Featured Cards: 1963 Topps #434, Johnny Callison; 1963 Topps #91, Dallas Green
When I posted the 2012 Topps Heritage 1963 Buybacks checklist last week, I paused when I added the scan of the Ruben Amaro, Sr. card. What caught my eye was the team designation: “PHIL. PHILLIES.” This suddenly got my attention because on all the 2012 Heritage cards, it’s completely spelled out as “PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES®” (yes, complete with the annoying little registered trademark symbol that is now apparently required whenever the team name is listed on the baseball card). Did Topps completely frak up a little detail when putting together this year’s Heritage set? Well, no… not exactly, that is.
After examining the 2012 Heritage cards, I exercised due diligence and took a closer look at all the Phillies in the 1963 Topps set. In doing so, I found something very interesting:
Topps actually had the team name listed both ways throughout the set. Better still, there is no discernible pattern that helps to understand why some cards got spelled out while others didn’t. I checked the series in which the card appeared, player position, and the color combination of the border and the inset photo background — in every case, there were instances of the team name either completely spelled out or abbreviated. I did a cursory check on eBay to see if I could find any players who had cards with both of the team designations (admittedly, hoping to find a previously uncatalogued variation), but no luck. It appears that Topps consistently used the same designation for each player. The only thing that I determined was that more cards carried the abbreviated spelling than the full team spelling.
The really amazing thing to me is that I never noticed this before. I don’t know if anything similar happened in the set with any of the other teams, but it completely surprised me to discover this little inconsistency so long after first adding 1963 Topps cards to my collection. It’s a shame that someone at Topps didn’t notice this before putting out this year’s Heritage set. They could have created variations on a few choice Phillies cards as a nod to the overall inconsistency in the original 1963 offering. At least, I think that would have been (initially, anyway) far more interesting than many of their fabricated variations with no historical basis in the ’63 set.
The truly amazing thing to me is that I’ve been building a collection exclusively of Phillies cards for nearly 25 years now, and I only just now noticed this little quirk. Given Topps’s long-established track record of shoddy reproductions of their own product, I can’t blame them for not noticing either. Nonetheless, it would have been really nice if someone over there had noticed and found a way to incorporate this quirk in this year’s Heritage offering.