Sunday, January 15, 2012

1990 Topps Phillies

1990 Topps #515, #710, #542 and #469
The early '90s were an awkward time for me.  I was an awkward teenager with awkward hair and awkward acne collecting awkward baseball cards.  Flipping through my binder of 1990 Phillies cards recently, there was one overriding theme - these cards did not age well.  Cards from the '50s and '60s are classics, cards from the '70s are cool and cards from the '80s remind me of a happy childhood.  Cards from the '90s are . . . awkward.

1990 Topps #542 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  No surprises here.  There were 792 cards in the base set and another 132 cards added to the traded series for the ninth year in a row.  (There would be two more years with this configuration before Topps mixed it up in 1993.)
My very brief thoughts on the set:  It amazes me that the creative people at Topps actually gave the green light to this set.  There are too many posed shots and there are too many orange and purple and green Phillies cards.  It's not an attractive set and it may actually be my least favorite Topps flagship set of all time.  If anyone cares to defend this set and show me the error of my ways, please leave a comment.  (I just re-read those last few sentences.  I honestly don't mean to come off as angry about the 1990 Topps set.  I still managed to hand collate the set back in the day, so I wasn't completely disgusted by it.) 
Notable competition:  If I was forced to pick a favorite set from 1990, I'd have to go with Score's set.  Donruss did this, Fleer had a completely uninspiring design, and Upper Deck basically just copied their 1989 design but rotated the base line to the top of the card.  The Leaf set was cool, but they didn't sell packs of Leaf at my Wawa and even if they did, the packs would have been too expensive for me.

1990 Topps #216, #297, #269 and #577
1990 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies actually showed some signs of life in 1990, going 77-85.  They finished in a fourth-place tie, 18 games behind the Pirates.
Key players:  Lenny Dykstra flirted with the National League batting title all season, finishing the year with a .325 average.  Von Hayes (.261, 17 home runs, 73 RBIs) and Darren Daulton (.268, 12 home runs, 57 RBIs) also enjoyed decent years.  John Kruk hit .291 in his first full season with the Phils.  Pat Combs (10-10, 4.07 ERA) and Terry Mulholland (9-10, 3.34 ERA) gave the team two reliable starting pitchers for the first time in a few years.  Roger McDowell (22 saves), Darrel Akerfelds (3.77 ERA in 71 games) and Joe Boever (2.15 ERA, 6 saves) anchored the bullpen.
Key events:  On August 3rd, in a trade that blew my mind at the time, the Phillies acquired Dale Murphy from the Braves (with Tommy Greene) for Jeff Parrett, Jim Vatcher and Victor Rosario.  I was thrilled when this move was made, as it seemed (at the time) that Murphy was the final piece the Phillies were seeking to put them over the top.  Mulholland pitched the first no-hitter by a Phillies pitcher at Veterans Stadium on August 15th.

1990 Phillies in 1990 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 29 Phillies cards in the base set and another 3 Phillies cards in the traded set.
Who’s in:

  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#542 Darren Daulton (c), #216 Ricky Jordan (1b), #297 Tom Herr (2b), #269 Dickie Thon (ss), #577 Charlie Hayes (3b), #469 John Kruk (lf), #515 Lenny Dykstra (cf), #710 Von Hayes (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#384 Pat Combs, #657 Terry Mulholland, #22 Bruce Ruffin, #756 Ken Howell

1990 Topps #384, #657, #22 and #756
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1990 - 14 cards
#39 Curt Ford, #69 Todd Frohwirth, #103 Marvin Freeman, #129 Ron Jones, #183 Steve Lake, #356 Randy Ready, #439 Jeff Parrett, #493 Jason Grimsley, #625 Roger McDowell, #633 Dennis Cook, #731 Don Carman, #1T Darrel Akerfelds, #41T Dave Hollins, #68T Carmelo Martinez
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1990 - 3 cards (with new teams listed)
#154 Mike Maddux (Dodgers), #204 Bob Dernier (Retired), #607 Steve Jeltz (Royals)
  • #1 Draft Pick card - 1 card, #74 Jeff Jackson
  • Manager card - 1 card, #489 Nick Leyva
  • Phillies appearing on Turn Back the Clock cards - 1 card, #662 Mike Schmidt
As much as I didn't care for the set, I was grateful that Topps gave us one last Schmidt card following the year he retired.  His 1980 Topps card is featured on the card looking back to ten years prior. 

1990 Topps #625, #633, 1990 Topps Traded #1T and 1990 Topps #750
Who’s out:  It would have been awesome if Murphy had been included in the traded set, but he was left out.  (Both Fleer and Score managed to work him into their update sets.)  Jose DeJesus, acquired in a March trade with the Royals, should have also made it into the traded set.  DeJesus went 7-8 in 22 starts for the Phils.  There are also quite a few bench guys, rookies and relievers deserving of cards, including Rod Booker (73 games), Sil Campusano (66 games), Mickey Morandini (made his debut in September), and Boever.
Phillies on other teams:  Martinez appears with the Pirates on card #686 and he made it into the traded series as a Phillie.  Four players only had cards with the former teams - #410 Joe Boever (Braves), #534 Louie Meadows (Astros), #595 Jose DeJesus (Royals), #750 Dale Murphy (Braves).
1990 Topps #662
What’s he doing here:  A few years back, the player's union came up with a bunch of baseball card related rules that prevented Topps (and Upper Deck at the time) from including players in "main" sets who were not on team's 40-man rosters.  It's a good rule.  I remember opening a pack of 1990 Topps cards and coming across the card of Phillies top draft pick Jeff Jackson and thinking "Why?"  I didn't want cards of draft picks.  I wanted cards of players whose names I was seeing in box scores - the utility guys, middle relievers and defensive replacements.  Jackson never made it to the majors as he kicked around the minors until hanging up his spikes in 1998.  I mean no disrespect to Jackson here, but I would have rather pulled a card of Chuck McElroy.  
Cards that never were candidates:  Murphy, Boever, DeJesus, Booker, Campusano and Morandini.  I'll also add Wes Chamberlain to the long list, as Chamberlain was acquired from the Pirates at the end of August and hit .283 in 18 games.
Favorite Phillies card:  I'll go with Kruk's card, by default.  Kruk is pictured with his pre-beard and mullet look.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  As far as I know, Topps hasn't gone back to this design for any Phillies cards.  And why would they?  I took a stab at creating a final tribute Schmidt card a few years ago.
Blogs/Websites:  I can't say I'm shocked there isn't a blog dedicated to this set.  However, I love that Shoebox Legends did a series of posts highlighting his favorite cards from his "guilty pleasure" set.  I'd also like to highly recommend The Greatest 21 Days, which is highlighting each and every card from the 1990 CMC minor league set.  
Did You Know?:  Other than a few oddball issues, Schmidt wouldn't be featured on another mainstream baseball card until 1994's Ted Williams set.  When these new Schmidt cards were released, it was big news for me at the time and I remember actively seeking out his cards from the main Ted Williams set and the special 9-card insert set which chronicled the slugger's career.  It seems strange now to go three to four years without a new baseball card of a Hall of Famer.  Over the past few years especially, it seems as if Schmidt is featured in just about every "legends" based insert set that Topps releases.


Matt Runyon said...

I would also vote for Score as the best set of 1990. It's the only set from that year that I like. Topps had really gotten into a rut during this time -- the backs were too similar to each other. This set and the Donruss set are probably my least favorite ones from these companies.

Anonymous said...

While the 1990 Donruss as a whole deserves nearly all the scorn it receives, the Phillies team set by itself doesn't look so bad. From the perspective of a Phillies-only collector, there are far worse sets out there from the same time period (I'm looking at you, 1990 Fleer and 1991 Fleer). The red borders actually suit the Phillies maroon rather well, and the photo selection, while admittedly uninspired, doesn't contain any obviously bad shots. Furthermore, I think their Schmidt tribute card was better than what any of the others made.

So, while I haven't given much thought to what favorite set of 1990 was, I know that I would likely pick the 1990 Donruss Phillies team set over the 1990 Topps Phillies team set.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I don't like any design that leaves the player's position off the front.

John Bateman said...

Ackward is a good word to describe this set. I don't hate but I don't love it. It is like an end of era set. Baseball cards were about to change. Good Bye non glossy, brown card backs, no inserts packs just 792 cards to collect.

Though I did like the draft pick cards.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at myself for not remembering this until late this evening, but the design was reused for the Topps Debut 1989 boxed set, which that year featured Combs, Jason Grimsley and Chuck McElroy. Topps repeated the set in 1991 and 1992 -- something to consider when you get around to your posts on those two sets.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I remember opening a pack of 1990 Topps cards and coming across the card of Phillies top draft pick Jeff Jackson and thinking "Why?" I didn't want cards of draft picks. I wanted cards of players whose names I was seeing in box scores

Yeah, I bought the 1990 or 1991 Bowman factory set back in the day, and it was the same thing - too many prospects that never panned out.

Kevin said...

This is about where the money people took over the hobby...which can be demonstrated with the draft pick cards. I think Topps got a lot worse with their sets in the mid-90s.

Myself, I like the cards of the forgotten middle reliever and backup catcher, and could care less about some draft pick wearing his prom tuxedo who would never get a call to the majors. At that point, are they really baseball cards or just citizens of the US cards.

Also, I think Upper Deck had a Mike Schmidt tribute card in their 1990 set as well. It was one of those awful artistically rendered cards in the vain of the Diamond Kings.

Jim said...

Kevin - Your "At that point, are they really baseball cards or just citizens of the US cards" actually made me laugh out loud. And I completely agree with you.