Tuesday, February 17, 2009

#31 & 32 Cleon Jones w/ In Action

Cleon Jones

Cleon Jones is a big guy in Mets’ lore. In 1969, he hit .340 to lead the team to an improbable Series and used the Nippy Jones trick to show shoe polish on the ball to convince the umpire to let him take first base as a hit batsman in Game 5 of the Series.

Cleon was one of the best all-around outfielders the Mets would have until Darryl Strawberry. He drew some complaints from the front office for supposedly having a cavalier attitude and being lazy (he was once pulled off the field like Jimmy Rollins), but when you're a star, you can get away with it. However, in 1975 some of his attitude met up with owner Donald Grant’s, uh, disappointment at being caught with drugs and a white woman to whom he wasn’t married. I only add the part about the woman being white because that was important in Grant’s furor. The only baseball Cleon played after that was a month with the White Sox. Still, I think Cleon is beloved to

This is the first in the "In Action" subsets. When you look through this set, almost everything is posed. In the 1971 set, there were several action shots. They went back to action shots in the 1973 set, but the photography on them looks like a 6 year old did it with one of those old Brownie cameras that you look down into the top. The 1973's are often grainy and at a distance. This was the only year that Topps used the "In Action" subset, possibly to emphasize "This is an action shot!" While it was a way for them to get additional cards of popular players in the set (they don't still do that, do they?), as you'll see, it also led to some questionable selections getting additional cards. As a whole, I think the "In Action" subset was a failure, but these cards are contained in all 6 series.

The First Series In Action cardback reminds me of when Little Ralphie Parker got his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring in "A Christmas Story" and the message turned out to be "Drink more Ovaltine." His response: "A stinking commercial" That's how I feel about these cardbacks. There's nothing there but a stinking commercial for the 3rd through 6th series.

Let’s take a look at the “action” going on. If that’s the pitchers mound in the background, then is he going to tag up at second on a fly ball? I guess he could be running from first to second and that’s the right field bullpen mound. Not a lot of action there.


  1. Maybe I didn't read you right, but Topps repeated the "In Action" series in 1982.

    Some of the '72 In Action cards are comical. I love them.

  2. You know, you're right. I hadn't even thought that far in advance. I just remembered that I didn't see it again in the 70's. Good catch.

  3. I liked Cleon because like me had batted right-handed and threw left-handed like me, which was an oddity for position players back then.