Category Archives: Jim Thome

Schilling and Thome Autograph Cards, Redux

Featured Cards:2008 UD Premier Postseason Premier Autographs #PLA-CS, Curt Schilling; 2004 E-X Clearly Authentics Signature Jersey Black #CAS-JT, Jim Thome

2008 UD Premier PS Premier Schilling AutoYesterday, I asserted that there haven’t been enough Schilling and Thome Phillies autograph cards over the years and that I’d love to see more of them in the coming year. I understand that the chances of this happening this year and in any subsequent year are quite slim for a simple reason: Topps and Panini have plenty of valid reasons in predominantly issuing autograph cards for them as members of the Red Sox and Indians respectively, so any Phillies autograph cards are going to be few and far between. (Which really isn’t fair in the case of Schilling, who started more games with the Phillies than with the Red Sox and Diamondbacks combined, but I understand the rationale behind why he is more associated with the Sox.)

I feel that I need to make a slight qualification when I say that there haven’t been enough Phillies autograph cards over the years. Both players have appeared on a large number of Phillies autograph cards over the past 10 years. However, the overwhelming percentage of those cards are incredibly short-printed (that is, less than 25 of each). The overall situation isn’t quite so bad in regards to Schilling, who before his trade to the2004 E-X CA Auto Thome Diamondbacks signed a large number of cards — albeit only seven of those sets were in excess of 100 cards, but some of them he signed well over 1,000, counting the parallels. The Thome situation, however, is a much more dire. Only five of his fully-licensed Phillies autograph cards were printed in quantities greater than 100, and quite frankly, I find two of them hideous. The 2003 Donruss Signature Series Signature Cuts was created with cut autographs from various ’90s Signature Series cards he signed while with the Indians, and although his is the only autograph on it, he shares his 2003 Fleer Box Score All-Star Line-Up Autographs card with Roberto Alomar, Alex Rodriguez, & Nomar Garciaparra. If you want to be generous, you can add his partially-licensed 2012 SP Signature Edition card to the list, bringing the total to six, but even with that card, getting a Thome Phillies autograph card at a relatively affordable price takes a great deal of patience and perseverance.*

So, even though both players have each appeared on over 50 autograph sets as a Phillie, the total of relatively attainable autographs for your average collector is a small fraction of that number. Between these two players, I have a grand total of 12 autograph cards in my collection. By way of comparison, I have 11 Darin Ruf autograph cards.** This is why I included Schilling and Thome in my wish list yesterday.

*By the way, pulling together the data regarding number of sets and print runs was made much easier by having the Phillies Baseball Card Database in the state that it’s finally in — albeit still far from complete. I just feel the need to state just how much I love being able to pull such information so quickly and easily now.

** I know, not a fair comparison, but it does provide amusing perspective on the matter. I hope to write a bit more on the Ruf autograph card issue in a future post.

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.

2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Team Six Swatch Single

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Spectrum, Prime Black.
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia. The cards are essentially the same ones used in the 2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Team Six insert set, only with relic swatches inserted for each of the players on the card. The backs of all the base Team Six Swatch Singles cards and their parallels bear a serial number. In order to succinctly provide accurate information for each card, the checklist below is formatted differently than the type typically used on 14,000 Phillies.



Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy, Jim Thome, Curt Schilling,
Bobby Abreu, and Steve Carlton
Jersey swatch for all six players. Print runs: Basic insert card, 50; Spectrum parallel, 25; Prime Black, 5.
Joe Morgan, Kenny Lofton, Kevin Millwood, Marlon Byrd,
Matt Kata, and Eric Valent
Bat swatches for Morgan, Lofton, Byrd, and Kata; jersey for Millwood; & shoe for Valent. Print runs: Basic insert card, 150; Spectrum parallel, 100; no Prime Black parallels.

2005 Upper Deck MVP Jersey

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions:
2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2005 Upper Deck MVP.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: Given the time this insert set came out, it’s almost a bizarre anomaly. No parallels, no foil, no ridiculously long name to the set to hype a simple game-used jersey card and no other gimmick to the subset. It makes one wish Topps could find it in themselves to put together a set like this today without it being part of the heritage brand.

GU-JT Jim Thome

2005 Fleer Platinum Lumberjacks

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2005 Fleer Platinum.

Jim Thome
Bobby Abreu

2005 Donruss Zenith Team Zenith

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallel: Gold, serial numbered to 100 on back of card.
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2005 Donruss Zenith.

TZ-7 Jim Thome

2005 Donruss Diamond Kings Inserts

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Studio Series, serial numbered to 250; Studio Series Black, serial numbered to 100.
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2005 Donruss and are serial numbered to 2005. All cards, both base and parallels, bear the serial number on the back of the card. Other than the colors used for the border, Thome card is identical to the Diamond Kings card that appeared in the regular 2005 Donruss set.

DK-19 Jim Thome