A familiar joke in the hobby as Nolan Ryan exploded to god status in the early 1990s was for someone to comment on how hot the Jerry Koosman rookie card was.

It was one of those clever sayings that marked the sayer as not clever after, like, the second person ever said it.

All these years later, that same bit of wit still pops up about every second time the Ryan rookie card is discussed.

It’s tired.

But its point is well-taken …

Yes, Nolan Ryan remains one of the most iconic figures in hobby history.

Yes, his rookie card is worth a mint in mint condition (usually…at least when properly graded).

And, yes, he shares that rookie card with fellow young (at the time) Mets moundsman Jerry Koosman.

And, finally — yes, YES! — Koosman put together his own superstar career, and he reached a pinnacle for New York while Ryan was still trying to find the backstop. And Koosman kept at it in Shea Stadium long after Ryan had moved on to flame-broil the old American League West.

That’s the point of the old joke. We get it.

After all, Koosman racked up a 222-209 record with a 3.36 ERA over 19 years in the big leagues, a showing that deserves more hobby love than he gets these days.

His 53.6 WAR (Baseball Reference version) suggests maybe he should have received more Hall of Fame love, too.

But on the cardboard front, at least, Koosman actually did get his due, and he got it earlier than Ryan.

Like Nolan, Koosman landed his first solo card in the 1969 Topps set.

But, unlike the Ryan Express, Koosman broke out before the Mets themselves did, running up a 19-12 record in 1968 to finish second in National League Rookie of the Year balloting to Johnny Bench.

Find Jerry Koosman cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find Jerry Koosman cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

And, even in that Year of the Pitcher, young Koosman’s efforts were enough to garner an All-Star nod.

The next year, while Ryan was still trying to find his rhythm, Kooz was helping the Amazin’ Mets become truly amazing en route to a Cinderella World Series championship. That summer, the lefty made his second (and final) All-Star appearance.

And he made a second appearance in the 1969 Topps set, too — card #434 celebrated Koosman’s AS berth the year before, complete with all the The Sporting News flash-bang those pasteboards brought to the field in those days.

Koosman himself looks off-camera on that acard, maybe down at his name bubble. He’s sort of smirking.

Maybe, just maybe, someone within earshot had just cracked a joke about the Jerry Koosman rookie card.

Hobby Wow!

If you’re in the market for some unusual Mets swag as Christmas (rapidly) approaches, check out this eBay listing:

That’s a 1977 Mets mirror (!) featuring Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman, and Joe Frazier. But not Nolan Ryan or Muhammad Ali.

You can see the full eBay listing here (affiliate link).

1969 Topps Baseball Cards - commons, EX+ to EXMT

End Date: Monday 06/17/2024 23:28:27 EDT
Buy it now | Add to watch list


End Date: Saturday 06/01/2024 15:00:01 EDT
Bid now | Add to watch list

1969 topps baseball cards #1 to #60, complete your set

End Date: Thursday 06/06/2024 17:05:20 EDT
Buy it now | Add to watch list