Photo: Baron’s newly acquired 1969 Topps Nolan Ryan card

Michael Baron , Contributor

I am an avid vintage baseball card collector, especially cards of Mets players from the 1960’s through the 1980’s.

My birthday is tomorrow, February 11, and my dad purchased this 1969 Topps Nolan Ryan card for me as a gift to complete my collection of Ryan Met cards:

1969 Topps Nolan Ryan

When I received this card, I was reminded about Ryan’s quiet importance to the franchise and it’s history. He won the clinching game in the 1969 NLCS against the Braves, and recorded a save with 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in Game 3 of the World Series.

He was also on the mound for one of Tommie Agee’s fantastic catches in that World Series game.

It almost seems Ryan’s Met career is non-existent, but he is very much a part of a successful period for the Mets. The Mets (or anyone for that matter) never really include Ryan in the discussion about the 1969 season, but he was a prime example of the tremendous pitching the Mets cultivated in order to make the 1969 championship even possible. I was glad four years ago the Mets used the 40th anniversary of the 1969 championship in part to celebrate Ryan’s career, and remind everyone where it all started for him.

Information on Nolan Ryan, as well as the trade that sent him to the Angels...

In five seasons with the Mets between 1966 and 1971, Ryan appeared in 105 games – 74 as a starter – and went 29-38 with a 3.58 ERA, having allowed 369 hits, 344 walks, and 34 home runs while striking out 493 batters in 510 innings.

Nolan Ryan 2009After the 1971 season, the Mets traded Ryan along with with Frank Estrada, Don Rose and Leroy Stanton to the California Angels for Jim Fregosi.

Ryan went on to win 295 regular season games with 5221 strikeouts with the Angels, Astros and Rangers from 1972-1993. Fregosi hit .233 with a .646 OPS, five home runs and 43 RBI in 146 games with the Mets between 1972 and 1973.

Ryan did not return to either Shea Stadium or Citi Field as a representative of the Mets until 2009 when the Mets held a 40th anniversary celebration for the 1969 World Championship.

Ryan said in 2009 he went to the Mets after the 1971 season and actually requested a trade to a team closer to where he was stationed for the military, which was in Houston.