Sunday, February 27, 2011

1958 Topps Phillies

2002 Topps Archives #141, 1958 Topps #171, #348 and #433
Of all the Topps cards from the past 60 years, I'm perhaps the most unfamiliar with the 1958 Topps set.  In my younger collecting days, I had somehow managed to obtain samples of baseball cards from all of the Topps base set offerings from 1952 onwards, with the exception being this set.

1958 Topps #387
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  The set is numbered to a whopping 495, but card #145 was never issued due to Ed Bouchee's suspension for the first half of the 1958 season.  (See below for further details.)
My very brief thoughts on the set:  It's similar to the 1954 Topps set, with its bright backgrounds and portrait shots and it's a step up from the 1957 Topps set, despite the basic design and the mugshot-like fronts.  I dig the player's name appearing in large font at the top of the card.  And to borrow from Section 36's comment to my 1957 Topps Phillies post, this set seems more classic and less "old."
Notable competition:  Hires Root Beer released a 66-card set, available on the side of the soda's cardboard cartons.  There are 11 Phillies featured, and the set uses the "knothole" design which apparently had been in the running as the design for the never-released 1956 Bowman set.

1958 Phillies
1958 Topps #387 (Back)
Record and finish:  Kicking off a dark period in the franchise's history, the Phils finished in last place with a 69-85 record.  They would remain in the basement until 1962, when expansion teams and the hapless Chicago Cubs helped to elevate the Phils to a 7th place finish out of 10 National League teams.
Key players:  Richie Ashburn won his second National League batting title, going 3 for 4 on the final day of the season and raising his average to .350 to top Willie Mays and his .347 average.  The Phillies Encyclopedia calls Ashburn's season "one of the finest seasons of any player in modern Phillies history."  He led the league in hits, walks, triples and outfield putouts.  Left fielder Harry Anderson had an outstanding year, hitting .301 with 23 home runs and 97 RBIs.  Rookie pitcher Ray Semproch went 13-11 to start the season, but then won only two more games from mid-July through the season's end.  Robin Roberts had a comeback year of sorts, going 17-14 with a 3.24 ERA.
Key events:  The Phils acquired slugger Wally Post from the Reds in December 1957 for Harvey Haddix.  His 12 home runs in '58 marked a career low since he had become a regular with the Reds in '54.  Manager Mayo Smith was fired in July, and he was replaced by the team's manager from 1948-1952, Eddie Sawyer.  The team went 28-41 following Sawyer's return to the team.

1958 Topps #353, #181, #116 and #186

1958 Phillies in 1958 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 29 cards in the team set, bringing the cumulative eight-year total to 137 Phillies cards.
Who’s in:  7 of the regulars, 9 bench players, the 5 top starting pitchers, 5 relievers, 2 guys in the Phillies minor league system that year (Chuck Harmon and Dan Landrum) and a team card.
Who’s out:  First baseman Ed Bouchee was supposed be card #145 in the set, but Topps pulled his card after he was suspended for indecent exposure.  (See Wrigley Wax for required reading.)  Apparently rehabilitated, Bouchee returned to the Phillies in mid-season.  Reliever Seth Morehead got left out again, even though he pitched in 27 games.
Phillies on other teams:  There are three players who appeared with the Phillies in 1958, but appeared in the 1958 Topps set on different teams.  Tom Qualters appeared in just one game with the team in April before being sold to the White Sox.  He appeared as a member of the White Sox in the set's high series.  Catcher Carl Sawatski (card #234) was acquired from the Braves in June, and catcher Jim Hegan (card #345) was acquired from the Tigers in July.
What’s he doing here:  Mack Burk appeared in one game for the 1958 Phillies, striking out in his lone plate appearance in a game in June.
Cards that never were candidates:  Bouchee's #145 (obviously) and Morehead (again).
Favorite Phillies card:  Post had spent the first six seasons of his career wearing a Reds uniform, and he appears on his first Phillies card wearing the Reds' sleeveless vests from 1957.  It's perhaps the first Topps Phillies card to poorly mask a player switching teams in the offseason.

2007 Topps Heritage #45, #230, #310 and #326

Other Stuff
Recycled:  Topps used the 1958 Topps design for its 2007 Heritage set.
Blogs/Websites:  I am amazed and impressed that Cardboard Junkie is trying to put this set together.
Did You Know?:  The most valuable card in the set is a super rare variation of Frank "Pancho" Herrera's rookie card without the "A" at the end of his last name.  An internet search shows that examples of this variation have sold for thousands of dollars.

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