Monday, January 20, 2020

Phillies Photo Cards: The White Whales

1996 Phillies Team Issue #26
1989 Tastykake Phillies Update #11
As a lifelong Phillies baseball card collector, one of my favorite sets has always been the team-issued photo card sets.  These are oversized cards produced by the Phillies and sold at the ballpark annually for a reasonable price - $5 a set in recent years.  The sets feature players, coaches, the manager, occasionally the announcers and usually a card for the Phanatic.  The photography is consistently excellent and my favorite part of the set is it's usually where a number of short-time Phillies players receive their one and only Phillies baseball card appearance.

I began a project a few years' back to catalog and checklist these sets, and I've created a page to serve as a table of contents for all of the team-issued sets dating back to the 1950s.  When I started the project, I was confident I had every Phillies photo card issued since at least 1983 as I had diligently tracked down a set or two each year at the Vet or later, Citizens Bank Park. 

I was wrong.  I had nowhere near every card. 

Fellow collectors Rick and Steve, along with a few other helpful fans, educated me on the team's practice of issuing cards for their annual ALS Phestival, or producing cards solely for players to honor autograph requests, be it through the mail or at scheduled appearances.  There were late season update sets I didn't know existed and variations of cards featuring different photos.  The Phillies' marketing department has been haphazard in its approach to producing these cards over the years, so knowing what I know now, I'm on high alert for variations or the possibility of a new card appearing in seemingly random situations.  I have many White Whales listed in my want lists, particularly in my want list of Phillies photo cards issued since 2000.

I can go months or years without seeing any of these cards available for sale at shows or in eBay auctions, and then as was the case last week, I found two a few days apart.  In 1996, the Phillies issued a 36-card team set that included a card of new outfielder Lee Tinsley, but featuring a picture of another new outfielder, Glenn Murray.  The card was pulled from the set, and I when I bought my set mid-summer at the Vet, it wasn't included and I only had 35 cards.  I've searched for this card for years and then a few weeks ago, two separate auctions from different buyers popped up on eBay for the 36-card team-issued photo card set from 1996.  I finally have my Tinsley/Murray card.

In 1989, a 9-card update set was released featuring the many players the Phillies had added over the summer.  I've never seen the set sold together, and I've added individual cards from the set over the years with the John Kruk card eluding me.  I finally found it via an eBay auction shortly after the two 1996 sets were listed.  That's two cards down in a decades' long hunt, and I've listed below a few other White Whales.  If you have any of these, I'd be happy to give them a good home.
  • 1996 Glenn Murray - Murray did ultimately receive his own card, issued late in the 1996 season.
  • 1998 Yorkis Perez - I have the Jon Zuber and Mike Welch cards issued at the team's annual ALS Phestival, but I haven't found Perez's card yet.
  • 2000 11-Card Update Set - I've never seen these cards for sale, either together or individually.  Travis Lee, Marlon Anderson, Omar Daal and Vicente Padilla are included in this set.
  • 2001 7-Card Update Set - Features the only Phillies baseball card for Felipe Crespo.
  • 2004 Lou Collier - A late season addition?  This is the only Phillies card for Collier.
  • 2012 Broadcasters - From the first edition set, there's a broadcasters card in some sets, but most sets for sale don't include this card.

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