Friday, March 11, 2011

#495 Joe Christopher

#495 Joe Christopher
Maybe it's a trick of perspective, but my goodness that bat looks tiny. Was Joe hitting fungoes?

Fun facts about Joe Christopher:

-Joe was born in Frederiksted in the Virgin Islands. He signed with the Pirates in 1955.

-Became the first native-born Virgin Islander to play in the majors when he debuted at age 23 on May 26, 1959. That game became famous for Harvey Haddix's 12-inning perfect game.

-On September 27, 1960, Joe played all 16 innings of a 4-3 win over the Reds, going 5-for-7 with a walk and a run scored.

-After three seasons as a backup to the likes of Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and Roberto Clemente, he was the fifth selection of the Mets in the expansion draft prior to the 1962 season.

-Played 119 games for the miserable 1962 Mets. Though he hit only .244, his .338 on-base percentage was topped only by Elio Chacon (.338) and Richie Ashburn (.424) among regulars.

-A famous anecdote has the bilingual Christopher teaching center fielder Ashburn to say "Yo la tengo" ("I got it") to call off shortstop Chacon on fly balls. The first time Ashburn uttered the phrase in a game situation, burly left fielder Frank Thomas ran him over. Thomas got up and said, "What the heck is a yellow tango?".

-Became the first everyday Mets player to bat .300 when he did so in 1964. Also set career highs that year with 78 runs scored, 26 doubles, 8 triples, 16 home runs, and 76 RBI. Got on base at a .360 clip.

-His final major league season was 1966, when he appeared in a dozen games for the Red Sox. In parts of eight seasons he hit .260 with 29 home runs and 173 RBI.

-Played in the minors through 1968, retiring with an average close to .300.

-Joe worked in an ad agency in New York for some time, and later moved to Baltimore. His passion is drawing.
#495 Joe Christopher (back)


  1. Every time I hear Joe Christopher's name I think of Met TV/Radio announcer Bob Murphy. He just had a unique way with certain names and phrases. I'm no Met fan but I always liked their broadcasts. Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner were a good group.

  2. I didn't have this card, but I did some kind of profile in a gold foil card of him. It didn't give a very good impression of what he looked liked. I can't remember if topps put this out or one of the other card companies at the time. His card is only one of this type I remember. Any one remember these cards.

  3. i think richie ashburn may have been the first met 300 hitter.

  4. Anon... those were the 1965 Topps Embossed inserts. Here is the checklist and some info. Here is a look at the Joe Christopher.

  5. Since he worked in an ad agency, does that make him a "Mad Man?"

  6. Bob - Thanks for doing my legwork! I have a partial set of the Embossed cards, including Boog Powell. BTW, I can't see Leo Gomez cards without thinking of Jon Miller: "LAY-o Gomez".

    ashmidt - I should have clarified. I said Christopher was the first "everyday" Met to hit .300...he was the first one with 500+ at bats to do it.

    Marc - I've read some interviews. He seems quite calm. ;-)