Thursday, September 27, 2018
Sometimes You Just Get Lucky
I'm down to one card to complete the Topps 1962 set, the Twins Team card. It's been easily the most challenging of my vintage 'chases'. But it's also been fun and very satisfying. My next-to-last pickup was this Bob Miller card.
Bob here is one of two 'Bob Millers' in the '62 set. This Bob is a.k.a. 'Bob G. Miller'. He was at the end of a decade-spanning career in the majors and found himself as part of the floundering expansion Mets. He had started the season with the Reds but was dealt, along with Cliff Cook, to the Metropolitans about a month into their inaugural season. The trade sent Don Zimmer to the Reds. Cincinnati was at .500 and sitting in 6th place in the NL when the deal went down. They soon ripped off a winning streak, bounced up into third place by June. They spent the whole second half of the season right there in third, looking up at the Dodgers and Giants who had a dogfight for the lead that ended in a playoff.
The Mets, on the other hand, were historically lousy all season. They ended up 40-120, a mark that even the 2018 Orioles couldn't fall to (though not for lack of trying). :-/ As for Bob here, well it's easy to see why the Reds were OK with moving him. He had pitched in five games to that point and had been manhandled to the tune of an ERA near 22 and a WHIP of over 3. He wasn't as atrocious with the Mets but he wasn't lights out either. 1962 was his last season. The guy who had broke in with the Tigers in 1953 as a big money 'bonus baby' and been a rookie along with Al Kaline hung up his spikes at the age of 26 with a total of six big league wins.
Miller's card, #572, commands a premium. And when I say 'premium' I mean over the usual bump that commons in the short-printed high numbered last series normally get. I know there is a 'Yankee Tax' that is paid when buying cards of guys like Bill Stafford and Rollie Sheldon, but I don't think Mets carry that burden. Maybe 1962 Mets' cards do. I know that the Al Jackson card was oddly elusive and expensive but I chalked that up to it being a rookie card, even an Al Jackson rookie.
Miller's card isn't too tough to find but it regularly lists in the $20-$30 range, even raw and in middling shape. I sucked it up and paid the price on the Rookie Parade cards I needed (they bring up the rear of the set in the 7th Series) but I refused to shell out $25 for a raw Bob G Miller. My solution was to set up a 'bid group' using Auction Sniper and stick a $10 bid on every single Bob G Miller that came along.
I wasn't keeping track but I know I missed out on a couple dozen copies of this card. But I had patience. Bid Grouping has never failed me. And it didn't this time, either. It did take weeks and weeks but I finally had a Miller fall through the cracks! I won this puppy for about a buck and a half. Even with a few dollars for shipping, he was in my binder for under $5.
Check out the back:
I like that it (and other high numbers) references the current baseball season. Here it mentions the trade that brought him to New York. The cartoon (by Jack Davis I think) has a headline entitled 'Major League Performance' which is odd because the subject is a minor league no-hitter Miller threw. But you can also read it as 'hey, this guy had a big-time accomplishment'. Whatever.
In case you were wondering the other Bob Miller in the set was also a New York Met!
Bob L. Miller came from the Cardinals as the Mets' 1st pick in the 1961 expansion draft. He went on to pitch for 17 seasons for nine different clubs. He finished up with his second stint as a Met in 1974. Here is his 1962 Topps card from my binder:
The Bob Millers are only referenced using a middle initial on collectors' checklists and the like. Neither card makes use of it or mentions the fact that there are two guys with that name in the bigs. If Baseball Reference's Bullpen Wiki is to be believed the two Bob Millers were not only 1962 Mets teammates...they were also road trip roommates!
And if you are interested in the Topps '62 set and some of its quirks you should take a glance at this page which shows the 'green tint' variations all in one spot.
I'll hold off on more about my '62 set adventure until the last card is in the binder. I've got that Twins Team card in my sights.