Sunday, May 6, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 1967

Part 6 of our 50-year Walk in the Park...
What is it: 1967 Topps #413, Jerry Grote

What makes it interesting: The '67s are another nice looking set of cards with a tough-to-find High-Number series. The most notable Mets card in this set is, of course, card #581, the Rookie Card of Tom Seaver (who incongruously shares his card with the unmemorable Bill Denehy, whose claim to fame was being sent to the Washington Senators as compensation for Gil Hodges becoming Mets Manager). However, I don't own this card, so I had to pick something else.

Jerry Grote was the embodiment of the grizzled veteran catcher over his 12-years with the Mets. He was still in his formative years in '67, though, which might explain why this is one of the most cheerful-looking photos of Grote that exists (a kind and charitable man off the field, Grote was notorious for his grouchy demeanor on the field, constantly chewing out his pitchers, and sometimes managers and coaches as well). After coming over in a trade with Houston, Grote would eventually coax a series of talented young pitchers through to a World Series Championship in '69, and a National League pennant in '73, while making the All-Star team twice, in '68 and '74. In addition to catching every inning of the Mets postseason run in '69, the fearsome Baltimore Orioles lineup hit a paltry .146 with him calling the pitches during the World Series. Never a great hitter, Grote traded on his stock as easily the best defensive Catcher the Mets have ever seen, and probably the best in the league during the bulk of his career. Traded to the Dodgers during the 1977 season, Grote's 1,176 games played at Catcher continue to stand as a club record.

Card Back:

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