Sunday, June 12, 2011

1970 Topps Phillies

1970 Topps #125, #645, #564 and #539
In the summer of 1989, I started collecting the 1970 Topps set.  My Dad and I had previously completed the full run of Topps sets from 1973 through 1989, and we needed a new set to collect.  We skipped 1971 (too difficult) and 1972 (high series too expensive) and started looking for the gray-bordered cards from 1970.  I graduated high school and college before finding the final card I needed nearly ten years after we had started collecting the set.  I remember the Mets and Yankees cards from this set being particularly difficult to find, but it was the Pirates Team Card (#608) that eluded me until I found a mint copy at a baseball card show in Raleigh, North Carolina on Valentine's Day, 1999.

The Set
1970 Topps #564 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  Topps crossed the 700-card threshold for the first time, as this set comes in at 720 cards.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  This could be one of the most under-rated sets from the 1970's.  After three years of ho-hum designs, Topps changed things up a bit with better photography, a clean gray border and the player's name in a script font.  I would have liked it better if the color used for each team name was consistent, but that's a minor quibble.  I also really like the backs of the cards, and I'm glad to see the backs ranked #28 in Night Owl's Card Back Countdown.
Notable competition:  Kellogg's released their inaugural issue of 3-D style baseball cards, found in boxes of Kellogg's cereal.  There are four Phillies to be found within the 75-card set.

1970 Phillies
Record and finish:  The team could only go up after 1969.  The Phillies finished with a 73-88 record, in fifth place and 15 1/2 games behind the pennant-winning Pirates.
Key players:  First baseman Deron Johnson (.256, 27 home runs, 93 RBIs) and third baseman Don Money (.295, 14 home runs, 66 RBIs) provided the most offense for the team.  The pitching staff did the best they could as Rick Wise (13-14, 4.17 ERA), the recently returned Jim Bunning (10-15, 4.11 ERA) and Chris Short (9-16, 4.30 ERA) soldiered on.  Dick Selma led the bullpen with 22 saves.  A World Series championship was a decade away, but three members of that team made their debuts in 1970 - Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski and John Vukovich.
Key events:  Frank Lucchesi was hired as the team's new manager following the dreadful 1969 campaign.  In October 1969, the Phillies parted ways with Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson, sending them to the Cardinals for Tim McCarver, Joe Hoerner, Byron Browne and Curt Flood.  When Flood refused to report to the Phillies, challenging the reserve clause which bound a player to whichever team held his contract, the first domino eventually leading to free agency fell.  As part of the compensation for Flood refusing to report to the Phillies, the Cardinals sent Willie Montanez instead.  Long-time Phillie Johnny Callison was also shipped off in a November 1969 deal with the Cubs, with the Phillies receiving Oscar Gamble and Selma in return.

1970 Topps #605, #403, #270 and #6
1970 Phillies in 1970 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 29 Phillies in a complete 1970 Topps team set.
Who’s in:  
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 6 cards
#90 Tim McCarver (c), #125 Deron Johnson (1b), #645 Don Money (3b), #564 John Briggs (lf), #288 Larry Hisle (cf), #388 Byron Browne (rf)

Denny Doyle and Larry Bowa, the starting middle infield, shared their card - see below.
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#605 Rick Wise, #403 Jim Bunning, #270 Chris Short, #5 Grant Jackson, #677 Woodie Fryman
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1970 - 10 cards
#24 Dick Selma, #28 Bill Wilson, #149 Bill Champion, #186 Rick Joseph, #218 Ron Stone, #252 Lowell Palmer, #324 Tony Taylor, #486 Terry Harmon, #511 Joe Hoerner, #591 Mike Ryan

1970 Topps #90, #591, #324 and #24
  • 1969 Rookie Stars cards - 3 cards
#56 Scott Reid/Joe Lis, #539 Denny Doyle/Larry Bowa, #654 Oscar Gamble with Boots Day (Cubs) and Angel Mangual (Pirates)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1970 - 2 cards
#168 Dave Watkins, #302 Jeff James
  • Base cards of players who never played with the Phillies - 1 card, #360 Curt Flood
  • Manager card - 1 card, #662 Frank Lucchesi
  • Team card - 1 card, #436
Who’s out:  Pitcher Barry Lersch should have been in the set as he appeared in 42 games for the Phillies.   A case could also be made for the back-up to the back-up catcher Mike Compton and outfielder/infielder/catcher Jim Hutto.
Phillies on other teams:  Similar to the 1968 Topps set, there are no Phillies players appearing on other teams in this set.
What’s he doing here:  The ultimate "What's he doing here" Phillies card from the entire run of Topps sets is most likely Curt Flood's 1970 Topps card.
Cards that never were candidates:  Bowa, Doyle and Gamble each deserve his own card and Lersch deserves a card, period.  Topps could have also included rookie cards of Montanez, Luzinski and Vukovich.
Favorite Phillies card:  There are a few contenders here including Bowa's rookie card and Taylor at the bat rack.  But I've always liked the classic simplicity of Money's first solo baseball card, complete with the gold Topps All-Star Rookie trophy.

1970 Topps #360, #252, #218 and #662
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Topps just hasn't dipped into the 1970 Topps well enough, in my opinion.  Between you and me, the set's design is an early contender for the 2012 Chachi set.  Baseball Cards Magazine used the design for their 1992 Repli-Cards set, which included a John Kruk card.
Blogs/Websites:  This concludes the series of Jim from Downingtown's landscape of baseball card set blogs.  The 1970 Topps Baseball blog was started once Jim realized there was a void in set-related blogs for this underrated set.  If you're not following along with his blogs, you're missing out.
Did You Know?: Starting with Series 2, card #133, Topps decided a white line was needed on the front of the card to separate the player's name and position.


Matt Runyon said...

My vote for best Phillie card would have to be Tony Taylor. That's a good picture.

night owl said...

Cool fact about the white line. I didn't know that.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I didn't know about the white line either. Topps did a similar thing in 1967, separating the name and position with a dot beginning with the 2nd series.

Another thing about the 1970 position line: On a few cards where "shortstop" was abbreviated, it is shown as S.S. instead of just SS. What's up with that? They didn't abbreviate Outfield as O.F., and they would print Shortstop as all one word. They also abbreviated it as SS on some cards. (On Woody Woodward's card, because of the length of his name, there's barely room for SS, let alone the S.S. they put there.)

Jim said...

I also wondered about the Shortstop/SS/S.S. thing too. My only theory is that it just came down to a different person at the drafting table having different preferences. Still bugs me a little though.

Anonymous said...

We just exchanged emails about it, so I was a little surprised to see that you didn't mention the 1992 Baseball Cards Magazine John Kruk mentioned in the recycled line. I, too, hadn't noticed the white line inconsistency until you brought it up.

Jim said...

Totally missed the Kruk card, but I've now edited the post to include a link to the card. Thanks for the reminder!

Jim from Downingtown said...

Thanks for journeying through my part of the Topps solar system.

Godspeed, Phillies Room!

Jim from Downingtown said...

After 2 hideous/capless Mike Ryan cards ('68, '69), his 1970 card in a catcher's crouch is a welcome change.