Category Archives: Larry Bowa

Taking the Time to Do It Right

Featured Card: 2013 Panini America’s National Pastime Majestic Marks #MM-LB, Larry Bowa; 2008 2008 UD Premier The Premier Card #(PCN), Steve Carlton

Yesterday, I described why it made 2013 Panini America Pastime MM Bowasense for Panini to use the 1922 American Caramel Series of 240 set as the basis for a retro-themed set. However, before Panini can do that, they need to improve their quality control. Admittedly, had I carefully examined the picture in the eBay auction before purchasing it, I would have saved myself the grief I experienced when this Larry Bowa autograph card arrived. However, under no circumstances should an autograph card in a premium product exhibit the problem shown on it.

Including the parallels, Panini only made 161 of this particular Bowa card. I understand that occasionally people will accidentally go outside the lines when signing autograph stickers. However, this problem can clearly be remedied be having the individual sign additional stickers just in case this occurs, and then don’t use the stickers where the signature has been cutoff — especially in a premium product! Actually, you shouldn’t be using stickers in a premium product at all, but that’s a rant for another time.

There really is no good 2008 UD Premier Premier Card Carltonreason for this type of error to occur. I assume that someone is supposed to be checking the stickers before they are applied to cardboard as well as the placement of the stickers on the card itself. However, I could be wrong about that, as this particular triple autograph featuring Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, and Phil Niekro proves that Upper Deck has previously had their own quality control issues in regards to autograph stickers. Yet, as much as I (and many other collectors) really prefer the cards to be autographed directly, I understand why the use of stickers is likely here to stay and accept them for what they are. Is it, however, too much to ask for some quality control when companies decide to use them?

(UD Premier autograph card image taken from eBay auction 161032536780.)

2013: A Banner Year for Collecting Larry Bowa

Featured Cards: 2002 Topps Coaches Collection #CC-LB; 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Pastime Signatures #LB; 2013 Topps Chasing History Autographs (redemption card) #CHA-LB

2002 Topps CC BowaCertain retired Phillies have become baseball card mainstays over the 15 years: in particular, the big five HOFers, Greg Luzinski, John Kruk, and, to a lesser degree, Darren Daulton. However, thanks to his long, though not continuous, association with club, Bowa has been something of a mainstay as well — at least, that’s true thanks to the numerous team-issued offerings over the years. Since his retirement as a player following the 1985 season, there have only been 10 different years that did not witness at least one new Bowa Phillies card. Amazingly, 2013 — a year following a seven-year stretch in which Bowa appeared on just one card as a Phillie — became the year that saw the most Bowa Phillies cards since the mid ’70s.

If you had asked me before the 2013 Panini AP Signature Bowarelease of the first 2013 sets which retired Phillie — outside of the usual, aforementioned individuals — would receive the most cards this year, I would not have mentioned Bowa. Hell, he wouldn’t have even been on my radar. I’m certain I would’ve chosen Curt Schilling (who did get lots of love from Panini in 2013, but not as a Phillie), Dick Allen (who, interestingly, has not appeared on a card since 2010), or maybe even Lenny Dykstra (who has received plenty of Phillies cards in his retirement, but not very many in the past few years). Yet, when 2013 closed, Bowa received the fourth most cards over any retired Phillie, following only Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, & Kruk.

Even more amazingly, after previously receiving his sole autograph card back in 2001, Bowa appeared on eight different autograph issues in 2013. Actually, not counting printing plates and parallels, he only appeared on two other cards over the course of the year. Nonetheless,2013 Topps CHA Bowa it was a veritable glut of new material after what really was the longest dry spell of his career, at least as far as Phillie collectors are concerned. And if you were someone who collected all of Bowa’s cards, then 2013 was even better in that he also appeared in special Topps Archives set made available only to Cubs season ticket holders.

Bowa will be back with the club as a coach for the coming season. This guarantees at least one more Bowa card in a Phillies team-issued set. It will be interesting to see if whether Topps and Panini continue issuing additional Bowa cards or 2013 was just an unusual blip in regards to Bowa baseball cards.

Complete list of all Larry Bowa cards in the Phillies Baseball Card Database.

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

1978 Kellogg’s

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2⅛” x 3¼”
Additional Information: Distributed in various brands of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal. Complete sets could be obtained via a mail-in offer. The tiny player portrait which appeared on the back of the cards since the earliest Kellogg’s sets was replaced by a drawing of Tony the Tiger.

Steve Carlton
Mike Schmidt
Larry Bowa
Garry Maddox
Greg Luzinski