In an effort to avoid being bested by their pal Leela, Tony and Bernie (the lovable twins from Mike DeNero’s Neighborhood) allow me to present Tony and Bernie’s “Big Apple” Stash. As the lads are twins, and are usually forced to share, why stop at toys, snacks, and sportscards? They will also take turns authoring this column, a monthly ode to their favorite vintage sportscards picturing New York legends. This month, it’s Bernie’s turn.
My 1969 Topps Nolan Ryan and 1969 World Series Game 3 Ticket Stub
Since I’m a Yankee fan through and through, I usually don’t waste my time on the Mets, but Nolan Ryan is the exception. Born January 31, 1947, twenty-eight years to the day that Jackie Robinson was placed onto this Earth, Nolan Ryan is pictured on his 1969 Topps card, presumably as a twenty-one year-old fireballer (I assume the photo was taken in ’68). The photo is great, a follow-through pose, taken at a time when young Nolan was wearing the number 30 and had pitched less than the 137 MLB innings the 1968 season with. Of course, he had 144 strikeouts – more than one per inning.
Later in the 1969 season, as the Amazin’ Mets cruised to the NL East division title, thanks to their skipper, Gil Hodges guiding them to a 100-62 record, young Nolan had yet to crack the Mets’ starting rotation, which included the legendary Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Carl Gentry. That didn’t stop him from performing admirably in the NLCS versus the Braves in Game 3, when he pitched seven innings in relief to get the win (it would take him twelve years to earn his next postseason victory) and provide the Mets with their first trip to the Fall Classic.
In that series, Ryan earned the save in Game 3, pitching 2 plus shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles. The Game 3 victory gave the Mets a 2–1 lead in the Series, which they later went on to win in five games. That Game 3 appearance would be Nolan Ryan's sole World Series appearance.
Take a look at that card – what a beauty! Nolan Ryan pictured years before accumulating seven no-hitters, twelve one-hitters, 324 wins, and 5,714 strikeouts. An amazing record for an Amazin’ Met!