Saturday, December 10, 2011

1988 Topps Phillies

1988 Topps #600, #572, #705 and #95
This is the 38th post I've written about the Phillies appearing within the Topps baseball card sets since way back in 1951.  I've had a lot of fun researching and writing these posts and I'm looking forward to delving into the dark decade of the '90s.  Given the approaching yuletide season, the next Topps Phillies post may not appear until 2012.  You never know though . . . if there's some free time over the Christmas break and the boys are both happily playing with their new toys, I may just sneak away to rummage through my 1989 Topps binder.  (Also, this post is running a day early so that I can celebrate my son's birthday with tomorrow's post.)

1988 Topps #572 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  Why mess with a good thing?  For the seventh straight year, Topps gave us 792 cards in the base set and a 132-card traded series.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  For the first time since 1980, Topps went back to the idea that the color purple was somehow associated with the Phillies.  There still wasn't a position listed on the front of the cards, but I liked the floating team name at the top.  It was only a few years ago that I realized that the team name is positioned just behind the top of each player's head or arm or bat.  I spent countless hours looking at these cards back in the day and I just never noticed that.
Notable competition:  The colorful Score set entered the fold in 1988, and I'll admit that some of my lawn mowing money went towards purchasing packs of the new kid on the block.  With a cool new set and my loyalty towards Topps, I pretty much ignored Fleer and Donruss in 1988.

1988 Phillies
Record and finish:  In their worst year since 1972, the Phillies finished with a record of 65-96, dead last in the East and 35 1/2 games behind the division-winning Mets.  The Phillies wouldn't lose 96 games again until 2000.
Key players:  Not one player finished with more than 20 home runs.  Right fielder Chris James had perhaps the best offensive output, hitting a lowly .242 with 19 home runs and 66 RBIs.  Mike Schmidt missed the last month and a half of the season, and his home run tally fell to 12.  Juan Samuel (.243, 12 home runs, 67 RBIs) and Lance Parrish (.215, 15 home runs, 60 RBIs) muddled along as best they could.  There were a few bright spots though as rookies Ricky Jordan (.308, 11 home runs) and Ron Jones (.290) made their debuts and Bob Dernier (.289) returned to the organization.  (Hooray!)  Kevin Gross led the pitching staff with 12 wins and Steve Bedrosian managed to save 28 games.
Key events:  The entire season was a mess.  Woody Woodward was brought in as the new GM during the offseason, but he was fired in June.  Lee Thomas was hired and he immediately started cutting personnel and players.  Manager Lee Elia and several of his coaches didn't make it through the season.  Coach John Vukovich was brought in on an interim basis to finish off the season and he went 5-4.

1988 Topps #215, #126, 1988 Topps Traded #18T and 1988 Topps #298
1988 Phillies in 1988 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 33 Phillies in the base Topps set and just another two Phillies cards in the traded set.  There are a ridiculous 42 Team USA cards in the traded set, which always really annoyed me.  Almost a third of the traded set were mostly guys I had never heard of before, while deserving Phillies such as Dernier, Jordan, Jones and reliever Greg Harris got shut out.
Who’s in:

  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#95 Lance Parrish (c), #215 Von Hayes (1b), #705 Juan Samuel (2b), #126 Steve Jeltz (ss), #600 Mike Schmidt (3b), #18T Phil Bradley (lf), #298 Milt Thompson (cf), #572 Chris James (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#20 Kevin Gross, #415 Don Carman, #66 Shane Rawley, #79T David Palmer, #268 Bruce Ruffin

1988 Topps #20, #415, #66 and 1988 Topps Traded #79T
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1988 - 10 cards
#38 Jeff Calhoun, #188 John Russell, #356 Luis Aguayo, #378 Todd Frohwirth, #440 Steve Bedrosian, #468 Darren Daulton, #494 Wally Ritchie, #518 Greg Gross, #543 Kent Tekulve, #756 Mike Maddux
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1988 - 7 cards (with new teams listed)
#154 Jeff Stone (Orioles), #203 Fred Toliver (Twins), #626 Glenn Wilson (Mariners), #651 Mike Jackson (Mariners), #731 Rick Schu (Orioles), #781 Keith Hughes (Orioles), #783 Ron Roenicke (Reds)
  • Phillies Leaders card - 1 card, #669
This card sums up the team's 1988 season perfectly.  Catcher Parrish looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than swatting while wearing a Phillies uniform and getting ready to catch one of the team's suspect pitchers.  Coach Mike Ryan looks on, appearing to be hot, tired and bored.
  • Phillies appearing on National League All Star Cards - 3 cards
#398 Juan Samuel, #406 Shane Rawley, #407 Steve Bedrosian
  • Manager card - 1 card, #254 Lee Elia
1988 Topps #440, #543, #268 and #642
Who’s out:  See above for my little rant about the Team USA cards in the 1988 Topps Traded set.
Phillies on other teams:  Bradley (#66 with the Mariners) and Palmer (#457 with the Braves) were the only two players to get Phillies cards in the traded series.  There were six other players in the set who spent time with the Phils in 1988 - #179 Greg Harris (Rangers), #328 Bill Dawley (Cardinals), #337 Bob Sebra (Expos), #393 Mike Young (Orioles), #451 Bob Dernier (Cubs) and #787 Bill Almon (Mets).
What’s he doing here:  Roenicke was released right after the 1987 season had ended, yet he's included as a Phillie in the 1988 Topps set.  I have to remind myself sometimes that this was back when the next year's releases were already in stores the preceding December.
1988 Topps #669
Cards that never were candidates:  Dernier, Jordan, Jones, Harris and probably Young - but only because he appeared in 75 games.  I'd make a manager card for Vukovich to commemorate his 9-game stint as interim manager.
Favorite Phillies card:  This is probably the toughest crop of Phillies cards from which to pick a favorite since the lackluster 1955 Topps set.  By default, I'll go with Bedrock's card since he was coming off his Cy Young season.  Schmidt's card may just be his worst Topps base card ever.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  A reprint of Tekulve's card appears in the 2001 Topps Archives set.
Blogs/Websites:  One of the original set blogs, 88 Topps Cards set the bar for all set blogs that have followed.
Did You Know?:  Long before Topps began its shenanigans with the Abe Lincoln variation cards found within packs of its 2010 set, there was of course the James K. Polk variations found within certain packs of 1988 Topps.  I'm still searching for the Frohwirth and Schu Polk variations.  Send me an e-mail if you have either of those cards available for trade.


night owl said...

I know the purple and green is weird, but I always thought that the Phillies cards in this set look terrific.

Kevin said...

Hate this seems like it was full of poorly printed cards. I think the Score set was the best set of 1988, but unfortunately, this was probably the only set by them that was worthwhile, and UD coming out a year later killed their momentum as the high quality card...I hate the later sets from Score with the Master Blasters and Dream Team cards.

Jim said...

Night Owl - I agree with you, but I've always thought the cards would have been so much better had Topps used blue and red.

Kevin - I loved that Score set when it came out and I couldn't get enough of it. The 1989 set was a disappointment to me.

Anonymous said...

Bill Almon also appeared in the 1988 set (#787) as a Met. He played in 20 games for the Phillies in 88 before being released in June.

Jim said...

Thanks! Not sure how I missed Almon the first time around since his Topps card is in my 1988 Phillies binder. I've updated the post to include his card.