Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Mike Schmidt Rookie Card

1973 Topps #615
Perhaps the most famous Phillies baseball card in the sixty year run of Topps is the Mike Schmidt rookie card.  My Dad and I collected the '73 Topps set in the late '80s, and at the outset we knew the Schmidt rookie card was going to be fairly tough (and expensive) to obtain.  At that point, Schmidt was still playing, he was still popular, and his cards were among the most sought after in the hobby.

In the summer of 1988, my Dad purchased this Schmidt rookie card from Kit Young Cards.  We used to get the Kit Young catalogs, and I'd pore through them by the hour, always stopping to admire the page of rookie cards from the '60s and '70s.  Buying the card locally was out of the question, as there was an implicit home-team mark-up on any Phillies cards - especially Schmidt's.  My Dad thought getting this card from an out-of-town dealer was the way to go.  I was completely speechless when he handed me the envelope containing my new treasure the day it arrived in the mail.  He had called Kit Young Cards, spoke to the owner, and in his words, "got quite a deal."

I may have more valuable cards in my collection these days, but the memory of my Dad tracking this card down for me makes it far more valuable than any other Phillies card in my collection.


Topps has reproduced the iconic card several times over the years.  Some of the reproductions are either spot on or at least accurate while others (actually one in particular) have been complete failures.  If you want a true reproduction of the card, your best bet is the 1998 Topps Stars Reprint card (see all the way below), which is pretty close to the original.  It took me a while to see a few variances in the font between the original and this reprint, and the card has a glossy finish.  It's also nice to see Ron Cey and John Hilton on the card as they were both lopped off of future "reprints."

2001 Topps Archives #71, 2004 Topps Shoe Box Collection #62,
2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #50 and 2006 Topps Rookie of the Week #17
Topps released its first Archives set in 2001, featuring the first and last Topps cards of past All-Stars.  On the Schmidt card, Cey and Hilton are gone, although the legend at the top still advertises the card as featuring "1973 Rookie Third Basemen."  There's a Chrome version of the card as well released as part of the 2001 Topps Archives Reserve set.  The 2004 Topps Shoe Box Collection card corrected the legend, advertising the subject correctly as a solo "Third Baseman."  I wish Topps had dropped this part all together, because it really doesn't make sense without knowledge of the context of the original.

The 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card isn't a reprint per se, but rather a new version of Schmidt's 1973 Topps card using a photo from the same era and this time giving us the 1973 Topps silhouette of a third baseman.  It gets extra points for including Schmidt's entire career stats on the back.  However, we're back to the unneeded "Third Basemen" bit at the top of the card.  Finally, the 2006 Topps Rookie of the Week card just makes me sad.  This is simply a crappy card and I'm guessing it took the graphics guy at Topps all of three minutes to slap this one together.  The picture isn't from the correct era, there's way too much white space on the card and unless you knew Schmidt's rookie card was from the 1973 set, you'd have no idea what Topps was even trying to approximate with this card.

On Sunday, I'll take a look at the other Phillies cards featured in the 1973 Topps set.

1998 Topps Stars Reprint #4


Sam [Also known as Harry] said...

It's "pore" through them, dude...

Anonymous said...

You pretty much said everything I would want to say about the Topps's efforts to "create" a proper 1973 solo card for Schmidt. The All-Time Fan Favorites version has to be the most maddening because they made an effort with the silhouette, but didn't bother to get font right on the name. And the redundant "1973 ROOKIE THIRD BASEMAN" just completely ruins the effect. I mean, they made an effort, but then managed to both go too far and not far enough.

The less that's said about the 2006 Rookie of the week, the better.

Jim said...

14k - We should be working for Topps. These reproductions indicate they don't really have a style guy or an actual collector on staff.

Sam and Harry - Thanks dude(s).

Section 36 said...

I'll never figure out why Topps can't correctly reprint their own cards.

Unknown said...

How to spot a real between a fake schmidt