Card of the Moment #71
July 5th, 2011 by slangon

The Mets have embarked on their yearly extended West Coast swing. Historically, this particular stretch of the season has been downright catastrophic for them. The last time I can remember this trip being a good one for them was 2006, when they went 9-1 during a mid-June trip to L.A., Arizona and Philly. Of course that year, they were just rolling over everybody it seemed, so that 9-1 stretch didn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. 2007 wasn’t so bad either, as they went 4-3 against the Padres and Dodgers.

2008 seems to be when this trip got bad for them. They went 2-5 against the Giants and Padres. What seems to be a bit of a bad omen is that they entered that trip at .500 and came home 3 games under that mark. 2009 was even worse as they entered the trip 6 games under the .500 mark and went 2-5 to drop them to 8 games under. They were already in a free fall at that point in the season, but that trip seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. 2010 was more of the same. They actually went into the trip looking pretty good. They were 48-41, 5 games back of first and tied with St. Louis for the Wild Card. They went 2-9 against the Giants, D’Backs and Dodgers, which left them just 1 slim game over the .500 mark. What was worse, they dropped back to 3rd in the division and 6th in the Wild Card race. They never really righted the ship after that and it ended up another lost season.

This is another pivotal point for them, where they’re somehow managing to keep their heads above water, but another disastrous trip could easily kill whatever good feelings they’ve been building up. They got off on a good note by beating the Dodgers last night, but it still makes me nervous. So in an effort to bring the Boys in Blue a bit of luck, todays Card of the Moment is brought to us by the West. The Old West.

2006 Allen & Ginter #347 Billy the Kid Mini Parallel

Anyone who reads this here blog knows that I love me some Allen & Ginter. They also know that I especially love the non-sport subjects from these sets. What they might not know is that I also love me some outlaws. Actually, I think it’s more that I love characters from American history who have gotten to the point where it doesn’t even matter if their legend is true. They’ve become bigger than the actual person. Who cares if Babe Ruth actually called his home run? It makes an awesome story. Did Billy the Kid actually kill a man for every year he was on this earth? Looking at the historical evidence, probably not. But it’s that kind of thing that turns him from a common cold-blooded killer into a Legendary Outlaw.

As everyone who’s ever watched Young Guns and Young Guns II: The Steam Powered Boogaloo knows, Billy the Kid was a rascally, mostly fun-loving chap with a deadeye and a fast hand who was forced into his outlaw life by corrupt politicians and the greed of others. Yessir, Emilio Estevez would never shoot a man who didn’t deserve it.

As with most things in life however, the truth isn’t quite so rosy.

Billy the Kid, a.k.a. William McCarty, a.k.a. William H. Bonney, a.k.a. Henry Antrim was born sometime in November of 1959, possibly in New York City. Yes. That’s correct. One of the most notorious outlaws of the Old West probably came from New York City. As a young boy, he moved west with his mother and brother, Joseph, first to Indianapolis, then to Santa Fe, NM and finally Silver City. It was here that Billy’s mother Catherine succumbed to tuberculosis and he was taken in by neighboring family. It was shortly after his mother passed that his run-ins with the law began. His first recorded trouble was in April of 1875, when Grant County, Arizona Sheriff Harvey Whitehill arrested him for stealing some cheese. Later that year he was arrested again for stealing, although this time he escaped by climbing out through the jailhouse chimney. He was a fugitive from justice from that point until the end of his short life.

Now on the lam, Billy began partaking in the unforgivable act of horse thievery. He also killed a man for the first time in his life. On August 17, 1877, he got into a verbal altercation with a local blacksmith who took great pleasure in bullying the slightly built McCarty. The altercation quickly turned physical and Billy shot the blacksmith who died the next day. Some witness claim Billy acted in self-defense by a coroners inquest decided the killing was criminal and unjustifiable. He fled the Arizona Territory for the New Mexico Territory where he took up with a gang of cattle rustlers.

After an incident in which his horse was stolen by a band of Apaches, Billy was forced to walk many miles through the dessert, which almost killed him. After that, he seems to have at least tried to straighten his ways, moving to Lincoln County, NM, and finding work, first in a cheese factory (again with the cheese) and eventually as a cattle guard on the ranch of John Tunstall. Anyone who has seen the Young Guns movies knows what happened next. Tunstall and his partner Alexander McSween were competeing with rival merchants James Dolan and Lawrence Murphy. Things escalated to the point where some of Murphy and Dolans men murdered John Tunstall, which led  to Billy and some other Tunstall/McSween men forming a deputized posse and going after the Murphy/Dolan faction.

Things escalated even further when Billy and his boys killed the Lincoln County sheriff and his deputy, along with some other Murphy/Dolan men. The Lincoln County War, as all of these high jinx was known, culminated when the remaining members of Billy’s gang were tracked down to Alexander McSweens house, which was promptly besieged by a column of U.S. Cavalry and burned to the ground. McSween was killed in this siege, which ended the war for the most part. Billy and his boys escaped.

Billy the Kid was shot and killed in Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881 at the ranch of Billy friend Pete Maxwell. He was tracked there by Pat Garrett, who had been elected as Sheriff of Lincoln County. Garett had gone to Maxwell’s ranch to question him as to the whereabouts of The Kid. As they sat in Maxwell’s bedroom talking, Billy, who had been staying at the ranch, unexpectedly entered the room.

There are two popular versions of what happened next. One version says that as the Kid entered, he failed to recognize Garrett in the poor light. Billy drew his pistol and backed away, asking “¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?” Recognizing The Kid’s voice, Garrett drew his own pistol and fired twice, the first bullet striking Billy in the chest just above his heart, killing him. In a second version, had gotten up from bed carrying a knife to get some meat from the kitchen as a snack. As he was heading to the kitchen, he noticed Garrett in the darkness, and uttered the words, “¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?” at which point Pat shot and killed him.

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