Category Archives: Dick Allen

Fingers Crossed for Allen

2009 Goodwin Champs Auto AllenLater today, the Veterans Committee announces its results on the Golden Era ballot. Throughout the day, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Dick Allen in the hopes that he gets his long overdue induction this year, thus allowing the Phillies to retire #15 in his honor. I won’t attempt to make the case as to why he should be in there as there are many others who have already made the argument (my personal favorite has to be the extensive two-part, 24-page writeup by the Chicago Baseball Museum.) Yes, I am biased because of my life-long Phillies fandom, but there really is no good reason why Allen shouldn’t already have a plaque in Cooperstown — Bill James’s infamous verdict on Allen be damned.

From a baseball card collector standpoint, it really is amazing just how much Allen has been neglected by the card manufacturers in their offerings over the past 15 years. As a result, by my count Allen appears as a Phillie on approximately 180 cards over his entire career. The number of unique Allen cards is actually much smaller when you eliminate parallels, reprints, buybacks, and printing plates (for those who are interested, I have posted an extract of all the Dick Allen cards in the Phillies Database.) Furthermore, while Topps and Panini continue to occasionally issue cards for players like John Kruk and Darren Daulton continue to occasionally appear, Allen’s last appearance in a mainstream set happened back in 2009 — his last Topps issue came in 2004. A Hall induction may very well change that, though I’m certain that thanks to his time with the White Sox, any new cards won’t necessarily all be depicting him with the Phillies.

As for my own collection:2001 American Pie Allen

Total cards: 46
“Unique” cards: 45
Solo cards: 35
Solo autograph-only cards: 6
Solo relic-only cards: 1
Multiplayer cards, Phillies only: 5
Multiplayer cards, with other teams: 0 Multiplayer autograph-only cards: 1
Professionally graded cards: 3
Want Listed: 2

Because of my aversion to multi-team cards, I don’t have any of the many league leader cards featuring Allen during the 1960s. However, I recently want-listed the 1975 Topps Home Run Leaders-1974 card he shares with Mike Schmidt. The only other item I desperately want to add to my collection is Allen’s 2004 Topps Bazooka One-Liners Relics card. If anyone out there has one available for trade, please let me know and we’ll see what kind of trade we can work out.

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Random Phillies Card of the Day

Featured Card: 2009 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures Black Bat Barrel Silver Ink, #SC-DA, Dick Allen

2009 Sweet Spot Classic Allen AutoUnfortunately, I don’t actually have a place in the house where I have my collection (or even a portion of it) on display. It’s a goal, but there are just too many people in the house to devote spare space to such purposes. It’s the only bat barrel signature in the collection, and when the day finally comes that I can cobble together some sort of display, I intend to make this is one of the cards that I make a special effort to ensure it gets highlighted.

1967 Philadelphia Phillies Team Picture Pack

1967 Team Issue Envelope1967 Phillies Picture Pack Bunning

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions:
5” x 7”
Additional Information/14,000 Phillies Commentary: Photos are blank-backed, and neither Beckett, SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, nor The Trading Card Database list this set. It is similar to the yearly Jay Publishing photo sets of 1958-1965 in that the photos are the same size and the set contains 12 photos. However, there are easily discernible differences: this set is printed on plain paper, rather than glossy; the team name as simply listed as “Phillies,” rather than listing “Philadelphia Phillies;” and the font on the front is similar to the 1958-1961 Jay Publishing issues rather than the ones used from 1962-1965. This makes the set incredibly similar to the 1958 Philadelphia Phillies Team Picture Pack.

This set literally became part of my collection just a couple hours ago. I was a little surprised when I received the set because the original eBay listing advertised it as 1966 set rather than a 1967 and mentioned only 10 photos. However, the seller most likely just didn’t thumb through the photos very carefully — the course surface of the paper causes the prints to stick together in a manner similar to that of new dollar bills. As for the confusion regarding the year, the inclusion of Ellsworth means that this set could only have been released in 1967. Interestingly, the Phillies sold Groat to the Giants on June 22 of that season, leaving open the possibility that this set was updated as the season progressed.

Finally, the reverse negative on the Bunning photo is just mind-blowing. I literally cannot imagine how that particular mistake got by the printer — the usual visual clues that help disguise a revered negative, such as team name not visible on the jersey or a symmetrical letter on the cap, just aren’t here. Somebody really wasn’t paying attention on this one.

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Dick Allen
Johnny Briggs
Jim Bunning (uncorrected error: photo reversed)
Johnny Callison
Clay Dalrymple
Dick Ellsworth
Tony González
Dick Groat
Larry Jackson
Cookie Rojas
Chris Short
Bill White

2013 Topps Heritage: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Heritage #16, Cliff Lee; 2013 Topps Heritage #72, Chase Utley; 1964 Topps Heritage #258, Michael Young; 1964 Topps #243, Dick Allen & John Herrnstein; 2013 Topps Heritage #243, Darin Ruf & Tyler Cloyd; 2013 Heritage Then & Now #TN-BV, Jim Bunning

2013 Topps Heritage Lee FrontI love the Heritage series, as well as most other series and inserts that replicate vintage designs. I’m sure it’s just an aspect of my particular brand of Asperger’s coming out, but the reason for this is that I really like to see players from different years and eras in cards sharing the same design. In that vein, always wished the Phillies would authorize/produce a set similar to the 1991 Crown/Coke Orioles or the 1990 Target Dodgers sets. I don’t think that will ever actually happen, so the closest experience I have to this is the 1989-1994 run of Tastykake/Medford Phillies Team Issue sets — although, the ’52 Rookies sets from a few years back and both last year’s and the upcoming Archives sets also fill this role nicely too.

For this reason, I look forward to each year’s Heritage release. And, like a demented Alzheimer’s patient, I eagerly anticipate the set, only to find myself disappointed by some aspect of the newest Heritage offering once I have my team set and various inserts and parallels in hand. Here are my key observations about this year’s set.

1. What Topps Got Right

2013 Heritage Utley FrontBefore getting into what I don’t like about the release. I want to give Topps kudos what for what they did do right. First and foremost, some of the posed shots (in particular, Cliff Lee’s, Chase Utley’s, Roy Halladay’s and Carlos Ruiz’s) look like they belong in the original 1964 set — even though they don’t actually mimic any of the pictures found in the Phillies cards that year. Topps doesn’t have to meticulously attempt to completely reproduce every aspect of the original set — they just have to show proper deference and reproduce the feel of it. Along those lines, Topps finally figured out that the registered trademark symbol, which didn’t appear on the 1964 release, doesn’t have to be obtrusively obvious and just needs to be large enough to be seen. This was a definite improvement over the way it was prominently displayed in last year’s Topps Archives 1977 Cloth Stickers inserts.

Then there’s the trivia questions on the back. I had to wait until I had a duplicate in hand before I would actually rub a nickle over the white box to get the answer (the very act of doing so feels like you are purposefully damaging the card, and I couldn’t bring myself to do that 2013 Heritage Young Backto a card that I was keeping in my collection), but Topps completely followed through with historical authenticity and made the process work. I also discovered that looking at the back under bright light and at the correct angle makes the answer temporarily legible as well. Failing that, you could also just track down the Venezuelan black back parallels — an incredibly awesome and justifiable parallel — which have the answer already revealed for you.

2. What Topps Got Wrong

Let’s start with the Darin Ruf/Tyler Cloyd Rookie Stars Phillies card. Thankfully, Topps’s long-standing effort to as best as possible maintain continuity regarding card number and team assignment across the Heritage offerings meant that we can line it up with a Rookie Stars Phillies bearing the same card number from the ’64 set:

2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Front2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Back1964 Topps Allen Herrnstein Front1964 Topps Allen-Herrnstein Back

This manages to somehow surpass Topps’s own long-established record of laziness. The wrong font sizes, incorrect color choice and refusal to get the title on the back of the card correct make their 2001 Archives reprint of the 1967 Dick Groat card look positively competent. Sadly, the Ruf/Cloyd card isn’t the only screw-up on Topps part. Given the lack of Phillies in this year’s various Heritage inserts, it was nice to see Bunning appear on a Then & Now insert. However,2013 Heritage Then & Now Bunning Topps clearly still hasn’t learned from the mistake it made with its 2003 All-Time Favorites card of Bunning — it replicated the error of using a photo from the wrong period. Really, Topps, is it really that hard to find a color picture of Bunning dating from the 1964-1967 timeframe?

Then there’s the full-color border variations and color swap cards. I understand that Topps feels as though they need to make special variations exclusive to certain retailers, but could they please just find a way to make the variations look like they might have actually occurred back in 1964? The red and blue borders make sense on the flagship Topps product — they make no sense whatsoever in the Heritage line. The color swap variations — which 2013 Heritage Red Halladay Frontkind of made sense in the 2012 Heritage, with its wide array of color combinations that varied even amongst players from the same team — are marginally less atrocious. Thankfully, Ryan Howard is the only Phillie with such a variation, and I will not be tracking that one down.

Finally, there’s the issue of the Real One Autographs. I suppose I should be thankful that there’s at least one Phillie this year (in a few different years, there have been none), but as I’ve previously stated, there were a plethora of Phillies from the 1964 squad who still haven’t appeared on an officially-issued autograph card. I’m just afraid that we’ll never see such a card for many of those players. Thankfully, the Topps’s Archives offering provides more opportunities for these players, but I’m really concerned that some of them will never actually appear on one.

1983 Phillies Postcards Great Players & Managers

Set Type: Primary
Card Dimensions: 3½” x 59/16
Additional Information: During the 100th Anniversary season, the Phillies distributed to fans two postcards at every Friday night home game. One card commemorated the great Phillies moments and the players involved in them, while the other card honored great Phillies players and managers. For more general information about the two sets, see the Additional Information section of the 1983 Phillies Postcards Great Phillies Moments set.

The cards in this set reproduce the artwork used in the 1983 Phillies calendar, with each card depicting the 3-5 Phillies selected as the best in franchise history at his position, with starting pitchers receiving two cards and managers and relievers each receiving a card of their own as well.

SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards does not list either of the two 1983 Phillies Postcards sets. The Checklist card, which lists all the cards for both sets, is unnumbered.

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Chuck Klein, Johnny Callison & Fred “Cy” Williams
Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton & Grover Cleveland Alexander
Bob Boone, Stan Lopata, Andy Seminick & Bo Diaz
Ruben Amaro, Sr., Larry Bowa, Granny Hamner, Bobby Wine & Dave Bancroft
Ed Delahanty, Gavvy Cravath & Sheery Magee
Gary Matthews, Greg Luzinski & Del Ennis
Eddie Waitkus, Pete Rose & Dick Allen
Tony Taylor, Manny Trillo & Cookie Rojas
Chris Short, Curt Simmons & Jim Bunning
Willie “Puddinhead” Jones, Mike Schmidt & Arthur “Pinky” Whitney
Eddie Sawyer, Pat Moran, Harry Wright & Dallas Green
Tony Gonzalez, Richie Ashburn & Garry Maddox
Ron Reed, Jim Konstanty & Tug McGraw
Checklist

2007 Sweet Spot Classic

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions:
2½” x 3½”
Manufacturer: Upper Deck
Inserts: Classic Memorabilia; Classic Memorabilia Patch; Dual Signatures Black Stitch Red Ink; Dual Signatures Gold Stitch Black Ink; Dual Signatures Red Stitch Blue Ink; Immortal Signatures; Legendary Lettermen; Signatures Barrel; Signatures Black Leather; Signatures Black Stitch; Signatures Gold Stitch; Signatures Leather; Signatures Red Stitch; Signatures Silver Stitch
Additional Information: All cards are serial #ed to 575; this print run is shown on the front of each card. There are no parallels for this set.

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John Kruk
Greg Luzinski
Dick Allen
Richie Ashburn
Gary Matthews
Mike Schmidt
Jim Bunning
Steve Carlton
Robin Roberts

Diminishment of Enjoyment

Featured Cards: 2008 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection #ULT-AJK, Dick Allen, Geoff Jenkins & John Kruk; 2004 Topps Originals Signatures #(JMO13), Joe Morgan; 2007 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Signatures Reflections #REF-DH, J.D. Durbin & Yoel Hernandez; & 2003 Donruss Team Heroes Autographs #400, Steve Carlton

I enjoy collecting — I wouldn’t be doing so and or writing about it if I didn’t enjoy it — but it’s safe to say that I don’t enjoy it the way I did when I was a teenager, or even a young adult. Part of it is the way the business end of the hobby asserted itself with an ugly adamancy, but even that is something I have adjusted to. The fact is that the business aspect of card collecting started weaving its death-grip on the hobby before I started collecting seriously (as opposed to the way children collected cards, before the advent of Beckett Monthly). For me, it’s always been there — it’s just now predominant in a way that I never would have imagined as a teen. No, for me the introduction of extremely limited product created the biggest collecting buzzkill over the past 20 years.

Looking back at my teens, I thoroughly enjoyed, but didn’t fully appreciate, the sense that I sometime could put together a fairly comprehensive collection of baseball cards. Admittedly, I didn’t possess much knowledge about pre-World War II cards, so it was a very false sense, but nonetheless I felt like that if I persevered and spent my money wisely, the overwhelming majority of Modern Era cards were within my grasp. That line of thinking drastically changed in the summer of ’91 when Topps issued its first Stadium Club set. To employ a horrid sports cliche, the set was a instant game-changer for me; at that moment I realized I was no longer going to be able to purchase complete sets of every new set issued, while simultaneously working on completing my pre-1981 sets. Up until then, I had two separate collections: my primary collection, where I tried to collect one of everything, and a duplicate collection of just Phillies cards that was a sideline to the main collection. Within a couple days of the release of Stadium Club, I started trading, selling and cannibalizing the primary collection with the goal of building the most complete Phillies collection possible.

For a number of years, this worked. Throughout the ’90s and until roughly the middle of 2003, I did a fairly good job of collecting every Phillies card as they were issued (for the most part, I didn’t bother with parallels, as I didn’t and still don’t see much point in them) and managed to complete every Phillies team set back through 1950 (with the notable exception of the 1951 & 1952 Topps sets).

Are there actually 10 people out there (other than me) who would want this card?

However, assembling and maintaining the collection was taking its toll on me. I was no longer enjoying collecting — it felt like it had become a rather expensive job. The sheer quantity of new product was exhausting, but more importantly, the print runs on the inserts were starting to become ridiculously small. So small in fact that I finally had to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be able to add all of them to my collection. Even if I had all the time and financial resources necessary for the task, there was just no way I could collect one of every Phillies card ever made. It just wasn’t possible any more.

Luckily for me, this second game-changer coincided with the birth of my son. It allowed me to walk away from the hobby in a meaningful fashion and gave me plenty of time to think about how I wanted to continue collecting. Until roughly 15 months ago, I used my far more limited resources to collect only the cards that I genuinely liked and/or really wanted to have in my collection. As I returned to building a more comprehensive collection, I’ve filled in many of the gaps in the main sets and cheaper inserts. I have also acquired, when and where I could, some of the much-harder-to-find inserts. I even made a goal of attempting to collect a couple of full team insert sets with really small print runs just to see if I could. The biggest of these is the 2003 Donruss Team Heroes Autographs. Currently, the only one I’m missing is Mike Schmidt. Sadly, there were only 10 Schmidt cards printed, and the chances are exceedingly remote that I will ever have the money to spare at the moment that one ever becomes available again. However, I did manage both the Abreu and Carlton cards, so I feel certain sense of accomplishment on that front.

Eight years later, it’s still sometimes difficult to not pursue one of every Phillies card. I know I don’t have the time or the resources to do it. However, that teenager from over 20 years ago still lives inside of me, and he can’t let it go. Although I wish that Topps (and by extension everyone else who printed cards over the past 20 years) wouldn’t resort to such gimmicks in order to raise interest and/or demand, I do understand why they choose to print cards in such limited numbers. That doesn’t mean, however, that I have to like it.

Note: The combined print run of the four cards featured in this post is 138.