"Hey guys! The earth is round, the WWF is fake, and Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker's dad! Isn't that, like, amazing?!"
No matter, that didn't --and hasn't -- dampened the joy I derived from the fact that Heritage's checklist was created with the original vintage sets in mind. In other words, Topps tried to match up teams or positions or subsets as best they could between the two sets.
Pretty neat idea, even if it isn't a National Treasure type of secret.
So, I'd like to give it another go, if you don't mind. Last time I did card #124 both from the original 1963 set and the 2012 Heritage set.
Today's subject is #111, still sticking with the '63 and '12 sets.
|1963 Topps, #111|
A member of the 1962 Original Mets, here we have lefty pitcher Al Jackson. In 36 games for the Amazins, Al went 8-20 with a 4.40 ERA. He struck out 118 and walked 78 in 231 innings. The team only won 40 games in its seminal season, so an eight-win ledger isn't exactly too lousy. Jackson and Jay Hook tied for second on the club for wins behind veteran Roger Craig who won 10 (and lost 24).
The cartoon on the back of the card depicts one ballplayer using a towel to fan another, who happens to be laying down in exhaustion on the bench. The caption reads, "Al pitched a 15-inning ball game last year." I guess if his season stats don't strike you (or me) as Rookie Cup-worthy, perhaps a 15-inning effort would? But, before we write off the Topps staff as goofy, keep in mind that Jackson won 13 games for the Mets in the '63 season, dropping his ERA below four in the process. Not a bad bit of projection, Topps!
Jackson wound up pitching 10 years in the big leagues, six of them in New York where he compiled a 43-80 mark.
And we now fast-forward to present day...
|2012 Heritage, #111|
Jackson is a lefty, Jeremy Hellickson is a righty. But both have the Topps All-Star Rookie cup in their imaginary trophy cases. Hellickson went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA for the playoff-bound Rays in 2011. His ERA, the back of the card notes, was the lowest by a qualifying AL rookie in over two decades.
The cartoon on the back shows a player tucking two monstrously over-sized trophies under each arm, one reading "4-1" and the other "1.36 ERA." The caption explains, "Jeremy was the AL Pitcher and Rookie of the Month for May."
Hellickson took a bit of a step back this season, but still won 10 ballgames and had an ERA slightly over three (3.10). He also cut down on his walks and improved his strikeout rate. Without a doubt, Jeremy will continue to be an important piece on one of the league's most talented starting staffs.
The Final Say: He's well on his way to besting Al Jackson's career win total of 67, but I'll eat my hat if Jeremy Hellickson ever works 15 innings in one game.