Birth of Generation K
Full list of 1991 Mets draft picks
Today’s Mets have a clear surplus of talented young pitchers. With Matt Harvey returning from Tommy John surgery, Jacob deGrom coming off a Rookie of the Year season, Noah Syndergaard making his MLB debut tonight, and Steven Matz not far behind, the future looks bright. And that’s without even considering Zack Wheeler, who should be back on this list sometime next year after he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Hot young pitching is nothing new for the Mets, but neither is heartbreaking disappointment for Mets fans. Case in point: Generation K.
The Mets were a complete disaster in the early ’90s. One after another, big-name free agents failed to deliver anything but embarrassing headlines. The only hope for Mets fans came in the form of the 1991 draft class, which contained pitchers Bobby Jones, Bill Pulsipher, and Jason Isringhausen. The “Worst Team Money Could Buy” Mets were terrible, but Generation K (Pulsipher and Isringhausen plus 1994 pick Paul Wilson) promised to turn things around and send the Mets back to the World Series.
Partially thanks to their increasing prevalence in MLB, MiLB, and unlicensed baseball card products, prospects were being hyped more than ever before. By 1994, autographs from every team’s top prospects had become commonplace. Pulsipher and Isringhausen had autographs in 1994 and 1995, but the most successful pitcher of the bunch for the Mets, Bobby Jones, would have to wait until 1996 for his first autographs. Rounding out this draft class is a trio of relative nobodies, Randy Curtis (shown in a Mets uniform but with the Padres), Jason Jacome (who actually spent time with the Mets), and Donny White (who signs as Donnie but is listed as Don on Baseball-Reference).
As luck would have it, the Mets would make it to the World Series with the help of someone from this draft class. But not anyone from Generation K. Bobby Jones couldn’t do it by himself though, so we’ll pick up the story in 1995.
Changing up the base Topps formula
When it comes to base Topps, there hasn’t been much of a difference from year to year in a long time. Most of the elements of the flagship Topps products date back to at least 2012, some all the way back to 2001. It was time for a change.
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Still short a shortstop but plenty of pinstripes
This is it, the year all of our suffering has been leading to. 2015, the year the Mets will finally win! Or at least that was the plan. With some serious questions and a lot of the expected improvement coming in the form of returning or rebounding players, the 2015 Mets aren’t exactly inspiring confidence beyond maybe being in the hunt for a second Wild Card spot, or at least a winning record. 82 wins or bust!
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Firsts, lasts, and everything in between
It’s hard to believe that it’s March already. And this piece is two months late… Between Topps and Panini releasing products right down to the wire, chasing down cards, and chasing down answers, it took me longer than expected to get this the way I wanted it. 2014 brought us the first cards, first autographs, and first memorabilia from the first Mets player to win the Rookie of the Year award in 30 years. It also brought us the last autograph card from the first person ever to wear a Mets uniform.
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Panini Turns Variety Into Notoriety
With all of the cards released across dozens of products in 2014, it can be hard to figure out what is worth collecting and what might as well be forgotten. What makes something essential? It’s a mix of collectibility, notability, and attainability. Popular brands/inserts and autograph debuts will dominate here, not big money low-numbered parallels or big stars. Just about everything mentioned here should still be fairly easy to find on the secondary market at reasonable prices.
Now in the second year of the post-black era, the Mets memorabilia offerings in 2014 were a bit more colorful than they’ve been in the past. Color has been hard to find recently, but new blue and orange jerseys and a renewed focus on pinstripes at home helped to turn things around. It was looking like a great year for memorabilia until the black came back courtesy of Panini. The plague of “event-worn” memorabilia has now spread to baseball.
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The Prospect Boom Goes Bust
With all of the cards released across dozens of products in 2014, it can be hard to figure out what is worth collecting and what might as well be forgotten. What makes something essential? It’s a mix of collectibility, notability, and attainability. Popular brands/inserts and player debuts will dominate here, not big money low-numbered parallels or big stars. Just about everything mentioned here should still be fairly easy to find on the secondary market at reasonable prices.
2014 continued the Mets prospect autograph explosion that started in late 2013, but that fizzled out late in the year. While that meant lots of autographs for many top Mets prospects who had previously been overlooked, it was bad news for the Mets’ 2014 draft class, which is still waiting for its first autograph card from Topps.
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