Category Archives: Brad Lidge

Weekend Pack Busting

2014 Heritage RevereI was incredibly disappointed last night after arriving at two different local Targets only to find that neither had any Topps Heritage on their shelves. Thankfully, I didn’t require either store to fulfill my urge to open packs of Heritage this past weekend as I already purchased a few packs on Saturday while visiting a card shop I last saw nearly eight years ago, just before I moved from inside the DC beltway to the northwestern fringes of the Northern Virginia suburbs. Nonetheless, I really was looking forward to breaking open a few retail blaster boxes before the end of the weekend. Now it looks like I’ll just have to be patient and wait another few days before embarking on my quest to complete my own set of Heritage.

Since I didn’t want to come home empty-handed last night, I grabbed a few packs of Donruss. While I really would like to make a stab at completing a set, I don’t know how feasible that really is. The Diamond Kings and Rated Rookie subsets are both short-printed — something I didn’t realize when I posted my Phillies-centric review last week — thus making an inordinate percentage of the set more difficult to acquire. Learning this really cooled the affection I felt towards the set.

Finally, my quest for cheap baseball packs 2010 Topps Attax Lidgeled me to a K-Mart just around the corner from the hobby shop I purchased my Heritage packs from. Over the past couple years, I’ve come to rely upon the chain for heavily-discounted aging product such as $5.99 retail blaster boxes of 2009 O-Pee-Chee. Well, unlike Target, K-Mart made me very happy; I walked out of there with multiple starter packs of both 2000 MLB Showdown and 2010 Topps Attax for $1.99 per box. This was not an effort to expand my collection, however. I had my son with me and we are actually going to play with those cards as they were intended to be used. Oh, I’ll almost certainly slip soft-sleeves over each card in order to minimize the damage, but I made this purchase solely for the purpose of giving the two of us something fun to do together.

2009 O-Pee-Chee DurbinUnfortunately, that particular K-Mart — which I also hadn’t stepped into in nearly eight years — didn’t have any 2009 O-Pee-Chee. I’ve been working on that set in fits and spurts over the past few years and my set is about 75% complete. Coincidentally, most of the packs I’ve opened have come from the K-Mart discount shelves. As much as I like the set, the original sticker price really was far too high, and that cost detracted from the fact that 2009 O-Pee-Chee really was an awesome modern throwback set; a set that maintained the aesthetics of vintage card design without replicating or paying homage to previous sets. Anyway, If you happen to have any 2009 OPC duplicates, please email me so that we can work out a trade. I have plenty of additional material that’s not already listed on my Trade Bait page, so I’m sure I can work out some sort of trade with anyone.

Featured Cards: 2014 Topps Heritage #373, Ben Revere; 2010 Topps Attax (# 133), Brad Lidge; 2009 O-Pee-Chee #146, Chad Durbin

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Phillies and the Topps Prime Numbers

Featured Cards: 1983 Topps #70, Steve Carlton; 1982 Topps #100 Mike Schmidt; 2004 Topps #1, Jim Thome; 2010 Topps #500, Brad Lidge

Over the weekend, Joe Posnanski had a fun little post focusing on the past 50 years of “Topps Prime” card numbers — numbers ending in 00 or 50, which Topps tends to reserve for superstars and major stars, respectively. He also pointed out how card #1 became quite the ultimate honor starting in the early 1990s, when Topps ended its decades-long practice of using it to honor the previous year’s World Series champs, league leaders or record breakers and instead gave it to Nolan Ryan. The post played a but with how Topps treated HOFers over the years, and there was one tidbit that stuck out like an incredibly sore left thumb when I encountered it:

“Steve Carlton also appeared on only one Topps Prime card — in 1973, right after his extraordinary 27-win season for a dreadful Philadelphia Phillies team. At least he got a 00 card — he was No. 300.”

1983 Topps Carlton FrontLet that sink in for a moment… the man who is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all-time got the star treatment from Topps only once in his career. In 1983, the year after becoming first pitcher ever to win four Cy Young Awards, Topps gave him card #70. Admittedly, that is still a star number of sorts, but one typically handed out to lesser stars. However, that was par for the course for Topps — in the years following his two previous Cy Young campaigns, he received card numbers 540 and 630, respectively. Interestingly, in the 1983 set, Topps handed out #50 to Bob Horner, #250 to Bill Buckner, #450 to Ted Simmons and #650 to George Hendrick.

Here’s some other fun facts regarding Topps’s treatment of the Phillies in their star numbering system:

  • In 1967, Topps honored Dick (don’t call him “Richie”) Allen as the first Phillie to receive a Topps Prime, with card #450. He also received a card ending in 50 in 1969.
  • Mike Schmidt did not receive 1982 Topps Schmidt Fronthis first Prime number until 1982, when he was awarded card #100. That was the first of five straight years with a card ending in 00. Amazingly, in 1987, the year after winning his third MVP Award, Topps demoted him to card #430. He received 00 cards in the ’88 and ’89 sets.
  • In 1983 and 1984, Topps assigned 00 numbers to both Schmidt and Pete Rose.
  • In 1992, Topps assigned #200 to Lenny Dykstra. Yes, he had a really nice season, but giving him a superstar number seems a little out of line.
  • Dykstra would be the last Phillie to receive a Prime card until 2004 when Topps made Jim Thome the 2004 Topps Thome Frontfirst and still only Phillie to receive card #1. It’s worth noting that Thome received card #1 in the 2004 Topps Heritage set as well.
  • In the following year, Pat Burrell received his first and only Prime card, #450, an honor Jimmy Rollins has never received.
  • Despite being the NL ROY in 2005 and the NL MVP in 2006, Ryan Howard received card #330 in the 2007 Topps set. Interestingly, Chase Utley received card #350. Topps rectified this oversight in 2008 when Howard became the first Phillie since Dykstra to receive a 00 card.
  • Despite winning the World Series in 1980, no Phillie received a Prime card in the 1981 Topps set. However, following their 2008 victory, Utley and Howard received 00 cards and Cole Hamels received a 50 card. If you count the Steve Carlton veteran variation, four different Phillies received Prime cards in the 2009 set.2010 Topps Lidge Front
  • In an example proving that Posnanski’s point that Topps was maddening inconsistent with this system, Brad Lidge received card #500 in the 2010 set — the year after posting a 7.21 ERA and leading the majors with 11 blown saves.
  • Although it probably shouldn’t count, Roy Halladay’s first card as a Phillie in the 2010 Topps Update Series was card #100, which was also used for a Robin Roberts veteran variation. Halladay has received Prime numbers in each successive set, though that will likely end its run 2013.
  • Schmidt’s 2011 veteran variation was assigned card #50, which had not been assigned to a Phillie in the base set.
  • Cliff Lee held down card #100 in the 2011 Update Series, marking the second year in a row that Topps assigned the card in that set to a Phillie.

Given the year the Phillies and so many of their players had in 2012, it’s unlikely that any of them will receive the Prime number treatment in the 2013 set. Hopefully, the 2013 season will give Topps reason to assign a couple Phillies a Prime number in the 2014 set.

Some Odds and Ends

Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Marquee #94, Chase Utley; 2008 Tri-Star Signa-Cuts (no #), Brad Lidge; 2009 SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Cuts #LC-287, Johnny Callison; 2012 Topps Heritage Black Border #HP63, Vance Worley

I never actually saw a 2000 UD Ionix Awesome Powers card until I went hunting for them recently on CheckOutMyCards.com. Seeing one online, however, still didn’t prepare me for the shock of how gaudy they are when you actually hold one. Thus, it was a moral imperative to post the checklist and scans (which I did earlier today) as soon as got my hands on the only Phillie in the set…

Over the last few days, I have started posting the checklists for 2012 Topps Tribute and all its inserts. Sets like this (as well as Triple Threads, Sterling, Marquee, and the brand-new Museum sets) are the hardest for me as I continue on the database project. I just have very little interest in them. Aside from the fact that it’s almost always more cards of the same Phillies who already receive dozens of cards every year, the product is just too expensive for me to add much of it to my collection. This means that I have to rely heavily upon Beckett’s information (something I am not fully comfortable doing) and what I can confirm by searching on eBay. Furthermore, because I own so few of the various cards from those sets, most of the associated checklists will appear without sample scans. While I am tempted to lift pictures of off eBay for illustrative purposes, I prefer using high-quality scans with checklists, and more often than not, the pictures on eBay are either not good enough quality or just a pain-in-the-ass to actually download…

Although I currently have no plans to list them in the database (I reserve the right to change my mind on this, however), I have to express a certain fondness for the 2008 Tri-Star Signa-Cuts cards. Because they are not MLB-licensed, none of the cards carry team designations. Thus, they are a convenient way of adding autographs to my collection of Phillies who never appeared on a certified autograph card with the club. Without them, I wouldn’t have autograph cards of John Mayberry, Jr., Brian Bocock, Hunter Pence, or Brad Lidge — the newest autograph in my collection. It absolutely beats purchasing a Lidge autograph card picturing and denoting him as an Astro. It really boggles my mind how neither Topps nor Upper Deck managed to issue a single autograph card of him as a Phillie — especially after his perfect season in 2008…

Speaking of players who have never appeared on a certified autograph card as a Phillie, I really have a bone to pick with Topps over their seeming inability to issue in their most recent Heritage sets such cards for Cookie Rojas, Art Mahaffey, Dallas Green, Tony Taylor, Ruben Amaro, Sr., Clay Dalrymple and a slew of other former Phillies. I still haven’t forgiven them or Upper Deck for managing to issue Johnny Callison autograph cards as a member of the White Sox and Yankees but neglecting to issue one with him as a Phillie. And, no, the 2009 SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Cuts Callison card was not appropriate penance for Upper Deck…

Finally, last night, almost by accident, I found out that Topps also printed a Black Border partial parallel for this year’s Heritage set. I know a few paragraphs back I implied that Beckett cannot be 100% trusted, but when I initially put together the 2012 Topps Heritage checklists, I found no mention in their online price guide of plain/non-chrome Black Border parallels. However, last night at Target, I found that Topps produced blister packs containing three packs of Topps Heritage along with “3 Exclusive Black-Bordered Parallel Cards.” Against my normally better judgement, I purchased one and got lucky — the Worley card you see to the right. The 2012 Topps Heritage checklist will be updated accordingly tomorrow. In the meantime, I have already searched through Topps’s marketing material for the set, and I am unable to find any mention of them. I don’t know what the story is, but Topps’s fickleness and disregard for keeping collectors well-informed about their product is just another in the long list of reasons why I desperately wish MLB would grant another license to any of the other sports card producers — even Upper Deck.

2011 Phillies Cards in Review: Base Card of the Year

Okay, dealers are already posting 2012 Topps cards on eBay but the official street date is still tomorrow. So, my plan to wrap this up in time for the 2012 cards is still nearly on track, and I really hope to have the final installment online tomorrow. I’ll even act like I haven’t already purchased a “master” team set off of eBay that I’m already looking forward to receiving and that I haven’t spent time drooling over the idea of getting my hands on some of the 1987 Mini inserts. Without further ado, here are my picks for the best Phillies base cards of 2011. But first, a…

Dishonorable Mention: Topps #359, Roy Halladay Post-Season No-Hitter Checklist

I really wanted to like this card more than I did — a lot more. Unfortunately, Topps didn’t feel that the second post-season no-hitter in baseball history deserved anything more than serving as a checklist. Far more often than not, the backs of Season Highlight subset cards from past years past usually contained something about the game on the back of the card — even if it was just the box score. Yet, Topps just couldn’t bring themselves to do that. I know that I shouldn’t complain too much — after all, Topps did commemorate the event, and it does appear that the picture on the card is from Halladay’s gem against the Reds. However, this was really half-assed, and Halladay and Phillies collectors deserved far better.

Fifth Runner-Up: Bowman #172, Cole Hamels

I’m a sucker for cards picturing pitchers hitting, and this card is no exception. The card gets extra bonus points because Hamels is wearing the alternate home uniform and he appears to be admiring his shot — something that pitchers rarely get to do. Given he’s never hit a home run, it’s likely he needed to start hauling ass less than a second after the shutter on the camera slammed close. However, there are two things holding this card back: the black borders, while a nice design statement, are historically notorious for chipping and making wear look worse than it really is; and, under most conditions, text done in foil can be hard to read, but placing it on a back background makes it nearly illegible under most lighting.

Fourth Runner-Up: Topps Opening Day #90, Chase Utley

First, I just need to state for the record that it is a complete an utter coincidence that I chose to post this on the same day that The Phillies Room did a post highlighting the series of photos that were taken on the same day as the photo in this card. I planned out this post last night and had every intention of using this card before Jim made his post. Second, the reason for choosing the Topps Opening Day version over the regular Topps is that it has no foil. Seriously, someone needs to do an intervention with Topps. The fact that using foil is an option is not reason in of itself to do so. I think the Opening Day set wonderfully illustrates this. The card just looks cleaner without the foil. Finally, the reason I chose this card is the fact that you it’s not a type of photo you will see often. Over the past six seasons, the Phillies have played just four day games at Fenway, which gives Topps very little opportunity to get photos of Utley in front of the Green Monster. Although, as the post at The Phillies Room demonstrates, Topps did seem to want to make up for that this year by issuing six different cards using this shot or similar photos.

Third Runner-Up: Gypsy Queen #270, Brad Lidge

I picked this card for nearly the same reason I picked the Utley card before: the details in the photo make it clear that it’s not the type you would see often. In fact, thanks to the fact that Lidge is wearing road grays, the Red Sox third base coach is wearing home whites in the background and the Robin Roberts memorial patch on the right sleeve of Lidge’s jersey, we can determine that this photo was taken on the same day as the one on Utley’s card. I will admit that while Jim’s post at The Phillies Room didn’t influence my selections for this post, it did influence the order. Seeing those six Utley cards together made the card feel a little less special than Lidge’s, and as a result I did flip-flop their order in this post. I think that was more than fair.

Second Runner-Up: Phillies Team Issue II (no #, uniform no. on back), Hunter Pence

You would expect the Phillies to occasionally employ better photos than those used by Topps, and the photo on Hunter Pence’s very first Phillies card is a great example of this. Most in action shots involve players hitting, pitching/throwing or fielding. You just don’t get many photos of players running the bases, and even rarer still is the photo where the player is as dirty as Pence is in this shot. The only really flaw in the Phillies Team Issue sets is that they are so much larger than standard cards, thus making them harder to store. Otherwise, getting your hands on these sets is a requirement for any serious Phillies collector because, frequently, they are the only place where you will find cards of players like Brian Schneider, Dane Sardinha and Mike Zagurksi. Yes, the borders can be somewhat basic, but at least there’s no unnecessary foil on them.

First Runner-Up: Phillies Fan Appreciation Day Postcards (no #), Wilson Valdéz

What I said about the Phillies Team Issue sets applies to their Fan Appreciation Day Postcard sets: you would expect the Phillies to employ photos that Topps would have a hard time acquiring. This card is yet another example of that. To be fair to Topps, Valdéz’s pitching performance is not the type of thing to warrant a special highlight card, and even if it was, it was highly unlikely they would have had a photographer at Citizen’s Bank Park on the evening and at the time Valdéz took the mound. However, it should be noted that Topps did acknowledge the event on his Update Series card. However, as I said, the Phillies were in a far different situation, and commemorating the event in their Fan Appreciation Day Postcard set is exactly the type of thing I’ve come to expect from the club. They didn’t disappoint. In addition to the rarity of Valdéz’s accomplishment, we got to see someone on the mound with a dirty uniform — pitches’ uniforms rarely get that dirty.

Now, for our winner. The 2011 Phillies Card of the Year is…

Topps Opening Day #52, Placido Polanco

As I progressed through this Year in Review series, I actually had no idea what cards I’d be writing about for this category. As a result, I inadvertently used this card as an illustration for my post on the Parallel Series of the Year. If I had known or suspected that I would choose it as the Phillies Card of the Year, that never would have happened. Obviously, the card made quite an impression on me, and as I look at closely, I can see why: although the card is for Polanco, Joe Blanton is in the background stealing the show by holding his junk. Okay, he’s holding a towel in front of his junk, but at first glance it certainly looks like he’s doing more than just supporting the team with his presence in the dugout. In fact, now that I’ve made the connection, I literally cannot look at the card without thinking, “He’s holding his dick!” (An incredibly apropos reference to a segment in Lewis Black’s Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues album.) It’s a shame Blanton is stealing the show, because like a couple of the other cards in this post, action shots like this one are rare.

However, there’s yet another reason for loving this card — one I didn’t appreciate until just before I started writing about it. Take a good look at the rest of the background. Based on the hats and clothes of the fans in the stands and the partial web address on the dugout, this photo was taken at Fenway as well. In fact, like the Utley and Lidge’s photos, it was also taken on June 13, 2010. When you examine the play-by-play of the game, it’s clear that the play shown happened in the bottom of the fifth, when J.D. led off the Boston half by hitting a foul pop-up to third.

With that, my 2011 Phillies Cards in Review is nearly done. Tomorrow, I will choose my Set of the Year.

But… Where Did the Swatches Come From?

Featured Cards: 2010 Topps Peak Performance Relics #PPR-BR, Brad Lidge; 2011 Topps Topps 60 Autograph Relics #T60AR-RO, Roy Oswalt

I know that I’m more than a few weeks late in getting around to this particular post, but I just didn’t want to let the Phillies’ decision to decline Brad Lidge’s and Roy Oswalt’s option years and allow them to become free agents go without some mention of their impact on me as a collector. Surprisingly, as far as collecting Phillies baseball cards goes, their impact has been minimal.

You’d think that Lidge’s historic 2008 season would have caused some sort of glut of memorabilia and/or autograph cards. Nothing of the sort really occurred. Topps only issued a few jersey cards, and given Topps’s reticence over the past few years to state when a jersey was worn or a bat was used — the back of each card states “The relic on this card is not from any specific game, event or season” — we can’t even be sure that those grey road jersey swatches are actually from a Phillies jersey and not an Astros jersey. More amazingly, neither Topps or Upper Deck ever issued an certified autograph card of Lidge depicting him in a Phillies uniform. Yes, there are plenty of certified autograph cards out there from his days with the Astros, but if you’re like me, you have no interest in them. At the moment, it looks like the only way I’m getting such an autograph is either in person at a card show or some sort of item authenticated either by PSA or JSA.

The news is only slightly better on the Roy Oswalt front. Amazingly, Topps did issue this year a certified autograph/jersey card depicting him as a Phillie, but as with the Lidge Peak Performance Relic, we don’t know whether that grey swatch came from an Astros or Phillies uniform (or whether it was worn in a Major League game, a Spring Training game, or just got worn by Oswalt and isn’t actually game-used). Interestingly, Topps produced only 50 of this card — the only certified autograph showing and denoting Oswalt as a Phillie. Thus, Oswalt might actually be the hardest autograph to obtain for those interesting in collecting at least one certified autograph baseball card of every Phillie to appear on one.

The thing that amuses me most about these two particular cards is the idea that they both actually contain swatches from both player’s days as an Astro. Given the way Topps handles these matters, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility (and actually wouldn’t surprise me one bit). Nonetheless, they are nice cards — I just wish that Lidge had appeared on at least one autograph issue during his time with The Fightins.