Sunday, May 13, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 1969

Part 8 of our 50-year Twirl of the Unisphere...

What is it: 1969 Topps #90, Jerry Koosman

What makes it Interesting: As much as I dislike the '68s, that's as much as I love the Pop-Art simplicity of the '69s. Undeniably a classic set, this just screams 60s at you. The '69s offer a slightly smaller-than-usual Mets team set, checking in at 26 cards (many other issues go well over 30), and offer the usual smattering of Seaver, Hodges, Agee, McGraw, Ed Charles and other lesser knowns like Kevin Collins. Koosman's card here is his first solo card, replete with the rather ornate All-Star Rookie trophy and a rather unfamiliar number 47 on his jersey (Koosman is, of course, better known as #36 in your programs. This looks like a job for MBTN!). It's debatable, but Koosman may or may not have been rooked out of the '68 NL Rookie of the Year award. His numbers in '68 bettered his teammate Tom Seaver's rookie stats in '67, but Koosman had to settle for runner up to some fellow who played Catcher for Cincinnati.

Although the majority of Koosman's Mets career was spent playing second fiddle to Tom Seaver, Koosman was quite the money pitcher in his own right. An All Star in his first two seasons, Koosman's lefty finesse stuff proved the perfect complement to Seaver's heat, and the pair served as an anchor for the Mets Miracle run to a World Series Championship in '69. In that World Series, Koosman delivered a pair of signature outings for the Mets. After losing the first game, Koosman came out in Game 2 and no-hit the Orioles into the 7th. Koosman would pitch 8.2 innings, allowing a run on just two hits, picking up a crucial victory. In the 5th game, with the Mets looking to clinch the series at home, Koosman came out and fired a complete game at the Orioles, faltering only when he allowed a pair of Home Runs in the 3rd inning. His effort kept the Orioles at bay long enough for his teammates to come back, take the lead, and allow him to lay down the hammer in the decisive 5-3 victory. Koosman's penchant for the big game came up again in 1973, when he pitched a strong 6.1 innings in the Mets Game 5 victory. Koosman remains The Standard for lefty pitchers in the Mets organization, and ranks within the top 10 in Mets History in several major pitching categories, including standing only second to Seaver in Innings pitched, Complete Games and Shutouts, and sits 3rd all time in Strikeouts.

Card Back:

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