|1955 Topps #62, #79, #130|
|1955 Bowman #17|
My very brief thoughts on the set: It's horizontal. I've never been a huge fan of completely horizontal baseball card sets, which is ironic given that the 1956 Topps set is the best baseball card set of all time.
Notable competition: Bowman released its final baseball card set in 1955, until Topps resurrected the brand in 1989. The '55 Bowman set is better known as the "TV set," featuring the classic wood-grain TV design. If I had been a kid in 1955, I probably would have spent my lawn cutting money on packs of Bowman, and not packs of Topps. After all, in 1955 televisions were crazy cool and the 1955 Topps set might have looked square in comparison. My other thought upon first seeing the '55 Topps set would have been, "Oh look, it's the 1954 set again, but this time it's sideways." And did kids buying packs of '55 Bowman back in the day get bummed when they pulled an umpire card? My suspicions were confirmed by this fine blog entry over at Dean's Cards, which notes the umpire cards are hard to find today as they were the first cards to be discarded back in 1955.
Record and finish: New manager Mayo Smith led the team to 77-77, 4th place finish.
Key players: Richie Ashburn hit .338, beating out Willie Mays and Stan Musial for the National League batting title. Del Ennis had another big year, hitting .296 with 29 home runs and 120 RBIs. Catcher Stan Lopata made the All-Star team while hitting .271 with 22 home runs. Robin Roberts was named The Sporting News' top pitcher for the third time, thanks to his 23-14 record. Rookie closer Jack Meyer led the league in saves with 16.
Key events: Smoky Burgess was dealt to the Reds in a six-player trade in April that brought back catcher Andy Seminick. The team's hope of contending quickly evaporated in May following a 13-game losing streak.
1955 Phillies in 1955 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set: There are only ten Phillies cards in the 1955 Topps set, bringing the cumulative five-year total to 60 Phillies cards in the 1951 through 1955 Topps sets.
Who’s in: This set represents quite possibly an all-time low for Phillies representation. Here's what we've got, starting with the team's manager and then going in order of game appearances in 1955 -
- Manager Mayo Smith (#130)
- Reliever Bob Miller (#157) - 40 games, 8-4 with a 2.41 ERA
- Third starter Herm Wehmeier (#29) - Started 29 games, 10-12 with a 4.41 ERA
- Reliever Thornton Kipper (#62) - 24 games, 0-1 with a 4.99 ERA
- Infielder Ted Kazanski (#46) - 9 games, 1 for 12 with a home run
- Reliever Jim Owens (#202) - 3 games, 0-2 with a 8.31 ERA
- Pinch-hitter Danny Schell (#79) - 2 games, 0 for 2
- Pitcher Tom Qualters (#33) - 0 games, pitched with a Phillies' farm team in 1955
- Second baseman Lou Ortiz (#114) - 0 games. I'm stumped here. Ortiz played for three different minor league teams in 1955, none of which were affiliated with the Phillies.
- Pitcher Tom Casagrande (#167) - 0 games. Casagrande appeared in 5 games with the Phillies' AAA team in Syracuse in 1955.
All of the above except for Smith, Miller and Casagrande also appeared in the 1955 Topps Doubleheaders set as well.
Who’s out: Everybody else. Inexplicably, the 1955 Topps set contains no Phillies regular position players. If you wanted baseball cards of any of the regulars or starting pitchers other than Wehmeier, Bowman was the way to go.
Phillies on other teams: There aren't even any Phillies on other teams in the set.
What’s he doing here: That question could be asked for seven of the ten Phillies players featured in the set, but the inclusion of Ortiz and Casagrande are complete mysteries to me.
Cards that never were candidates: Ashburn, Ennis, Roberts, Lopata and Meyer.
Favorite Phillies card: Do I have to pick one? I'm going to go with the card of Lou Ortiz, just for the intrigue of it. In a quick Google search, I found this "where are they now" article on Ortiz.
Recycled: Unlike its predecessors from the early part of the '50s, Topps has left the 1955 Topps design pretty much alone. It used the design for its 2004 Topps Heritage set, and then the design slunk back into the Topps vault.
Blogs/Websites: Bob Lemke (yes, that Bob Lemke) created a wonderful custom 1955 Topps card-that-never-was for Richie Ashburn. This is the kind of stuff I need to figure out how to do with Pixelmator!
Did You Know?: 17-year-old Fred Van Dusen made his Major League debut with the Phillies on September 11, 1955, in the second game of a double header against the Braves. In the top of the ninth, with the Phillies down 9-1, Van Dusen came to the plate as a pinch-hitter for Phillies pitcher Lynn Lovenguth. Braves' pitcher Humberto Robinson plunked Van Dusen, and the rookie took his base. Van Dusen never made it back into a Major League game, bouncing around the minors until calling it quits in 1961 at the age of 23.