Sunday, February 5, 2012

1993 Topps Phillies

1993 Topps #180, #17, #340 and #740
I've been lucky enough so far to live through three golden ages of Phillies baseball - some longer than others.  The first golden age occurred from the late 1970s through the early 1980s when I was barely old enough (especially during the early years) to remember much of it.  We're in a golden age now which, beginning in 2007, has resulted in five consecutive division titles and one World Series title.  Sandwiched in between these two ages was a quick, I can't believe this is really happening, golden age.  In 1993, for 162 regular season games, 6 League Championship games, and 6 World Series games, the Phillies were one of the best teams in baseball.

It wasn't pretty, but we loved that team.  Harry Kalas famously referred to them as a lovable band of misfits and cast-offs and they gave us the last taste of the postseason for 14 long and sometimes painful years.

1993 Topps #17 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  Topps stirred things up in 1993 by releasing its set in multiple series for the first time since 1972.  There are 396 cards in series one and another 429 cards in series two, for a total tally of 825 cards in the complete set.  Topps added their standard 132-card traded set but by this point, the traded set had lost all relevance to me.  Given the large amount of sets on the market produced by Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score and Upper Deck, I already had access to Phillies cards of players acquired prior to the start of the season or even at the beginning of the season by the time the traded set rolled around.  So I wasn't that upset in 1993 when Topps made the decision to include only two Phillies within its traded series.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  I really liked these cards and unlike the 1992 Topps set, I actually hand collated the entire 825-card set.  For the second year in a row, the player's position isn't featured on the fronts of the cards, but I didn't seem to mind since I was very fond of the card front's overall design.  The backs of the cards have a vertical alignment for the first time since 1975 and there is a full-color player photo on the backs for the first time ever.
Notable competition:  I held down a few part-time jobs while in college and any money not spent on food or clothes or entertainment went to packs of Topps or Upper Deck cards.  Upper Deck produced a wonderful set in 1993 - probably the best set of its 21-year run.  In fact, it's one of the few non-Topps sets that I proudly display in 9-pocket pages in its own binder.  1993 was also the year that Donruss and Fleer continued their comebacks, producing very attractive sets.

1993 Topps #262, #371, #154 and 1993 Topps Traded #73T
1993 Phillies
Record and finish:  With a record of 97-65, the Phillies won their division for the first time since 1983, finishing three games ahead of the Montreal Expos.  They stunned the Atlanta Braves in the N.L.C.S., winning the series in six games, and they in turn were stunned by Joe Carter and the Toronto Blue Jays.  It seems a little silly now, but the events of October 23, 1993, were very traumatic to me at the time.
Key players:  The offense was paced by Darren Daulton (.257, 24 home runs, 105 RBIs), Dave Hollins (.273, 18 home runs, 93 RBIs), John Kruk (.316, 14 home runs, 85 RBIs) and Lenny Dykstra (.305, 19 home runs, 66 RBIs).  Supporting players such as Mariano Duncan, Milt Thompson, Jim Eisenreich and Pete Incaviglia played huge roles as well.  Curt Schilling and Tommy Greene led the pitching staff with 16 wins each, followed by Ben Rivera's 13 wins and Danny Jackson's and Terry Mulholland's 12 wins a piece.  It was the first time since 1932 that the team had five starting pitchers with 10 or more wins.  Closer Mitch Williams saved 43 games during the regular season, and unnecessarily shouldered complete blame for the World Series loss.  
Key events:  Prior to the start of the season, General Manager Lee Thomas cobbled together a group of cast-offs via free agency or trades to compliment the core line-up.  The acquisitions of Jackson, David West, Eisenreich, Incaviglia, Thompson and Larry Andersen had as much to do with the team's big season as the overall offensive output of Macho Row.  I could easily compose a multi-part post with all of the highlights from this wonderful season, but one highlight in particular has always been my favorite.  In July, following a lengthy rain delay, the Phils started the second game of a double header at 1:26 in the morning.  The game ended at 4:41 on a walk-off, 10th inning single from "Mitchy-Poo" Mitch Williams.

1993 Phillies in 1993 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 15 Phillies cards each in each series of the base set and only two more Phillies cards in the traded set.  The Phils got seriously shafted by Topps in '93.
Who’s in:

  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 5 cards
#180 Darren Daulton (c), #340 John Kruk (1b), #262 Mickey Morandini (2b), #17 Dave Hollins (3b), #740 Lenny Dykstra (cf)

I'm basing this starting line-up on starts by position.  Mariano Duncan played in 124 games, but he jumped around between second and third.  Kevin Stocker joined the team too late in the season to be featured in the traded series, although he did appear in the Stadium Club set.  Left fielder Thompson was completely omitted from the set, despite having played in 109 games for the Cardinals in 1992.  Eisenreich was featured with the Royals in the base set and he didn't get a card in the traded set. 
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#421 Curt Schilling, #291 Tommy Greene, #555 Terry Mulholland, #622 Ben Rivera

I had to double check, but Danny Jackson was also completely omitted from the set.  Jackson started 34 games in 1992 for the Cubs and Pirates, so it's a little odd that he didn't at least end up in the regular set.

1993 Topps #421, #291, #622 and #235
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 1993 - 13 cards
#43 Ruben Amaro Jr., #99 Mike Williams, #126 Bob Ayrault, #154 Wes Chamberlain, #235 Mitch Williams, #371 Mariano Duncan, #479 Todd Pratt, #531 Joe Millette, #585 Ricky Jordan, #679 Kim Batiste, #818 Brad Brink, #37T Tyler Green, #73T Pete Incaviglia

Brink's card is a part of the Coming Attractions subset at the very end of the set.
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 1993 - 7 cards (with new teams listed)
#72 Jeff Grotewold (Twins), #208 Mike Hartley (Twins), #317 Kyle Abbott (minors), #445 Dale Murphy (Rockies), #649 Tom Marsh (minors), #712 Stan Javier (Angels), #773 Cliff Brantley (minors)
  • 1992 Draft Pick card - 1 card, #161 Chad McConnell
  • 1992 Topps All Stars card - 1 card, #408 Darren Daulton with Brian Harper (Twins)
  • Manager card - 1 card, #510 Jim Fregosi with Buck Showalter (Yankees)
1993 Topps #555, #22 and #510
Who’s out:  I still find it weird that Thompson and Jackson were both left out of the set altogether.  Relievers Andersen, Roger Mason and Mark Davis all played a part in the championship season, but they were also left out of the set.
Phillies on other teams:  There are five cards of 1993 Phillies players on their former teams - #7 Pete Incaviglia (Astros), #22 Jim Eisenreich (Royals), #645 Bobby Thigpen (White Sox), #652 David West (Twins), #707 Donn Pall (White Sox).
What’s he doing here:  Phillies first round draft pick and Creighton product Chad McConnell kicked around the Phillies minor leagues through the 1996 season before calling it a career.  He never played for the Phillies.
Cards that never were candidates:  Thompson, Jackson, Stocker, Andersen, Eisenreich and West are all good candidates.
Favorite Phillies card:  There's actually quite a few great Phillies cards in this set, but I'll go with Mitch Williams' card as my favorite.  That definitely would not have been the case back on October 23, 1993.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  Murphy and Dykstra's cards were reprinted in the 2001 and 2002 Topps Archives sets, respectively.  While Kruk, Daulton, Dykstra (again) and Mitch Williams have cards featuring the 1993 Topps design within the 2003 and 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set.
Blogs/Websites:  Based on my limited research, I don't think there's another set-specific Topps blog out there until 2008.  (Please let me know if I've missed any.)  So unless I come up with any better ideas, I'm going to use this space to link to my past posts.  Back in this blog's infancy, I toyed with the idea of posting the baseball cards of all the players from key teams from the Phillies' past.  I did this with the 1956 Topps Phillies cards and I started the process with the 1993 Phillies club, before the idea eventually petered out.  Here's the post from May 2009 that served as my planned gateway to the baseball cards of the 1993 Phillies squad.
Did You Know?:  I was 500 miles away from the action when the Phillies clinched the division in 1993.  One of my fondest memories of that season is my parents holding up the phone to their television set so that I could hear Harry the K call the final inning and the final outs.  My Mom taped the game and the post-game celebrations and mailed me the VHS tape the next day.  (I still have that tape around here somewhere.)  Composing this post has made me very nostalgic for 1993, and it almost makes me want to hook up a VCR and drop in the team's highlight video, aptly titled, "Whatever It Takes, Dude."

2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #84, #94, #141 and
2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #79


Matthew Appleton said...

Interestingly, Topps did an autograph version in its 2002 reprint of Dykstra's 1993 card and an autograph version of its 2003 Fan Favorites issue.

I also happen to have a PSA/DNA slabbed '93 Topps Terry Mulholland -- it's kind of cool to see his autograph on that particular card.

night owl said...

My brother lived in New Jersey in 1993 and we made a trip to a Phillies-Pirates game in late July. The Phillies won and Danny Jackson pitched a nice game. I had no inkling they would be a World Series team.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I think the Phils were in 1st place every day in 1993.

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Kevin said...

This was about where I dropped off collecting cards completely and really have nothing until about the 2002 sets. Although, this design in my opinion has aged well.

I wonder if in terms of card value, if the cards from about the 1994 strike to maybe the McGwire/Sosa HR chase in 1998 could be very valuable because less people collected them...although maybe the hobby was bigger than I thought in this phase.

Jim said...

Jim from Downingtown - It was every day except one. They were a half game out after the fourth game of the season.

Kevin - Interesting theory. It does seem as if singles from 1994 through 1998 are harder to come by, and I wonder if that's because far less people were collecting then.