Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Mysterious Jim Vatcher Card and the Neverending Quest to Checklist Phillies Team Issued Sets

1990 Phillies Team Issue #31
For years, there was a gaping hole in my run of Phillies team issued sets as I found it impossible to track down a 1990 set.  I recently added the elusive 1990 set to my collection, and was a little surprised when I realized the set contained 37 cards, and not the 36 I was expecting.  Jim Vatcher was the unexpected 37th card, and I've been unable to find any more information on this mystery card.

Since the 1970s, the Phillies have created their own baseball card sets, postcard-sized (or bigger), and typically sold in complete set form at the ballpark or given away as a promotional item at a game.  For a few years in the late 1980s and then again beginning in the 2010s, the sets would be updated throughout the year for new player additions.

The dealer I bought the 1990 Phillies set from told me that the 1990 cards were given away four to five at a time in shrink-wrapped packages handed out before select 1990 home games.  He told me the cards were never sold in complete set form, and that he had hand collated the 1990 set I was about to buy.  I'm not sure if this story is accurate or not, but it would explain why the 1990 team set has been so hard to find.  That being said, I definitely went to a handful of games in 1990 and I never received any of these "packs" of cards as I entered the Vet.  (As an aside, before last weekend, the only 1990 Phillies Team Issue card I had seen is in my wife's collection and it will one day pay for our sons' college tuition.  I jest.)

Which brings me to this Vatcher card.  The checklist for the set in an older edition of the Standard Catalog lists 36 cards, with no Vatcher card.  The Beckett database incorrectly lists the set as "1990 Phillies Tastykake" even though Tastykake's name is no where to be found on the set.  Their checklist also only includes 36 cards.  So who knows where this card came from?  Does anyone else have this card in their Phillies collections?

Along with finishing up my Missing Links and Topps Phillies series of posts, I'd also like to start a series on the various Phillies team issued sets since 1983.  (If and when I obtain any of the older sets, which are also extremely hard to track down, I'll go back and cover those as well.)  My hope is to chronicle each year's set, the updates (if any) and catalog the known rarities and variations to be found within these sets.

Given that I have a full-time job and two small children at home, I should be able to get through this project by at least 2027.

* * *

On the sidebar to the left, I've listed those Phillies team-issued cards and sets that I haven't yet added to my collection.  Any help and/or trades are greatly appreciated!


Rickphils said...

I have near complete checklists of Phillies postcards from 1950 to current. The Phillies issued black and white, blank backed postcards probably starting in the early 50's based on the inclusion/exclusion of players that would have been expected to be in sets in 1950, 1951, etc. The cards were released in response to fan requests for autographs and often had pre-printed facsimiles. Some popular players in the 50's were re-issued year after year with no changes (Ashburn, Roberts, Willie Jones, Hamner, etc). Later some of the popular players have different poses or cropped differently. In 1970-1981 the Phillies issued black and white composites, trifolds with a schedule on one side. The individual photos in the composite are identical to the postcards including the location of the facsimile autograph. In the mid-70's they started adding action shots so it is harder to identify them by years. Dan Even has assembled a checklist for the 1950-1982 sets that is reasonably complete but has gaps in identifying the difference in action shots from year to year. In 1982 the Phillies sets were sponsored by Tastykake and have the Tastykake logo and most have a dark blue facsimile autograph. This set included every player on the team, the manager and coaches. Later in the year they issued a 25 player set, no coaches or manager that had identical photos but no facsimile or logo. To my knowledge, I have the only set which I bought for a mere $3 on ebay. The set has a Bill Robinson card not in the tastykake set. Robinson was acquired for Dick Davis in June, 1982, There is no Dick Davis in the second set. In 1983 the Phillies started issuing color postcards in response to fan mail. I don't know if they were also available at the ball park. There are several cards with different backs. In 1984, the Tastykake sheet included some extra players in case they were called up including Daulton and several others. These have made it into the hobby. I do not have the time to go through every list and circumstance now but would be willing to contribute information, lists, some photos, etc piecemeal as I have time. I have most of the team issued postcards from 1950's on but still need several including the 1982 Tastykake black and white action shot of Dick Davis.

Rickphils said...

P.S. My collection includes signed Phillies postcards from 1983-current including variations. I also have all of the Phillies alumni postcards which were initially given out during Meet and Greet sessions in the HOF club where I have season tickets.

Jim said...

Wow - thanks for the information! I'd love more information (at your convenience, of course) on the team issued sets from the '70s and early '80s and I'd particularly be interested in a list of the alumni postcards.

Thanks again for the information in your comment!

rickphils said...

Follow me on Twitter and we can exchange contact info and go from there.