Sunday, July 17, 2011

1974 Topps Phillies

1974 Topps #283, #69, #515 and #198
Santa was very, very good to me in 1986, not only bringing me the G.I. Joe stuff I so desperately wanted, but also leaving a surprise box under the tree containing a starter set of 1974 Topps baseball cards.  My Dad and I made quick work of the set, finding the last two cards we needed in February 1988 in the now long-gone Collector's Corner in Williamstown, New Jersey.

The 1974 Topps set always seemed slightly mysterious to me, and I still think it looks much older than it actually is.  I always thought the color combinations Topps used to represent some of the teams was odd as there are a lot of blacks, blues, reds and pinks for teams having nothing to do with those colors.  I also loved the "young" looking cards of several Phillies who would become my heroes in the early '80s.

The Set
1974 Topps #255 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are 660 cards again in the base set, and for the first time ever Topps added a 44-card Traded set.  There was also a set of 24 unnumbered red-bordered team checklist cards included as inserts in packs.  Finally, if you're going after a "master" set, you'll need to track down the 15 San Diego Padres cards available with the team designation of "Wahington, Nat'l League," as Topps had prepared these cards in line with the rumor that the Padres were about to be moved to D.C.  For the first time in its history, Topps issued the entire set all at once.  
My very brief thoughts on the set:  It's actually one of my favorites.  My Dad and I collected every single one of the cards from the 1974, 1975 and 1976 Topps sets together.  (Except for the cards Santa brought, of course.)
Notable competition:  Johnny Pro Enterprises released a 12-card set of Phillies cards, designed to be punched out of their cardboard backgrounds and stood up.

1974 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies finished with a record of 80-82, in third place in the East, eight games behind the Pirates.  It's easy to see the parallels between the Phillies teams of the early '70s and the mid '00s.  Both groups were planting the seeds of success that would manifest in just a few short years.
Key players:  Something clicked for third baseman Mike Schmidt, as he hit .282 with 116 RBIs and led the league with 36 home runs.  Center fielder Del Unser (.264, 11 home runs, 61 RBIs) and first baseman Willie Montanez (.304, 7 home runs, 79 RBIs) also provided steady offense.  New second baseman Dave Cash and his .300 batting average must have rubbed off on shortstop Larry Bowa, as Bowa raised his average up to .275.  The pitching staff was led by Steve Carlton (16-13, 3.22 ERA, 240 strikeouts) and Jim Lonborg (17-13, 3.21 ERA).
Key events:  In the offseason, General Manager Paul Owens acquired Cash from the Pirates for Ken Brett.  Cash provided the leadership and positive attitude that Owens thought had been lacking the last few years.

1974 Topps #131, #255, #360 and #619
1974 Phillies in 1974 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set: There are 28 Phillies cards in the base 1974 Topps set and 3 more Phillies cards in the Traded set for a total of 31 cards.  When I started this project, I decided I'd include the Traded series cards in the tally of total Phillies cards as these are extensions of the regular set and critical for any team set collector.  If you're keeping score at home, that's 152 Topps Phillies cards from the '70s and 620 Topps Phillies cards overall.
Who’s in:

  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#131 Bob Boone (c), #515 Willie Montanez (1b), #198 Dave Cash (2b), #255 Larry Bowa (ss), #283 Mike Schmidt (3b), #360 Greg Luzinski (lf), #69 Del Unser (cf), #619 Mike Anderson (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#95 Steve Carlton, #342 Jim Lonborg, #47 Dick Ruthven, #544T Ron Schueler, #419 Wayne Twitchell

1974 Topps #95, #342, #47 and 1974 Topps Traded #544T
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1974 - 9 cards
#149 Mac Scarce, #174 Bill Robinson, #214 Billy Grabarkewitz, #443 Tom Hutton, #492 Mike Rogodzinski, #587 Larry Christenson, #632 George Culver, #642 Terry Harmon, #534T Eddie Watt
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player "Rookie" cards - 2 cards
#599 Ron Diorio with Dave Freisleben (Padres), Frank Riccelli (Giants) and Greg Shanahan (Dodgers), #608 Mike Wallace with Bob Apodaca (Mets), Dick Baney (Reds) and John D'Acquisto (Giants)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1974 - 4 cards
#23 Craig Robinson, #383 Barry Lersch, #538 Cesar Tover, #564 Mike Ryan
  • Base cards of players who never played with the Phillies - 1 card, #139T Aurelio Monteagudo
  • Manager and coaches card - 1 card, #119
Featuring the same guys as the 1973 manager and coaches card - Manager Danny Ozark with coaches Ray Rippelmeyer, Bobby Wine, Carroll Beringer and Billy DeMars
  • Team card - 1 card, #383
Who’s out:  Reserve outfielder Jay Johnstone was omitted from the set completely, having played in just 23 games in 1973 with the Oakland A's.  Tony Taylor returned to the team after a three year stint in Detroit, but he doesn't appear in the set.  Relievers Jesus Hernaiz (27 games, 1 save) and Frank Linzy (22 games) were also omitted.
Phillies on other teams:  Given the release of this set in all one series, there are quite a few 1974 Phillies appearing on other teams in the 1974 Topps set - #431 Gene Garber (Royals), #506 Ed Farmer (Tigers), #534 Eddie Watt (Orioles), #544 Ron Schueler (Braves) and #625 Ollie Brown (Angels).  Reliever Pete Richert appears in the base set (#348) with the Dodgers and in the Traded series (#348T) with the Cardinals.  Richert was traded to the Cardinals in December 1973 and purchased by the Phils in June 1974.
What’s he doing here:  In December 1973, Monteagudo was shipped to the Phillies as the player to be named later in the Denny Doyle for Grabarkewitz swap.  He never played a game for the Phillies, or any of their minor league affiliates, yet Topps featured him in its Traded series.
Cards that never were candidates:  Johnstone, Taylor, Hernaiz and Linzy.
Favorite Phillies card:  I've always liked Bowa's card as it looks as if he's being shot out of a cannon from home plate.  The Carlton card has long been a favorite too, given Lefy's intense glare and the blurry Veterans Stadium outfield wall in the background.

1974 Topps #492, 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #20,
2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #109, 2007 Multi-Ad Reading Phillies #14
Other Stuff
Recycled:  The 2007 Reading Phillies team set pays tribute to the original with its design.  Over at the Dick Allen Hall of Fame, I love the series of Familiar Faces/Strange Places series also utilizing the 1974 Topps design.  And the 2010 Chachi cards used the design for each of the 74 cards in the set.
Blogs/Websites:  As evidence of the set's popularity among collectors, there are two excellent blogs out there chronicling the set - 1974 Topps - Pennant Fever and the 1974 Topps Set blog.
Did You Know?:  Among the 13 of you who voted, the Mike Schmidt rookie card will now be known as the best 1973 Topps Phillies card.  Schmidt's card received nine votes, Luzinski's three and Carlton's one.  The 1973 Topps Willie Montanez card didn't receive any votes.


Matt Runyon said...

My first year of collecting was 1974. I still associate the colors with the teams, even the strange ones like the pink for the Angels. Topps did a lot of things right that year such as separate team checklist cards, informative backs on team cards, and the Hank Aaron special set.

Eric C. Loy said...

To get the master set of Phillies from 1974 you need to get all 3 variations of #599, and both variations of #608 (Apodaca/o). AND you have to get both variations of the red team checklist card (one * or 2). It took me about 30 years to finish 1974.

Anonymous said...

Don't think I ever realized that the core of the '80 championship team was together so long... Luzinski, Bowa, Schmidt, Boone, as well as Carlton & McGraw on the mound.

Also, can't help but find it interesting you chose this set, since the '80 set resembles it's design so much.

Anonymous said...

OOps. I meant to mention Unser Jr... not sure why I added McGraw instead :-P ...was he in Philly yet? I know he started in Queens, but I can't remmeber when he left

Section 36 said...

So, does your set have the Washington cards?

night owl said...

I think the '74 Topps set is the first one really to use the appropriate colors with respective teams. For example:

Green with the A's
Blue with the Dodgers
Orange with the Mets
Black with the Pirates and Orioles
Red with the Phillies and Reds

Etc, etc.

When you compare with previous Topps sets, it was definitely a trend-setter in finally getting the design colors to go with the team colors, in most cases.

Jim said...

Matt & Night Owl - It's definitely a classic set and a trend-setter. One of my favorites.

Eric - Holy cow! I had no idea there were so many variations.

Devon - Tug came over after the '74 season ended. The cool thing about the guys you mentioned - Luzinski, Bowa, Schmidt, Boone is that they were all home-grown. Years of good drafts and good minor league coaching was starting to pay off.

S36 - I don't have the Washington cards. My Dad and I discussed going back and getting these cards after we had finished with the "base" 660 cards, but we never did. Similarly, we toyed for years with the idea of collecting the '75 Mini set just because we had so much fun collecting the regular '75 set, but the project never happened.

Eric C. Loy said...

Topps kept giving Monteagudo cards though he never hung around too long with one team or a whole season. Why would they waste a 1974 Traded card on him, but airbrush Dave Cash?

Jim from Downingtown said...

Mike Rogodzinski belongs in the "What's he doing here" category no matter what the setting! :D

When the Phillies closed Veterans Stadium, they had a ceremony including about 100 players covering all years at the Vet. The breakdown of players was 3 players at each position (generally the current year's starter, the 1993 starter, and the 1980 starter), plus other random players from as far back as 1971. Every player there (aside from the current team's backups) was a significant contributor during his Phillies' career except for Mike Rogodzinski.

It's almost as if when the Phillies were inviting players, they realized Rogo was within earshot, so they awkwardly said, "oh yeah, Mike, you're invited too".

Jim said...

I'm glad you picked up on the Rogo inclusion! I needed a card to round out the last set of four, and I had the same thought the Phillies had back in 2003, "Oh yeah, Mike, you're invited too."