Thursday, December 31, 2015


Dock Ellis came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Bob Myrick and Mike Burhert on June 15, 1979. The flamboyant right-hander was a former National League All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates who claimed to throw his no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. "I was as high as a Georgia pine," Dock said in the ESPN Outside the Lines feature on his career. The famous game was caught by future Mets catcher Jerry May on June 12, 1970.

There is no question that Ellis was a product of the wild 1970s and battling drug abuse. What made him stand apart was his courage and fearlessness both on and off the mound. "It's hard to find someone real in this world," former teammate Al Oliver offered when asked about Ellis. "Dock was for real. If he had something to say to you, he would say it to your face." The pitcher was a boisterous proponent for the African American athlete in a time when there were few brave enough to question inequality. His biography, "Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball" was first published in 1976.

When he joined the Mets it was obvious that time had taken it's toll and the end of his pitching career was near. Dock started 14 games for the club and finished with a 3-7 record over 85 innings of work, posting a 6.04 ERA. On September 21st his contract was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he would make his final start in the nightcap of a double header and retire from baseball on September 24, 1979.

Ellis entered a substance abuse treatment center in Arizona after leaving baseball and worked after that as a drug and alcohol counselor in California. At times working with prison inmates. The New York Yankees hired him in the 1980s to speak about substance abuse to their minor leaguers.

Film director Ron Howard cast Ellis in his 1986 movie, "Gung Ho". Dock is featured as a member of the American autoworkers softball team that play their Japanese managers.

"You know, I'm just clean and sober and going on about my business," Dock told the Dallas Observer in 2005. "But there's gotta be a place for me in baseball. I should be with baseball. But that's partly my fault, I alienated myself. I left baseball with the wrong impression about the people who ran the game. 'Cause I had that paranoia that everybody was out to get me."

Dock passed away in Los Angeles, California following a long battle with liver disease on December 19, 2008.

"He was so unique. He was viewed by some people as an outlaw, but he was far from that." his agent Tom Reich remembered. "He was so ahead of his time. He was so intuitive and smart and talented and independent. And he wasn't about to roll over for the incredible prejudices that existed at the time."

Dock Ellis's card is the set was created from an autographed index card in my collection.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Terry Blocker was selected by the New York Mets organization in the first round (4th overall pick) of the 1981 Amateur Draft. The junior from Tennessee State University also was a part of their football and basketball teams. "It's the most exciting moment of my life, but I haven't really proven anything yet." Blocker told the New York Times from his home in Columbia, SC. "If everything works out and barring injury, I hope to be in the majors in a few years."

Terry played well in the Mets minor league system. Moving his way up to a full season of Triple-A baseball in 1984. He was a part of the club's major league roster leaving spring training camp the next season. Blocker made his big league debut as a pinch-runner when the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 at Shea Stadium on April 11, 1985. Terry would get his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter the next day facing the Cincinnati Reds in New York. Grounding out to Reds' pitcher, Mario Soto to lead off the seventh inning. It was the only official at-bat that he would receive in his four appearances before the Mets returned him to the Tidewater Tides when Ray Knight was activated from the disabled list on April 20th.

Blocker was recalled back to New York on May 13th when Darryl Strawberry tore the ligament between the thumb and index finger of his right hand during a diving catch against the Philadelphia Phillies. Strawberry required surgery and was sidelined for two months. Terry was added to the roster as a reserve outfielder for the time Darryl would be gone. Blocker got his first career base hit as the starting left fielder during the Mets 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium on June 2nd.

Terry's major league season ended on June 9th after colliding with right fielder Danny Heep in pursuit of a fly ball to center field. Blocker injured his left knee and was forced to the 15-day disabled list. When he returned it was to finish the season with the Tides.

Blocker was among the league leaders at the Triple-A level for the next few years until being traded to the Atlanta Braves on November 11, 1987. "The Mets finally gave me a break," he said from Braves spring training camp in 1988. "The Mets have been stacked with so much talent in the outfield. They saw I could be consistent, but there was no room for me."

Terry returned to major league baseball as a replacement player during the strike of 1995. He was a member of the Atlanta Braves spring training camp in West Palm Beach when tragedy struck. Blocker became a Pentecostal deacon following his baseball career. While witnessing to teammate Dave Shotkoski the two men formed a friendship. Walking home one night, Shotkoski was robbed and murdered on the sidewalk to his motel. Terry spent the next 48 hours on the streets of West Palm, asking questions and doing whatever he could to locate the killer. Acting on a tip given to them by Blocker the police made an arrest that led to the eventual conviction of the murderer. Terry refused the $10,000 reward offered by the Atlanta Braves and West Palm police. "That was not my motivation," Blocker said, "I was looking for satisfaction of a different kind. A life was taken, but now I have the opportunity to go out and tell people about this experience I had. Maybe it will help other people come to the kingdom of God."

I created Terry Blocker's card in the set from an autographed index card obtained from his home address on December 18, 2007.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Mike Bishop joined the New York Mets organization when he signed as a free agent on January 10, 1983. The Santa Maria native was selected by the California Angels in the 12th round of the 1976 amateur draft and remained with that club's minor league system until 1982.

The Mets starting catcher, John Stearns suffered a strained right elbow and was placed on the disabled list early in the 1983 season. Stearns was activated on April 12th feeling that he was ready to return to action. During practice it was determined that was not the case and John returned to the disabled list three days later. "But the weather was so cold," Mets general manager Frank Cashen explained, "that he found he couldn't turn the ball loose. There's no new injury. We just feel he's not ready yet. And I can't take a chance going with only one catcher."

Preferred minor league reserve catcher Ronn Reynolds had been promoted to New York as Stearns initial replacement. League rules prohibit any player returned to the minor leagues from being recalled a second time within a 10-day period. So the Mets instead purchased the contract of Mike Bishop from Triple-A Tidewater to fill the vacant roster spot on April 15th.

The 24-year-old rookie would make his major league debut as a part of the Mets the very next day, April 16, 1983. Bishop was the starting catcher facing the first place Cardinals in St. Louis. Mike would go 0-3 at the plate with New York losing it's sixth straight game of the young season 6-2.

Bishop's next appearance came catching Mike Torrez at Shea Stadium on April 20th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bishop delivered a double to left field in the second inning for his first major league hit. He would score a run and later draw two walks in the 7-5 Mets victory.

Mike made his final major league appearance when the Mets defeated the Braves 5-3 in Atlanta on April 24th. He was sent back to the Tidewater Tides along with shortstop Ron Gardenhire when the Mets chose to promote Tucker Ashford and the celebrated prospect Darryl Strawberry from Triple-A on May 5th.

Michael Bishop died of a heart attack in Bakersfield, California on February 8, 2005 at the young age of 46.

I created Mike Bishop's card in the set from an autographed index card from "The Sports Collection of Joe Gerson" that was obtained from Dave Berman on February 16, 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Kazuisha Ishii came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Jason Phillips on March 20, 2005. The left handed pitcher from Chiba, Japan was brought in to serve as the fifth starter in the rotation. "If he's your fifth starter, geez," Met pitching coach Rick Peterson said the day after the trade. "That's not a fifth starter, by any means." Kaz had shown lapses of control with the Dodgers. "He loses his mechanics sometimes and can't throw the ball where he wants to. He'll get spells of that," Los Angeles pitching coach Jim Colborn explained. "His style, one needs a lot of patience to allow him to win his games because the  way he does it can be nerve-wracking - that's the best word."

Kaz made his Mets debut starting the third game of the 2005 season at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. He would pitch 6-2/3 innings and allow six runs during the 6-1 loss to the Reds on April 7th. Ishii's next start would come at Shea Stadium opposing Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros on April 13th. Kaz pitched masterfully holding the visitors scoreless during his seven innings of work allowing only two hits. Clemens matched his performance and the game was decided by the bullpens in the eventual 1-0 Mets victory.

Ishii got his first Mets victory on April 28th in Florida. Kaz took a shutout into the seventh inning and drove in the first run with a base hit off Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis in the 6-1 win. Ishii kept the game ball and said he planned to turn it over to his wife Ayako Kisa (a japanese television host) as a present after forgetting her birthday a few days earlier.

The lefty would continue to pitch inconsistently over the remainder of the 2005 season. He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on August 7th, and only returned when rosters expanded at the start of the next month. He finished with a 3-9 record and 5.14 ERA in 19 games for New York. His first 16 appearances were all starts, but the final three came from the bullpen in September. The Mets granted him his release on December 19, 2005.

Kaz returned to pitch in Japan for the Central League's Yakult Swallows in 2006. He joined the Saitama Seibu Lions in 2008, and announced his retirement from baseball on September 24, 2013.

I made Kaz Ishii's card in the set from an autographed index card signed for a collector at Shea Stadium during the 2005 season.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Chuck Hiller came to the New York Mets when they purchased his contract from the San Francisco Giants on May 11, 1965. Mets starting second baseman, Ron Hunt had suffered a shoulder separation in the game facing the St. Louis Cardinals earlier that day. The veteran Hiller was to pair with infielder Bobby Klaus to fill the void created when Hunt was placed on the disabled list.

Chuck made his Mets debut on May 18th in Milwaukee facing the Braves. His first game at Shea Stadium was on May 26th during a 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Hiller was used as a second baseman in 80 of the 100 games he appeared in to complete his first year in Flushing. Chuck saw his role shift to that of a pinch-hitter when Ron Hunt returned from injury on August 4th. The 30-year-old infielder was never know as a superb fielder. "Chuck Hiller was one helluva hitter, but he had iron hands," joked teammate Ed Kranepool. "You couldn't play him on a rainy day; his hands would rust."

Hiller took to his assignment as the Mets primary pinch-hitter during the 1966 campaign, "We're a stronger club when I have him available in an emergency," Mets manager Wes Westrum explained to The Sporting News in April of 1967. Chuck did register a then single-season club record and 1966 National League season high, 16 pinch hits. He finished with a fine .280 batting average on the year.

The Mets traded Ron Hunt and announced the plan to platoon Hiller with Eddie Bressoud at second base for the 1967 season. Chuck injured his shoulder during spring training and then weeks later fractured a bone in his right hand when struck by a ball during batting practice. Hiller returned from the disabled list and on July 11, 1967 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Phil Linz. It was the end of his playing career with the New York Mets.

Chuck returned to the organization mostly at the minor league level as a manager and instructor for 24 years. He did serve as the New York Mets major league third base coach under manager Buddy Harrelson during the 1990 season. "I've never met a better communicator and teacher," said Jim Duquette, the Mets senior vice president of baseball operations in 2004. "He just loved to instruct young players. Even in retirement he always came down to spring training and had such a passion for working with our young players."

Hiller passed away at the age of 70 in St. Pete Beach, Florida on October 20, 2004.

I created Chuck Hiller's card in the set from a signed index card from my collection.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Lee Guetterman was traded from the New York Yankees to the New York Mets in exchange for Tim Burke on June 9, 1992. The deal was hoped to allow a fresh start for two relief pitchers in need of one. "There is a lot of sadness, but under the circumstance there is hope," Guetterman offered to the New York Times after the trade. "I felt like I was in a rut. There is no one to blame. My slide didn't start this season. It has been building."

The left-hander made his debut with the Mets the next day, June 10th at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Lee entered the game to pitch a scoreless ninth inning during the 8-2 loss to the Expos. He would first pitch at Shea Stadium on June 12th facing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Summoned again to start the ninth inning, he would record the first two outs but then surrender two hits. Jeff Innis relieved and induced a ground out to end the 3-2 loss without either of those runners scoring.

Guetterman had an very effective month of July for the Mets. He allowed just three earned runs during his 13 appearances spanning 15-2/3 innings of work. During that time he earned two wins and recorded his first save as a Met. The final game of July was at Veteran's Stadium and was much less successful for the southpaw. Summoned to finish the eight inning of a 2-2 tie, Lee allowed a pair of hits to load the bases. The next batter, Dave Hollins of the Phillies ended his day with a grand slam that proved to be the game-winning hit of the 6-3 Philadelphia victory. "With a 3-1 count and the bases loaded, you go right after him," Guetterman said afterwards. "Obviously, I didn't have what it takes today."

Lee would finish his 1992 season with 43 appearances, a 3-4 record, 2 saves and a 5.82 ERA over 43-1/3 innings of work. He would leave the New York Mets on January 13, 1993 when he signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Guetterman retired from baseball following the 1996 season. Lee was named to the Liberty University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. Since his professional pitching career ended, he has been serving as an instructor in the Tennessee area through Lee Guetterman Sports.

Lee Guetterman signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 24, 2009.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Ryan McGuire joined the New York Mets organization when he signed a contract on December 13, 1999. The first baseman-outfielder came over from the Montreal Expos as a six-year minor league free agent during the Winter Meetings. Ryan was given an invitation to major league camp during spring training but was sent to the minor league side on March 19, 2000.

McGuire began the season with the Norfolk Tides of the International League. During a group of transactions on June 2nd, the Mets purchased Ryan's contract from the Tides and brought him to New York. He was replacing outfielder Jon Nunnally who was designated for assignment.

Ryan made his lone appearance for the New York Mets on June 4th. He was the starting right fielder facing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Shea Stadium. McGuire drew a walk in his first at-bat in the second inning, but would ground out in his next two trips to the plate. He was replaced by Melvin Mora in the 9th inning of the lop-sided 15-5 loss to the Rays.

McGuire was designated for assignment the next day and after clearing waivers was returned to Norfolk on June 7th. He finished the Triple-A season with a .298 batting average, 10 home runs and 62 RBIs. Ryan signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent on November 3, 2000.

"I was hoping that I would have at least gotten called up in September, but sometimes it's tough with teams like the Mets and the Yankees, where they have unlimited financial resources." McGuire reflected in 2002. "They don't really need to call up guys from their Triple-A teams. If they feel like they need somebody, they'll just go and get it from somebody else's big-league team and pay the money for him."

"There are a lot of guys who have played for 15 years and never had the opportunity to be in the postseason or the World Series. I was sitting there like, 'Oh man.' I felt like I had a pretty good year and a lot of confidence. I felt like, Maybe I could do something for them.'"

Ryan finished his major league playing career in 2002. He became the marketing director at Sfx Sports/Wasserman Media Group in 2004. Shifting his focus to property and financial management in 2007. He remains close to the game he loves as a baseball coach for the ROX Baseball Club in Irving, California.

Ryan McGuire signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his office address on January 18, 2012.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Ken Henderson joined the New York Mets when he was traded along with Willie Montanez and Tom Grieve from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jon Matlack and John Milner on December 8, 1977. A trade during the Baseball Winter Meetings held in Hawaii that year. The entire transaction began with a chance encounter between Mets manager Joe Torre and Rangers owner Brad Corbett over the availability of Milner. The deal was actually part of a larger one also involving the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates that totaled 11 players. John Milner would end up moving to the Pirates that day.

Ken made his New York Mets debut on April 7, 1978 on Opening Day at Shea Stadium. The team would defeat the Montreal Expos 3-1 behind Jerry Koosman's complete game effort. The offense came from back to back doubles from the former Rangers, Montanez and Henderson as New York scored twice in the second inning of the game.

Following a Mets 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs the club was 4-1 to begin the year and sitting atop the National League East. Despite the great start only 3,751 fans at Shea were there to witness Ken Henderson's first home run as a Met. A solo shot off of Paul Reuschel in the 8th inning. "I'm encouraged with the way we are playing," Ken said following the game. "When I was traded here. I wanted to play every day. Otherwise I'd just as soon have stayed in Texas as the fourth outfielder for a contender. But from what I've seem this is not a second division team like everyone says."

On April 12th, during the seventh game of the young season a single play changed the season for the Mets new outfielder. "I was there such a short time, however a catch I made on a Dave Kingman drive to the wall in right field stands out to me." Henderson remembers years later. "Unfortunately, I hit my left foot and injured my toe when I hit the wall. I had to wear a cast the rest of the year to play." Ken was removed from the game and the Mets lost 4-2 to the Cubs.

A few days later Henderson was placed on the disabled list where he remained until May 19th. Once he was activated the Mets traded Ken to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Dale Murray. Ken was asked in 2015, if it was tough for him to deal with the bad luck that limited his playing time while with the Mets. "Absolutely," Henderson responded. "I played the game hard, and I took chances, but it was the only way I could play."

Henderson ended his 16-year major league career in 1980. He returned to the San Francisco Giants organization in March 2010 as a member of their marketing department. Ken was given a World Series ring when the team won the fall classic that year. "I could not get my World Series ring as a player, which is my biggest disappointment." Henderson said in 2011. "But I now have one I can put alongside my dad's." Ken's father had been a scout for several major league teams and earned his ring in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers.

Ken Henderson signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 29, 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Terry McDaniel joined the New York Mets when he was selected in the sixth round of the free agent draft on January 14, 1886. The outfielder was drafted out of the University of Houston following a phenomenal career at Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Terry was a dominant pitcher and quarterback who led his varsity football team to their first playoffs in sixty years. His baseball ability was so great that in 1985 the high school created a varsity baseball program just so McDaniel could play. "Terrence made other football/baseball players around him better and always gave the team credit when literally he would win the game by himself." recalls local fan Eric.

A 19-year-old McDaniel began his professional baseball career with the Kingsport Mets in 1986. The fleet-footed outfielder stole 43 bases during the 1989 season for Single-A St. Lucie.

McDaniel was recalled from Triple-A Tidewater and made his major-league debut as a New York Met on August 30, 1991 in Cincinnati. He entered as a pinch-hitter and remained to finish the game in centerfield. Terry became the first player in club history to wear the uniform number zero. It was the next day facing the Reds' pitcher Ted Power that he would hit a double for his first big-league hit.

Terry would play in a total of 23 games for the Mets to close the 1991 campaign. Finishing with six hits in 29 at-bats, two RBIs and two stolen bases. McDaniel recalls his favorite memory of Shea Stadium as simply, "The fans." He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization when they claimed him off waivers on November 19, 1991.

After his baseball career Terry returned to his hometown Kansas City and has been working with the govenrment there.

Terry McDaniel signed his card from the set through an autograph request sent to his home on March 19, 2015.