Sunday, July 2, 2017


Found this negative that was used for Jim Fregosi’s 1972 “Childhood Photo’s” card and wanted to spotlight it today. Check out the painted image and how it was used by Topps:

It’s strange that because it was just used as an inset on the bottom right of the card, the terrible, and I mean TERRIBLE, paint job on the photo doesn’t look as bad as when you see the actual negative used.
Holy cow! The pink logo, the pen-like outline on the cap. It’s all there!
Of course this all just brings up the harsh reminders for Mets fans that Fregosi came to the team in a trade that sent future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan to the California Angels, perhaps the worst trade in the organization’s history.
Though to be fair, Fregosi was the best hitting shortstop in the American League during the 1960’s, was a six-time all-star that received MVP votes every season between 1963 and 1970. And was still only 30 years of age, with Ryan being a young fireballer who could not get his fastball in control at the time.
So really it wasn’t, AT THAT TIME, such a ridiculous trade. Just turned out to be in the coming seasons with Fregosi’s downturn in performance, and Ryan’s immediate impact for the Angels.


  1. I've never seen any kind of official confirmation of this, but it does seem like the airbrush artists had to work in whatever size the final result was. Thumbnail-sized photos are often horrible (i.e. 1963 Topps) while the 5x7 cards from 1980 and 1981 had very nice airbrushing jobs. It could be circumstantial or small sample size, but I've often wondered this.

    My new favorite "Defense of trading Ryan" stat is that in Ryan's final year with the Mets (1971) he walked 116 batters... and that STILL stands as the Mets team record for walks in a season.

    1. On the other hand, Fregosi DID have his best season in '70 but his '71 was severely hampered by injury. I would argue that the Mets traded for damaged goods. Furthermore, Ryan was not the only player traded to the Angels in the deal; Leroy Stanton had a couple decent seasons with the Angels and Mariners. The Mets seemed resolved to trading Ryan no matter what (probably because of those walks), but it showed how desperate they were in filling a hole at 3rd base. At that time, the Mets were in the business of trading young players to fill holes. Imagine how good they would have been if they kept Ryan, Ken Singleton, Amos Otis, Tim Foli, etc.

  2. Topps' artists worked on the actual final color negatives. This explains why some of the results looked so obvious/bad. The cap in the Fregosi image up top is at least half the size of most caps they had to work with. It's amazing that cards like the '77 D'Acquisto and the '78 Elliott Maddox look as good as they do. What it also means, sadly, is that there aren't any unpainted originals hiding in the Vault- no final card images without the paint jobs.

    1. Fortunately for Fregosi, it was tucked in that little picture, but that hat reminds me of that horrible Phil Hennigan airbrushing in '73. In fairness, I have a grudge against the "Boyhood Photos" cards. Would rather have another player card then see Fregosi hold an accordion or Joe Torre in his Sunday's best.

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  3. I wonder whether we'll see any of those cards in 2021 Topps Heritage.



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