In my previous Shoebox Memories article on MMO, Jesse Rivera asked if anyone besides “his sixty year old mind” remembered collecting “big giant sized baseball cards.”
Jesse was referring to the 1964 Topps Giant Size All Star set which consisted of 60 over-sized baseball cards that measured 3 1/8″ x 5 1/4″. The cards were sold in three card cello packs and individual wax packs that you could buy for a nickel. The cards were distributed nationwide after a test issue in Michigan.
The set had three Mets cards in it. Card No. 6 was Ron Hunt who played second base for the Mets and had finished second in the 1963 Rookie of the Year voting when he hit .272/.334/.396 – good for an OPS+ of 110 to go with his 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.
As noted on the back of the card, Hunt became the first Met ever to be named (no fan voting in those days) to a starting National League All Star Team in 1964.
You can bet (pun intended) that the player who finished ahead of Hunt in the Rookie of the Year voting despite having fewer home runs, fewer RBIs, fewer bWAR and a lower OPS than Hunt was upset he did not have a card in the set. That’s right, there is no Pete Rose in the 60 card set.
Card No. 8 in the set was Roy McMillan. A good-glove, no-hit shortstop, McMillan, as noted on the back of the card, had won his fourth fielding title (leading the league in fielding percentage) in 1961 with the Milwaukee Braves, after winning the title with the Reds from 56-58.
In 1964, the 34-year old McMillan hit only .214/.248/.253 for the Mets. He stayed with the Mets through the 1966 season before yielding his shortstop position to another glove-first shortstop named Derrel “Bud” Harrelson.
The last Mets player card in the 60 card set was card No. 42, Galen Cisco. Nicknamed “Buckeye”, Cisco was from Ohio and played on the 1957 Ohio State football team that won the Rose Bowl on New Year Day in 1958 under Woody Hayes. Cisco was the Mets’ best pitcher in 1964. His 3.62 ERA was the best of the starters and belie his 6-19 record on a team that went 53-109 for the season.
Cisco’s highlight with the Mets, which is written about on the reverse of the card shown, he came on in relief in the 14th inning against San Francisco and proceeded to shut down the Giants who had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. His mound opponent late in the game was Gaylord Perry, who was struggling to stay in the major leagues, but who would ultimately win 314 games and a plaque in Cooperstown.
Perry was called into the game in the 13th inning, and later acknowledged throwing his first spitball in this game. Cisco and Perry traded scoreless innings until Jimmy Davenport tripled in the winning run for the Giants in the 23rd inning. The game lasted 23 innings and seven hours, and was actually the second game of a scheduled double header. Undeterred, Cisco came back in his next start and four-hit the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-0, in front of 55,000 fans at Shea.
Cisco, who while with the Mets pitched with future major league pitching coaches Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Don Rowe, Bob Miller, and Larry Bearnarth became a fantastic pitching coach himself. He was the pitching coach the Kansas City Royals from 1971 to 1979, mentoring Paul Splittorff (pitcher with the most wins in Royals history) and Dennis Leonard.
Later a pitching coach for the Montreal Expos (developing Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson) and later still pitching coach for the Blue Jays from 1987 to 1995 including the World Series winning teams in 1992 and 1993, Galen Cisco put together quite an impressive baseball resume.
Yes, Mr. Rivera, there are people who remember those “big giant sized baseball cards”. One just needs bigger shoe boxes for these Mets cards.