Category Archives: Grover Cleveland Alexander

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Featured Cards: 1928 W502 #15, Clarence Mitchell; 1928 W502 #44, Grover Cleveland Alexander; 1949 Bowman #115, Emil “Dutch” Leonard

As anyone with a familiarity with pre-WW II baseball cards can probably surmise, that particular portion of my Phillies baseball card database is the one causing me the most issues. There are plenty of reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that 1928 W502 Mitchellso much of that material is documented rather poorly. As a result, figuring out what to include in the database can sometimes present a number of challenges. Case in point: the 1928 W502 set.

Based solely on the checklists made available by Beckett and Sports Collectors Digest, it would appear that card #15, Clarence Mitchell, is likely a Phillies card. After all, by 1928, he was appearing in his sixth season in the club, and it should be noted that the TeamSets4U checklists denote it as a Phillies card as well. However, the W502 set does not use team designations, which leaves the pictured uniform worn by the player as the only true way to apply a team designation. Typically, if team insignia are not visible, for whatever reason, on a card from a particular year, then I will go ahead and assign Phillies status to a player who played for the Phillies that particular season. None of the scans I had seen of the W502 Mitchell card clearly showed the letter/insignia on his hat, so I went ahead and denoted it as a Phillies card.

1928 W502 AlexanderI finally picked up the card off of eBay last week and was able to get a good luck at it. Unfortunately, under the right magnification, it’s obvious that his cap bears a “B,” and Mitchell played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1916 through 1922. Thus, this by my reckoning, this is actually a Dodgers card. I should’ve been more careful about this and been more insistent on seeing a high-quality scan before acquiring the card. After all, I had also listed the W502 Grover Cleveland Alexander card* in the database because it shows him in a Phillies uniform, and he hadn’t pitched for them since 1917. Because of the Alexander card, and a few others that I knew bore a picture of the player from an earlier year with a different team, I should’ve waited until I properly ascertained whether or not the team insignia on Mitchell’s cap was truly too blurry to discern.

So, I now need to make a decision. With a couple notable exceptions, my Phillies collection only contains cards which in some fashion denote the player (or one of the players, in the case of multi-team cards) as a member of the Phillies, and those exceptions (for example, the 1949 Bowman Emil “Dutch” Leonard)1949 Bowman Leonard are in there because when looking solely at the front of the cards they appear to be a Phillies card. By my criteria, the W502 Mitchell card, despite his status with the club when the card was issued, is most certainly not. However, since receiving my W502 Mitchell card, I have researched more carefully all the other Mitchell cards I placed in the database (the 1927 York Caramels and the various F50 sets (Harrington’s/Sweetman/Tharps’s/Yuengling’s) and determined that they all use the same design and photo as the W502. Thus, there really is no other way to add a Clarence Mitchell card to my collection.

I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether I’ll keep the card or place it back on eBay to recoup the funds and use the money for a different card. I am, however, leaving it and its very similar brethren in the database with a notation in the Notes column describing the picture and his status with the team. I’m sure other collectors would denote it as a Phillies card, so it feels like it belongs in there — I just don’t know yet whether it belongs in my collection.

*W502 Grover Cleveland Alexander image courtesy of VintageCardPrices.com.

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1977 Shakey’s Pizza All-Time Superstars

Set Type: Primary
Card Dimensions: 2⅜” x 3”
Additional Information: The last of three sets produced by the Washington State Sports Collectors Association (WSSCA). and the Seattle-area Shakey’s Pizza restaurant chain. Although distributed mainly via the Shakey’s chain, according to SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, some cards were distributed at the 1977 WSSCA convention. Beckett’s Online Guide simply lists the set as “1977 Shakey’s Pizza.”

5 Grover Cleveland Alexander

1983 Phillies Postcards Great Moments

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 3½” x 59/16
Additional Information: During the 100th Anniversary season, the Phillies distributed to fans two postcards — sponsored by Girard Bank — in a specially-marked envelope 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. The artwork on the card front was reproduced from original watercolors by Dick Perez, the official Phillies artist at the time. The 14 cards in this set and the 14 cards in the Great Players and Managers set combined to make a 28-card set. The Phillies also issued a special binder to hold the postcards. However, the pages were not made of archival quality material, and storing the set in it on a long-term basis may cause damage to the cards.

SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards does not list either of the two 1983 Phillies Postcards sets. The Header Card is unnumbered.

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Richie Ashburn
Dick Sisler & Del Ennis
Art Mahaffey
Jim Bunning & Tony Taylor
Mike Schmidt
Johnny Callison
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Robin Roberts
Steve Carlton
Tug McGraw & Del Unser
Rick Wise
Greg Luzinski & Jim Lonborg
Pete Rose
Header Card

Ol’ Pete, Red Sox Slayer

When Bob Walk was credited with the win in the first game of the 1980 World Series, he became just the second Phillie to earn the honor. For the previous 65 years, Grover Cleveland Alexander was the sole pitcher in franchise history to carry a postseason win on his record — doing so against today’s inter-league opponent, the Boston Red Sox.

During my teen and early adult years, I thought that the reasoning behind the HOF recognizing him as a Phillie had as much to do with the pathetic history of the franchise than anything else. I took it as a pity designation since he actually played one more season with the Cubs and than with The Fightins. However, I realized the error in my logic one evening in college when carefully looking over his stats and realizing that his best years (by far) were in Philly. In addition, he very nearly pitched more innings and games for the Phillies than the Cubs and Cardinals combined. Clearly, the HOF made the right choice designating him a Phillie.

According to Beckett.com, Alexander has appeared on 75 cards since 1980. I don’t have an exact breakdown of how many of those are Phillies card (I can give one, but don’t have the time to do the necessary research), but any Phillies collector can pretty readily purchase a recent Alexander card fairly easily. The 1983 Donruss Hall of Fame Heroes (#23) shown with this post is likely (though I’m not certain) the first Alexander card I added to my collection. Some other time I’ll post one of the older ones, but based solely on appearance, this one is my favorite. I love all of Dick Perez’s artwork, and I love the fact that the Phillies selected him to do the artwork for their 1983 Phillies Greatest Moments Postcards and 1983 Phillies Great Players and Managers Postcards sets. While I’m certain that it would be cost prohibitive and will probably never happen, I think it would be awesome if the Phillies would commission him to do the artwork for another set.  Oh well, I can dream.