Sunday, January 29, 2012

1992 Topps Phillies

1992 Topps #244, #30, #383 and #200
1992 was a year of change.  I moved 500 miles away from my hometown and started my freshman year of college.  I left my family, my house and my baseball card collection behind and embarked on a new, exciting and occasionally scary journey.

I remember feeling particularly blue one fall day in '92 and being pleasantly surprised to find the Sundry Shop on the Quad sold packs of baseball cards.  There was nothing too exciting for sale - just a few packs of left-over 1992 Topps and 1992 Fleer packs.  I bought two or three packs that day and I'll admit that I spent money intended for food on more packs in the weeks ahead.  Flipping through my 1992 Phillies binder now, I'm reminded just how comforting those packs of baseball cards were to me.

1992 Topps #30 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  For the 11th and final year in a row, there are 792 cards in the base set and 132 cards in the traded set.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  This was the first Topps flagship set since 1980 that I did not hand collate.  As I alluded to at the outset, I took the end of High School fairly hard and I all but ignored baseball cards for a big chunk of the year.  (I think Santa brought the factory set for Christmas that year.)  That being said, it's a nice set.  After years and years of gray cardstock, it was a bit stunning to hold a Topps baseball card produced on thinner, white cardstock.  The panoramic view of Veterans Stadium on the backs of some of the cards was a very cool touch.  And I appreciated the return to horizontal card fronts on some of the cards for the first time since 1974.
Notable competition:  1992 was a good year for baseball cards.  It seems as if each of the manufacturers stepped up their game and tried to bring something new to their customers.  The cards were glossier and more thought went into each set's design.  After the lackluster collecting years of 1990 and 1991, the card companies turned things around and started making product that baseball card collectors wanted to collect.  Unfortunately, the card companies did not know when to say when, and we as collectors would soon be bombarded with an absolute deluge of new product in the years ahead.  This was the year the dam started to crack before the flood of way too many different sets overwhelmed me from 1993 through the mid-2000s.

1992 Topps #587, #52, 1992 Topps Traded #5T and 1992 Topps #14
1992 Phillies
Record and finish:  With a record of 70-92, the Phils finished in last place in the N.L. East, 26 games behind the Pirates.
Key players:  Darren Daulton finally arrived, leading the league with 109 RBIs and hitting 27 home runs.  Dave Hollins matched Dutch's 27 home runs and drove in 93 runs to boot.  He finished second in the league with 104 runs scored.  John Kruk enjoyed a solid season, hitting .323 with 10 home runs and 70 RBIs.  The newly acquired Curt Schilling led the pitching staff with 14 wins and a 2.35 ERA.  Terry Mulholland put together another steady season with a 13-11 record and a 3.81 ERA, while leading the league with 12 complete games.  Closer Mitch Williams saved 29 games.  So what went wrong?
Key events:  What went wrong was that 17 different players spent time on the disabled list, including key contributors such as Lenny Dykstra, Tommy Greene and Dale Murphy.  The active roster consisted of a revolving cast of prospects and suspects throughout the year as 48 different players suited up for the 1992 Phillies.  Mickey Morandini recorded an unassisted triple play in September and reserve catcher Jeff Grotewold became the first player in history to hit three pinch-hit home runs in three consecutive games.

1992 Phillies in 1992 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 32 Phillies cards in the base set and another 3 Phillies cards in the traded set.  Once again, Topps opted to include 26 players from Team USA in the traded set, denying several deserving Major Leaguers their traded cards.
Who’s in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#244 Darren Daulton (c), #30 John Kruk (1b), #587 Mickey Morandini (2b), #383 Dave Hollins (3b), #30T Mariano Duncan (lf), #200 Lenny Dykstra (cf), #5T Ruben Amaro, Jr. (rf)

Shortstop Juan Bell was acquired in August and took over shortstop duties from the struggling Kim Batiste/Dale Sveum combination.
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 3 cards
#100T Curt Schilling, #719 Terry Mulholland, #83 Tommy Greene

Kyle Abbott, who started 19 games, was omitted from the traded set, as was Ben Rivera who started 14 games.  

1992 Topps Traded #100T, 1992 Topps #719, #763 and #83
It's a bit jarring seeing the team's new uniform side-by-side with their old uniforms.  When teams update their uniforms now, the Photoshopping gremlins at Topps busily transform players into their new-look uniforms before the cards are released.  As a side note, I always thought it was cool that there were no Phillies cards in the first series of 1992 Leaf.  Leaf waited until they had photos of the Phillies in their new uniforms before dropping every Phillies card into its second series.
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1992 - 15 cards
#14 Wes Chamberlain, #103 Ricky Jordan, #258 Jim Lindeman, #331 Steve Lake, #353 Braulio Castillo, #434 Wally Backman, #456 Pat Combs, #484 Mike Hartley, #497 Andy Ashby, #514 Kim Batiste, #544 Cliff Brantley, #599 Steve Searcy, #633 Mitch Williams, #680 Dale Murphy, #791 Danny Cox
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1992 - 8 cards (with new teams listed)
#63 Randy Ready (A's), #135 Von Hayes (Angels), #159 Darrin Fletcher (Expos), #307 Bruce Ruffin (Brewers), #471 Jose DeJesus (injured), #557 Dickie Thon (Rangers), #696 Joe Boever (Astros), #754 Charlie Hayes (Yankees)
1992 Topps #633, #484, #361 and #478
Who’s out:  Rivera and Abbott might have appeared in the traded series if not for the Team USA cards.  Relievers Bob Ayrault (30 games) and Wally Ritchie (40 games) were also deserving of cards.
Phillies on other teams:  An entire 9-pocket page (+1) is needed to contain the 1992 Phillies players who had cards in the set featuring them on other teams.  Ruben Amaro, Jr. (#269 with the Angels), Mariano Duncan (#589 with the Reds) and Curt Schilling (#316 with the Astros) all wound up in the traded set as Phillies.  But these 7 players did not:  #52 Juan Bell (Orioles), #85 Jose DeLeon (Cardinals), #361 Barry Jones (Expos), #373 Don Robinson (Giants), #478 Dale Sveum (Brewers), #581 Stan Javier (Dodgers) and #763 Kyle Abbott (Angels).
What’s he doing here:  One of the things I like about the recent Series 1 releases from Topps is that they give us cards of players on their new teams, as long as those players switched teams early in the off-season.  Ready, Von Hayes, Fletcher, Ruffin and Thon were all long gone by Christmas 1991, but they appear as Phillies in the 1992 Topps set.  
Cards that never were candidates:  Grotewold, Bell, Rivera, Abbott, Javier, Sveum, Jones and Don Robinson.  Robinson wrapped up his 15-year career with 8 uneventful starts for the Phillies.
Favorite Phillies card:  There are some great action photos on these cards, but my favorite two are Spring Training shots featuring Greene and Mulholland on the mound.  Greene's card edges Mulholland's due to the blurry ball heading towards the photographer.  My favorite non-Phillies card is Javier's, which features two soon-to-be members of the 1992 Phillies squad on it.

1992 Topps Traded #30T, 1992 Topps #581 and #103
Other Stuff
Recycled:  If Topps has re-used this design for any Phillies cards since 1992, I don't have them in my collection.
Blogs/Websites:  There aren't many people out there writing about the 1992 Topps set, so I'm going to go ahead and link to a few of my prior Scrapbook Sunday posts.  Here's a post featuring the 1948-style uniforms the team wore on its Turn Back the Clock day on June 21, 1992.  My scrapbook page from the 1992 All-Star Game features a rare photo of Kruk wearing a Braves jersey.  And here's a page from the start of the '92 season, when the team first started to realize that things were going very wrong, very quickly.
Did You Know?:  On Opening Day 1992, I skipped school to go to the game and see the team's new uniforms first hand.  This was before the days of internet leaks, so Opening Day 1992 was truly the first time all 60,000+ of us in attendance were witnessing the new look Phillies.  The team went so far as to conduct Spring Training that year wearing their old maroon uniforms.  I seem to recall the Phillie Phanatic blowing up a safe during a pre-game ceremony containing the new uniforms and then proudly displayed the new duds to the excited crowd.  Little did we know that we'd have very little else to cheer throughout the upcoming season.  (However, with the exception of one pitch from Mitch Williams to Joe Carter, 1993 would turn out just fine.)

Dang Blogger label limitations mean that Stan Javier and Ricky Jordan won't be tagged in this post.  Sorry guys.


Matthew Appleton said...

The design wasn't reused, per se, however the following cards were repurposed (for lack of a better word): Dale Murphy was reprinted in the 2001 Archives set; and Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra and John Kruk cards were used for buyback autos of varying print runs in the 2004 Topps Originals Signatures Series.

Without performing a thorough search of my checklists, I believe all of the Phillies that never were candidates did receive cards as Phillies in other sets -- some of them in other Topps sets.

Jim said...

Thanks Matthew. The Murphy card in the Archives set is a reprint of his 1993 Topps card. (Unless I'm missing one of the cards, which is a possibility.)

And I checked for the other guys. Here's a quick summary:

Abbott & Sveum - Featured with the Phillies in 1992 Bowman and Stadium Club

Jones - Featured with the Phillies in 1992 Stadium Club

Abbott, Bell, Grotewold, Javier, Rivera - Featured as Phillies in some 1993 Topps releases

Robinson - Only featured as a Phillie in the 1992 Medford Update set

night owl said...

Cards at the college store, huh? I was never so lucky. Of course with my attitude about collecting then, it might not have mattered.

Good point about '92 cards. They really were a step up from the horrors of '90 and '91.

Matthew Appleton said...

For some reason, my checklist listed the Murphy 2001 Archives card as a reprint of his 1992 card, which clearly it's not. I just took the information I saw and repeated it without double-checking -- I've fixed that accordingly.

Some other 1992 info on the other players (just naming a few for each):

Grotewald: Medford Set, Ultra, Donruss Rookies, Fleer Update
Abbott: Leaf, O-Pee-Chee Premiere, Medford, Pinnacle
Bell: Fleer Update only
Javier: as far as I know, the only one in your list who did not appear as a Phillie in any set in 1992
Rivera: Fleer Update, Medford, Donruss Rookies

I thank the Phillies for updating the Medford set when they did. Otherwise, I'd have no Robinson card in my collection.

Matthew Appleton said...

Oh, forgot to add that Ayrault was available in the Donruss Rookies set (which was a whopping 10 cards that year) and that Ritchie was available in Stadium Club, Donruss and a bunch of others.

Sadly, we're in the decade in which Topps stopped attempting to get as many players per team as possible into their flagship set. It's going to be depressing as hell to see you talk about the 1996-2000 Topps sets.

Jim said...

Night Owl - Those cards at the college store were only there when I needed them the most. As soon as I was comfortable in college, the cards disappeared. Life is funny that way.

14k - It's going to be depressing as hell for me to talk about the 1996-2000 Phillies, let alone the Topps sets from those years!