Sunday, February 19, 2012

1995 Topps Phillies

1995 Topps Traded #140T, 1995 Topps #326, 1995 Topps Traded #77T and 1995 Topps #120
I have disliked the 1995 Topps set since I opened my first pack 17 years ago.  I think the traditionalist in me thought the cards were too over the top.  Difficult to read foil script, the jagged border around the picture, the too small and difficult to read number on the backs of the cards, and the inordinate amount of unneeded subsets within the set - it was all too much for me.  I remember thinking that these cards looked like they belonged in an insert set or a Fleer set, but not in a base Topps set.  For these reasons, I probably opened less packs of 1995 Topps than any year before or since.

1995 Topps #2 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  The set size dropped to 660 cards, which was the lowest number of cards in a Topps base set since way back in 1977.  Topps again released the set in two separate series, with 396 cards in series one and only 264 in series two.  Another first, the traded series was not released in set form but rather sold in packs just like the base set.  There are 165 cards in the traded series (essentially series three) and the Standard Catalog officially refers to the set as the 1995 Traded and Rookies set, with the "and Rookies" bit new for 1995.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  All these years later, and I don't know why I had such an intense dislike for this set.  One theory I have is that I was still quite bitter about the whole player's strike and I took my feelings out on anything connected with the current crop of baseball players. 
Notable competition:  I didn't buy many 1995 baseball cards when they were first released, having turned my attention (and what little disposable income I had at the time) to working on my 1970 Topps set. Flipping through my 1995 Phillies binder now, there's not a whole heck of a lot that jumps out at me.  One thing is for certain - the 1995 Fleer set has got to be one of the worst baseball card sets, in terms of design, of all-time.

1995 Topps #477, #586, #533 and #260
1995 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies finished the abbreviated season with a respectable record of 69-75, but they finished 21 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves in the East.  This would be the closest the team would come to a winning season until 2001 when they finished with a record of 86-76.
Key players:  There wasn't much offense, as Charlie Hayes returned to the Phils to lead the team in RBIs (with 85) and tie for the team lead with 11 home runs.  The newly acquired Gregg Jefferies also had 11 home runs and was second on the team in RBIs with 56.  Hard Hittin' Mark Whiten, acquired in late July when Dave Hollins was shipped to the Red Sox, tallied 11 home runs in just 60 games.  Jim Eisenreich had his second straight strong year, hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs.  Injuries hobbled the core of the 1993 team as Darren Daulton (98 games) and Lenny Dykstra (62 games) saw significantly reduced playing time.  The pitching was even less spectacular.  Paul Quantrill led the staff with 11 wins (but possessed a 4.67 ERA) while Tyler Green (8-9, 5.31 ERA) and Mike Mimbs (9-7, 4.15 ERA) were inserted into the rotation following injuries to Curt Schilling, Bobby Munoz and Tommy GreeneHeathcliff Slocumb had a wonderful season out of the bullpen, saving 32 games and earning the win in the All-Star Game.  And rookie Ricky Bottalico appeared in 62 games while pitching to an impressive 2.46 ERA.
Key events:  There wasn't much to get excited about on the field, but in July, both Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

1995 Topps Traded #127T, #152T, #19T and 1995 Topps #297
1995 Phillies in 1995 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 28 Phillies cards in the base set and another 11 Phillies cards in the traded set, for a total of 39 Phillies cards.
Who’s in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#477 Darren Daulton (c), #586 Dave Hollins (1b), #2 Mickey Morandini (2b), #533 Kevin Stocker (ss), #140T Charlie Hayes (3b), #77T Gregg Jefferies (lf), #326 Jim Eisenreich (rf)

Andy Van Slyke is deemed to be the team's regular center fielder by a hair, having started in one more game in center (53) than Dykstra (52).
    1995 Topps #2
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#127T Paul Quantrill, #152T Tyler Green, #19T Mike Mimbs, #297 Curt Schilling

You know it's been a long year when your three top starting pitchers appear for the first time on Phillies cards in the traded set.  Sid Fernandez started 11 games for the Phillies, but he wouldn't make it into the traded set.
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1995 - 11 cards
#31 David West, #59 Ricky Bottalico, #88 Heathcliff Slocumb, #103 Mariano Duncan, #120 Lenny Dykstra, #144 Tommy Greene, #351 Mike Williams, #458 Bobby Munoz, #554 Mike Lieberthal, #608 Tony Longmire, #90T Dave Gallagher

Bottalico's card is part of the "Star Track" subset which features a completely different design than the normal base cards.
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1995 - 7 cards (with new teams listed)
#173 Kim Batiste (minors with the Phillies and Orioles), #239 Ben Rivera (out of baseball), #269 Ricky Jordan (minors with the Angels), #383 Billy Hatcher (Rangers and minors with the Royals), #420 Danny Jackson (Cardinals), #495 Doug Jones (Orioles), #572 John Kruk (White Sox)

Kruk signed with the White Sox in mid-May and primarily served as the team's DH before his abrupt retirement on July 30th.  Kruk singled in the first inning that day and upon returning to the dugout informed manager Ozzie Guillen and his teammates that he was officially retired.  Frank Thomas pinch-hit for him in the third inning and Kruk's 10-year career was over.

1995 Topps #88, #59, #507 and #351
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player 1995 Prospects cards - 3 cards
#79 Gene Schall (with Scott Talanoa, Harold Williams and Ray Brown), #237 Shane Pullen (with Brian L. Hunter, Jose Malave and Karim Garcia), #88T Larry Wimberly (with Pat Ahearne, Gary Rath and Robbie Bell)

Schall had previously appeared on a Coming Attractions card within the 1994 Topps set and he actually played 24 games with the 1995 Phillies.  Pullen played in parts of three seasons within the Phillies minor league system from 1994 to 1996, and he made it as high as Class A Clearwater.  Wimberly was shipped to the Red Sox in January 1996 as part of the six-player deal that sent Slocumb to Boston for Ken Ryan, Glenn Murray and Lee Tinsley.  He bounced around the minor league systems of the Red Sox and Pirates until 2002, never making it to the Majors.
  • Phillies appearing on 1994 Topps All Stars cards - 1 card, #393 Danny Jackson (with Jimmy Key)
  • Phillies appearing on Draft Pick cards - 2 cards
#421 Ryan Nye, #108T Reggie Taylor

1995 Topps #79
Nye, the team's second pick in the June 1994 draft, eventually played with the Phillies in 5 games in 1997 and 1998.  Taylor, the team's #1 pick in the June 1995 draft, played in 14 games with the Phils in 2000 and 2001.  The team's #1 pick from the June 1994 draft, Carlton Loewer, got completely left out of the set.
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player On Deck cards - 2 cards
#654 Wayne Gomes and Kevin Jordan, #107T Rob Grable with Glenn Dishman (Padres)

Jordan made it into 24 games with the 1995 club and Gomes made his Phillies debut in June 1997.  Grable enjoyed a break-out season with Reading in 1995 (.300, 16 home runs, 67 RBIs), but he never made it to the Majors.  Ironically, his counterpart on the card did play for the Phillies at one point, as Dishman appeared in 4 games for the 1996 Phillies.
  • Phillies appearing on '95 Rookie Year Candidates cards - 1 card, #131T Tyler Green
  • Phillies appearing on Mid All-Star cards - 1 card, #162T Lenny Dykstra with Kirby Puckett (Twins)
Who’s out:  The case could be made for both Tom Marsh (43 games, .294) and Gary Varsho (72 games) being deserving of cards.  And pitchers Jeff Juden (10 starts), Toby Borland (50 games, 6 saves), Norm Charlton (25 games) and Gene Harris (21 games) could also have had Phillies cards.  But I won't argue too loudly for anybody but Borland.
Phillies on other teams:  Only Hayes (#81 with the Rockies) and Jefferies (#526 with the Cardinals) made it into the traded series with the Phillies.  Whiten appears on this list twice with the Cardinals (#409) and Red Sox (#102T).  And there are four other members of the 1995 Phillies featured on cards with their former teams - #201 Steve Frey (Giants), #260 Andy Van Slyke (Pirates), #374 Lenny Webster (Expos), and #507 Sid Fernandez (Orioles).
What’s he doing here:  Seeing cards of Pullen, Wimberly and Grable frustrates me when prospects such as Andy Carter and Kevin Sefcik were shut out.
1995 Topps Traded #102T
Cards that never were candidates:  There could be an entire series of cards that never were of the 1995 fringe Phillies, but I've narrowed my selection to five - Van Slyke, Whiten, back-up catcher Webster, fifth starter Fernandez and Varsho.  And if I had my way, I'd make a "normal" card for Bottalico.
Favorite Phillies card:  Morandini's horizontal action shot is cool, but I'll go with Daulton's posed shot at home plate.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  As far as I know, the 1995 Topps design has yet to be revisited by the company.
Blogs/Websites:  Goose Joak has nothing to do with the 1995 Topps set, but for some reason I remember commenting on one of his past posts that 1995 was the "worst Topps base set designs ever."  So while I don't appreciate the 1995 Topps set, I do appreciate Goose Joak's wonderful custom cards.  Check it out and get ready to witness some of the best custom cards around.
Did You Know?:  With the player's strike bumping up against the beginning of Spring Training, teams began filling their rosters with replacement players.  Fortunately, the strike was settled and fans weren't subjected to replacement player baseball in the regular season, but it was still a fairly surreal spring.  I clipped the following from a newspaper article in 2005 following the 10 year anniversary of that bizarre Spring Training.  (Click to enlarge.)  A whopping 92 "Phillies" suited up that spring, including former Phillies Marty Bystrom, Todd Cruz and Jeff Stone.  Bystrom had last appeared in the Majors with the Yankees in 1985,   Cruz hadn't been on a big league roster since 1984 with the Orioles and Stone hadn't played professionally since 1992.  It was quaint at first, but then the novelty of it all quickly wore off.

Blogger's labeling limitations are causing Mike Williams and Gene Schall to not be tagged in this post.  It's probably for the best.


night owl said...

'95 Topps must be a love it or hate it set. I think it's the best Topps base set design of the '90s (especially coming off of '93 and '94, neither of which I like, and preceding '96 which I think is terrible).

Section 36 said...

I can get behind the jagged edges. The tiny number and gold foil names absolutely need to go. I don't remember much about this set, and don't have many of them. Can't remember anything good about the '95 Red Sox either. Hmm.

Jim said...

Night Owl - Too funny, because my post for the 1996 Topps Phillies starts out with me mentioning that I don't mind the set at all. Maybe it's not the 1995 Topps cards that I dislike so much, but rather the memories I associate with those cards.

S36 - These were dark times indeed. How far we've come.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Never saw a 1995 card before today.

(These new wavy captchas are ridiculous. I've tried at least 8 before I got one I could read!)

Jim said...

You haven't missed much!