Sunday, August 7, 2011

1977 Topps Phillies

1977 Topps #30, #140, #520 and #310
The 1977 Topps set was the first complete set of baseball cards I ever received as a gift.  It was either 1982 or 1983, and I remember seeing the familiar shape of a cheese box wrapped in Star Wars wrapping paper on my birthday.  (Or was it G.I. Joe wrapping paper by then?)  I knew instantly my parents had purchased a bunch of baseball cards for me, and once I lifted the box, I knew they had purchased a lot of baseball cards for me.  I ripped off the wrapping paper, lifted off the top of the box and started going through the cards, starting with the League Leader cards.

I remember thinking, "What is this?" and my Dad must have noticed the confused look on my face.  "It's the complete 1977 Topps set," he responded.  "The whole set?"  "Yep, the whole set."  It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen to that point in my young baseball card collecting career - a complete set of 660 cards, neatly collated together in a box.

(And does anyone else remember cheese boxes?  Did anyone else use them for storing baseball cards?)

1977 Topps #310 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  There are 660 cards in the set, for the fifth year in a row.  Sadly, there was no Traded series.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  It's not a complicated design, but it works.  For some reason, the backs of the cards have always been favorites of mine.  I've always liked the large font used to display the player's name across the top of the backs of the cards, and it's cool that the information on the back is framed to look as if it's on a billboard.
Notable competition:  With SSPC out of the way, Topps had to compete with only the usual suspects - Hostess, Kellogg's, and a few other oddball offerings.

1977 Phillies
Record and finish:  The team finished with a record identical to their record from the prior year, 101-61, and they won the division for the second straight year.  However, they lost to the Dodgers in the N.L.C.S., three games to one.
Key players:  Mike Schmidt (.274, 38 home runs, 101 RBIs) and Greg Luzinski (.309, 39 home runs, 130 RBIs) again paced the offense.  Luzinski finished second in the N.L. MVP voting, behind Joe Morgan.  Bake McBride, a mid-season acquisition, hit .339 with the Phillies.  The pitching staff was led by Steve Carlton (23-10, 2.64 ERA, 198 strikeouts) and Larry Christenson (19-6, 4.06 ERA), who enjoyed a career year.  The bullpen was anchored by Gene Garber (19 saves, 2.35 ERA), Ron Reed (15 saves, 2.75 ERA) and Tug McGraw (9 saves, 2.62 ERA).
Key events:  In mid-June, in need of a spark for the offense, GM Paul Owens traded Tom Underwood and three other players to the Cardinals for right fielder McBride.  The '77 Phillies are often listed as one of the best teams in franchise history, along with the 1950, 1980, 1993 and 2008 squads.  It all came crashing down for the team on Black Friday, October 7th, when the Dodgers stunned the Phils in Game 3 of the N.L.C.S. by scoring three times in the ninth for the stunning come-from-behind victory.  I'm too young to remember the game first-hand, but reading about it and listening to my Dad talk about it is painful enough.

1977 Topps #545, #415, #596 and #264
1977 Phillies in 1977 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  First of all, I am not including this card in the tally.  It's a Reds card, and not a Phillies card.  There are 26 cards needed for a complete 1977 Topps Phillies team set.  The running tally is 237 Topps Phillies cards from the '70s and 705 Topps Phillies cards overall.
Who’s in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 6 cards
#545 Bob Boone (c), #310 Larry Bowa (ss), #140 Mike Schmidt (3b), #30 Greg Luzinski (lf), #520 Garry Maddox (cf), #415 Jay Johnstone (rf)

The regular first baseman, Richie Hebner, and second baseman, Ted Sizemore, are featured with other teams in the set.

1977 Topps #110, #59, #638 and #569
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#110 Steve Carlton, #59 Larry Christenson, #638 Jim Kaat, #569 Jim Lonborg

For the second consecutive year, Randy Lerch has to share his card with three other pitchers.
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1977 - 11 cards
#84 Ollie Brown, #164 Tug McGraw, #188 Bobby Tolan, #217 Tom Underwood, #243 Ron Reed, #264 Tom Hutton, #289 Gene Garber, #357 Tim McCarver, #388 Terry Harmon, #444 Wayne Twitchell, #596 Jerry Martin
  • Phillies appearing on multi-player "Rookie" cards - 1 card
#489 Randy Lerch with Len Barker (Rangers), Greg Minton (Giants) and Mike Overy (Angels)
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1977 - 2 cards
#337 Ron Schueler, #619 Johnny Oates
  • League Leader cards - 1 card
#2 Home Run Leaders - Mike Schmidt with Graig Nettles (Yankees)
  • Team card with manager - 1 card, #467 with Danny Ozark
1977 Topps #357, #516, #289 and #243
Who’s out:  First baseman Davey Johnson appeared in 78 games with the team, but he's not in the set.  Reliever Warren Brusstar pitched in 46 games but he doesn't have a card either.
Phillies on other teams:  There are six players from the 1977 Phillies team who appeared in the 1977 Topps set with different teams - #167 Richie Hebner (Pirates), #366 Ted Sizemore (Dodgers), #391 Dan Warthen (Expos), #516 Bake McBride (Cardinals) and #612 Barry Foote (Expos)
What’s he doing here:  It's hard to argue with Topps' player selection again this year.  Everyone featured with the Phillies had seen playing time with the team in 1976.
Cards that never were candidates:  Johnson and Brusstar should have cards, and I'd create Phillies cards for McBride, Hebner and Sizemore.  (Hebner actually has a 1977 Topps Phillies card, sort of.  More on that in a bit.)
Favorite Phillies card:  It's got to be Schmidt's card - baby blue road uniform, 1976 Bicentennial patch in clear sight, Schmidt's mid-'70s 'stache and blue skies in the background.

Other Stuff
1977 O-Pee-Chee #168
Recycled:  Topps reprinted Carlton's card in 2001 as part of its Through the Years insert set in both a regular and a Chrome format.  Luzinski's card was reprinted as part of the 2002 Topps Archives set and McCarver received a 1977-style card in the 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set, using a different picture from the era.  I could have sworn Topps had reprinted the Schmidt card at some point, but I guess not.  Finally, I used the design for the 2008 Chachi set.
Blogs/Websites:  There are quite a few blogs out there covering Topps sets from the '60s to the early to mid-'70s, but there aren't that many set-specific blogs out there for the "modern era" of Topps - with the exception of a few here and there.  Since there's not a 1977 Topps blog out there yet, that I'm aware of any way, here's a post I wrote discussing the set and the other big event of 1977.
Did You Know?:  For its Canadian O-Pee-Chee release, Topps airbrushed Hebner into a Phillies uniform.  There's a whole untapped area of baseball cards out there for me, as I honestly have no idea if Topps did this for any other Phillies players, or if this was just a one-off type thing for Hebner's 1977 release.  I've never paid much attention to the O-Pee-Chee team variations before, but once I received this card from the fine proprietor of the Oh My O-Pee Chee! blog, I realized I should probably start researching the Phillies team variation cards for cool instances like this Hebner card.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out the O-Pee-Chee Hebner. It is now on my wantlists. Just FYI, the 1979 O-Pee-Chee set uses the orignal, non-airbrushed photos from the regular Topps set for Pete Rose, Doug Radar and Manny Trillo, but does update the team designation to Phillies and uses the correct coloring for the border when doing so.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I think Dave Johnson had spent the previous year in Japan, which is why he didn't have a card.

Matt Runyon said...

I'm thinking about starting a 1977 blog in a few weeks. I'm running out of stuff to post for 1976.

Jim said...

14k - Good to know. I'd be interested in any other information you have on the O-Pee-Chee team variation cards for the Phils.

Jim - Fortunately, Johnson would have a Phillies card in the 1978 set.

Matt - I'd be one of the first followers!