Sunday, March 6, 2011

1959 Topps Phillies

1959 Topps #39, #300, #175 and #85
Using basically the same pastel (and black) color palette from the 1958 Topps set, Topps made a few stylish tweaks for its 1959 offering. The player's photo is encircled and the player's name appears in all lower-case letters slanted across the top of the card.  Facsimile autographs make their return for the first time since 1956.  Topps also featured several "subsets" within the main set, including The Sporting News Rookie Stars of 1959, Baseball Thrills (featuring highlights from the 1958 season), and The Sporting News All-Stars.  

The Set
Number of cards in the set:  There are 572 cards in a complete set, the largest Topps set to date.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  If I was "forced" to pick another Topps set from the '50s to collect, I'd pick the 1959 Topps set.  I believe these are the first "old" cards I ever saw.
Notable competition:  Fleer released an 80-card set chronicling the life and career highlights of Ted Williams.
1959 Topps #372, #92, #382 and #178

1959 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phils finished dead last in the National League with a record of 64-90.  It was the first time the team had lost 90 games in a season since 1947.
1959 Topps #39 (Back)
Key players:  First baseman Ed Bouchee was one of the few bright spots on the team, hitting .285 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs.  Third baseman Gene Freese (.268, 23, 70) and right fielder Wally Post (.254, 22, 94) also added a little punch.  There weren't many bright spots on the pitching staff.  Robin Roberts went 15-17 with a 4.27 ERA and Turk Farrell led the team with just six saves.
Key events:  New general manager John Quinn traded away Whiz Kids Willie Jones and Granny Hamner during the season.  In his only season in the Majors, Sparky Anderson, the team's regular second baseman, hit just .218.  The team ranked last in the league in hitting and fielding.  Richie Ashburn overtook Ed Delahanty as the team's all-time hits leader.  Ashburn would finish the season with 2,217 hits, ten more than Delahanty's 2,207.

1959 Phillies in 1959 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  36 cards!  There are 36 cards in the complete 1959 Topps Phillies team set.  The final tally of Phillies cards appearing in Topps base sets in the 1950s:  173.
1959 Topps #156
Who’s in:  This is actually impressive.  38 players suited up for the Phillies in 1959, and all but six of them have cards in the 1959 Topps set.  Included in the tally of 36 cards in a "master" team set are two multi-player cards - #156 featuring all-star pitchers Billy Pierce and Roberts and #317 featuring hitting kings Willie Mays and Ashburn.
Who’s out:  The six players not in the 1959 Topps set are - Back-up catcher Joe Lonnett (43 games, .172 average), catcher John Easton (3 games, 0 for 3), reliever Taylor Phillips (1-4 with a 5.00 ERA), starting pitcher Ed Keegan (0-3 in his 3 starts), rookie Chris Short (14.1 innings, 8.16 ERA) and pitcher Freddy Rodriguez (1 game, 2 innings, 3 runs).
Phillies on other teams:  The following players spent time with the Phillies in 1959 and appear in the set with other teams - Outfielder Jim Bolger (#29 with the Cubs), infielder Harry Hanebrink (#322 with the Braves), reliever Humberto Robinson (#366 with the Braves), and outfielder Solly Drake (#406 with the Dodgers).
What’s he doing here:  There are six cards featuring players who did not spend any time with the Phillies in 1959 - Ruben Amaro, Bob Conley, Pancho Herrera, Ken Lehman (all in the minors), along with Ted Kazanski and Stan Lopata (both traded to the Braves in March).
Cards that never were candidates:  Lonnett, Phillips and Short.  Short would eventually enjoy a 14-year career with the Phillies.
Favorite Phillies card:  The rookie card of future Hall of Famer George "Sparky" Anderson.  It's not in my collection yet, but it will be there one day.
2008 Topps Heritage #101, #57, #85 and #703

Other Stuff
Recycled:  I wish Topps would come back to this design more often.  It was featured as the basis for the 2008 Topps Heritage set.  Baseball Cards Magazine also used the design for its "Repli-Cards" series back in 1989.
Blogs/Websites:  Would you like to know more about the 1959 Topps set?  Click here.  UPDATE - I'm going to also link to a relatively new blog on one collector's journey to complete the '59 Topps set.
Did You Know?:  By the end of the 1959 season, the only Whiz Kids remaining were Roberts, Ashburn and Curt Simmons.  Ashburn was shipped to the Cubs in January 1960, Simmons was released in May 1960 and he signed with the Cardinals, and Roberts was sold to the Yankees in October 1961.

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