Jason’s revelations regarding the uncalled for printing of a Mets card for Johnny Estrada included a callback to the Mystery Mets of yore, baseball players given baseball cards in which they were identified as Amazin’, Amazin’, Amazin’ Mets but somehow escaped the actual burden/honor of performing in orange and blue. The last such identity-theft perpetrator (or victim), according to my Topps-tracking partner, was Jerry Robertson in 1971. Four years after this black-bordered nightmare of a set was issued, a mercenary classmate was showing me some old Mets cards to which he was no longer particularly attached. Among the gold was dross that drew me in like platinum:
Jerry Robertson • Pitcher
(I can’t bring myself to resort to lower-case for proper names, no matter how groovy it might have struck Topps amid the graphics Zeitgeist of ’71.)
Jerry Robertson? Who the hell…? It may be almost a quarter-century before Ultimate Mets Database is founded, I thought to myself, but I know damn well the Mets never had a guy named Jerry Robertson in 1971 or at any point since. Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, even Jerry May for a minute, but there had been no Jerry Robertson.
I gotta have this!
I told my friend how much I wanted his Jerry Robertson. Well, it’s gonna cost ya, my friend (though not for much longer) said. I’m pretty sure we skipped the niceties of my offering current Steve Garveys and Joe Morgans and the like and got right down to cash negotiating, far more to this kid’s liking. It took a dime, maybe a quarter…big money for sixth grade (at my and perhaps the world’s very first baseball card show that very same spring, a mint Sandy Koufax cost me a dollar). But, as you can see, it was worth it because I have New York Met Jerry Robertson, even as that remains a physical and perhaps philosophical impossibility for everybody else, including Jerry himself.