Category Archives: Juan Samuel

My Favorite 2013 Set of the Year

Featured Cards: 2013 Hometown Heroes #207, Larry Bowa 2013 Hometown Heroes City Hall Signatures #CHJK, John Kruk; 2013 Hometown Heroes Hometown Signatures #HSJS, Juan Samuel

By and large, most of the offerings from Topps and Panini in 2013 didn’t leave me with any lasting overwhelmingly favorable impression. Yes, I liked certain sets, but I didn’t absolutely love any of them the way I did Gypsy Queen in 2011 or Museum Collection in 2012. However, there was one set that pleasantly surprised me in 2013, and that set was Panini’s Hometown Heroes.

2013 Hometown Heroes BowaI can understand some negative reaction to the set, best epitomized by mttlg over at Collect the Mets, who called it “a bland design filled with autographs that have been done better by Topps over the last two years.” What he saw as a bland design, however, I saw as something that nicely drew upon of some of the designs from the 1930s (in particular, the cards that made use of a solid-colored background). Furthermore, I viewed the very basic design as a way of Panini working around the fact that they have airbrush away logos and team names — those edits are far less noticeable in a much more plain design. Given how busy so many modern sets, even some of the retro-themed ones, I personally appreciated the much more stripped-down look of Hometown Heroes. (Though, I feel it necessary to add that I am still waiting for one retro-themed set to match some of the best of what 1993 had to offer.)

But that wasn’t the only reason I loved the set. Although it uses a sticker for the autograph, Panini gave me my favorite John Kruk insert autograph card of the year. I don’t know if print run information on the card (if they 2013 Hometown Heroes CHS Krukdid, Beckett doesn’t give it in its listing of the card), but based solely on the purely anecdotal and total unreliable count of copies that showed up on eBay (that would be two), it’s one of his hardest Phillies cards to find. Like the base set, the design is spartan, and I can appreciate why some will find it ugly. However, for me, that’s part of its charm. Although, I do feel it’s probably necessary to admit that I may love the card so much because it’s a Kruk autograph card that finally uses a new photo. Yes, Topps lowered my expectations so thoroughly that I could mistaking the ugliest Kruk autograph card ever for beauty.

2013 Hometown Heroes HS SamuelYet, I do agree with mttgl on the fact that the autographs were otherwise disappointing. The on-card autographs for Larry Bowa and Juan Samuel in Topps Archives just blew away the ones that Panini put together. However, it should be noted that I probably would’ve liked both the cards quite a bit more had Topps not just issued autographs for them. Nonetheless, given that neither of them thus far have appeared on very many autograph issues, for me it’s an easy deficiency to overlook. Nonetheless, getting someone new for a Phillies autograph card shouldn’t be that hard. There are still plenty of good candidates out there for Panini to pounce upon, and I will keep my fingers crossed in the hopes that a few of those candidates (of which Samuel was one until just this year) finally appear on one soon.

2013 Topps Archives: A Very Belated Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured cards listed at end of post.

This is only the second year that Topps has issued its Archives set in the current format, and it was already one of my most anticipated sets of the year. I’ve made no secret of my love for cards of current players in vintage designs, thus the very very nature of the Archives and 2013 Topps Archives RuizHeritage brands unquestionably makes them must-own sets. There is very little that Topps can do to actively ruin the experience of collecting those cards — not that they can’t make some very notable mistakes, but more on that I progress in this review.

Unfortunately, the change in performance for the team means a drop from last year in the number of Phillies in the base set. With only six cards (down from last year’s 11), there’s no real way to complain about the player selection. Ruiz was an All-Star last year, Schmidt is now a staple in all Topps sets in which he can realistically appear, and when Topps was first determining player selection, choosing each of the Three Aces was something of a no-brainer. Given Ryan Howard’s status in the hobby since his rookie season, selecting him to round out the Phillies made sense. Having said that, Topps did a terrible job when it came to properly scattering the six players across the four designs in the set — none of them appear in the 1985 design. This really is an unforgivable oversight. There are thirty teams, and each of the four designs in the base set contains 50 cards. So long2013 Topps Archives Halladay as a team has at least four players in the set, it should be represented in each of the designs. I was especially annoyed by this sloppiness in set construction as the 1985 set is one of my all-time favorites. My annoyance only amplified when I realized that both Howard and Halladay appear in both the 1972 design and the Topps 1972 Minis inserts to the regular Topps set. I’m not quite sure why Topps felt the need to give double-duty to the design this year, but as much as I love retro-themed cards, I really would have appreciated more variety in Topps’s efforts this year. (Because of this and the fact Topps does reuse photos quite frequently, I almost feel like I should applaud Topps for managing to avoid using the same photos in both the minis and the 1972 portion of the Archives set.)

Just as an aside, I feel like I have to give Topps credit for getting the color scheme right for the Phillies in the 1982 design. In the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set, they rather amazingly used the wrong colors for the Bob Dernier card, listed his position as “3rd Base” (a position he never played in his entire professional career), and used a hatless photo to boot — something that typically only happened when a player had just changed teams. It’s almost as if they intended the card to be a Cubs card (it has the correct Cubs colors and Dernier did get traded to the Cubs after the 1983 season), changed their mind at the last second, and couldn’t be bothered to properly fix anything on the card’s border, other than the team name. This may well be Topps’s worst Phillies card ever.

2013 Topps Archives Hamels2005 Topps ATFF Dernier

As with last year’s set, all the retired Phillies in the high-numbered Fan Favorites SPs in the main set are really just non-autographed versions of the Fan Favorites autographs. With that in mind, it’s nice to see Juan Samuel finally receive a Phillies autograph card. By using the 1987 Topps design for it, Topps managed a rather subtle nice touch in that it also used the ’87 design for Von Hayes’s first Phillies autograph card in last year’s Archives set. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of Larry Bowa, 2013 Topps Archives FFA Bowa Autoeven though the slightly blurry, in-action photo on the card looks like it belongs in the 1973 set and not the 1978. Given his long-standing status with the team, I’m actually surprised he hasn’t shown up more often in such Topps sets. Furthermore, with only one other autograph card to his name, having more autograph cards is quite welcome. The same is not entirely true, however, for Daulton’s appearance. Yes, he is the epitome of “Fan Favorite,” but as I’ve stated before, there are a plethora of deserving retired Phillies who have yet to appear as a Phillie on an autograph issue, and Daulton has appeared on over a dozen different autograph cards to date. To add insult to injury, Topps continues to use the same crappy 1992 template it used with last year’s Mitch Williams Fan Favorites cards. The colors are too light — so much so that Daulton’s name is actually hard to read — and the font for the team name isn’t even close to how it looked on the actual 1992 cards.

1992 Topps Daulton2013 Topps Archives Daulton

(2013 Archives card on right — at least they used a picture of Daulton in an era-correct uniform for the card design, as opposed to previous efforts)

In the past, I’ve placed cards such as these in the same binder pages as the original cards. And while I will do so with the Samuel and Bowa cards, I won’t be doing it with this Daulton card.

Unlike the Daulton card, there’s lots to love about most of the other inserts. Understandably, Topps paid special attention to the 1983 set with its 1983 All-Stars and Dual Fan Favorites inserts. The All-Stars subset in the 1983 Topps set is wonderful design, and it’s nice to see it used with Schmidt in an (again) era-correct uniform (the lack of patch of his left sleeve means that it must be from before 1983). The Dual Fan Favorites is a nice tweaking of the Super Veteran subset from the ’83 issue. However, while they look nice, I think I would have preferred to see Topps leave the Super Veteran concept completely intact. It’s hard to believe, but Jimmy Rollins has been a Phillie for a longer period (2000-2013) than Schmidt was when he appeared in this subset back in ’83 (1972-1983). Just imagine how a Rollins Super Veteran card would have looked.

1983 Topps SV Schmidt2013 Topps Archives DFF Samuel Rollins

No slight intended towards the Samuel & Rollins card that Topps issued — it’s a great card — I just think a Rollins Super Veteran card would’ve been even nicer.

In a similar manner, Topps reworked the 1960 design for its 1960 Relic inserts. As with last year’s 1956 Relics inserts, Topps did a nice job of editing the design to make it work as a relic card. The 1960 Relic inserts contain Ben Revere’s first relic card as a Phillie, but it’s something of a stretch — the relic is clearly from a 2013 Topps Archives 1960 RevereTwins jersey. In fact, there’s almost no way it could have contained a Phillies jersey unless Topps somehow placed a Phillies jersey on him sometime during the winter and then used that for the cards (after all, Topps makes no guarantees about the jersey coming from any particular event or season.) Personally, I wish that Topps would just use relics that actually match the team designation on the card. Luckily, some of Revere’s relic cards contain a swatch with a shade of red similar to that used by the Phillies in the ’70s and ’80s, so I acquired one of those. Unfortunately, completing my 1960 Relics insert set looks like it will be a challenge as the Ryan Howard card appears to be super short-printed.

Of the inserts, the most pleasant surprise was the Stadium Club Triumvirates. At this point, Topps possesses a very rich history of baseball set design across its many brands over the past 60+ years, and Archives is the perfect place to celebrate all of them. In fact, there should be more of this in future Archives releases. Stadium Club, Finest, Gallery, Tek, Stars, Gold Label, Bazooka, modern Bowman releases and all of the inserts associated with those sets should be fair game for the Archives set. In fact, Topps is limiting itself by relying solely on designs from the Topps flagship set over the years — some of the other designs should find their way into the base set itself.

2013 Topps Archives Triumvirate

Given the rich history of baseball set designs at this point, I am a little confused and disappointed by Topps’s decision to use its 1965 football design as a basis for the Mini Tall Boys inserts. While there’s no real need to move into the other sports to attempt this kind of crossover, I suppose that the Archives set is the place to try out this kind of experimentation. However, for me it just didn’t work. It probably doesn’t help that with a few notable exceptions I don’t 1983 Topps Glossy AS Carltonparticularly enjoy non-standard-sized cards. Since there was already a focus on the 1983 set, the Glossy All-Star Set Collector’s Edition (the mail-in set of 40) would’ve made far more sense as an insert than the Mini Tall Boys.

In the end, despite all the easily avoidable flaws and questionable choices Topps made with the set and its inserts, I still loved this year’s Archives release. I really do wish that Topps would hire some people whose job would essentially entail being as attentive to detail as collectors such as myself (to avoid really obvious mess-ups such as the details on the 1992 design and using the 1972 design in two different sets this year), but at the same time it’s obvious that Topps has an opportunity to put together a truly special brand for years to come — if they properly leverage their full history. Whether Topps has the desire and/or wherewithal to do so remains to be seen, but I certainly hope that they realize some of the potential the Archives brand truly holds.

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Archives #162, Carlos Ruiz; 2013 Topps Archives #8, Roy Halladay; 2013 Topps Archives #58, Cole Hamels; 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #115, Bob Dernier; 2013 Topps Archives Fan Favorite Autographs #FFA-LB, Larry Bowa; 1992 Topps #244, Darren Daulton; 2013 Topps Archives #240, Darren Daulton; 1983 Topps #301, Mike Schmidt; 2013 Topps Archives Dual Fan Favorites #DFF-SR, Juan Samuel & Jimmy Rollins; 2013 Topps Archives 1960 Relics #BR, Ben Revere; 2013 Topps Archives Triumvirates #s T-3A, T-3B, & T-3C, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, & Roy Halladay; 1983 Topps Glossy All-Star Set Collector’s Edition #36, Steve Carlton

The Correlation Between MLB Debuts and Team Performance

Featured Cards: 1987 Fleer Glossy #185, Juan Samuel; 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP142, Jon Pettibone; 2006 Topps Phillies Fan Appreciation Day #11, Brian Sanches; 2003 Topps Traded Signature Moves Autographs #SMA-ER, Elizardo Ramírez

1987 Fleer Samuel FrontI don’t believe that anyone will argue with me when I state that non-contending teams are far more likely to allow players to make their MLB debut than teams who are competing for a chance at the playoffs. Of course, even the best teams will make room for prospects who they feel will be mainstays on the roster over the coming years — see Juan Samuel’s nearly full-time role during the September stretch-run back in ’83. But, generally speaking, the greater the number of rookies making their Major League debut in a given season, the less likely that the team is playoff bound. Let’s take a look at the number of Phillies debuts since 2000, along with team performance:

2013 (so far, 16-20): 1; Pettibone2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Pettibone front
2012 (81-81): 8; Galvis, Ruf, Cloyd, Lerud, Rosenberg, Diekman, Aumont, Brummett
2011: 5; Martinez, Savery, Stutes, Schwimer, De Fratus
2010: 3; Worley, Herndon, Brown
2009: 2; Bastardo, Escalona
2008: 4; Carpenter, Marson, Harman, Swindle
2007: 7; Kendrick, Zagurski, Happ, Segovia, Castro*, Bisenius, Hernandez,
2006: 7; Hamels, Mathieson, Coste, Ruiz, Bourn, Roberson, Sanches
2005: 3; Sandoval, Brito, Tejeda
2004: 4; Howard, Floyd, Ramirez, Crowell*2006 Topps Phillies Fan Appreciation Sanches Front
2003: 5; Madson, Utley, Geary, Chapman, Machado,
2002: 4; Byrd, Myers, Silva, Junge,
2001: 6; Michaels, Punto, Duckworth, Estrada, Valent, Oropesa
2000: 8; Rollins, Burrell, Coggin, Nickle, Taylor, Álvarez, Schrenk, Jacquez

The number of debuts doesn’t track perfectly with team performance (see 2004, 2005 & 2011), but as a general indicator and when looking at trends it does pan out rather nicely. There’s a to-be-expected sustained dip in debuts during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons and correspondingly higher numbers for 2000 & 2001 — you could argue that 2012’s high number is the direct result of a team that realized it wasn’t making the playoffs and thus decided to give some of its AAA stars some big league exposure.

2003 Topps Traded SMA Ramirez FrontWe’re only 36 games into this season, but based on the Phillies’ performance thus far, my hopes for the postseason are exceedingly dim. I just don’t think this is anything more than an average team. I really hope I’m wrong, but I see a good chance at some July trades which will necessitate a number of other MLB debuts before the close of the season. My predictions: Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle all appear at some point this year. Leandro Castro and Tommy Joseph see outside chances at playing as well.

* Castro’s debut was actually with Texas at the start of the 2007 season, but he is included since he also pitched for the Phillies that year. Crowell actually pitched twice with the Reds in 1997, but those were also his only appearances in the majors before pitching for the Phillies in 2004. I’m bending the rules slightly here to make a point (he was still eligible as rookie in 2004).

1990 Starting Lineup Juan Saumel

Featured Card: 1990 Starting Lineup Rookie Year (no #), Juan Samuel

First and foremost, I am a Phillies baseball card collector. Whatever else happens to be in the collection is purely tangential. Sure, to some of it I apply the label “baseball card” just because I want to count it as part of the baseball card collection (specifically, stickers and various coins/discs issued over the 1990 SLU Samuel Packageyears), but at its heart, the cards are what’s most important. And, sometimes, I will resort to very non-collectorish behavior just to add an item to the Phillies card collection. Case in point: the 1990 Starting Lineup Juan Samuel.

That year, Kenner decided to make a change to the packaging and include a card celebrating the player’s rookie season. In 1990, Samuel was just one of many players who played with a different team during his rookie year, and like all those other players, there were cards in his Starting Lineup packaging showing him with two different teams. Even though I didn’t want the Samuel Mets figure, I really wanted the Samuel Rookie Year card from the packaging. I figured I would just wait until I found the card on the secondary market.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

1990 SLU Samuel RY FrontYes, I did finally get tired of waiting and took matters into my own hands. I hunted for and found a blister pack that was in a lesser condition, bought it, and liberated the Phillies baseball card goodness. I have no qualms about what I did. One, I needed that Samuel card. Two, the packaging was at best in VG-EX condition — I wouldn’t have done this to a piece that was in the type of condition that would’ve made a SLU collector properly drool. And, three, the way I see it, in my own small way I helped make the remaining unopened Juan Samuel figures just a little more valuable. Besides, the reason I have all the other Phillies Starting Lineup cards throughout the ’80s and ’90s is that I actually purchased and opened packages when they were new. All I really did was wait 23 years before doing the same to this particular package. Based on the sticker price shown on the cardboard backing, and taking inflation into account, I spent roughly the same amount on it that I would have back when it was new. Clearly, this was not an investment-grade item.

So, if anyone is interested in the figure or the Mets card, send an email to mattapp@[insert name of Google’s email service].com 🙂

1987 Phillies Great Performers of 1986

Set Type: Main
Dimensions: 9” x 9”
Additional Information: Issued by the Phillies to season ticket holders who took part in their “1987 Phillies Early Bird Program.” The set features artwork by Dick Perez, the Phillies official artist at the time. Just 800 complete folios were produced, and the header card that came with each set bears a serial number for the set, a brief description of the 1986 performance for each of the players depicted within, a photo of Perez with the original artwork for the Schmidt print, and Perez’s signature. The prints are otherwise unnumbered and blank-backed.

Neither Beckett’s online guide nor SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards list the set. The name of the set derives from the maroon envelope containing the complete art folio.

Don Carman
Von Hayes
Bruce Ruffin
Juan Samuel
Mike Schmidt
Kent Tekulve
Dick Perez/Header Card

1986 Donruss Highlights

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Distributed through hobby dealers as a complete 56-card boxed set. The front of the cards use the same basic design at the regular 1986 Donruss set, with the primary differences being the Highlights logo and the use of gold rather than blue in the border. According to the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, each card has a variation where the word “Highlights” in the logo is printed in white rather than in gold.

Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Juan Samuel

1987 Fleer League Leaders

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: One of the many 44-card box sets produced by Fleer throughout the mid ’80s. Fleer produced this set for the Walgreen chain.

Juan Samuel
Mike Schmidt

1986 Burger King All-Pro Series

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions:
Approximately 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Produced for Burger King by Mike Schecter Associates, the cards were issued with the purchase of a Whopper sandwich and came in folded panels of two cards each, along with a coupon. Although officially licensed by the MLBPA, the cards were not licensed by MLB. As a result, all the logos and team insignia are air-brushed out of the photos. Because of the way they were distributed, individual cards usually have one or two perforated edges.

Mike Schmidt (complete panel w/ Carlton)
Steve Carlton (complete panel w/ Schmidt)
Glenn Wilson (complete panel w/ Rice of Red Sox)
Juan Samuel (complete panel w/ Boggs of Red Sox)

Playing With the ’87 Minis

Featured Cards: 2012 Topps 1987 Minis #TM-10, Roy Halladay; 1987 Topps League Leader Minis #29, Juan Samuel; 2012 Topps 1987 Minis #TM-27, Ryan Howard

Over the weekend, I finally received the “Phillies Master Team Set + Insert Cards” I purchased off of eBay and got a good look at the first Phillies cards of 2012. While I generally liked the overall look of the base Topps set, it was the 1987 Minis that really got my attention. However, there was something about them that just didn’t feel right. Then I recalled a post from The Other World a few weeks ago, and it all fell into place.

There’s nothing actually wrong with the 2012 Topps 1987 Minis. Topps did an excellent job of creating them — especially with their use of the appropriate type of cardboard stock. However, it’s just that I think it would have been better if they had instead replicated the 1987 Topps League Leaders Minis instead of doing a mini version of the regular 1987 Topps set. The most obvious reason is, of course, that the new minis are the same size as the League Leader ones from ’87. It’s a minor quibble, but just imagine what the back of the Halladay mini would have looked like if it used the same format as the Samuel card. Samuel was only in the top five of one category in 1986 while Halladay was in the top five in wins, ERA, complete games, innings pitched and strikeouts in 2011.

There was one more 2012 Mini that I just absolutely needed to comment on. I love seeing cards showing players in games in which they wore throwback uniforms, but something felt amiss about Ryan Howard’s card.

Thankfully, I actually possessed software (and more importantly, the minimal level of competence — I cannot overstate my paucity of experience in photo manipulation) which allowed me to make a relatively simple edit to improve upon the overall look of the card.

There. That’s much better.