Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1982 Topps Mike Schmidt (He Deserved Better)

1982 Squirt #14; 1982 Topps #100, #162 (Home Run Leaders), #163 (RBI Leaders), #339 (All-Star); 1982 Topps Stickers #3 & #5 (League Leaders), #74, #123 (All-Star)

A fictionalized account of the conversation between Mike Schmidt, Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman, and a Topps photographer, Spring Training 1981:

Mike Schmidt: So you're here to take my picture for my 1982 Topps cards? That's great.

Topps Photographer: Yes, sir. I was thinking maybe if you just kneel over there on the grass with your bat and then . . .

MS: Have you seen my 1981 Topps card? It. Is. Awesome. Years from now, the youth of today will publicly celebrate the glory that is that baseball card.

TP: Of course they will. If you could maybe just look at the camera over here . . .

MS: It's the eye black you know. Kids dig it. And I look as if I'm shouting something important, something critical to the game. I'll tell you a little secret though - I was yelling at Del Unser.

TP: OK . . . could you just raise your chin slightly up and to the right? Wait. Del Unser?

MS: I was yelling at Del Unser in the dugout. He was messing with my eye black supply and I wasn't about to have that happen. Pinch hitters don't need eye black. Everybody knows that.

TP: Right . . . Well, I think I'll just snap a few more quick head shots and be on my way, so if you could just turn a little to the left . . .

MS: Wait, should I put on some eye black?

TP: Actually, I think I'm good to go . . . I need to get a few shots of George Vukovich, Dickie Noles and Marty Bystrom and then I'm done for the day.

MS: Do you want me to look like I'm about to field a sharp grounder or do you need a shot of me in my batter's stance? Wait . . . that's it? I didn't even stand up! Do you want me to yell at Unser again?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Chachi Mike Schmidt Special #MS3 1980-1983

The early '80s were very good to Mike Schmidt. He helped lead the Phillies to their first World Championship. He won back-to-back NL MVP honors in 1981 and 1982. He was in the midst of six straight All-Star Game appearances. And he appeared on a ton of baseball cards. The entrance of Donruss and Fleer into the hobby in 1981 meant even more Mike Schmidt cards.

Any pack of baseball cards yielding a Mike Schmidt card in the early '80s was instantly a great pack. I didn't own his 1980 card until years later, but I had a few versions of his Burger King card which was virtually the same thing. I always loved the 1981 card - the eye black, the mini Phillies hat in the corner, the baby blue road uniform, the fact he was yelling something important to someone on the field. The 1982 card is probably my least favorite of the bunch, and it seemed as if Topps used variations of this posed shot on at least 5 or 6 of its 1982 issues. The 1983 card was never one of my favorites either, solely for the fact it appears as if the mighty Michael Jack has just grounded weakly to short.

2010 Chachi Special Edition #MS Mike Schmidt

A year ago tonight, I started this blog with an auspicious debut post stating, "Welcome to The Phillies Room blog! That's right, I'm blogging. Bloggity blog blog." I like to think it's been all uphill from there.

I've always had an outlet to chronicle my passion, my hobby of following the Phillies and collecting their baseball cards. Whether it was pictures I would draw as a youngster, or scrapbooks I'd compile during my formidable years, or even baseball cards I'd create to show off to my wife and family members - I always had an outlet. Last year, the launch of a blog seemed like the natural next step in this progression.

I had a few informal rules in mind as I started the blog, and I'd like to think I've stuck to them:

1. Feature a Phillies baseball card in every post.
2. Write about what I know and what I care about, and don't weigh in on topics where I don't have all the facts or I'm simply ambivalent.
3. There's no obligation for a routine or a deadline or even a daily posting. If a day or a few days are missed, so be it. Never apologize for this.
4. Don't complain or whine.
5. Have fun. Baseball is a great game and this is a fun hobby. As soon as blogging becomes burdensome or annoying, the whole point is lost. Besides, baseball cards and burdensome belong no where near each other in the same conversation.
6. Become the predominant source on the internet for random past and present anecdotes about the Phillies, coupled with homemade baseball cards named after a very special dog, who in turn was named after Arthur Fonzarelli's favorite cousin.

Along the way, I've met some wonderful fellow-bloggers, baseball fans and baseball card collectors. I've traded baseball cards for the first time since I was in elementary school. I've been able to ask my Dad the daily question, "Have you seen the blog yet?" and it's allowed us to reminisce about collecting the '56s or the '75s or going to the Ocean City baseball card shows. It's been fun, and I'll keep it up as long as it continues to be fun. Here's to Year 2 of The Phillies Room and I sincerely thank you for reading.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Chachi Mike Schmidt Special #MS2 1976-1979

I've seen images of these Mike Schmidt cards thousands of times, but there's still something inherently pleasing about seeing these four cards together. Continuing with the 2010 Chachi Mike Schmidt Special insert set, card #2 in the 5-card series brings together Schmidt's Topps cards from what I will henceforth refer to as the Star Wars years.

The Phillies won back-to-back-to-back NL East titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978, but during those years my world was all Star Wars, all the time. Tonight, my Mom brought over three huge moving boxes filled with my old Star Wars playsets and vehicles. As I removed everything from the boxes, with my 3-year-old son looking on eagerly, I couldn't help but think back to how it first felt, some 30-plus years ago, to play with these toys for the first time. Doug's patience was severely tried each time I slowed down the unpacking process to admire an old Dewback or to try and remember how to open the top of the Jawa Sandcrawler. I get the same warm and fuzzy feeling looking back on these old toys as I do each and every time I see a Mike Schmidt baseball card from the '70s.

It's cool to have the memories stirred by a '77 Topps Mike Schmidt card or a still operational Lightsaber flashlight. But what's even cooler is the new memories created when your son asks you to put together an old rickety Death Star Space Station play set so that he and you can help Luke rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader.

And may the Force be with you, always.

2010 Phillies Want List

2010 Topps Heritage #361
Bowman Chrome
Topps 100 Prospects - TPC18 Brown, TPC96 Hewitt

eTopps
Base Set - 41 Brown

Topps
Million Card Giveaway - TMC7 Schmidt

Topps Allen & Ginter's
Autographs - AGA-RH Howard, AGA-SV Victorino

Topps Attax
Base Set - 110 Lee, 113 Lidge, 201 Utley, 205 Victorino

Topps Heritage
Real One Autographs - AN Neiger, RI Ibanez

Topps National Chicle
Autographs - RH Howard

Topps Opening Day
Topps Town Stars - TTS21 Howard

Topps Sterling
Base Set - 20 Schmidt, 26 Utley, 32 Carlton, 96 Roberts, 125 Howard, 134 Halladay

Topps Triple Threads
Base Set - 3 Roberts, 6 Halladay, 35 Carlton, 52 Hamels, 69 Rollins, 72 Howard, 75 Schmidt, 95 Utley

Topps 206
Framed Relics Piedmont - TR-RHO Howard
Mini Framed Autographs - TA-RH Howard

Topps Update
All-Star Stitches - RH Halladay, RHO Howard

Upper Deck
2000 Upper Deck Star Rookie Updated - 553 Rollins
Supreme Blue - S34 Howard, S35 Hamles, S85 Lee, S86 Utley, S87 Victorino

Also interested in 2010 Phillies autographed, game used or relic cards. Please inquire within.

2003 Topps Total #510 Joe Roa

Opening Day 2003 was to be the last Phillies home opener hosted at beautiful Veterans Stadium. To mark the occasion, and to pay tribute to years gone by at the Vet, both the Phillies and the visiting Pirates wore vintage '70s-style uniforms. The Phils donned their maroon pinstripes and the Pirates for some reason agreed to wear their all-mustard yellow combination uniforms from the early '70s.

Jenna, our friends Tom and Kris and me were among the 59,269 in the paid attendance that afternoon. The game time temperature was 46 degrees, it was windy and there was a steady drizzle falling. In short, it was gross outside. Pitcher Joe Roa was given the starting nod for the Phils, as he had won the 4th starter's job out of Spring Training. (Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla had previously started the first three games of the season down in Miami, and Brandon Duckworth started the year on the DL.) Roa was coming off an amazing season with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, where his 14-0 record and 1.86 ERA earned him International League MVP honors.

Before we even had a chance to dry off our seats, and shortly after the huge American flag was removed from the outfield following the National Anthem, Joe Roa imploded. He retired the Pirates' lead-off hitter Kenny Lofton on a fly ball to Bobby Abreu. After that first out - Jason Kendell singled, Brian Giles singled, Aramis Ramirez walked, Randall Simon singled, scoring Kendell and then Reggie Sanders drilled a line drive grand slam home run - and it was 5-0 Pirates.

Inexplicably, we stayed until the bitter end, as I was convinced the Phils would mount an improbable comeback. (Tom and Kris politely exited around the 5th inning.) The Phillies ended up ultimately losing the game, 9-1.

Roa hung on with the Phillies until the end of May when he was designated for assignment and opted for free agency. Over the next year, he bounced from the Brewers to the Rockies to the Padres to the Twins, pitching in 48 games for the 2004 AL Central Champs. It appears as if he spent 2005 battling an injury and he was released from the Pirates' camp at the beginning of Spring Training 2006.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 Chachi Mike Schmidt Special #MS1 1972-1975

In 1974, Topps celebrated the newly crowned Home Run Champion by starting off its baseball card set with 6 "Hank Aaron Special" cards. Card #1 commemorated his record-breaking feat and included Hank's career stats on the back. Cards #2 through #6 featured Hank's Topps baseball cards from 1954 through 1973, 4 to a card.

The 2010 Chachi set will debut a week from tomorrow, and the set will borrow the design of the 1974 Topps set. Keeping with the theme of celebrating a home run champ, and using the same design Topps used for its Hank Aaron Special cards, I'm putting together a special 2010 Chachi insert set for the Phillies' all-time home run king - Michael Jack Schmidt.

Card #1 in this 5-card subset features Schmidt's early cards, including two cards that never were. Schmidt made his Phillies debut on September 12, 1972, too late to even be included in the 1972 Topps high-numbered series. To create his 1972 Topps card, I recycled the picture Topps used for Schmidt's 2001 American Pie baseball card. To create the 1973 Topps card featured here, I used the template for the 1973 base cards and blew up the picture from Schmidt's coveted rookie card, #615 in the set. No offense to Ron Cey or John Hilton, but I always thought Schmidt deserved a solo 1973 card.

Scrapbook Sunday: April 7, 1992

1992 Medford Phillies #4 Lenny Dykstra

I've previously written about my rebellious experience on Opening Day 1992, and here's the corresponding page from my 1992 Phillies Scrapbook. Looking back on this page, I regret I didn't personalize the page to either reflect the fact I had attended this game or to show a souvenir (ticket stub?) from the game itself. To remedy this, 18 years later, I'm going to post the picture taken at Gate B with the group of guys with whom I was fortunate to attend this game. I've attended some memorable Opening Day games in my day, and this goes down as one of the best. (And no, Jenna, Opening Day 2003 - in the rain - was not one of my favorites!)

Nails Out:
Lenny Dykstra missed the next 15 games recovering from a broken wrist suffered when he was hit by a Greg Maddux pitch. Ruben Amaro, Jr. took his place in the line-up, hitting just .154 during Nails' DL stint.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Live from Spring Training: Day 4 & Return to Reality

2009 O-Pee-Chee #201 Brett Myers

Christopher ends The Phillies Room's first ever field correspondence with this report. The only bad thing about a vacation is that it eventually has to end. I hope Christopher gets to travel back down to Clearwater for years to come, and I hope to be able to join him one of these years.

Another home game, another ninth inning walk-off win for the Phillies. For the third consecutive home game (sandwiched around a no-show performance in Orlando), the Phils won in their last at-bat. After playing well against former starter and reliever Brett Myers, Antonio Bastardo coughed up the lead to the Astros, but a late rally sent us away happy with an 8-7 win.

If these past few games are a preview of things to come this year, we should see some high 'high's and low 'low's. Winning in the bottom of the ninth is great, but getting shut out by a division opponent is not so hot. All in all, the prospects for the regular season look good, so bring on April 5.

All good things must come to an end. The trip home was a little turbulent, but not too bad. The weather at home, however, leaves something to be desired. It was 78 and partly sunny in Clearwater yesterday, but there are strong winds and temperatures in the 40s at home. I'll just stay inside and think warm thoughts because, after all, it is spring. Let's go Phils...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Live from Spring Training: Day 3

1993 Donruss #224 Mickey Morandini

Christopher's Wednesday: Spring Training baseball, Disney World, traffic
Jim's Wednesday: Meetings, deadlines, dealing with a pesky cold, traffic
Advantage: Christopher

We spent Day 3 of our trip in Orlando watching the Phillies play the Braves. Orlando is a quick drive up a few major highways from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area. Our drive to Orlando was uneventful, quite different than the last time I was in Orlando. When I last visited Disney in late 2009, some co-workers and I spent about an hour in a cab to travel what should have taken no more than about 15 minutes. Our cabbie clearly had no idea where he was going that night, but we were easily able to follow the signs to the Magic Kingdom and Wide World of Sports to find Champion Stadium today.

A day in Disney World sounds great on its face, but it's not so great when you spend the afternoon watching your team get trounced, 8-0 by the Braves. Held to only a handful of hits by Tim Hudson and the Braves relief corps, the Phillies did not look good at all. However, Brian McCann, the Braves catcher, looked ready for the season to start, hitting two big home runs and picking a runner off first base.

Disney World fosters its image as the happiest place on earth by promoting a friendly atmosphere at every turn. Between friendly food service staff at the stadium and park staff thanking us as we left the parking lot in our cars, I'd have to say the training the Disney folks do worked. Thank goodness for the friendly staff at Disney. Our return trip from Orlando to Tampa quickly made us feel like we were back at home. The return trip to Clearwater took more than double the time it took us to get to Orlando, so we were glad to arrive back in Clearwater tonight (and also glad we don't have to fight the Tampa rush hour on a daily basis).

Tomorrow we only have to travel a few miles back to Bright House Field to watch the Phillies take on Brett Myers and the Astros. After that, we'll make our way to the airport to make our way to face the realities of daily life once again.

P.S. Jim, Mickey sends his regards to you and the family. He said he looks forward to seeing all of you soon...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Live from Spring Training: Day 2

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter N43 #N43-RH Ryan Howard

Christopher, The Phillies Room's first ever field reporter, checks in today from Clearwater:

Day 2 of my Spring Training 2010 trip started off a lot better than Day 1 - I was already in Florida and had no travel drama. As for the game, it was a rematch between the teams in the 2008 World Series.

Joe Blanton and Matt Garza were both sharp, but Garza gave up two home runs to Ryan Howard and one to Shane Victorino. Some shoddy ninth inning defense by John Mayberry, Jr. and Chase Utley allowed the Rays to tie the game, but a bottom-of-the-ninth rally for the second day in a row allowed the Phils to pull out a 4-3 win. A win and the fantastic weather made the ballpark fare and the Bright House Field atmosphere great.

Tomorrow will include a road trip to the happiest place on earth, Disney World, to watch the Phils play the Braves at the Wide World of Sports. It looks like we'll be seeing J.A. Happ pitch in Orlando, so here's to hoping for a great start from him and a good end to the spring for the Phils.

So tomorrow while I'm attending work meetings, holding conference calls and filling out paperwork, Christopher will be attending a Phillies' Spring Training game at Disney World. White hot jealousy does not begin to describe the emotion I'm feeling. (Thanks again Christopher and please tell Mickey we hope to see him again real soon!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Live from Spring Training: Day 1

1991 Topps #141 Nick Leyva MG

This will be a first for The Phillies Room. Christopher - co-worker, friend of the blog, and all-around good guy - is down in Florida to witness a few Spring Training games first hand. Over the next several days, he's agreed to file a field report with the day's happenings. Here's the first of our intrepid reporter's posts:

Poor starting pitching by the Phillies and Yankees starters led to a high-scoring game capped by a bottom-of-the-ninth rally by the Phillies to win the game, 9-7. That would have been a great game to see, but the tickets were sold out when I went to order them, so I spent the day in Dunedin watching the Blue Jays take on the Tigers. The Tigers trounced the Jays, 8-2, but it was a better game than the score reflects. The skies were overcast for the first half of the game, but the sun eventually came out, and we were glad to see it. All in all, regardless of the game I watched or the final score, a cloudy day in Florida beats a day in the office any day of the week.

Having been to both parks before last year, Dunedin Stadium pales in comparison to Bright House Field, principally because Dunedin Stadium is one of the older parks and Bright House Field is one of the new shining stars. Hot dogs and sodas at Dunedin Stadium were great, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow's trip to Bright House Field's concession stands, the tiki bar, lawn seating, and great views.

After getting up at 4:15 am this morning to make my flight (which then proceeded to take off an hour late), we'll be laying low tonight to rest up for the next three days - two trips to Bright House Field for home games and a road trip to Orlando to watch the Phils take on the Braves.

While it's officially spring everywhere now, it's particularly nice to be at Spring Training in Florida after the winter we had. More from Clearwater tomorrow...

Thanks Christopher! Frankly, nothing quite says fun in the sun like a baseball card of former Phillies manager and current Blue Jays bench coach, Nick Leyva. Tune in tomorrow when Christopher travels to sunny Clearwater, leaving Nick Leyva behind in Dunedin. Joe Blanton and the Phils face off against Pat Burrell and the Rays at 1:05.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday: April 9, 1985

1985 Cigna Phillies #9 Glenn Wilson
25 years ago, another season started full of hope and full of promise for the Phillies. John Felske was preparing to begin his tenure as Phillies manager after serving as Paul Owens' bench coach in 1984. The team was fielding a young nucleus of players such as Juan Samuel, Jeff Stone, Steve Jeltz and Von Hayes - a nucleus then president and general manager Bill Giles was sure would make the Phillies the "team of the '80s." And I had a brand new set of colorful magic markers, that I was determined to use as much as possible throughout my 1985 Phillies Scrapbook.

Everything worked out fine for me and my new magic markers, but the same can't be said for the 1985 Phillies. The "team of the '80s" started the season with a record of 1-8, and they never quite got going. In May, Gold Glove third baseman Mike Schmidt shifted over to first base to make room for rookie Rick Schu. Right fielder Glenn Wilson was the team's MVP, driving in 102 runs and starring in a series of "Glenn-bo" commercials for the team, dressed in full Rambo regalia but with baseballs criss-crossing his chest instead of grenades. Kevin Gross led the pitching staff with 15 wins and Kent Tekulve was the team's primary closer, saving 14 games.

The Phils finished the season with a record of 75-87, in 5th place, 26 games behind the first place Cardinals. John Felske would last until June 1987 when he was fired and replaced by Lee Elia. Glenn-bo's production fell off over the next two seasons and he was traded to the Seattle Mariners following the 1987 season with reliever Mike Jackson for outfielder Phil Bradley.

Friday, March 19, 2010

16 Days Until Opening Day

2007 Chachi #4 Chase Utley & #37 Kyle Kendrick

Spring Training notes from someone who spent a week in Cincinnati with little to no Phillies news . . .

The Phillies continue to whittle down their roster to the requisite 25-man opening day size. The recent significant moves include the optioning of pitchers Sergio Escalona and Drew Carpenter, along with infielder Brian Bocock. Both Escalona and Carpenter were mentioned early as having outside shots of breaking camp with the team. Escalona's 2 blown saves and his 11.25 ERA didn't help his case any. Meanwhile, it appears unlikely closer Brad Lidge (elbow and knee surgery) will be ready to start the season on time and J.C. Romero (elbow surgery) is also iffy, at best.

Earlier in the week, top outfield prospect Domonic Brown went 3-for-3 against the Tigers with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs. His first home run was all the more impressive in that it came after a 9-pitch at-bat against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. He was awarded for his efforts by being re-assigned to minor league camp. But he'll be back. (Expect to see a 2011 Chachi card for Brown.)

Third baseman Placido Polanco left Monday afternoon's game with a sprained right knee after tripping himself up on the pitcher's mound while trying to catch a pop-up. He was supposed to be in the line-up tonight against the Orioles, but Greg Dobbs is starting instead.

It's interesting to see who is leading the Phillies in a few offensive and pitching categories:
Home Runs - Cody Ransom, 5
RBI - Domonic Brown, 8
Hits - Ryan Howard, 11
Average, at least 15 at-bats - Chase Utley, .609!
Wins - Joe Blanton, 2
ERA, at least 10 innings pitched - Roy Halladay, 0.90, and Cole Hamels, 1.69

Raul IbaƱez (.143) and Ben Francisco (.167) are struggling on the offensive side, while Jamie Moyer, who has yet to appear in an A game, has been hit around in a few B game appearances.

And finally, Kyle Kendrick, looking to bump Moyer from the 5th starter's job, has not allowed a run in 9 innings and he's put together a WHIP of 0.44 entering tonight's game. Looks as if those January work-outs with Roy Halladay may be paying off for Kendrick.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1989 Classic Travel Update II #153 Mike Schmidt

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm not sure when exactly it started, but at some point in the mid-80's, the Phillies started wearing all green uniforms for their St. Patrick's Day exhibition game. Don't quote me on this, but I think it was an idea originally pitched by the eccentric leprechaun himself, Tug McGraw. Through the years, the Phillies stopped going with the full green uniforms and instead cut back to just wearing green hats.

As a bonus, here's the Phillies team picture from their 1986 Yearbook. The team has continued the tradition of donating the green uniforms and hats worn each year to the Phillies Wives, who auction them off to benefit the ALS Association.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1977 Topps #277 1976 N.L. Championship

While some folks will get to travel to Clearwater to take in some sun and Spring Training baseball, I'm fortunate enough to take a quick trip . . . to Cincinnati. This is my third visit to the Queen City, but my first staying within city limits. In my prior two trips, I stayed across the Ohio River in nearby Newport, Kentucky. It's a lovely city, but I'd still rather be in Clearwater.

One of the unwritten rules of this blog is that each post will feature a Phillies baseball card. It's a Phillies blog celebrating Phillies baseball cards, so the rule makes sense. So what's this card doing here? A quick scan of the card shows Pete Rose about to run past Larry Bowa on his way to personally steam rolling the Phillies and leading his Reds to a 3-game sweep in the 1976 NLCS. While this is predominantly a Reds baseball card, I've given it a home within my 1977 Topps Phillies team set.

This brings me to a current dilemma, for which I'm hoping a few fellow set collectors can assist. There are several great cards within the 2010 Topps Heritage set commemorating the 2009 World Series. Problem is, some of these cards don't feature the Phillies at all, just some pinstriped Stormtrooper from the Evil Empire. A prime example is card #311 from the set which features Hideki Matsui on the front, exploiting his heartbreaking Game 6 performance. The back of the card features a Game 6 synopsis. So do these cards belong within my 2010 Topps Heritage Phillies team set?

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Topps #42 NL RBI Leaders

ESPN's Buster Olney has reported the Phillies have held internal discussions with regards to trading Ryan Howard to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols, straight-up. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. vehemently denied the report, calling it "Lies."

Not since the rumors starting floating around that the Phillies were going to trade Cliff Lee in order to obtain Roy Halladay have I been so convinced that a report was nothing but a complete and total fabrication. Oh wait a minute . . .

Just the facts: Howard, 30, is a few months older than Pujols. Howard was born in St. Louis and he usually has a large contingent of home-town fans in attendance whenever the Phillies play there. Both Howard and Pujols are free agents following the 2011 season, with Pujols expected to receive the larger payday. Being a Phillies fan is exciting.

1981 Fleer #22 John Vukovich

What if you were tasked with the assignment of putting together the ultimate 1981 Phillies team set? Starting with the Topps and Topps Traded cards and adding in cards from Fleer and Donruss for players without a Topps card, what would this team set look like? Kevin at the Ultimate Baseball Card Set blog has answered those questions, and he's working his way through each team's 1981 baseball cards.

I like this concept a lot. I've been fascinated for years with the player selection practices of the three major card companies of the '80s. Pitcher Marty Bystrom was clutch for the Phillies during their 1980 World Series run, but he only merited a co-starring role on a Phillies Future Stars card with Jim Wright and Jay Loviglio. And how does John Vukovich end up in the 1981 Fleer set, but not in the Topps or Donruss sets?

Kevin correctly mentions in his Phillies post that Ryne Sandberg had no baseball cards in the 1981 sets, which is why I decided to make one of my own.

I'm definitely looking forward to following Kevin's progress as he builds his ultimate card set.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday: August 3, 1990

1990 Fleer Update #U-46 Dale Murphy

On Wednesday afternoon, Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek faced Cole Hamels in a Spring Training game in Dunedin. Drabek was the formerly "untouchable" prospect shipped to Toronto in the deal that brought Roy Halladay to town and resulted in Cliff Lee heading to Seattle. Wearing #4, Drabek pitched two shutout innings against his former club, allowing just a hit and walk. Five of his outs came from ground-outs.

Drabek, of course, is the son of former big leaguer and 1990 Cy Young award winner Doug Drabek. Doug Drabek never pitched a no-hitter during his career, but he came extremely close back in August of 1990. He was one out away from a no-hitter against the Phillies when Sil Campusano broke it up with a single. Campusano had entered the game in the 6th inning, when manager Nick Leyva opted to rest Lenny Dykstra given the Pirates sizable 11-0 lead.

Murphy Arrives: Hours before Sil Campusano's heroics, the Phillies traded Jeff Parrett and two players to be named later to the Braves for outfielder Dale Murphy and a player to be named later. Wearing his familiar #3, Murphy made his Phillies debut the very next night against the Pirates. I distinctly remember hearing the news of the Murphy acquisition while sitting on the front porch of my Nana's beach house in Sea Isle. There was only one TV in the house, so I listened to most of the Phillies games that summer over the radio. I have vivid memories of walking to Wawa on the Sunday morning after his debut in order to buy a Philadelphia Inquirer to see the first images of Murphy in a Phillies uniform.

Named Later: The Phillies received pitcher Tommy Greene from the Braves almost a week after Murphy made his Phillies' debut. The Phils sent outfielder Jim Vatcher and infielder Victor Rosario to the Braves to complete the deal. I'm going to go ahead and call this one for the Phillies.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

1988 Topps James K. Polk Variations

1988 Topps #215b Von Hayes & #356b Luis Aguayo (James K. Polk Variations)

Once again, Topps has decided to include super-rare base set variations within packs of its flagship brand. Apparently, included within packs of 2010 Topps are variations of certain Cubs cards featuring our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, lurking in the background. Seriously. (Go ahead and do a quick eBay search for "2010 Topps Lincoln" to see what I mean.) I believe Topps first started this practice when it inserted our 11th President, James K. Polk, into select Phillies cards throughout its 1988 Topps set. Through the years, I've been lucky enough to obtain a few of these variations, although the Todd Frohwirth and Rick Schu James K. Polk variation cards have continued to elude my grasp.

The Lincoln variation cards have angered quite a few set collectors as they reason they won't be able to have a complete "set" of 2010 Topps until these difficult to find cards are tracked down. I share the frustration of the master set builders out there, who hope to collect one of every base card, insert and variation from a given set. But for the pure base set collectors, I really don't see these Lincoln variation cards as an issue. At some point, I'll add a 2010 Topps set to my collection, probably as a birthday present in the fall. I won't consider the set to be incomplete because it's lacking these variations.

My initial reaction upon reading upon these Lincoln variations was, "Why?" After thinking about it for a few days, I still don't know why someone at Topps decided to do this, other than to have a little fun. (And of course attempt to drive up product sales.) At it's core though, baseball cards and baseball card collecting are supposed to be fun. So that's how I'm viewing these variations - not as the ruination of a sacred base set of baseball cards, but as a fun variation that won't affect me in the least as a collector.

My viewpoint could change if Topps decides to have Millard Fillmore make a cameo on a 2011 Chase Utley card.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1978 Topps #513 Barry Foote

I've been in a retro kind of mood lately, so let's go with another vintage Phillies card tonight. I'll explain the reason for the retro mood after a brief Barry Foote interlude.

In the summer of 1978, Barry Foote was third in the catching depth chart for the Phils behind Bob Boone and Tim McCarver. He started 11 games behind the plate, hitting .178 with just one very important home run. On September 2nd, with the score tied 1-1 in the 10th against the Giants, Foote hit a two-run home run off reliever Gary Lavelle. With a 3-1 lead, Larry Christenson pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for the complete game victory. The win put the Phillies 3 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates in the NL East, and Danny Ozark's team would eventually go on to win their third straight division title.

I was four (going on five) in the Summer of '78, and I couldn't have cared less that the Phillies jumped into 1st place on June 24th and never relinquished the top spot. In the Summer of '78, I discovered Star Wars, and it was all Star Wars, all the time. My Dad took me that summer to see the movie over a year after it had first been released. I remember being fascinated by the story, amazed at the incredible characters and terrified of Grand Moff Tarkin. I was fine with Darth Vader, but for some reason Peter Cushing just freaked me out.

In a recent visit to his grandmother's house, my 3-year-old son Doug was granted access to my old Star Wars action figures. He's hooked. He wants to know their names. He wants to know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. He wants to know why Darth Vader is so mean. He wants to know why there's remnants of red shag carpet in the action figure carrying case. He wants a lightsaber. (Actually, I kind of want a lightsaber too.) We'll wait a few more years to show him the movie, but I've already started to tell him the story from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Doug has told me that this Spring he wants to "play baseball and learn about Star Wars." It's going to be a wonderful, exciting Spring.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1965 Topps #460 Richie Allen

Ramblings of a barely coherent man . . .

Whither the Sets: I've officially migrated from a set collector to a team collector. My 1971 Topps wantlist has been gathering dust for several years now, ever since I completed my 1972 Topps set. Fact is, I have more interest in collecting Phillies cards from the last four decades than I do in tracking down high-numbered '71 cards of Skip Guinn and Bob Moose. I'm not currently collecting any of the few 2010 releases, nor do I plan to collect any. However, at some point I'll track down the Phillies base cards and a few Phillies inserts from the 2010 releases.

This isn't to say my set-collecting days are kaput. My Dad has been throwing out hints he'd like to go after the '75 Topps Mini set, but I'd go 10 years further back - to 1965.

Fare Thee Well: It appears as if Upper Deck will not produce any more baseball cards. I had wanted to pontificate upon this development in a lengthy, spell-binding post, but it's hard to write about something you just don't give a rip about. Upper Deck's offerings from the past several years have left a lot to be desired, and I'm not convinced they'll be missed. That being said, I'd love to see some upstart baseball card company receive a license from MLB Properties. Topps has shown no signs of letting its monopoly compromise its baseball card products, but a little competition is always a good thing. (Has Goose Joak thought about going after a license?)

Jim from Downingtown was Right: Richie Allen's 2004 Topps Fan Favorite card is a better looking card than his regularly issued 1965 Topps card. If Night Owl decides to start a petition for Topps to bring back the Fan Favorites set, I'll be the first to sign it.

Is it opening day yet?

Monday, March 8, 2010

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #117 Richie Allen

Despite my disappearance into the coal mines again, the Phillies have been playing Spring Training games since Thursday. Other than Roy Halladay's highly anticipated and exciting debut against the Yankees, there really hasn't been that much going on in camp. And that's a good thing. It's fine with me when the major story coming out of Clearwater is the length of Jayson Werth's beard. The team is off to a 1-3-1 start, which doesn't include their win over Florida State last Wednesday night.

There have been a few nagging injuries (Shane Victorino's shoulder and J.C. Romero's elbow), but nothing earth-shattering. There have been good signs (Halladay and Kyle Kendrick) and bad signs (Jose Contreras was shelled this afternoon by the Yankees). A few questions remain, such as will Kendrick or Jamie Moyer open as the team's 5th starter, but there are no huge holes to fill.

Spring Training has been boring so far, and that's just fine with me. I'd be perfectly fine with 4 more weeks of this kind of boredom.

Happy birthday: Dick Allen was certainly never boring. The former Phillies slugger turned 68-years-young today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Scrapbook Sunday: February 21, 1986

1986 Topps #689 Dave Stewart

24 years later, I'd like to answer the questions posed in the "Spring Training Questions" featured in the column to the right. Please click the page to enlarge and follow along:

1. He'd be released on June 24th, but Lefty would win 15 more games in 1986 and 1987: 4 with the Phillies, 1 with the Giants, 4 with the White Sox, 5 with the Indians and 1 with the Twins. He was released by the Twins in April 1988 and after receiving no other offers, he hung 'em up.

2. No, no, no, no and No. Only Fred Toliver and Mike Maddux started games for the Phils in 1986, going a combined 3-9 in 21 games started. Dave Stewart was released at the beginning of May, signing a few weeks later with the Oakland Athletics. For the next 9 seasons, he dominated the American League while with the A's and Blue Jays. He started 2 games against the Phillies in the 1993 World Series. Arturo Gonzalez never pitched with the Phillies.

3. John Russell was the team's primary catcher in 1986, hitting .241 with 13 home runs and 60 RBI. Darren Daulton and Ronn Reynolds split time as his back-up. The Phils would make a big splash by signing free-agent catcher Lance Parrish prior to the 1987 season, guaranteeing catching stability for years to come. (Or so we hoped.)

4. No one left and no help arrived. They were doomed from the start.

5. Joe Lefebvre's knee was not good. After missing all of 1985, Joe played 14 games in April and May before announcing his retirement in June.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

1975 Topps #138 Del Unser

This is from the "Learn Something New" every day department . . . I had no idea Del Unser played for the Indians until Jim from Downingtown commented in my previous post about the Phillies stealing Unser from the Tribe. I knew Unser started his career with the 2nd incarnation of the Washington Senators, and I assumed he had come to the Phillies via Washington.

Thanks to Jim from Downingtown and the good people from Baseball Reference, I now know the pinch-hitter extraordinaire was acquired from the Indians in November 1972 for Roger Freed and Oscar Gamble. (Minor leaguer Terry Wedgewood also came to the Phils with Unser, but he never made it to the Majors.) He was the team's regular center fielder in 1973 and 1974. He appears as an Indian on his 1973 Topps card, but as a Phillie on his 1974 and 1975 Topps cards.

Following the 1974 season, Unser was part of the 6-player trade that netted Tug McGraw from the Mets. He came back to the Phillies as a free agent in March 1979, and he scored the game-winning run in the 11th inning of the 1980 NLCS against the Astros. A baseball lifer, Unser is still employed by the Phillies as an advance scout.

EDIT:
I just realized Night Owl is up to card #134 in his 1975 Topps blog, and you'll be seeing this Del Unser card again very soon. I believe this is an example of the "printers ink" color scheme.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Last Great Tribecards Giveaway

1970 Topps #28 Billy Wilson
2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Decade Greats Game-Used #DEC-MS Mike Schmidt
2009 SP Authentic #26 Chase Utley

One of the wonderful side effects of collecting baseball cards and maintaining this blog is occasionally receiving word that someone out there is looking to give away free cards. Recently, David from Tribecards decided to give away the bulk of his non-Indians collection to focus on his one true love - Indians baseball cards. I threw my name into the ring, and David was gracious enough to oblige with a wonderful box of Phillies cards.

It's funny how these things work out too. I had e-mailed David back in the middle of January when he announced his "last great Tribecards giveaway." I had kinda sorta forgotten about the giveaway, even after David sent me an e-mail a few weeks later saying he was working on my Phillies box. And just when I could definitely use a good box of random Phillies cards in the mail to put a smile on my face - David's package arrived. Good vibes all around.

The box contained an assortment of Phillies cards throughout the years, across all brands, and I've featured a few of my favorites here. Thanks again David, and best of luck to your Indians this year - except of course for the three games from June 22nd through June 24th.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2003 Upper Deck 40-Man #665 Rheal Cormier

On the day new ace Roy Halladay made his Phillies debut, I'm featuring a baseball card of former left-handed set-up reliever Rheal Cormier. Why? Because, inexplicably, he was once Jenna's favorite player, and because I like to make my wife happy. She's had a rough week and if a Rheal Cormier baseball card can brighten her day a little, then so be it.

(Also, there's the little matter of me not actually owning any official Roy Halladay baseball cards featuring him as a Phillie - yet.)

In any event, after a sparsely attended scrimmage on Wednesday night against Florida State, the Phils officially opened their Grapefruit League season with a matinee against the Yankees today. I've TiVo'd the game, and if my professional responsibilities ever go from crazy, madcap levels to manageable levels, I will watch it one day. Doc Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras and Drew Carpenter each pitched well in their two innings a piece of work as the Phils defeated the Yanks, 3-2.

Over the next 10 games or so, we should expect the starters to receive limited playing time in order to allow Charlie Manuel to review the performances of players on the fringe. With spots on the 25-man roster all but locked up at this point, the Brian Bocock's and DeWayne Wise's of the world need to absolutely set Clearwater on fire this Spring in order to stick with the big club.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2004 Upper Deck McDonald's Phillies #2 Placido Polanco

The Chicken Pox Outbreak of '85. The Mono Incident of '93. The Evil Stomach Virus of '10. All had one thing in common. After days of suffering through these various maladies, I was tentatively prepared to eat solid food again and only one choice appealed to my delicate stomach - Chicken McNuggets and McDonald's french fries. Some people get back on the horse gently with dry toast or crackers. For me, nothing speeds along recovery faster than a 6-pack of crisp and delicious, golden fried McNuggets. I'm lovin' it.

In the summer of 2004, McDonald's and Upper Deck collaborated on a 27-card Phillies team set. I vaguely recall two cards came with each purchase of a Value Menu item. After four visits, 8 cards, and realizing the calorie intake required to try to complete the set on my own, I opted to purchase the set on eBay.

The set borrows the design of the 2004 Upper Deck Diamond Collection set and it features such mid-'00s Phillies luminaries as Amaury Telemaco, Shawn Wooten and Eric Milton. The set also featured then-second baseman, current third baseman Placido Polanco. (Placido struck out tonight in the opening Spring Training game against Florida State.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

2004 Topps Heritage #9 Billy Wagner

Please stand by.

Over the past few days, I've been suffering from a stomach virus so gruesome I wouldn't even wish it upon new Braves closer Billy Wagner.

(Well, maybe I would. Just a little bit.)