Wednesday, May 29, 2024

#303 Cal Koonce - New York Mets

Calvin Lee Koonce
New York Mets

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'1"  Weight:  185
Born:  November 18, 1940, Fayetteville, NC
Signed:  Signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent, May 31, 1961
Major League Teams:  Chicago Cubs 1962-1967; New York Mets 1967-1970; Boston Red Sox 1970-1971
Died:  October 28, 1993, Winston-Salem, NC (age 52)

Originally a starting pitcher, Cal Koonce developed into a reliable reliever for the Cubs, Mets and Red Sox over a 10-year big league career.  Koonce won a career-high 10 games with the Cubs during his rookie season of 1962 and recorded a career-high 11 saves with the Mets in 1968.  He never quite replicated the success he had in his rookie season when he went 10-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 30 starts (35 games overall).  He was a member of the 1969 World Champion Mets, although he did not appear in the postseason.

Koonce had a lifetime record of 47-49 with a 3.78 ERA over 334 games.  Following his playing days, Koonce was the head baseball coach at Campbell University (1980-1986) and a scout for the Texas Rangers.  He passed away in 1993 after a four-year battle with lymphoma.

Some text for this post originally appeared on my 1965 Topps blog.

Building the Set / 
Card #294
December 3, 2023 from The Philly Show (Uncle Dick's Cards)
Doug and I returned to The Philly Show in early December, once again held inside the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania.  eBay has taken over sponsorship of the show, with the quaint, bubble-lettered Philly Show logo that had been in place since the 1980s replaced with a more modern logo, keeping with the times.  I wrote about the show in a post over at The Phillies Room.

Similar to my strategy from March, I wanted to focus on accumulating commons and having found success with Uncle Dick's Cards before, I didn't mess around and headed right for the neon green binders.  I pulled 145 cards from the binder containing cards 301 to the end of the set, stopping when I reached 500.  This card was the second of 145 cards purchased for our set, and after the dealer discount due to my bulk purchase, it cost me a little over $2.

The Card / Mets Team Set / Accuracy Index +5
The photo used by Topps was likely taken in 1967, at the same time as the photo used for his 1968 Topps card.  Koonce wore #34 during his Mets years, with Nolan Ryan (#533) seemingly switching to #30 due to Koonce wearing Ryan's number of choice beginning in 1967.  The cartoon on the back references a one-hitter thrown by Koonce on July 13, 1962 against the Reds.  Don Blasingame had the only hit for the Reds, a fourth inning single to center.

Accuracy Index:  Koonce's card scores a +5.

1969 Season
Koonce spent the season the Mets' bullpen, relieving in 40 games and going 6-3 with a 4.99 ERA over 83 innings pitched.  He recorded seven saves for the Mets, third on the team behind Ron Taylor (#72) and Tug McGraw (#601).  He was on the team's postseason roster, but didn't make any appearances in the NLCS or World Series.

1963 Topps #31
1965 Topps #34
1966 Topps #278
1968 Topps #486
1971 Topps #254

Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1963 Topps #31
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (8):  1963, 1965-1971
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1971 Topps #254
Total Non-Parallel Baseball Cards:  34 in the Beckett online database as of 5/12/24.

Baseball Reference / SABR / Wikipedia

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