Shoebox Memories: 1971 Topps Ken Boswell

When the Mets won the 1969 World Series, future Mets manager Davey Johnson was the Orioles second baseman, and 23-year-old Ken Boswell was the Mets’ starting second baseman. When the Mets won the pennant four years later, Ken Boswell was still their second baseman. Playing for the Mets between 1967 and 1974, Boswell hit .250/.313/.337.

Mostly known for his defense, Boswell turned 269 double plays behind Mets hurlers such as Seaver, Koosman, Stone, Ryan, and Matlack. It is the card shown above that featured Boswell perhaps doing what he did best.

Looking at the card, several questions spring to mind. Let’s see if we can put our Sherlock Holmes hat on and determine when the game was played, whether the double play was completed, and whether the Mets won the game pictured on the card:

1. Let’s start with a review of the runner. His uniform number 17 is clearly visible. From the uniform color, he is either a member of the Cardinals or Reds. A quick check of the uniform numbers of the Reds in 1970 shows that number 17 was work by either Ty Kline or Jay Ward. The name on the back of the baserunner is clearly not either Kline or Ward.  Now let’s check the uniform numbers of the Cardinals in 1970. The baserunner is, therefore, Vic Davalillo which matches the “Lillo” that can be clearly made out on the runners uniform. In 1970, Vic Davalillo was a fourth outfielder, pinch hitter for the Red Birds, and hit .311 that season.

2. Now let’s examine Boswell and note he is wearing the Mets’ home uniforms, and from the natural lighting, we can conclude this shot was taken during a day game at Shea Stadium. In the background, pontists can view the Whitestone Bridge.

3. Referencing the Mets schedule from 1970, also from our friends at Baseball Reference, we can see that the Mets had home day games against the Cardinals on May 28, July 8, September 12,and 13.

4. A check of the box score and play-by-play from May 28, shows us that in the top of the 6th inning, with the Cardinals ahead 5-0, Davalillo reached on an error but was erased on a double play groundball hit by Julian Javier 6-4-3. From the picture on the card, this is a very likely candidate. Boswell was the second baseman. No other times during the game was Davalillo on first when a double play or force out was the next play. The Mets lost 9-2, as Bob Gibson pitched a complete game. Note the comfort of the Cardinals reliever in the background with his feet up on a chair. The type of stance one would have with Gibson pitching and a 5-run lead.

5. For completeness sake, we can check the box score of the July 8 game. Very unlikely given the long sleeves being worn by both Davavillo and Boswell. In this game Davavillo pinch hit in the ninth inning and was retired on a flyball, meaning this could not be the game shown on the card.

6. A review of the box score for the September 12 game at Shea shows that Davalillo was a pinch hitter again, this time in the eighth inning and was retired on a flyball to center. Obviously not the game in question.

7. The September 13 game? Davalillo did not play in the game at all.

8. Conclusion, the game in question was played on May 28 against the Cardinals in a game won by St. Louis 9-2 in front of 20,919 fans. The double play was completed.

Case closed. Hang up the Sherlock Holmes hat until our next sleuthing case together.

About Carl Aridas 33 Articles
Mets fan since the Wayne Garrett/Craig Swan/Joe Torre days, Carl works as a bank consultant during the day, but at night enjoys writing baseball articles for Fangraphs, Hardball Times, and Metsmerized Online. He joined as a MMO Rookie of the Year hopeful in 2016 and has been a Mets fan for more than 40+ years.