Category Archives: Greg Luzinski

Topps Bunt

Maybe it’s just a product of my age, but I’m not entirely sold on Topps Bunt. I setup an account earlier this year, and I’ve attempted to remember logging in on a daily basis so that I don’t actually spend any money on the cards. Over that time, I’ve picked up a few things that look interesting, but nothing worth mentioning. For the most 2014 Topps Bunt Luzinskipart, I just let my son run wild with my account and allowed him to make any trades he wanted between my account and his — so long as he didn’t deprive me of any of the Phillies I managed to pick up.

That changed a little bit this morning when I got a Greg Luzinski 1980 World Series card. I like the look of it, but even after taking a screenshot of my phone and then emailing myself the photo, it just doesn’t feel the same as owning cards produced from dead trees. I know I was nowhere near as excited about the Luzinski card as if I would’ve been if I pulled it out of a pack of physical cards. I understand that Topps is doing quite well with the app, but I just don’t see myself attempting to compile a digital Phillies collection with it — especially if they continue predominantly make digital duplicates of the physical Topps cards, as was the case with this year’s offering. I’m aware that the 2013 set did in fact look different — if Topps did something similar with next year’s offering, I might muster more interest. Until then, meh.

A Mystery Luzinski Card

I’m stumped. I don’tLawry's Luzinski know anything about this card, but when I saw it on eBay last week I decided I needed it. It’s not an officially-licensed card (by either MLB or the MLBPA), but it’s not a collector’s issue either. Based on the fact that it’s signed (and it looks completely legitimate when I compare it to the other Luzinski autographs in my collections) and the information on the back of the card, my best guess is that this was produced for an Acme in-store signing that Luzinski took part in. Acme then somehow got McCormick (the makers of various Lawry’s seasonings) and Lancaster Brand to co-sponsor the signing, in what I assume was an effort to offset the cost of paying Luzinski to sign autographs for free. But all of that is based on supposition — the lack of copyright date on the card means it could’ve been printed at any time in the last 20+ years years — as I cannot find anything on the internet about it.

Lawry's Luzinski BackSo, if anyone can shed some additional light on this card, please share as a comment. Aside from the scans, the only information I can provide is that it measures 4″ x 6″, the same size as every Phillies team issue set since 1989. I’d love to add it to the database, thus adding it to my official count of Phillies cards, but without knowing anything more about the card, I don’t feel as though I can do so. Nonetheless, it’s a niece piece to have — it’s just a shame that I’m a vegetarian and that there’s no way I’m actually going to try the recipe on the back.

Countdown to 20,000: 1978 Topps #420, Greg Luzinski

Like many other collectors, I don’t own any of the first baseball cards I collected as a kid. The story begins with a familiar refrain: my mom threw them out. Where my story differs is that my mom threw them out when I was seven. She was punishing me for leaving them all over the floor of my bedroom, and she figured that my behavior 1978 Topps Luzinskiwould quickly and drastically change once I clearly understood that disposal was a real consequence for not properly rubber-banding and placing them in the shoebox when I was done playing with them.

She was right.

As for the cards I collected after that traumatic experience (I’m convinced that it scarred me in ways I still don’t properly appreciate 35 years later), during my late 20s I replaced most of the ones that predated my teen years, when I truly became a serious collector, with cards in much better condition. Yet, even though I no longer own a large percentage of my originals, I cherish their much better preserved replacements as if I was their only owner.

Of the cards that didn’t survive my mother teaching me lesson I never forgot, Greg Luzinski’s 1978 Topps probably stands out most. During the late ‘70s, Luzinski was my favorite Phillie. I had a giant poster of him on my wall, and I know that during the summer of ’77 I kept checking RC Cola cans to find one bearing his image. The detail about this card that really made an impression on me was the red, white, and blue All-Star shield in the upper-right corner. Although I didn’t know it until I completed the team set some time during the mid-to-late ‘80s, he was the only Phillie in the set bearing the signifier. Even without that 1978 Topps Luzinski Backknowledge, the All-Star shield made the card that much more special to me.

Interestingly, when Luzinski was traded following their World Series championship in 1980, I wasn’t all the heartstruck. Lots of factors likely played into it: his two consecutive subpar seasons preceding the trade; the acquisition and subsequent performance of Pete Rose; the ascension of Mike Schmidt into the ranks of the game’s elite; the euphoria from the World Series victory; and the fact that by the time of the trade I was no longer living in the Philadelphia region, which meant that I only saw the Phils when their games were nationally televised.

However, Luzinski stillWith Luzinski at CBP enjoys a place in my heart as a former favorite. His autograph cards, when they appear, are always high priority acquisitions for my collection, and at the home finale last season, which was my first trip to Citizens Bank Park in over four years and my son Brandon’s first since he was a toddler, I made it a point to go to The Bull Pit and get a photo of him with two of us. It looks like we’re photo-bombing him, but I don’t care – I’m just glad to have the photo.

As for the photo of Luzinski we had him sign, Brandon now keeps that in his room.

 

How Rare Is It Really?

Because it’s a nearly a four-hour drive to see my dad, I only see him a few times a year. When preparing for these visits, I frequently make it a point to bring a few of the latest acquisitions to my collection. 2012 Triple Threads LuzinskiI do this in part because although he collects model trains instead of baseball cards, he played a large role in the collection I originally built during my teen years. Just as noteworthy, he is a Phillies fan and as a collector he generally appreciates the vintage and relatively rare modern cards I choose to share with him. During such a visit at the end of 2012, I showed him my Greg Luzinski 2012 Topps Triple Threads Autograph Relics, #TTAR-161. While examining it, he couldn’t help but notice that it bore a 1/9 serial number, and he was impressed that I had something so rare in my collection. At which point, I stated, “Well, it’s not really quite as rare as Topps would like you to think.”

The fact is I don’t understand why so many people fall for the parallel shell game perpetuated by Topps and all the other major manufacturers. I’m sure that it works to the extent it does because collectors love the notion that they own something that’s incredibly rare, and incredibly small serial numbers provide concrete proof of rarity. However, when you step back, seriously consider what’s really going on, and do some simple arithmetic, many of these “rare” cards aren’t as rare as the manufacturers would like you to believe. Let’s take another look at that Luzinski card. The one I own is actually a gold parallel. If you combine the print runs of the regular insert with all the print runs, you still have only 33 cards. That strikes me as an impressively low figure — certainly nothing to scoff at in terms of rarity. However, there are two other Luzinski cards in that particular insert set. They use the same photo, apply the autograph sticker in the same spot and also bear pieces of a bat supposedly used by Luzinski in a MLB event. The only other notable differences are the text on the back of the cards and the bat shards on cards #TTAR-162 & #TTAR-163 instead respectively spell “Philly Favorite” and “The Bull.” Combine the three cards and all their respective print runs, and you get a total of 99 Luzinski 2012 Topps Triple Threads Autograph Relics.

Now, even by current 2001 UD GG LB Auto Luzinskistandards — as opposed to those from the late ’90s — that’s still fairly rare. However, it’s certainly not rare enough to justify the cost Topps charged for a pack 0f 2012 Topps Triple Threads. Hence, the need for the parallel shell game. To me, the worst part about it is that I see dealers and other collectors absolutely falling for it. Currently, one individual is asking $59.99 for a Sapphire parallel (serial numbered to 3) of #TTAR-162. Given that the last few versions of the card on eBay have sold in the $10-$20 range, regardless of its stated print run, I suspect it won’t sell for anywhere near that much. I will, however, concede that outside of his 2001 Upper Deck Gold Glove Leather Bound Autographed card it is Luzinski’s only autographed memorabilia card printed in anything even marginally resembling collector-friendly quantities. Still, given recent selling data, $60.00 is ridiculously overpriced.

The problem is that the same cannot be said for so many other cards bearing serial numbers whose sole purpose is to mask the true print run. I recently acquired the John Kruk 2013 Topps Tribute Autographs Framed Printing Plates 2013 Topps TT Auto PP KrukCyan card. This was significant for me on two counts: it’s the first “1/1” Kruk card in my collection, and it’s also the first Kruk printing plate. However, is “1/1” really a correct way to refer to the card? There are three other printing plates, the regular insert set, and seven different parallels for the card those plates were used to create. Adding them all up gives you a total of 240. Again, that’s still an nice, low number by current standards, but from that perspective this “1/1” Kruk card doesn’t feel quite as unique as it once did. Furthermore, unlike the Luzinski’s 2012 Topps Triple Threads card, there are a slew of other similar Kruk autograph cards out there. If you are a completist such as myself, you can more easily and cheaply acquire over a couple dozen different Kruk autograph cards. When viewed through such a lens, acquiring a Kruk 2013 Topps Tribute Autograph card doesn’t carry the same urgency or importance as obtaining a Luzinski Triple Threads card.

To be sure, 2009 Topps Unique TT Auto Philliesthere are some legitimately really rare cards out there, and the parallel shell game tends to obscure them. I actually own one of the five 2009 Topps Unique Triple Threat Autograph Relics cards featuring Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Raúl Ibañez. Topps did not produce any parallels or printing plates; thus, there literally are just five of any of these cards in existence. (I’ll let you guess as to how many other autographed relic cards featuring this trio of players were produced.) To me, this card is far more unique and rare than my “1/1” Kruk autographed printing plate — or any other printing plate for that matter. Then there’s the case of the 2005 Donruss Classics Classic Singles Curt Schilling card, #CS-15. This is a slightly more interesting example because the card exists in so many different varieties: 2005 Donruss Classics CS Relic Auto Schillingplain, relic, autograph, both relic and autograph, dual relic, and parallels of each. However, after examining the print runs for each of the variations, you discover that Donruss only issued seven Schilling cards bearing an autograph sticker. Thanks to the various memorabilia combinations (or lack thereof) and parallels Donruss employed, each of those seven bears a “1/1” serial number, but only two of those seven bear both bat and jersey relics. One can actually make the argument that by creating so many specialized “1/1” cards, Donruss inadvertently drew attention away from just how rare the autographed versions of those cards themselves actually were.

It seems that true “1/1” cards — cards which neither exist in parallel form nor have the printing plates issued as well — are actually much rarer than any of us realizes. The only cards that consistently seem to honestly bear such a serial number are cut 2013 Panini AP PC Mauchautograph cards of deceased players and managers. I’m fortunate enough to own a small handful: most notably a few of the cards from 2010 Topps Sterling Certifed Cut Signatures — an insert set that will certainly contain the only fully licensed certified autograph card for many baseball figures — as well as the Gene Mauch card from 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Pastime Cuts. (It’s incredibly likely that should I ever find someone selling the Ethan Allen card from that particular insert set I will seriously consider busting my budget in order to obtain it.) I know that parallels are here to stay, but I do wish that the hobby as a whole wouldn’t exhibit such willful ignorance as to how they’re being used to both mask true print runs and cheapen the meaning of a “1/1” serial-numbered card.

Featured Cards: 2012 Topps Triple Threads Autograph Relics Gold #TTAR-161, Greg Luzinski; 2001 Upper Deck Gold Glove Leather Bound Autographed #SLB-GL, Greg Luzinski; 2013 Topps Tribute Autographs Framed Printing Plates Cyan #TA-JK, John Kruk; 2009 Topps Unique Triple Threat Autograph Relics #TTAR-HRI, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, & Raúl Ibañez; 2005 Donruss Classics Classic Singles Signature Materials Prime #CS-15; 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Pastime Cuts #25, Gene Mauch

2003 Fleer Ultra Phillies All-Vet Team

2003 All Vet Luzinski Front2003 All Vet Luzinski Back

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information/14,000 Phillies Commentary: Distributed to all fans attending the last Phillies game to take place in Veterans Stadium, which places the print run at approximately 60,000. The set showcases the members of the “All-Vet Team” as voted on by the fans during the 2003 season. The All-Vet Team was comprised of a starting lineup, a left-handed starter, right-handed starter, reliever, and manager. For those who don’t recall the voting, Pete Rose was on the ballot for first base, and given that it was very unlikely that MLB would allow Rose to participate in the Final Innings events at Veterans Stadium, there was a lot of discussion about how the Phillies would handle the situation if he was voted onto the team. Personally, I think his presence on the ballot was purely a PR stunt by the Phillies and no matter how many votes Rose received, he was never going to win. So, for all practical purposes, the voting was solely between John Kruk and Dick Allen. As further evidence for my theory, I cannot imagine how the Phillies and Fleer would’ve handled this set had Rose won.

Putting that aside, it’s clear that the Phillies supplied in-house photos to Fleer to create this set. As best as I can determine, none of the photos in it ever appeared on any baseball card before or since, and Fleer created a new design for the cards rather than recycle one they previously used. These two things truly add to the uniqueness of it. I wish that the Tastykake and MAB Paints logos on the bottom of the front were on the back and/or displayed on the header card, but they did sponsor the giveaway so one cannot complain too much about it.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
(no #)
Steve Carlton
Darren Daulton
John Kruk
Juan Samuel
Mike Schmidt
Larry Bowa
Greg Luzinski
Garry Maddox
Bobby Abreu
Tug McGraw
Curt Schilling
Dallas Green (manager)
Header Card

2012 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autographs

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2012 Topps Archives. Beckett’s online guide refers to the set simply as “2012 Topps Archives Autographs.” In the checklist below, the design year that Topps replicated for the card is in parenthesis after the player’s name.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: All the cards bear new design/photo combinations on the front, and with the exception of the Luzinski and Boone cards, they also appear in the regular 2012 Topps Archives set as short prints. I really wish Topps had included Luzinski and Boone in the base set as well, because I would love to place non-autographed versions of those cards alongside the 1978 and 1979 originals. In addition, I really wish Topps would do just a little more footwork when issuing autographs like these. In this set, Von Hayes is the only player autographing cards as a Phillie for the first time. I’ve ranted about this before, but it bears repeating: there is a horde of retired Phillies who have never appeared on an autograph card as a Phillie, and for various reasons deserve such an honor. Tony Taylor, Cookie Rojas, Dallas Green, John Denny, Art Mahaffey, Tommy Greene, Terry Mulholland, Rick Wise & Juan Samuel are the ones who immediately come to mind.  Is it really that difficult for Topps to exercise some due diligence on this front?

My other, admittedly very tiny, nitpick about the set is the use of the 1993 design for the Kruk card. Topps already issued an autograph for Kruk using that design in the 2005 Topps Fan Favorites set, and while it is a different picture on this year’s card, Topps could have also used any of the 1989, 1990 or 1994 designs and at least made the card feel just a little more different. This isn’t the first time, however, Topps did something like this: the 2002 Topps Archives and 2003 Topps Fan Favorites sets both contained auograph inserts of Lenny Dykstra that used the ’93 design.

FFA-BB
FFA-BM
FFA-GL
FFA-JKR
FFA-MWI
FFA-VH
Bob Boone (1979)
Bake McBride (1975)
Greg Luzinski (1978)
John Kruk (1993)
Mitch Williams (1992)
Von Hayes (1987)

1981 Topps Giant Photo Cards Phillies

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 4⅞” x 6⅞”
Additional Information: A test issue released solely in the greater Philadelphia region, this is one of several different Giant Photo Cards team sets Topps produced in 1981. The unnumbered cards bear identical backs, which show a checklist of all the Phillies included in the set. Topps also tested a nationally-distributed version of the set which included the only Rose and Schmidt cards. The only notable difference between the two sets is that there is no checklist on the back of the Rose and Schmidt cards.

The Beckett online guide lists the set as part of a giant “1981 Topps Super Home Team” checklist, which lists all the cards from the various Giant Photo team sets and numbers the cards in alphabetical order within team, with teams themselves listed in alphabetical order. SCD lists the set as in a similar fashion under the name “1981 Topps Giant Photo Cards”, but resets the numbering to start at one for each individual team set.

[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]
[10]
[11]
[12]
Bob Boone
Larry Bowa
Steve Carlton
Greg Luzinski
Garry Maddox
Bake McBride
Tug McGraw
Pete Rose
Dick Ruthven
Mike Schmidt
Manny Trillo
Del Unser