Sunday, January 23, 2011

1954 Topps Phillies

1994 Topps 1954 Archives #24, #41, #45, #78
The battle between Topps and Bowman for players' rights intensified in 1954, as player selection in both baseball card sets continued to suffer.

1954 Topps #247
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  There are 250 cards in the complete set.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  For the first time, collectors got two photos on the front of the card - one color portrait-type shot of the player and another miniature black and white action shot.  I've always liked the use of the full color backgrounds too.  And I'm a sucker for baseball cards with the team logo featured on the front, especially since Topps started using the correct Phillies logo this year.
Notable competition:  Bowman issued its penultimate set in 1954, featuring 224 cards.

1954 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phils finished in 4th place with a record of 75-79.  A steady decline was beginning and the team wouldn't finish above .500 again until 1962.
1954 Topps #247 (Back)
Key players:  The key player summary could begin and end with Robin Roberts.  The future Hall of Famer started the All-Star Game, pitched two one-hitters, went 23-15 with a 2.97 ERA, and led the league in wins, strikeouts (185), innings pitched (337) and complete games (29).  Richie Ashburn had another solid year, hitting .313.  Catcher Smoky Burgess (.368 average while splitting duties with Stan Lopata), left fielder Del Ennis (.261, 25 home runs and 119 RBIs) and second baseman Granny Hamner (.299, 13 home runs, 89 RBIs) were the top offensive performers for the club.
Key events:  New general manager Roy Hamey surprisingly fired manager Steve O'Neill in July when the Phils were in third place with a 40-37 record.  Terry Moore was hired to replace O'Neill and the team went 35-42 for the remainder of the season.  Moore was fired after the season ended.  Murry Dickson, acquired before the season from the Pirates, led the league with 20 losses.
1994 Topps 1954 Archives #127, #183, #236, #196

1954 Phillies in 1954 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 14 Phillies cards in the '54 Topps set, bringing the cumulative 1951-1954 total to an even 50.
Who’s in:  Proving that Topps' lackluster player selection is not a recent trend in its sets, here's the break-down of the Phillies cards kids could expect to find in packs of '54 Topps - Just three regulars (second baseman Hamner, third baseman Puddin' Head Jones and center fielder Ashburn), one bench guy (shortstop Ted Kazanski), five guys who appeared in 13 games or less with the Phillies (Johnny Lindell, Mickey Micelotta, Stan Jok, Paul Penson and Thornton Kipper), two players who didn't suit up with the team that year (Mike Sandlock and Tom Qualters), and a manager card for O'Neill and two coaches' cards for Earle Combs and Eddie Mayo.  That's lousy player selection.
Who’s out:  Pretty much everyone, but the notable omissions are catcher Burgess, first baseman Earl Torgeson, shortstop Bobby Morgan, outfielders Ennis and Johnny Wyrostek, pitchers Roberts, Curt Simmons, Dickson, Herm Wehmeier and Jim Konstanty.
Phillies on other teams:  Wehmeier was purchased from the Reds on June 12th and he's featured on card #162 with his former team.
What’s he doing here:  The five guys appearing in 13 games or less, as listed above.  Stan Jok had 3 at-bats with the '54 Phils, striking out twice.
Cards that never were candidates:  Roberts, Ennis, Burgess, Simmons and short-time manager Moore.
Favorite Phillies card:  Ashburn's card, by default, and because I own a beat up copy of the original.

2000 Fleer Tradition #423, 2000 Fleer Tradition Update #U93
2003 Topps Heritage #127 and #190
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Topps reprinted the set in 1994, shrinking the cards and doing away with the full bleed tops, opting for a clean white border surrounding the entire card instead.  Fleer borrowed heavily from the design for its 2000 Fleer Tradition set, a set that pre-dated the 2003 Topps Heritage set by three years.  I liked both sets so much that I put together hand-collated sets of both back in the day.
Blogs/Websites:  Want to view the entire 1954 Topps set?  Head over to the Virtual Card Collection and enjoy.
Did You Know?:  Here are just a few "Inside Baseball" tidbits that can be found on the back of the Phillies' cards:

  • Mickey is a rug-measurer during the off-season!  (#212 Mickey Micelotta)
  • When only 12, Steve worked in the coal mines at Scranton!  (#127 Steve O'Neill)
  • Richie broke into baseball as a catcher in 1945.  (#45 Richie Ashburn)
  • In high school, Tom dreamed of playing for the Phils!  (#174 Tom Qualters)


Dan said...

I agree that 1954 is an awesome design. I didn't realize the checklist was so small. I would like to add another set for which the design was recycled, 2000 Twizzlers (I think it was made by Fleer also so it makes sense)

Kevin said...

1954 also had a few other food sets to get different players of these days I may make a checklist for these old sets to figure out the player selection.

In the bigger picture, the 1954 sets featured the first Baltimore Orioles cards and the last cards of Philadelphia's other team, the A's, before they moved onto Kansas City in 1955.

Jim said...

Good stuff guys. I think I have one of those Twizzlers cards, so that may end up being a post in the near future.

Matthew Glidden said...

Nice research! That's an amazing number of "misses" for Topps buyers. Perhaps Bowman signed "exclusives" with those PHI players? (George Vrechek covered that kind of contract problem in his "Topps-Bowman War Years" article.)

I bolded players who appear with only one company in 1954--Bowman got most of the big names.

15 Richie Ashburn
31 "Smoky" Burgess
47 Granville Hamner
63 Earl Torgeson
79 Curt Simmons
95 Robin Roberts
111 Murry Monroe Dickson
127 Del Ennis
143 Willie Jones
159 John Lindell
175 Melvin E. Clark
191 Karl A. Drews
207 Stan Lopata
223 Steve Ridzik

24 Granny Hamner
41 Willie Jones
45 Richie Ashburn
51 Johnny Lindell
78 Ted Kazanski
104 Mike Sandlock
108 Thronton Kipper
127 Steve O'Neill
174 Tom Qualters
183 Earle Combs
196 Stan Jok
212 Mickey Micelotta
236 Paul Penson
247 Eddie Mayo

Kevin said...

Another thing not mentioned here is that Bowman was based out of Philadelphia...I think the thing that is interesting as Jim pointed out was how most of the Phillies in the Topps set were end of the bench guys and coaches, while anybody worthwhile in the Topps set, was also in the Bowman set.

I wonder what the player selection was for a team like, say the Cleveland Indians, who weren't a local team for either company.

I also wonder what the national distribution for cards was like then. Could you get any cards west of St. Louis? South of DC? Were Bowman only available in certain cities. We take this for granted now, but the national distribution may have had something to do with who was put into these sets.