Sunday, May 22, 2011

1968 Topps Phillies

1968 Topps #225, #139, #122 and #415
With no fanfare, let's jump right into an analysis of Phillies baseball cards in the 1968 Topps set, affectionately known as the "burlap" set.

1968 Topps #139 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  Topps went back to 598 cards in 1968 after jumping up to 609 cards in 1967.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  At this point, I'm anxious to get into the '70s, since I just don't know that much about these sets from the late '60s.  I didn't own any '68 Topps cards as I was growing up, so I have no emotional connection to these cards.
Notable competition:  It's still just a few oddball sets providing scant competition for Topps.  There are Phillies cards in the Bazooka, Coca-Cola, Arco and Nabisco sets from 1968.

1968 Phillies
Record and finish:  The team dipped down below .500 for the first time since 1961, finishing with a record of 76-86.  They tied for 7th place in the National League, 21 games behind the dominant Cardinals.
Key players:  Despite his troubles (see below), Dick Allen led the offense with his .263 average, 33 home runs and 90 RBIs.  Johnny Callison, with 14 home runs, was the only other Phillie to hit more than 10.  On the pitching side, Chris Short had another fine year, going 19-13 with a 2.94 ERA.
Key events:  Here's the first sentence of the 1968 season summary per The Phillies Encyclopedia - "The Dick Allen-Gene Mauch fight went from simmer to boil, cost Mauch his job, and turned the fans against Allen worse than ever."  The entry then goes on to summarize the various conflicts between player and manager beginning in spring training and culminating with Mauch's dismissal on June 14th.  Coach George Myatt served as interim manager for two games before Bob Skinner was brought in on a permanent basis.  And I love that Jim from Downingtown currently sponsors the 1968 Phillies page over at Baseball Reference with the cavaet, "Hey, SOMEONE needs to like this team!"

1968 Topps #190, #327, #245 and #284
1968 Phillies in 1968 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 30 cards needed for a complete 1968 Topps Phillies team set.  That's 270 total Phillies Topps cards from the '60s and 443 Phillies Topps cards overall.
Who’s in:  First, please refer to this post from Jim from Downington's 1968 Topps Baseball blog with regards to team distribution and then come on back here for the Phillies break-down -
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#306 Mike Ryan (c), #190 Bill White (1b), #39 Cookie Rojas (2b), #327 Tony Taylor (3b), #225 Dick Allen (lf), #245 Tony Gonzalez (cf), #415 Johnny Callison (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#139 Chris Short, #81 Larry Jackson, #112 Woodie Fryman, #262 Rick Wise

1968 Topps #81, #112, #262 and #217
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1968 - 11 cards
#17 Dick Hall, #59 Don Lock, #98 Gary Sutherland, #173 John Boozer, #217 Turk Farrell, #284 John Briggs, #396 Bobby Wine, #434 Rick Joseph, #448 Gary Wagner, #512 Grant Jackson, #567 Clay Dalrymple
  • 1968 Rookie Stars cards - 2 cards
#348 Larry Colton/Dick Thoenen and #579 Larry Hisle with the Braves' Mike Lum
    1968 Topps #7
  • League Leader cards - 4 cards
#1 Batting Leaders with Gonzalez, #7 ERA Leaders with Jim Bunning and Short, #9 Pitching (Victory) Leaders with Bunning and #11 Strikeout Leaders with Bunning
  • Manager card - 1 card for Gene Mauch, #122
  • Team card - 1 card, #477
Who’s out:  The team's regular shortstop, Roberto Pena, appeared in 138 games but did not get a Topps baseball card in 1968.  Pitcher Jerry Johnson started 11 games and had a record of 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA. Johnson would get a Phillies card in the 1969 Topps set, but Pena (to date) has never had a Phillies baseball card.  He was selected by San Diego in the October 1968 expansion draft and appeared in the 1969 Topps set with the Padres.
Phillies on other teams:  Surprisingly, none.
What’s he doing here:  Dick Thoenen shares a Rookie Stars card with Larry Colton, despite pitching in just 1 inning with the team in 1967.  It would be his first and last appearance in the Majors.
Cards that never were candidates:  Pena, Johnson and rookie Don Money, acquired in December 1967 from the Pirates along with Woodie Fryman for Bunning.  Money made his Major League debut in April and appeared in four games.  Interim manager Myatt could be a candidate for a 1968 Topps "update" card as well.  Skinner would appear as the team's skipper in the 1969 Topps set.
Favorite Phillies card: I'll go with Short's card edging out Mauch's final manager card.

1968 Topps #306, #396, #59 and #567
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Baseball Cards Magazine used the '68 Topps design for their Repli-Cards in 1993.  Look for the design in the upcoming 2017 Topps Heritage set.
Blogs/Websites:  As mentioned previously, head on over to the 1968 Topps Baseball blog once you've finished up with this post.
Did You Know?:  Series 1 of the '68 Topps set, the first 109 cards, feature a "wider" burlap design than the rest of the cards in the set, which featured a finer burlap design.  I'd love to hear the behind the scenes story that led to Topps changing the burlap pattern following the first series of the set.


Jim from Downingtown said...

It IS odd that there are no cards featuring 1968 Phillies with their previous team. The Phils' only 2 veteran newcomers (Woody Fryman and Mike Ryan) were acquired the previous December, so they appear in hatless photos, but as Phillies. Why didn't the Phillies bother to make make any in-season acquisitions?

Maybe because they were already in full-dismantle mode:

After 1967, Jim Bunning was traded away.

After the 1968 season, the team said goodbye to Larry Jackson, Dick Hall, Clay Dalrymple, Bill White, Bobby Wine, Gary Sutherland, Roberto Pena, and Tony Gonzalez.

Following the 1969 season, they parted ways with Richie Allen, Johnny Callison, Cookie Rojas, and Turk Farrell.

(In the 22 months following the same-day acquisitions of Fryman and Ryan in December 1967, the only significant acquisition by the Phillies was infielder Deron Johnson.)

By 1970, the only players still around from the 1967 season were Chris Short, Rick Wise, Grant Jackson, Tony Taylor, and Johnny Briggs. By 1972, only Short was still with the team.


I wonder why lists Phillies' pitcher Jeff James at the bottom of the 1968 pitchers list, instead of with the "main 10" pitchers. He had more games AND more starts than Jerry Johnson.

Jim from Downingtown said...

To me, it's more surprising that Don Money was not included on a Phillies Rookies card (Dick Thoenen, indeed!) than the omission of Roberto Pena.

Money was a highly touted rookie obtained from the Pirates in the off-season, and he was handed the starting shortstop job in spring training.

He (and fellow rookie Larry Hisle) flopped by mid-April, and both were sent down, with minor-league fodder Pena recalled to take Money's roster spot.

Soon after, starting shortstop Bobby Wine was lost for the season with a back injury, and Pena started most of the remaining games. (My, how far Gary Sutherland had fallen in just 1 season!) So it's no surprise that Pena wasn't considered for a card (I think May would have been too late to change the 7th series.)