Monday, July 4, 2011

1972 Topps Phillies

1972 Topps #112, #751, #690 and #520
Of all the "vintage" sets I've completed from the '70s, this was probably the most difficult to put together.  It was a challenge finding some of the high numbers in decent shape and I collected the bulk of this set during a time of transition in my life when things weren't exactly rainbows and lollipops.  Thankfully, I had the majesty of the psychedelic tombstone set to keep me company when I found myself in times of trouble.

The Set
1972 Topps #520 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  Topps upped the ante once again, going with 787 cards in the complete set.  It would be ten years until Topps produced a baseball card set this large, when it released its 1982 set with 792 cards.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  I love it.  As difficult a set as it was to put together, it was a fun set to collect. Every time I asked a dealer if he had any '72 commons, inevitably the dealer would smile.  This is just one of the baseball card sets I could easily flip through on a grumpy day and not help but cheer up.  Completely off the top of my head, my favorite Topps sets would have to be - 1956, 1975, 1972, 1981, 1976.  (The order of this listing is subject to change without notice.)
Notable competition:  Not a darn thing really.  There were the usual oddballs, a Kellogg's set with no Phillies in it and 10-card locally issued Phillies Ticketron set.

1972 Phillies
Record and finish:  1971 was a bleak year, but 1972 was even worse.  The Phillies went 59-97, finishing 37 1/2 games behind the Pirates, securely in last place.  Things could only go up from here.
Key players:  A discussion of the team's key players in 1972 starts and ends with Steve Carlton.  Carlton put together perhaps one of the greatest seasons any pitcher has ever thrown, going 27-10 and winning almost half of his team's 59 total wins.  He finished 30 of his 41 starts, had a 1.97 ERA and 310 strikeouts.  Following the season, he was the unanimous pick for the Cy Young Award.  Young Greg Luzinski won the team's offensive triple crown, hitting .281 with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs.
Key events:  Following the 1971 season, Rick Wise and Carlton both wanted pay increases neither team's owner's were willing to grant.  A straight-up one-for-one deal was struck, shipping Wise to the Cardinals and Carlton to the Phillies on February 25, 1972.  Carlton would go on to help lead the Phillies to their World Championship in 1980 and he was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1994 as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time.

1972 Topps #768, #635, #69 and #377
Manager Frank Lucchesi was fired in July and general manager Paul Owens stepped in for the rest of the season.  In September, the Phillies recalled two of their top prospects - Mike Schmidt and Bob Boone.

1972 Phillies in 1972 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 30 Phillies cards in a master team set.  We're up to 90 Topps Phillies cards from the '70s, and 558 total Topps Phillies cards from 1951 through 1972.
Who’s in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#167 Deron Johnson (1b), #768 Denny Doyle (2b), #520 Larry Bowa (ss), #635 Don Money (3b), #112 Greg Luzinski (lf), #690 Willie Montanez (cf), #69 Roger Freed (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#751 Steve Carlton TR, #252 Ken Reynolds, #599 Billy Champion, #357 Woodie Fryman

1972 Topps #252, #599, #357 and #665
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1972 - 11 cards
#139 Tim McCarver, #283 Darrell Brandon, #324 Mike Ryan, #377 Terry Harmon, #423 Oscar Gamble, #453 Barry Lersch, #482 Joe Hoerner, #528 Ron Stone, #587 Bill Wilson, #665 Chris Short, #726 Dick Selma
  • 1972 Rookie Stars cards - 2 cards
#14 Pete Koegel, Mike Anderson and Wayne Twitchell, #741 Tom Hutton with John Milner (Mets) and Rick Miller (Red Sox)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1972 - 1 card, #43 Rick Wise
  • In Action cards - 2 cards, #44 Rick Wise and #168 Deron Johnson
  • Boyhood Photo cards - 1 card, #345 Rick Wise
  • Manager card - 1 card, #188 Frank Lucchesi
  • Team card - 1 card, #397
1972 Topps #397
Who’s out:  Bill Robinson, one of the team's bright spots, was left out of the set, despite appearing in 82 games for the Phils.  Back-up first baseman Joe Lis and left reliever Mac Scarce also got left out.
Phillies on other teams:  Regular catcher John Bateman (#5) is featured with the Expos.  Relievers Jim Nash (#401) and Gary Neibauer (#149) are both featured with the Braves.  Carlton appears as a Cardinal (#420) before making his appearance as a Phillie in the final series.  Bobby Wine appears with the Expos (#657).  Wine was released by Montreal in July and joined the Phillies coaching staff.
What’s he doing here:  I can't really argue with any of the players selected.  Rick Wise ended up with a regular card and an In Action card in the first series, as well as a Boyhood Photo card in the third series.  One interesting tidbit (at least to me) - Jim Fregosi, who was traded from the Angels to the Mets in December 1971, appears as an airbrushed Met on his Boyhood Photo card (#346) but as an Angel on his series one base card (#115).  I guess the Topps airbrush artist didn't have enough time to replace Wise's Phillies hat with a Cardinals hat for his Boyhood Photo card.
Cards that never were candidates:  Robinson, Lis and Scarce are candidates.  I'd also add a card for interim manager Owens, who had to wait for the 1984 Topps set for his "rookie" card.  Hutton and Twitchell both appeared on multi-player Rookie Stars cards, but they should have their own cards.  And I'd add a Rookie Stars card featuring Schmidt and Boone. 
Favorite Phillies card:  Based on historic significance - Carlton's Traded card or the team card featuring The Vet scoreboard in the background for the first time on cardboard.  Based on pure aesthetics - Luzinski's first solo card.

1972 Topps #423, #168, #345 and #188
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Given the popularity of the Topps Heritage set, why not have an all '70s themed Heritage release as well?  The thought of waiting ten more years to see this design back in packs of cards is a little depressing.
Blogs/Websites:  It's been inactive for over a year, but there's a lot of good stuff archived over at the 1972 Topps Set blog.  I also miss the frequent postings from Dinged Corners on the glory of the '72 set.
Did You Know?:  This set marks Topps first foray into the world of Traded cards, as there's a 7-card Traded subset featured in the sixth and final series.  Topps would try the format again in 1974 and 1976 before making the set a permanent fixture in 1981.  (Barring a few years in the mid-'90s.)


Eric C. Loy said...

One thing I notices with this set is how the pictures of the players get clearer with each series. Series one has almost a fog over the lens while the last series has crystal clear shots.

Jim said...

That's a great observation and something I hadn't noticed before.

Jim from Downingtown said...

You're not considering Deron Johnson as the starting 1st baseman? He had more starts there than Tom Hutton (Hutton played a lot in right field).

Also, McCarver began the year (which is what Topps had to go by) as the starter, then was traded to the Expos for Bateman. (I could never figure out that trade. McCarver was clearly better than Bateman, and why would the Phillies brass mess with the chemistry of Steve Carlton's battery in the middle of his great 1972 season?)

Jim said...

I'm going to fix that. Baseball Reference has Tommy Hutton listed as the starting 1B, which is based on innings played at first, and not starts.

Starts at First:
Johnson - 59
Hutton - 51

Innings at First:
Johnson - 474.1
Hutton - 550.2

I think it would be more accurate to list Johnson as the starting 1B, given he had 8 more starts at the position.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I don't remember, but Deron Johnson must have been injured, for Tom Hutton to have so many starts at 1B. After all, one year earlier, Johnson was so well thought of that the Phillies moved Greg Luzinski to LF after playing minor-league ball as a 1st baseman.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Bill Robinson made a great comeback that season, after being in the minors for several years (and at the start of 1972).

So, there was no reason for Topps to give him a card. THIS would be a great project for a "baseball cards that never were" card.

Jim from Downingtown said...

In 1972, it annoyed me that the player's position was not on the front of the card.