Category Archives: Marlon Byrd

Friday Info Dump

2007 Ticket UtleyThose of you who followed this blog for long enough know that I regularly alternate between somewhat frequent posting for a few months with disappearing for a few weeks or months. So, going nearly three weeks without posting is really not all that noteworthy. However, I must state for the record that recent changes WordPress made to its image upload tool certainly aided and abetted in my most recent stretch of silence. In particular, they removed the ability to easily add frames and spacing to images, and I relied heavily on those functions when posting images of my cards to this page. Although I can still do so (as evidenced by this post), it takes a lot of time-consuming, manual HTML. While not completely to blame for the recent lack of posting, it certainly provided a lot of disincentive when time was at a premium. I will adapt — I’d much rather WordPress got its damn act together and reincorporated border and spacing options for images — but only because I hate the thought of transferring everything to a new site.

With that mini-rant out of the way, here’s comes a giant info dump of stuff covering the past few weeks…

I was both pleased and disappointed 2014 Topps Phillies Byrdwith the 2014 Topps Phillies Team Set. Based on the cards that overlapped with the offerings in the first series of 2014 Topps, there doesn’t appear to be any unique photos in this year’s team set — although we should withhold final judgment until we see both the second series and 2014 Topps Update Series. The lack of foil on the cards again confirms how unnecessary it is on the flagship product, so I like the look and feel of the Topps Phillies Team Set much better. Of particular interest, for now, are the Marlon Byrd and Freddy Galvis cards. Topps used an older picture of Byrd from his first stint with the team as opposed to digitally editing a newer photo — the opposite of what they did with Placido Polanco and Jim Thome in their second stints with the Phils. Aside from the completely natural look to the photo, the biggest giveaway is the number on his sleeve — 2014 Topps Phillies GalvisByrd wore “29” when he first played for the team. As for Galvis, this marks his first official Topps-issued MLB card (as opposed to his Bowman Prospects inserts, which we all know are not officially MLB cards, rookie or otherwise — wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more). Sadly, we don’t see his face, or The Rookie Card Logo. Without an explanation from Topps, I’m willing to bet that since the logo is jointly administered by MLB and the MLBPA, Panini gets credit for releasing Galvis’s official rookie cards back in 2012. Or, maybe, this is going to be a case where the is no “official” rookie card.

And now, for the blipverts portion of today’s post:

2014 Topps Museum RufWith the addition of his 2014 Topps Musuem Collection Autographs card to my collection, I now have 30 Darin Ruf cards in my collection, and 13 of them are autograph cards. In terms of combined cost and availability, his autograph cards may very well be the easiest to acquire of any current Phillie. There’s still one more Ruf autograph card on its way to my house: his 2013 Topps Supreme is currently enroute from Korea. One day, I’m sure I’ll look back on all his autograph cards in the same manner as I view Gavin Floyd’s or Marlon Byrd’s…

I’m still waiting for Phillies to start properly catering to the nostalgia of Gen Xers such as myself — i.e., for more than just one night per season. When it does, I fully expect to see the Phillies jersey from the ’70s & ’80s become a regular alternate home jersey for the club. I don’t care whether they use the home pinstripes or the road powder blues, so long as semi-regularly I see the classic maroon “P” on the front of the jerseys again…

2009 UD Signature Stars BlantonI was surprised to see Joe Blanton’s sudden retirement. I never imagined I’d be able to pull his jersey out of my closest this quickly. Yes, he really wasn’t good for the past couple years, and I attended a couple games he pitched against the Nationals which made me question my decision to get his name and number on my one and only (so far) alternate home jersey. However, I will always appreciate what he did for the Phillies in 2008 — especially in Game 4 of the World Series. In a related development, I’m very happy to see that I will need leave the Randy Wolf jersey on its hanger for just a little while longer (screw you, Mariners front office)…

I need to give proper credit to Uncle Chris, who provided me with the 2007 Phillies ticket featured at the top of this post. While I catalog them in the database and treat these types of tickets as cards, they are very low priority on my want lists. When I received this one yesterday, it came as a pleasant surprise — my uncle gave me no advance warning that it was coming in the mail…

2009 MLB Fan PakFinally, I will post an updated version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database sometime early next week. I want to properly incorporate all the information from Topps Heritage, Topps Gypsy Queen, Topps Museum Collection and (2013) Bowman Chrome Mini releases before posting it. However, I must admit that I’m glad to say that amongst the various updates is one delightful oddball set that recently came to my attention and that is now prominent in my wantlists: Enterplay’s 2009 MLB Fan Pak. More about that set in a future post.

Featured Cards: 2007 Phillies Season Ticket Holder Ticket Stubs (no #), Chase Utley; 2014 Topps Phillies Team Set #PHI-2, Marlon Byrd, & #PHI-15, Freddy Galvis; 2014 Topps Museum Collection Autographs #AA-DF, Darin Ruf; 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars #125, Joe Blanton; 2009 MLB Fan Pak #56, Jimmy Rollins

2014 Donruss: Renewing a Love Affair

During the 1980s, Donruss was my favorite 1988 Donruss BB Best Parrishcard manufacturer. Please don’t misunderstand, I didn’t think that they released the best set of cards every year. My feelings were more the result of the fact they were the ones attempting to modernize baseball card designs (at least, on the front of the card.) Some of the them were hideous, especially the 1988 Donruss Baseball’s Best which replaced the blue in the borders of the regular ’88 set with orange, thus providing a look so horrifying that the set should’ve been released on Halloween. But as I said in my review of 2014 Topps Turkey Red, I’d rather the card companies try something different and fail miserably than be absolutely lazy and boring. However, there’s no such issue with Panini’s resurrection of the Donruss brand. In fact, the 2014 Donruss set, the first in nearly 10 years, now makes Panini my favorite card manufacturer.

That’s quite the feat considering that they don’t have a license from MLB. However, over the past year in particular, Panini has shown exceptional adroitness, flexibility, and growth in figuring out how to properly remove team 2013 Panini AP Carltonlogos and insignia from the photos they use. I didn’t write a review about their 2013 America’s Pastime offering (although I did write about why I felt the John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz dual autograph card was by far the best Phillies autograph card of the year), but in my opinion it was actually the best high-end set of the year. In addition to assembling a complete team set, I also acquired as many of the inserts as I could. I’m sure my ability to purchase nearly every base card and insert was enhanced by the fact that so many collectors are turned off by the lack of MLB licensing, by I viewed that as their loss and my gain. In my opinion, if Panini continues issuing sets that exceed those produced by Topps, then collectors will force Topps and MLB to take notice.

2014 Donruss LeeAfter the release of 2014 Donruss, Topps and MLB should take notice. This is what a low-end set should be. Let’s start with the bast set. As other collectors have noted, the design uses elements of the 1987 set with a cursive script for the team’s home city. I’ve seen a couple different collectors refer to the script as reminiscent of that used on Topps’s 1978 set, and while I understand the sentiment, I don’t entirely agree. If you look closely at the script on the ’78 Topps cards, it is a different cursive font — all cursive fonts look vaguely similar. Really, the city name font on 2014 Donruss is the same script Panini used on America’s Pastime, only slanted and italicized. They’ve brought back the logo Donruss employed from 1982 through 1985 — though it’s much more prominent than it ever was on previous sets — and the backs look fairly similar those throughout the ’80s, though for some reason 2014 Donruss Lee BackPanini chose to only list 2013 stats and career totals, rather than list the last five seasons of stats in the manner Donruss did 20 years ago. I also couldn’t help but notice that Panini jettisoned the “Contract Status” and “How Acquired” information from the design Donruss faithfully employed for nearly 10 years, starting in 1983. Beginning a theme that will start running throughout the insert sets, Panini mixed design elements from different year by coloring the backs blue like the 1986 sets, rather than the gold used on the back of the 1987 set.

Beyond the regular 2014 Donruss DK Utleybase cards, Panini also properly included Diamond Kings and Rated Rookie subsets, though the design of the Diamond Kings subset is clearly borrows from the 1984 set rather than the 1987. Unfortunately, Panini didn’t pay for original artwork for use on the Diamond King cards and instead relied on a photo treatment to make the photos appear vaguely like artwork. I suppose that’s just a sign of the times (Topps currently isn’t any better), but it would’ve been nice to see artwork, even if Dick Perez was either unavailable or too expensive. There are no foils or gimmicky variations to increase interest, and while parallels, as such, didn’t exist in the ’80s, the ones Panini issued — Press Proofs, Career Stat Line, and Season Stat Line — properly reflect the parallels created by Donruss before it lost its MLB license in 2005.

Panini continued paying 2014 Donruss Rookies Rupphomage to various Donruss designs from the ’80s with the insert sets. The Team MVP set, which includes Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard, is nearly identical to the 1989 Donruss Bonus MVPs, with the MVP text moved from the bottom of the card to the top. The Rookies, which Donruss originally issued as a self-contained box set, interestingly utilizes the color-scheme of the 1988 Donruss set and the name plate from that year’s Diamond Kings subset to create another design that is both new and retro. The same applies to the No-No’s set, which superimposes 1989 Donruss border colors onto the basic 1986 Donruss design.

But it’s the Game Gear relic set that may possess the most interesting amalgamation of Donruss designs. It appears to use a variation of the 2002 Donruss Originals What If 19802014 Donruss GG Brown as the basic design, and then takes the team name font from the 1981 set for the Game Gear set name. I only call this one the most interesting because someone at Panini possessed enough knowledge about the history of the brand to make a connection to the What If 1980 insert set. Too bad someone at Topps wasn’t showing this level of creativity on this year’s Turkey Red set. The two remaining insert sets containing a member of the Phillies, Hall Worthy and Breakout Hitters, don’t appear to have any analogues to previous Donruss issues, but I’m willing to admit that it’s possible that my ignorance of such sets, certainly inserts of some sort, results from the lack of a Phillie in the originals.

In a set chock-full of things to love, I do have a few very minor quibbles with the final product. First, the main set is too small. At a minimum, the set should’ve been 660 cards, since it was Donruss, along with Fleer, who established that as an acceptable minim2014 Donruss Byrdum for a comprehensive, modern set. Second, while I loved seeing each and every single one of the variations on Donruss designs from the ’80s, I personally would have loved to see Panini slowly tease them out over the course of a few different sets. On the other hand, it might be better that Panini issued the overt homages to Donruss’s en masse so that with future releases it could move the set forward in a new direction. Finally, I also noticed that the year was missing from its place next to the Donruss logo. Although Donruss stopped incorporating the year in such a manner in the mid ’90s, I always thought it was a nice touch that provided collectors, both new and old, with a very easy way to immediately identify the year the set was released.

However, those quibbles detract in any discernible fashion from my enjoyment of 2014 Donruss. It’s a wonderful reintroduction of the brand, and its creative homage to its past works quite nicely. Panini manages the neat trick of issuing a low-end set that contains the requisite parallels and inserts that many modern collectors expect, and Panini does this by employing designs for the insert sets that make it clear which set they accompanied — something that’s not always true with insert sets. Aside from my nitpicky criticisms, the only thing that could’ve made this set better was an MLB license. Alas, we have a Topps monopoly on that until the year 2020. It really is a shame we have to wait that long for Panini to potentially receive one — that lack of license is standing in the way of the hobby properly embracing these sets.

One Final Note: I couldn’t find a way to properly work it into the review, but Utley’s base card appears to have an uncorrected error: the back of his card lists his name as “Chase Cameron Headley.”

Featured cards: 1988 Donruss Baseball’s Best #184, Lance Parrish; 2013 Panini America’s Pastime #123, Steve Carlton; 2014 Donruss #111, Cliff Lee; 2014 Donruss #19, Chase Utley; 2014 Donruss The Rookies #11, Cameron Rupp; 2014 Donruss Game Gear #39, Domonic Brown; 2014 Donruss #151, Marlon Byrd

Rookie/Prospect Boom & Bust

Featured Cards: 2013 Panini America’s Pastime #319, Darin Ruf; 2005 Ultimate Collection Ultimate Hurlers Signature Materials #UH-GF, Gavin Floyd; 2004 Fleer Authentix Authentix Autograph Jersey (Regular Season) #AJA-MB, Marlon Byrd

Over the course of 2013, the onslaught of Darin Ruf cards — especially the autographed variety — struck me as one of the more fascinating developments of the year. With the acquisition of his card from 2013 Panini America’s Pastime, which I assume is t2013 Panini AP Rufhe last set of 2013, I had added 23 Darin Ruf cards from various products released over the year. All of these cards were unique — meaning that parallels did not pad my total — and 11 of them were autograph cards.

As a Phillies collector, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this type of rookie/prospect boom. In fact, the last time I saw anything like this was when Michael Bourn was making lots of noise in the upper levels of the Phillies farm system — as hyped as Domonic Brown was among Phillies fans back in 2010, Topps really didn’t produce a glut of Domonic Brown cards in the same way it did for the likes of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Yasiel Puig over the past few years. Mind you, the lack of a Phillies rookie/prospect baseball card boom is directly attributable to the fact that there are far fewer sets than there were approximately 10 years ago and, more importantly, to the lack of real prospects working their way through the farm system since they began their run of division titles in 2007.

Sadly, it’s very2005 Ult. Collection UH Floyd likely going to be a rookie/prospect bust on Ruf. Nothing against him as a ballplayer — in fact, I think the Phillies organization has horribly undervalued him because at 27 he is too old to be considered a legitimate prospect. However, I just don’t see him having a great major league career, not even the type of late-bloomer career enjoyed by the likes of Raúl Ibañez. So, unlike Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels, each of whom saw a surge of autograph and memorabilia cards in the few-year period surrounding their Major League debuts, Darin Ruf is likely to join the likes of Gavin Floyd, Zack Segovia, and Johnny Estrada in the ranks of former Phillies rookies/prospects whom you can easily and cheaply acquire lots of autograph cards.

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other name: Marlon Byrd. I don’t know if he necessarily belongs in the same class as Floyd and Estrada, but you can easily obtain plenty of Byrd’s memorabilia and autograph cards from his first stint with the team. My collection contains 19 cards bearing his autograph 2004 Fleer Authentix Auto-Jersey Byrdand 14 cards with a piece of memorabilia embedded upon it, and there are still plenty of such cards I can inexpensively and easily add without resorting to parallels to pad the numbers (forgive me for not running a report from the database to see just how many options there are, but I know the number is ridiculous). Given how much the hobby has changed since Byrd’s Major League debut, I’m fairly certain Phillies collectors will never again experience anything like the barrage of autograph and memorabilia cards that occurred early in his career. I must admit, however, that I am eager to see whether or not Topps or Panini will decide to issue new autograph and memorabilia cards for his second stint on the team.

2002 Donruss Classics Significant Signatures

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2002 Donruss Classics. The cards are essentially the same ones used in the regular Donruss Classics set, only with an autographed sticker applied to the front of the card and a serial number on the back. The Eric Junge card was not in the original release of Donruss Classics; instead, it was available in packs of 2002 Donruss Rookies. In the checklist below, the print run of each player’s card is listed in parenthesis after his name.

Brandon Duckworth (25)
Scott Rolen (15)
Bobby Abreu (25)
Robert Person (25)
Marlon Byrd (500)
Jorge Padilla (500)
Anderson Machado (500)
Steve Carlton (125)
Mike Schmidt (25)
Eric Junge (50)

2004 Skybox LE History of the Draft: The 90’s Autographs

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Manufacturer: Fleer/Skybox
Parallels: Copper, serial numbered to 99; Gold Proof, serial numbered to 10; Silver Proof, serial numbered to 50.
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2004 Skybox LE. Base cards serial numbered to 299; all cards, base and parallels, bear serial number on back of card. The Beckett online guide, which lists the base set as “2004 SkyBox LE History Draft 90’s Autograph Black,” lists and provides the print run for the Copper parallel. SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, which lists the set as “2004 SkyBox LE History of the Draft Autographs,” concurs with information on the Gold Proof and Silver Proof parallels, but states nothing about the Copper parallels.

HDA-MB Marlon Byrd

Not Living Up to Expectations

Featured Card: 2001 Topps Heritage #375, Travis Lee; 2002 Donruss Diamond Kings #101, Marlon Byrd

The end of my last post on December 14: “My 2011 Phillies Cards in Review will resume tomorrow. Really, it will. Don’t roll your eyes in disbelief. I mean it!”

The problem with ending that post in such a manner is that within a couple days I started feeling really sheepish about those words. Worse still, I found myself procrastinating because I felt like that once I finally did return, I had to acknowledge the ridiculousness of those words — which is something I didn’t actually want to do. So, having completely froze into inaction due to a semantic morass of my own making, I decided the time arrived for me to just resume.

On one level, I actually feel a little silly for admitting all this. After all, this isn’t a professional blog by any stretch of the imagination — though I do attempt a professional level of writing and research (when I engage in the latter). Nonetheless, I have expectations for myself that I want to maintain, and for the last 23 days, I did nothing of the sort. So, it’s a new year and I while I won’t promise to post more, I will certainly make a concerted effort to post more consistently. That doesn’t mean posting every day or even every other day — it just means that there won’t ever be another 23-day stretch between posts or posting anything like the sentence which closed my post on December 14.

Having said all that, my 2011 Phillies Cards in Review will resume with the next post, with the goal of completing the series before 2012 Topps arrives on store shelves.