Sunday, April 17, 2011

1964 Topps Phillies

1964 Topps #135, #265, #208 and #157
The Phillies were supposed to go to the World Series in 1964.  Tickets and programs had been printed.  But with 12 games to play and a 6 1/2 game lead in the National League - they blew it.  I've been told grown men broke down in tears the day the Phils were officially eliminated from postseason play.  Growing up, I remember hearing the "grown ups" talk about the '64 season in hushed voices, always melancholy.  Although I've suffered through years of futility, I won't pretend to understand the heartache and massive disappointment that must have been felt by the Phillies and their fans in 1964.

The Set
1964 Topps #265 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are 587 cards in a complete set.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  There are a few notable Phillies cards in the set, but overall, it's probably one of my least favorite Topps sets of the decade.  This could be because of the drab design, or it could be just because I associate the year 1964 with bad things happening for the Phillies.
Notable competition:  With their suit against Fleer in 1963, Topps effectively stopped all competitors for the foreseeable future.  A few Phillies can be found in the Wheaties Stamps set.  Topps released a number of specialty sets in 1964 including Topps Coins, Topps Giants (postcard-size cards), Topps Tattoos and Topps Stand-Ups.

1964 Phillies
Record and finish:  92-70, one agonizing game behind the Cardinals in the National League, and tied for second place with the Reds.
Key players:  Right fielder Johnny Callison (.274, 31 home runs and 104 RBIs), newly anointed third baseman Richie Allen (.318, 29 home runs and 91 RBIs) and left fielder Wes Covington (.280, 13 home runs and 58 RBIs) paced the offense.  Jim Bunning, acquired in an off-season trade with the Tigers, was the ace of the pitching staff, going 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA and 13 complete games.  Chris Short was right behind him with a 17-9 record, a 2.20 ERA and 12 complete games.  Jack Baldschun saved 21 games for the club.

1964 Topps #191, #43, #83 and #347
Key events:  The Phillies traded third baseman Don Demeter and pitcher Jack Hamilton to the Tigers in December 1963 for Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos, necessitating the move to third by Allen.  Although Allen led the league with 41 errors, his 29 home runs set the Phillies rookie home run record.  On Father's Day 1964, Bunning threw the seventh perfect game in Major League history against the New York Mets.  The Phils acquired Frank Thomas in August from the Mets, and the slugger had 26 RBIs in 34 games before breaking his thumb.  The Phils then acquired Vic Power from the Angels to replace Thomas, but Power struggled at the plate against his first taste of National League pitching.

1964 Phillies in 1964 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 27 Phillies baseball cards in a 1964 Topps team set.  We're up to 148 Phillies Topps cards from the '60s and 321 Phillies Topps cards overall.
Who’s in:  21 of the 27 cards feature players who suited up with the Phillies in 1964.  Three of the five remaining cards are multi-player "Rookie Stars" cards.  The last three cards are a manager card for Gene Mauch, a card for minor leaguer Paul Brown and a team card.
1964 Topps #243
Who’s out: It's the same annual story for Short, as he'd need to wait three more years for his first Topps card.  Back-up left fielder Alex Johnson got left out too, despite appearing in 43 games and hitting .303 with four home runs.
Phillies on other teams:  Thomas (#345 with the Mets) and Power (#355 with the Twins) are featured with their former teams.  Reliever Ed Roebuck (#187 with Senators) appeared in 60 games with the '64 Phillies after being purchased from Washington.  And long-time Philadelphia Athletic Bobby Shantz (#278 with Cardinals) wrapped up his 16-year career with 14 games with the Phillies after being purchased from the Cubs in August.
What’s he doing here:  Brown appears on card #319, despite spending the entire season in AAA Arkansas.  Don't be fooled by Demeter's card (#58).  It's a Tigers card, even though he's clearly sporting a Phillies uniform.
Cards that never were candidates:  Short and Johnson.  And it would be cool to give Shantz and Power their first and only Phillies cards.  (Both appeared in the Philadelphia Bulletin set, included as 8" x 10" inserts in the newspaper.)
2001 Topps Archives #44
Favorite Phillies card:  The season ended on a sour note, but the future looked bright, especially with Allen in the fold.  His rookie card is #243 in the set, and he shares it with John Hernnstein.  Hernnstein, you may recall, also made a cameo on Willie Stargell's rookie card in the 1963 Topps set.  Sadly, Hernnstein is nowhere to be found on Allen's 2001 Topps Archives card.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  There haven't been many Topps cards in recent years to re-use the 1964 Topps design.  But just wait until 2013, when the design should appear in that year's Topps Heritage set.
Blogs/Websites:  I spent close to an hour going through past posts on The 1964 Topps Blog.  The proprietor of the blog is 255 cards away from having a complete 587-card set.
Did You Know?:  I'm amazed this is the first time I've ever featured a Jim Bunning baseball card on the blog.

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