Category Archives: Richie Ashburn

Card Number 20,000

I intended to write this post nearly four months ago. I suppose better late than never. Since acquiring this milestone card, the collection has increased by another 250 cards.

Back in October 2003, my only child was born. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter my wife lost her job. In an effort to keep our finances afloat, I sold nearly all my pre-World War II Phillies cards, as well as the majority of my pre-1957 Bowman and Topps cards. In most cases, I had complete 1927 Exhibits Mokanteam sets, and that includes notables ones such as the T206 White Border and 1933 Goudey. It was something I did willingly—the health and well-being of my family was far more important than my baseball card collection—but I didn’t enjoy doing it

Over the past five years, I’ve slowly rebuilt that portion of my collection. It probably would’ve gone much more quickly if I hadn’t devoted so many resources to acquiring the ridiculous number of cards that I originally missed out on during the 2004-2009 timeframe (especially 2005), when I had to be far more selective about what I collected. I’ve managed to reassemble the Play Ball sets, the ’55 and ’56 Topps sets, and most of the Bowman team sets, but the majority of the team sets I once owned remain works in progress. Some of them I may never complete again; in particular, I just don’t see how I’ll ever manage to reacquire a T206 White Border Titus—the remaining card I need to complete that particular team set.

On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some cards I didn’t own (let alone imagine owning) 10 years ago. I now possess a few Cracker Jack cards, some caramel cards, a few exhibits, a Tattoo Orbit, and even a few pins. The presence of these cards in my collection more than offsets the OCD angst caused by the fact that I still need to complete many pre-1954 Phillies team sets. Nonetheless, the completion of some of those sets remains a serious goal. One such set was the 1949 Bowman, and it probably comes as no surprise that the Ashburn rookie card was one of the final cards I needed to complete it.

Of all the cards I sold during the 2003-2004 winter, the Ashburn’s rookie card was the one that hurt the most when I sold it. I actually only owned it for roughly a year at the time, but it was easily the centerpiece of my collection. 1949 Bowman AshburnIt wasn’t in the best condition (it was professionally graded by SGC as a 40), but I was thrilled with its overall appearance. Yet, at the time I felt confident that I could require it somewhat easily once I again possessed the resources to do so.

I was wrong.

Roughly 18 months ago, I started actively searching for another 1949 Bowman Ashburn card professionally graded in VG or VG-EX condition. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a card that more than held its value—it was more expensive that it had been when I bought and sold it 10 years earlier (even when factoring inflation over that time). I quickly resigned myself to the idea that I would need to accept one graded in Good condition. Even then, it took a great amount of patience. Finally, around the time I was approaching the 20,000 milestone, one finally hit eBay at a price relatively near what I was willing to pay. Thankfully, the seller had a “Make Best Offer” option on the “Buy It Now” price and I was able to negotiate the card down to the maximum I was willing to pay.

So, once again it’s a centerpiece to my collection, and although it wasn’t technically the 20,000th Phillies card in my possession, I made sure that it was the 20,000th added to the Excel spreadsheet I use to track my collection. It’s not as nice as my original 1949 Bowman Ashburn BackAshburn rookie card, but at least I own one again (which is more than could very well be said about the T206 Titus.) Just as nice, it meant that it put me just one card away from completing my 1949 Bowman team set—the completion of which I described yesterday.

If you told me 30 years ago that one day I would own over 20,000 Phillies cards, I might’ve believed that it potentially could happen sometime significantly later in life; I just don’t think any of us back in the mid ‘80s could’ve possibly anticipated the radical changes in the hobby that would begin around the start of the ‘90s and continue to this day. Barring a catastrophic collapse in the hobby or my finances, 30,000 seems incredibly likely at some point down the road—as mind-boggling as that possibility seems.

Looking Ahead to Topps Heritage

Featured Cards: 1965 Topps #474, Cookie Rojas; 2003 Upper Deck Vintage #144, Richie Ashburn; 1964 Topps #464, Dallas Green; 1965 Topps #248 Gus Triandos

As has been the case for many years now, I1965 Topps Rojas am eagerly looking forward to the next release of Topps Heritage. It’s hard to believe that this particular brand is entering its 15th year, and it’s even harder to believe that in less time than that the Heritage brand will start reusing set designs from my youth — assuming that Topps is still issuing such sets in the year 2026.

As is what I assume is true for other collectors, my eagerness to see a particular Heritage set varies based on how much I liked the original off of which its based. It just so happens that the 1965 design is one of my all-time favorite vintage Topps designs, so I’m really excited about this year’s set. In fact, I love the design so much that I almost found it in my heart to forgive Upper Deck for badly ripping it off with their 2003 Upper Deck Vintage set. So, 2003 UD Vintage Ashburnin addition to assembling something close to a master team set of Phillies and a complete base set, I’m seriously considering collecting all the SPs in order to have a full, complete set — though not with any of the various gimmicky variations that Topps seems to love creating.

However, that’s not the only reason I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Heritage in stores next week. A few days ago, Topps released the checklist for the set, and one of my Wish List Items for 2014 was in there: a Dallas Green autograph card. Because I’ve been complaining about the lack of one for some time now, a couple months ago I decided I was tired of waiting and purchased a slabbed PSA/DNA Green autograph card. I must to admit to being slightly annoyed with myself for not being patient for just a 1964 Topps Greenfew months longer, but on the other hand, this is the sixth year in a row in which Topps could’ve issused a Real Ones Autograph for Green. I think my inability to believe that Topps would actually issue one is somewhat justified.

There are two other Phillies from the 1965 set who are also getting Real One Autographs: Frank Thomas and Ed Roebuck. I’m never going to complain when a current or former Phillie receives his first autograph card, but my excitement over the Green card was dampened by the realization that once again Topps passed on issuing Ruben Amaro, Sr., Art Mahaffey, Tony Taylor, or Cookie Rojas autograph cards. If Rick Wise isn’t included in next year’s Heritage offering, I’m going start holding that against Topps as well.

One final note,1965 Topps Triandos given that Topps included historically-based variations in previous Heritage sets, keep a close watch on the Phillies logos in this year’s set. Although #248 was not assigned to a Phillie again in this year’s Heritage (it went to Pete Kozma of the Cardinals), in the original 1965 set, the Phillies cap in the Phillies logo on Gus Triandos’s card wasn’t properly colored red — it was the same yellow as the background in the rest of the logo. Therefore, it’s possible that Topps could mess up the logo coloring on some other Phillies card this year, though it’s just as likely that Kozma’s card will bear the lack of proper coloring, should Topps choose to replicate that particular error with a variation card.

Cards That Just Annoy The Crap Out of Me

Update, March 3, 2014: I have posted an update and correction to the information on the Kendrick card below.

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps #71(b), Kyle Kendrick (“error” variation); 2009 Topps Heritage 1960 Cut Signatures #HCS-RA, Richie Ashburn

2013 Topps Kendrick ErrorWhen Topps released its 2013 Update Series, it included what might be the ugliest, stupidest, and downright most insulting baseball card ever: the Kyle Kendricks “error” variation. I’ve collected all the Phillies veteran and photo variations issued by Topps since they started issuing them, but this particular error gimmick is beyond the pale. I cannot even begin to comprehend why anyone would think this was a great idea for a card — has any major card company ever issued a card in error that was so badly cropped that the player’s face wasn’t in it? No, it’s never happened, and it never will happen because it takes so many layers of incompetency that such a card company would’ve already filed for bankruptcy before being able issue such an atrocity. Yet, because it’s so short-printed, every copy that’s shown up on eBay has sold for $60 or more. The fact that I have no desire to add it to my collection says an awful lot, because I’m just about as OCD as team collectors come.

2009 Topps Heritage Cut Signatures AshburnYet, the disgust I feel towards Topps for this card pales in comparison to the animosity I harbor as a result of the Ashburn relic-cut autograph card that Topps produced for Heritage in 2009. It was bad enough that Topps found an incredibly rare, (supposedly) game-worn Ashburn Phillies uniform and cut it to pieces (which ended up in a number of other inserts over the following years), but they added insult to injury by including it on a card that they designate him as member of the Cubs. Yes, I understand that the 1960 Topps set, which 2009 Topps Heritage recycled, included Ashburn as a Cub. However, when you’re producing a 1/1 card of arguably the most beloved figure in Philadelphia sports history and that card includes both a cut autograph and a fragment of one his Phillies uniforms, you come up with a reason to make damn sure that the card designates him as a member of the Phillies.

It’s crap like these two cards that offset all the joy I get out of cards like the John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz dual autograph card I wrote about yesterday.

(Note: Both card images retrieved from eBay auctions.)

Odds and Ends

Featured Cards: 2013 Panini Golden Age #57, Richie Ashburn; 1990 Upper Deck #474, Terry Mulholland; 1962 Salada-Junket Coins #86(b), Andy Carey (Phillies Variation)

The combination of the crappiness of the Phillies season (especially the past two weeks) combined with hostility towards Topps and Beckett that refuses to ebb hasn’t stopped me from plugging away building the collection and the associated side projects, but it has made it hard for me to work up much enthusiasm for writing about Phillies cards these days. With that in mind, a few tidbits to show that I haven’t given up on blogging about my favorite hobby:

2013 Panini Golden Age AshburnAfter a long deliberation, I have decided to start adding various partially-licensed cards to my collection (I’ve decided “unlicensed” is a misnomer because the MLBPA certainly has given their approval, and Topps and MLB would love for us to continue using a term that makes the cards sound completely illegitimate). I’m not thrilled about the loss of the team logos or signifiers, but short of not collecting at all — which I’m not ready to embark upon — it’s about the best way I can fight back against the Topps monopoly. However, I will continue to refuse to purchase prospect cards — which Panini in particular seems to relish pimping in the Elite brand — and stick to cards of players who actually appear with Philadelphia at the MLB level….

If I did have the gumption, I would start a new feature here on 14,000 Phillies: “Stupid Shit Actually Said by Chris Olds, Editor for Beckett.” He does it often enough to provide a never-ending source of material. Last week, he provided this humdinger of a gem in “At the National: It’s No secret, Vintage Remains a Driving Force (Card Gallery)“:

“Values of landmark vintage cards may not show it, but the secret to many of those old cards’ popularity is perhaps that they simply can be found and can be collected. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for us all.

Simply put, more of us can enjoy more of them 1990 Upper Deck Mulholland— and that’s one reason why vintage will always remain.”

As you stop and contemplate this pearl of insight, take a look at the mounds of late ’80s and early ’90s product that can be found so simply and collected. There’s more than enough for all of us to enjoy! It’s the reason why late ’80s and early ’90s product will always remain and be a major presence at card shows for years to come….

Finally, I have an unabashed love for cards which represent a particular player’s only appearance in a Phillies uniform — especially when it’s not from a Phillies 1962 Salada CareyTeam Issue set. Last week I acquired one such item — the 1962 Salada-Junket coin that marked Andy Carey’s only appearance in a Phillies uniform (he’s in the 1962 Sherrif Coin set as well, but I consider that a parallel set of sorts). The fact that it’s a harder-to-find variation in the Salada set just makes its addition that much more special to me. Eventually, I hope to assemble a complete PSA-graded team set — I’m currently 7/13 of the way there.

2001 Bowman Rookie Reprints

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2001 Bowman.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: First and foremost, I love the fact that Topps’s lawyers felt it necessary to include the “OFFERS ON REPRINTS ARE NOT VALID” statement at the bottom of the back. I realize that they need to protect themselves from the crazies, but would anyone in their right mind really think that they were offering rings again, the rings cost just 15 cents, and the offer expired in 2049? Second, I did at one time actually own an Ashburn rookie card. However, some incredibly tight finances roughly 10 years ago necessitated my selling it and I still haven’t been able to replace it. Hopefully, that will one day change, but it’s incredibly likely this is as close as I get to owning the Ashburn rookie card for a long time.

Robin Roberts
Richie Ashburn

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter’s What’s in a Name?

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter’s. All the cards in the set bear the player’s full given name.

Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Cliff Lee
Richie Ashburn
Hunter Pence
Roy Halladay
Jimmy Rollins
Mike Schmidt
Juan Pierre
Jim Thome
Cole Hamels

2001 Topps Tribute Relic Bats

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallel: Stencils; instead of swatch cut in the shape of the player’s number, the swatch is cut in the shape of a square, and the player’s number is cut out from the inside of the square, thus producing a stencil-like swatch. Presumably, the swatches from the regular cards were produced from the Stencil swatches.
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2001 Topps Tribute. Beckett’s Online Guide lists this set as “2001 Topps Tribute Game Bat Relics.” while SCD’s 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards lists the set as “2001 Topps Tribute Game-Used Bat Relics.”
14,000 Phillies Commentary:
I absolutely abhor relics cards such as this, because actual game-used items dating from before the era of modern collecting are so comparatively rare. However, because of my obsessive-compulsive need to own as many different Phillies cards as possible, I own many such cards — including a Chuck Klein game-used bat card — and I feel “unclean” when I stop to think about this unpleasant fact. (Yes, the card shown in the scans is from my collection — as are all other scans, unless otherwise noted.)

RB-RA Richie Ashburn

1954 Topps

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 2⅝” x 3¾”
Rookie Cards: Ted Kazanski, Thornton Kipper, Tom Qualters, Stan Jok, Mickey Micelotta, & Paul Penson.
Additional Information: The first 50 cards of the set are available on both white-backed cardboard stock and gray-backed cardboard stock. The cards printed on gray stock were printed and distributed in Canada, are available in smaller quantities, and accordingly carry a modest premium in price. As was the case with the 1953 Topps set, the relatively small size of the set, as well as the notable absence of many of the Phillies stars of the time, resulted entirely from Topps’s ongoing legal battles with Bowman, who had secured exclusive baseball card contracts with many Major League players. This also explains why the set features two Phillies coaches, their manager and a slew of rookies.

In 1988, Topps, in conjunction with Campbell’s Soup, issued a 10” x 14” sheet commemorating Richie Ashburn’s 40 years in Major League Baseball. This perforated sheet contained reprints of numerous cards through Ashburn’s playing career, and his 1954 Topps card was among those reprinted. Set was later reprinted in its entirety in the 1994 Topps Archives 1954 set.

Topps has also recycled the 1954 design on numerous occasions; most notably, in the 2003 Topps Heritage offering, which actually contains more Phillies (20, not counting variations) than the 1954 set. Mayo, Micelotta, Penson and Sandlock all signed reprints of their cards as part of the 2003 Topps Heritage Real Ones Autographs insert set. Topps first reused the design in the 2000 Topps Gallery Heritage insert set, but no Phillies appeared in that offering. That same year, Fleer borrowed heavily from the 1954 design in its Fleer Tradition set. The 2007 Topps Wal-Mart insert set contains a Chase Utley card, the front of which was “based on the 1954 Topps design.” Finally, Topps reused the design for Carlos Ruiz’s and Cole Hamel’s cards in the 2012 Topps Archives set.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: Once you’ve counted the rookies, manager and coaches, you realize that there are only five Phillies in the set who were established Major Leaguers: Hamner, Ashburn, Jones, Lindell and Sandlock. However, Sandlock never actually appeared in a game as a Phillie; his appearance in the set is entirely the result of his being signed during the ’53-’54 off-season to be Lindell’s personal catcher. Lindell was primarily a knuckleballer, and Sandlock caught for him in Pittsburgh the year before. Thus, the Phillies thought there might be some value in having a catcher on staff with experience in handling the pitch. According to an article in the March 6, 1954 issue of The Milwaukee Journal, the Phillies thought he might receive plenty of work given that other pitchers on the staff also experimented with the pitch. However, 1953 was the first time Sandlock played in the majors since 1946, and his numbers in Pittsburgh were rather ugly. It’s no surprise that he ultimately didn’t work out. The numbers Sandlock posted for San Diego in the Pacific Coast League in 1954 show that Phillies were right in releasing him.

As part of an ongoing series examining Topps cards throughout the years, the Phillies Room contains an informative write-up on the set.

Granny Hamner
Granny Hamner (gray back)
Willie “Puddinhead” Jones
Willie “Puddinhead” Jones (gray back)
Richie Ashburn
Richie Ashburn (gray back)
Johnny Lindell
Ted Kazanski
Mike Sandlock
Thornton Kipper
Steve O’Neill (manager)
Tom Qualters
Earle Combs (coach)
Stan Jok
Mickey Micelotta
Paul Penson
Eddie Mayo (coach)

2010 Topps Tribute Dual Relics

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Black, serial numbered to 50; Blue, serial numbered to 75; Gold, serial numbered to 25; Red, serial numbered “1/1”.
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2010 Topps Tribute. Base cards are serial numbered to 99, and the relic swatches for each player are listed in parenthesis after his name in the checklist below. All cards, base and parallel, bear the serial number on the front of the card. Somewhat inexplicably, Ryan Howard doesn’t show up in the Beckett’s Phillies team checklist for the set, even though he appears in the full checklist.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: I am unable to find an online source for this, but I recall reading somewhere that for many years after his retirement, Ashburn attempted to find one of his game-worn jerseys in the memorabilia market, but sadly was unable to procure one before his passing in 1997. I think about this every time I see one of these Ashburn game-used jersey cards, and I continue to believe that the first person to authorize the willful destruction of such a rare piece of baseball history deserves a special place in hell for his actions.

Mike Schmidt (dual bat relic)
Richie Ashburn (dual jersey relic)
Ryan Howard (dual bat relic)

2003 Donruss Studio Enshrinement

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallel: Proofs, serial numbered to 20
Additional Information/14,000 Phillies Commentary: Inserted in packs of 2003 Donruss Studio. Base cards are serial numbered to 750, and both the base and Proofs parallel bear the serial number on the back of the card. One of these days it would be interesting to do some research and determine just how many similarly-themed HOF insert sets were produced by Donruss, Fleer and Upper Deck during this decade.

Mike Schmidt
Richie Ashburn
Steve Carlton
Robin Roberts