Mets Baseball Cards Like They Ought To Be: Meet the Creative Force Behind “Mets Fantazy Cards”

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I’m writing this morning to share and celebrate a very cool Mets-related website that I stumbled upon in one of those happy accidents of the internet.

The site is called Mets Fantazy Cards. I first discovered the alternate ’69 World Series cards and thought . . . what the hey? Then I dug deeper and learned that the site was a treasure trove of fascinating Mets-cards-that-ain’t. Check out some of these sweet cards that don’t exist in the printed universe. In a minute, we’ll meet Warren, the man who created them.

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My own history with baseball cards began typically for someone my (now advanced) age. I had stacks of them from the late 60’s, early 70’s, but never in any organized way. We flipped ‘em in school, played that game where you flicked the card and tried to get it the closest to the wall or, even better, window ledge. We traded them, and I was quick to get rid of all my Yankees, stuck ‘em in spokes with clothes pins and tooled up and down the block on my stingray, loving that sound.

Then I grew up. Alack and alas!

(Quick aside: My mother had tons of old baseball cards from the 30’s and 40’s. On the day she got married, she threw them all away. Time to grow up, she said.)

51DR19EACKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Ten years ago, about there, I was asked to write a beginner’s guide to baseball card collecting. I had a lot to learn. I was also given a huge amount of cards from the four main card companies at the time: Topps, Donruss, Upper Deck, and Fleer. I signed up with eBay for the first time, visited card shows in moldy hotels, bought Beckett, and so on. Enchanted, I took about 3 years to put together a Near Mint 1969 Topps set.

Anyway, I tracked down the man behind Mets Fantasy Cards, Warren Zvon, and asked him a few questions:

Could you explain to us what this is? It appears that you create your own version of Mets cards, as if they were actually made by Topps for a specific year. That’s basically it, right? The cards you wish they actually made?

It started with me remaking the Topps 1970 World Series cards for fun and then that evolved into the blog. I was bummed as a kid that the ’70 Topps World Series cards were in black & white. Bummed as a Met card collector, too, when I acquired them years later.

72tMetsManagerFantazyCard-Z14-1So I did them up in color last summer. So many great photos from the 69 Series have surfaced on-line (mostly color) and, to me, rare photos that I had never seen before. Some of those pics would have made great cards. I shared these digital cards with my on-line Met friends at the “Crane Pool Forum” and they liked them. Great small group of Mets fans there.

I started the blog to reach more Met fans who I hope will enjoy the fake cards. I didn’t want to just post those World Series cards and be done with it. So I came up with an idea, starting with the teams inauguration year in 1962, of doing a page of baseball cards for each year leading up to and then going further, past  the 1970 World Series re-makes.

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Writing is not my strong point, so I hope the graphic work will keep people interested. I have learned a lot about the Mets the years before I followed the team. I hope my information is correct (please, if you see any erroneous info let me know) and other Met fans learn a bit about the team’s history as well. And I have a few stories I can personally tell, like the crazy 1973 playoffs. I attended all 3 home games.

e-oAe8KYtPsfSCFR9TOmROxHWKP-hGuX4o_OQyNn0JU=w261-h193-p-noThey may be few and far between, but the magical moments the Mets have given us are so etched in our souls that they sustain us. So that’s how it started, and it was because I did wish those ’70 Topps World Series cards were in color.

Since then its evolved and the cards have been made for many reasons. To fit the concept, because of a great photo (better than Topps used, & in some cases just a rare pic), needed to tie-in a topic or event, a player I liked more than others, some for a chuckle, etc. Underlining all of that, the cards are made to link the years together.

And ask any custom card maker. It’s fun making the cards. It’s hard to explain why. Different conceptualizations of cards that were never designed but could have been, like you can see at the excellent Cards That Never Were blog, make it especially fun to engage in. Think of it as a video game where you visualize something, and then have to figure out how to make it into a digital image.

71tRyanSo basically I hope to make the blog a fun trip through Mets history using baseball cards, sometimes throwing in some graphic art and sharing colorizations. I draw and have done some Mets drawings over the years that I’ll share through the blog at some point.

At first it was going to be “Just the facts, ma’am,” but it has evolved to include my experiences as a fan of the team for 46 years. I didn’t plan on that.

It will be a work in progress and it won’t be a typical blog. I want it to be like a chronological book of baseball cards coupled with Mets history. Older pages have been & will be updated for small additions (a new card, newly aquired info). If I have a large addition concerning an earlier year, I can make a new post, showcase it, and then drop it into chronological order after a few days at the top. Other than that, I’m up to 1972 and I will continue moving ahead through time.

I imagine one day it will be completed, all caught up to the current year. Then, who knows? Close the book on it? Probably, maybe with a quarterly update.  At the very least it will be a great reference if you want to know any Mets opening day lineups or team leaders.

Well, color me impressed. I love what you’ve done and I’ve added your site to our sidebar of Mets Blogs. You have talent, passion, and a clear love of the Mets. A true fan. If you could give me a quick overview on your process, how you do this, that would be great.

I use Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7, and old but great graphic imaging program. Processes vary from photoshopping old cards into fantazy cards, to making borders from scratch when needed. Sometimes colorizations are necessary, sometimes photoshopping to re-create a Met moment, etc.

[JP Note: Here’s a good post where Warren talks shop about his colorization process.]


71tMcAndrewBasically I do whatever I have to do to make what I hope is an interesting post. The cards usually come first, and while making them I research the season and topics within the season. Many times research indicates other cards should be made and included. Then I toss ‘em together, shake ‘em up, and WA-LA!, a post.

What’s your favorite Topps set?

From a nostolgic standpoint, if I have to pick one, the 1971 Set. It was my first completed baseball card set.

Gotta love those black edges. Hard to find in Mint condition, every flaw shows.

From a design aspect? After having seen many of the cards on the web over the last dozen or so years, the 1956 Topps set is absolutely beautiful. In a sense that set is newer to me than the early 70’s sets when I was buying baseball cards.

Who’s your favorite Met?

This changes as time goes by. I could list my favorite Mets. If you put a gun to my head and demanded me to pick one…damn, if you do that I’m a dead man.

And lastly, why do you think you do this?

There are number of reasons.

Firstly, for other Met fans. We all share one thing in common, our love for that baseball team. There are so many great real Mets blogs out there. Faith and Fear in Flushing, Centerfield Maz, Joe Petrucci’s My Mets Journal, just to name a few. Mine will never be one of those, but true fans and new fans might enjoy it.

Secondly, I’m not so thrilled with the present day Mets. As a fan I’ve been there before, so this is nothing new. But now I have actually found a way to revisit the Mets past through the making of the cards and the recollection of great old Met memories. I started making the re-makes of the ’70 Topps World Series Cards while watching the Mets play on TV last season. It was a nice distraction.

For game-time distractions, I’ve found that bourbon works well. 

knob-creek-bourbonI love what other custom card makers are doing out there these days. I kind of soured on collecting cards in the early 90s and those guys are making baseball cards fun again for me. At one point I had every Met card ever made by Topps, Fleer, and Donruss (plus a bunch of other types of Mets cards). I lost all of the common cards in an unfortunate incident, and a shrink might say I’m attempting to replace that collection. But nah, I still have the money cards, and from time to time replace some commons, but not with real interest like I did the first time. I feel like I’ve been there, done that.

And lastly, it’s like the commercial where Robin Williams quotes Walt Whitman: “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

It might sound lame, but here’s my verse about the Mets.

Thanks, Warren. I don’t think that’s lame at all. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know! You have all the power and awesome might of the “2 Guys” Universe at your disposal.

I’m good, thanks. I’m going to look into your children’s books because I find that very interesting. And you were at game 5 in ’69? Amazin’!


6a00d83451af1569e2010536f24807970c-800wi-1Dude, email your address and I’ll send you something. You might like this one, it’s an ALA Notable. 
By the way, Warren Zvon? Really?

Yes, really. My real name is Warren Fottrell. I grew up in Rego Park, Queens, just a walk (though a VEEEEERY long walk) to Shea. In the mid 70’s my family moved to southern New Jersey.

During the late 90’s, before we lost the real Warren Zevon, I was a night time musician (not a great one —  I kept my day job — and played in local bars around here, in bands and solo. People took to calling me Zevon, after Warren, which I thought funny and odd. I was a Zevon fan but never played any of his songs during gigs. The nickname stuck and when I first arrived on-line I wanted to use my nickname as my web name. I guess Hotmail was my first stop (or the MS Gaming Zone — LONG LIVE ROGUE SPEAR!) and that name was not available. So I chose Zvon. I have used that handle everywhere I go on-line since 1999.

This one’s for you, Warren . . . a pretty amazing performance by the genuine article.

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6 comments

  1. Eric says:

    Nice find, Jim. This is one of the reasons I enjoy your site so much. It isn’t always about Tejada/Drew and Ike/Duda.

    • Thanks, Eric, I appreciate the comment. Mike and I have been Mets fans our entire lives. We want to be positive, have fun, enjoy the team. We’ve been there and loved it. These days, one of our concerns is becoming too negative, too often. We try not to go there too often, and yet . . . sigh. You know how it is. It’s hard to watch how they operate sometimes. So when I found Warren’s site, it caught my interest, made me smile, and brought it back to the team I love. We’ll complain about Omar Quintanilla another day.

      • Michael Geus says:

        “We’ll complain about Omar Quintanilla another day.”

        I’m on it, headed to the computer right now.

  2. Michael Geus says:

    What I love about Warren’s site is that is a reminder of why any of us collected cards, or even fell in love with baseball.

    Because it’s fun.

    • Eric says:

      It’s funny, I was at my dad’s house last weekend, and he found a cigar box with some baseball cards of mine that he had found. Some great finds: Ken Griffey rookie, Cal Ripken rookie, Doc and Straw rookies, etc.

      Made me laugh though, when he pulled out a handful of cards and said, “Man, you were pretty high on Gregg Jeffries!”

      I said, “I wasn’t the only one.”

      Have a great day.

  3. Warren says:

    Thank you 2 Guys for doing this. Much appreciated. :)
    LETS GO METS in 2014!!!!

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