Although baseball cards remain the primary focus of my Phillies collection, I also try to obtain autographs of as many Phillies as possible. For what I feel are obvious reasons, certified autograph cards issued by the trading card manufacturers are the primary source of these in my collection and my preferred way of acquiring them. But, for the Phillies who haven’t been asked to sign such cards (or sign stickers to be placed on cards), I also collect baseballs and photos bearing signatures authenticated by the likes of PSA/DNA, SGC, GAI and JSA. While it isn’t an issue with baseballs, the one catch for me is that I don’t want photos or cards that picture the player with another team. Thus, I have no interest in Bruce Ruffin’s 1996 Leaf Extended Series autograph card, even though it’s the only certified autograph card ever issued for him. I also refuse to forgive Topps or Upper Deck for failing to issue a Johnny Callison Phillies autograph card before his passing; yet, they did respectively manage Callison White Sox and Yankees autograph cards — go figure.
This hard and fast rule of mine gets tested with Leaf ‘s History of Baseball cut signature cards that they issued over the past few years.
On one hand, there are no team designations on the card, so any former Phillies are potentially fair game. However, they do bear notable achievements on the card, often with a year that the accomplishment took place — such as a player’s sole All-Star Game selection. As a result, even though there isn’t a team designation I can research the player’s listed achievement(s) thus easily determining whether he was a member of the Phillies when the noteworthy event occurred. As a result, I stay away from the Leaf History of Baseball cards where the former Phillie’s achievement took place on another team.
For example, there is a 2012 Leaf History of Baseball signature cut card for Jim Kaat. If it listed his 16 Gold Glove awards as his accomplishment, I would have added it to my collection as two he won two of those awards while pitching for the Phillies. Alas, the card only mentions that he was a three-time All-Star, and all those selection occurred before becoming a Phillie. So, this card was of no interest to me. Luckily, I found a 2013 TriStar SignaCut Baseball Honors card that used a Kaat cut autograph from a 1977 Topps card issued during his stint with the Phillies. So, I have a Kaat signature that meets my requirements after all. Interestingly, it lists his number of All-Star appearances and Gold Glove awards. Take that, Leaf.
Even with the restriction I placed upon collecting these cards, I’ve managed quite a little collection of them. Without these bland cut autographs, I wouldn’t have autographs of former All-Stars Ray Culp, Grant Jackson, and Dick Bartell. I own signatures of Whiz Kids Dick Sisler and Stan Lopata thanks to these cards, and I sincerely doubt I’d own an autograph of 1947 batting champ Harry Walker if it wasn’t for these series of Leaf cards.
The best part about them is that they are relatively cheap. If you’re patient enough, you can get most of them from anywhere between $5-$15 each (I may have payed slightly more for the Bartell card). In an ideal world, one of the major card manufacturers would have already printed proper certified autograph cards for many of the Phillie autographs that are only in my collection because of Leaf History of Baseball, but I’ll take what I can get.