cincinnati. Pedro became part of a very exclusive club recording his 3,000 career strikeout in the 10-4 victory. "It's been awhile since I could say that I'm good enough to pick up a ball tomorrow and go right back out there and do it again, " Martinez was quoted after the game. "I'm going to continue to work hard. If I work hard, it will obviously pay off. I'm not done yet."

Pedro suffered a strained left hamstring two days into the 2008 season that placed him back on the disabled list. Once back in the rotation he registered his weakest season in a New York uniform. Finishing with a 5-6 record, 87 strikeouts in 109 innings and a 5.61 ERA. His time with the team ended when the Mets granted him free agency on October 31, 2008.

Martinez earned $52 million dollars to pitch in the 79 games of his Mets career. Omar Minaya, who was the Mets general manager that signed Pedro defended that decision in 2013. He argued that the Dominican star brought another value by attracting other players and boosting interest in the team. "I don't think there are too many contracts where you get four, five full years, especially with veteran guys."

Pedro Martinez signed his card in the set through legendary promoter Jack Berke at the Fanatics Authentic Sports Spectacular Convention Boston Show in Marlborough, Massachusetts on May 18, 2014.