Category Archives: Ricky Jordan

1993 Phillies Medford Team Issue

 1993 Medford Jordan Front1993 Medford Jordan Back

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions: 4″ x 6″
Additional Information/14,000 Phillies Commentary: This marks the fifth straight year that the Phillies used the same design for their Team Issue Set, having started with it in 1989. As with all over Phillies team-issued sets, the cards are not sequentially numbered, instead bearing the player’s uniform number. In the checklist below, the cards are listed in alphabetical order by last name and assigned numbers accordingly.

Admittedly, I got out of the habit over the past few months, but one of the reasons I started posted checklists on this site is that I felt the checklists I compiled over my years of collecting were frequently more useful than the information you can find in Beckett nor Sports Collectors Digest, and I wanted to share the information with other collectors. However, I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about Phillies cards. Sometimes, I still learn things about sets I thought I completed years (if not decades) ago.

Last week, a regular commenter, Steve, gave me advance notice that he found some variations in the 1993 Medford Phillies Team Issue set and was going to post about them in a comment over on The Phillies Room. As promised, he did, and earlier today Jim, the blogger over at The Phillies Room, put together a post that talked about how Steve’s discovery had helped solve a small mystery regarding his collection and the 1993 Medford Phillies Team Issue set.

Even before Steve’s discovery, I knew that Beckett’s checklist for the set was incomplete. As briefly as possible, the 1993 Team Issue set was different from most because in addition to the release at the beginning of the year (the only cards listed by Beckett) and the mid-summer update, the Phillies further updated the set late in the season, inserting a card for Bobby Thigpen, and creating variations for four other Phillies. Unfortunately, and this continues to be true, the Phillies did a very poor job of communicating this late season revision to the set. I know this because I went to no less than four games that September, and I assure you if I had known about the updates, I would have purchased the set to ensure my set was fully up-to-date and complete.

Generally speaking, I love the Phillies Team Issue sets, if for no other reason than they frequently contain the only Phillies card you will ever see for many players (a personal favorite is the Don Robinson update in 1992). However, the Phillies lack of communication with collectors regarding updates and changes to the sets is downright maddening at times. If it hadn’t been for Jim, I would’ve never known about the late update to last year’s Team Issue Second Edition, and if it hadn’t been for utter dumb luck I never would’ve known about the fact that the 2010 Team Issue Second Edition was revised very shortly after its initial release. I love the updates — I just wish the team would better communicate when they occur and make them available individually.

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Kyle Abbott
Ruben Amaro, Jr.
Larry Andersen
Bob Ayrault
Kim Batiste
Juan Bell
Larry Bowa (coach)
Wes Chamberlain
Darren Daulton
Darren Daulton (SP; dugout background, late season variation)
Jose DeLeon
Mariano Duncan
Lenny Dykstra
Jim Eisenreich
Jim Fregosi (manager)
Tyler Green (SP; mid-season update)
Tommy Greene (stadium seats in background)
Tommy Greene (SP; dugout in background, late season variation)
Dave Hollins
Pete Incaviglia
Danny Jackson
Ricky Jordan
John Kruk
Jeff Manto (SP; mid-season update)
Roger Mason (SP; mid-season update)
Denis Menke (coach)
Mickey Morandini (dark background, nothing visible)
Mickey Morandini (SP; dugout in background, late season variation)
Terry Mulholland
Johnny Podres (coach)
Todd Pratt
Ben Rivera
Mel Roberts (coach)
Mike Ryan (coach)
Curt Schilling
Kevin Stocker
Bobby Thigpen (SP; late season addition)
Milt Thompson
John Vukovich
David West
Mike Williams
Mitch Williams (dark background, glove visible)
Mitch Williams (SP; bright background, late season variation)
The 1993 Phillies NL All-Stars (SP; mid-season update)
Phillie Phanatic
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1993: The Last Great Year for Basic Baseball Cards?

Featured Cards: 1993 Bowman #104, Kevin Stocker; 1993 O-Pee-Chee #169, Dave Hollins; 1993 Donruss #224, Mickey Morandini; 1993 Fleer #100, Darren Daulton; 1993 Score #289, Bob Ayrault; 1993 Topps #585, Ricky Jordan; 1993 Upper Deck #267, Wes Chamberlain; 1993 Pacific #240, Terry Mulholland

I’m going to sound like something of a curmudgeon, but I’ll just put it right out in front: 1993 was the last great year for basic baseball card design (and no, this has nothing to do with the ’93 Phillies). This is a huge deal because by 1993, I was 21 years old and these were not the sets of my youth — the type for which a significant percentage of collectors feel the most nostalgia. By then, I shifted all of my collecting efforts into assembling a Phillies-only collection, and outside of those acquisitions I saw very little else. In fact, back when these cards appeared in ’93 I don’t think I was thinking that much at all about the design of those cards in comparison to what came before and after.

However, this part summer an old friend gave me his baseball card collection, which was overwhelmingly comprised of ’90s and early ’00s issues. As I sorted through and cataloged them, I gained a whole new appreciation for the 1993 Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps and Upper Deck base sets. The overriding reason was simple: collectively, they were the last gasp of the basic baseball card design as we knew it. That was the last year we saw a large array of clean, traditional borders, no foil stamping or special finishes (other than a basic gloss applied to both the front and the back), very few parallels, and sets large enough to portray the entire starting lineup, starting rotation, and a handful of relievers & reserves. It also simultaneously, somewhat paradoxically, marked the first time that all the major manufacturers, in unison, finally designed proper full-color backs. Not all the sets were good ones — there were certainly a couple designs that were lacking. However, as a group, they did provided a strong presentation of card design before full-bleed photos, high-gloss, foil stamping, foil printing, oodles of parallels and SPs went rampant throughout the hobby. Here’s a quick review of the base sets that year.

1993 Donruss

Simple design on the front, but it’s the back that made this a wonderful departure for Donruss. Donruss went full color on the backs in 1992, but despite the addition of a portrait photo, the backs were still basically recognizable as a variation on the ones Donruss produced for the previous 10 years. However, back of the ’93 sets was a real change for Donruss. True, they still only gave five years of stats, but the portrait layout and larger photo represented the first truly new Donruss backside layout since the 1982 set. Unfortunately (from a traditional perspective), this set was also the last time that Donruss would issue base cards using traditional borders of any color until 2001.

1993 Fleer

Fleer embraced proper, full-color backs in ’91, and it’s ’92 set was actually better than this one. The gray borders make the set look somewhat dingy, and I really would’ve loved to see what they would have looked like with white borders and a simple, thin black frame around the photo and the team name/player/position line. However, like Donruss, Fleer kept the design simple and clean, and while the poster-like font and presentation on the back of the card bordered on overkill, they did a nice job of incorporating an action photo onto the back of the card. In ’94 Fleer would produce arguably their best set ever, but some tasteful, judicious foil stamping placed it outside the realm of traditional design, and they wouldn’t release a traditional-style set again until the release of 2000 Fleer Tradition.

1993 Score

Although all the major base sets employed a very simple design, this set was almost certainly the least inspired and most boring of the major base sets in ’93 (the very stolid font used on the front of the card certainly didn’t help). Score was at the forefront of full-color backs bearing pictures back in ’88 and as was the case with Fleer, their massive, 893-card ’92 set was actually much better. In fact, the only Score set worse than this one is the 1990 issue. To their credit, despite embracing parallels and modern card design elements in their other offerings, the Score flagship set continued to employ solely traditionally design elements right up through the demise of the company in 1998.

1993 Topps

Although Topps finally issued cards bearing full-color backs in ’92, it was really done half-assed. The backs did not contain pictures of the players, and Topps did not apply any kind of gloss finish to the backs. That changed with its ’93 release. However, the design of the card was somewhat schizophrenic; the relatively simple front design (which inexplicably did not include the player’s position) was offset by a much-busier back design that doesn’t readily appear to use any of the same design elements. Nonetheless, the total effect made it one of the better Topps flagship issues of the decade. Sadly, the ’94 set marked the last time Topps did not make use of foil stamping on the base set. Nowadays, Topps’s retro sets (Heritage, Allen & Ginter & Gypsy Queen) are the only place you can find them employing solely traditional design methods, but even then Topps has to muck the sets up with SPs and parallels out the wazoo. Interestingly, although Topps arguably started the practice of parallels in ’92 and were the only ones to issue a parallel with their base set in ’93, the company didn’t fully embrace parallels the same way their competitors did later in the decade.

1993 Upper Deck

Like Score, Upper Deck used full-color on its backs starting with its debut issue in 1989. However, Upper Deck did very little to differentiate the designs on any its releases during the following three years. That changed with its ’93 release. Although it uses a cursive script on the front and the design elements overlap the picture rather than frame it, the design is still basically traditional — especially when compared to Upper Deck’s follow-up release the following year. Like Topps, Upper Deck would never again issue a set under its flagship line that did not employ some sort of foil stamping or special finish. Although, I will gladly argue that the five-year run of its Collector’s Choice brand, which eschewed the foil on the base cards, starting in 1994 actually continued in a traditional manner the legacy of the original Upper Deck brand — without getting stuck in some in the same design rut.

And that’s just the five big flagship sets. In addition to these, as well as the ’93 Bowman and ’93 O-Pee-Chee at the beginning of this post, we had a slew of other sets which eschewed SPs, high-gloss, foil cards, foil stamping, full-bred photography, parallels and all the other bells and whistles that are now considered normal for so many modern issues. Most notably, Pacific debuted that year with a set that looks right in place with all the others sets already covered.

It’s interesting to look back and realize that 1993 marked a real demarcation in the way modern baseball cards are made. We tend to think of iconic sets or the introduction of certain brands as moments where the hobby underwent some sort of shift. There was none of that in ’93. However, what we did see, without anyone realizing it at the time, was one last collective effort to simply produce cards. Yes, there was still a plethora of product and inserts galore, but the sets themselves were much simpler. Looking back at those sets, I realize just how much I miss when cards were issued in the manner demonstrated by the major manufacturers in their flagship brands.

1989 Score Rising Stars

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions:
2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Distributed as a complete set in select retailers. SCD states that the set was marketed in combination with a related magazine, 1988-89 Baseball’s 100 Hottest Rookies.

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88
Todd Frohwirth
Ron Jones
Marvin Freeman
Alex Madrid
Keith Miller
Shane Turner
Ricky Jordan

It Wasn’t Always This Way: The 1996 Phillies

Featured Cards: 1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended Series Autographs (no number), J.R. Phillips; 1996 Emotion-XL #248, Benito Santiago; 1997 Pacific #381, Ricardo Jordan; 1997 Starting Lineup Extended Series (no number), Ricky Bottalico; 1996 Fleer Ultra #517, Toby Borland; 1996 Score #230, Kevin Jordan (UER); 1996 Circa #168, Ricky Otero; 1997 Pacific Prisms Gems of the Diamond #GD-180, Ruben Amaro, Jr.

For the past two years, I’ve been fond of saying, “What happened to the Phillies I spent most of my life rooting for?” It’s meant as a statement of wonderful amazement. For most of my late teen years and adult life, the Phillies were either underachievers (2002-2006) or an awful team (1988-1992, 1994-2000). There was nothing in my life, or Phillies history, to prepare me for the pleasure of seeing the Phillies clinch their 5th straight division title against the Cardinals on Saturday night. As I watched some of the victory celebration on MLB Network, my mind drifted back 15 years, to the 1996 season — a far different time for the Phillies and me.

In 1996, I saw nine Phillies game in person. I know for a lot of fans in the Philly area these days, going to that many games in a season is no big deal. However, I was fresh out of college, and if it wasn’t for the cheap seats in the 700 level, I don’t think that I would have managed such a feat. Furthermore, I moved to New York City during that summer (sadly, 1996 marks the last time I lived in the Philly metro area), and I had actually attended my eighth game by early July. Looking back on that season, which was just a couple losses shy of being the nadir of the 1984-2006 period, it seems hard to believe that the Phillies were just three years removed from winning a NL pennant, but the 1993 team really was a freak occurrence whose particular magic could not be extended or recaptured by the front office. However, I was (and still am) a diehard fan, and for the first time in my life, I had the resources and ability to see that many games in person, and despite the Phillies’ on-field performance, I wanted to take full advantage of the situation

Being a Phillies fan in 1996 was the antithesis of what it means to be a Phillies fan today. Showing up to nine games that season cemented my diehard fan credentials. It’s easy to love a winner. Loving an ugly squad is altogether different. They weren’t just a bad team; they were a bad team fulfilling incredibly low preseason expectations and possessing a barren farm system. In other words, there wasn’t an end to the bad baseball in sight. Yes, they had Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen made his Major League debut that year, but this was also a team that was hobbled financially by bad/questionable contracts handed out to Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra and Gregg Jefferies. Yes, Mike Grace looked like a legitimate prospect (and he was, before arm injuries derailed him just as they have so many other legitimate pitching prospects throughout history), but management did an incredible disservice by placing Rich Hunter on the opening day roster and letting him start 14 games, even though he had just three starts above A ball in his professional career at that point. Sadly, he would never appear in the majors again, and his professional career ended after the 1999 season, when he was just 24 years old.

There were a lot of players on the 1996 squad sporting a Phillies career as ephemeral as Hunter’s. Given the team used a franchise record-tying 54 players that season, it’s easy to see how that happened. Mike Benjamin, Glenn Murray, Glenn Dishman, J.R. Phillips, Lee Tinsley, Howard Battle, Ricardo Jordan & Dave Leiper all saw their time in Philly begin and end during that season. However, Benito Santiago easily eclipsed all of them as the most memorable one-year Phillie on that squad. Although the Phillies explicitly signed him with the understanding that he was a just a one-year placeholder while Mike Lieberthal completed his apprenticeship, Santiago’s career-high 31 home runs that season made many Phillie fans to clamor for his return. It’s easy to see in retrospect that the Phillies made he right decision, but at the time there were many who felt that their refusal to resign Santiago was a sign that the front office was trying to run the team on the cheap.

The 1996 season also marked the last time the Phillies hosted the All-Star Game. Unfortunately, their lackluster play meant that Ricky Bottalico, in his first season as closer, was their only representative at the game. While it appeared that that season and his selection to the Midsummer Classic meant the fulfillment the organization’s projections of his talent, sadly it was the zenith of his career. He would play nine more seasons, four of them with the Phillies, and his 1997 campaign was nearly as good as that one, but he really spent the remainder of his career as a journeyman reliever.

For me, Bottalico wasn’t the only reliever of note on that squad. That was the season that I started really dreading Toby Borland. It was probably nothing more than dumb luck and a faulty memory, but it really seemed like that whenever he appeared in a game I was attending, all he did was add fuel to the fire or dig the Phillies deeper in a hole. It’s a nonsensical story, but early that season I started calling him “Mahi-Mahi Man.” I was ecstatic (far more so than when the Phillies signed Cliff Lee this past off-season) when he got traded to the Mets following that season and was even more thrilled when stunk up Shea Stadium for them. You can imagine my surprise then when I checked his Baseball-Reference page explicitly for researching this post and discovered that he actually provided above-average numbers during his Phillies years. Go figure.

Some other things about that season and the baseball cards I feel I must mention:

  • One of the all-time great uncorrected errors on a Phillies card happened that year: Kevin Jordan’s Score rookie card shows Ricky Jordon on both sides of the card. Topps’s 1991 Wes Chamberlain/Louie Meadows error may be more famous because Topps actually corrected it, but Score’s faux pas is really the far more egregious of the two. If nothing else, you’d figure that the “2B” position designation on the card and the in-action shot at first base might have raised a red flag to someone in quality control.
  • Because I have all the ticket stubs to the games I attended, I know that I somehow witnessed both of Glenn Murray’s only Major League home runs. I have no recollection of either of them, however. He is one of many to appear with the Phillies that season to not have a Phillies card — not even a team issued one.
  • Despite playing in 104 games that year, Ricky Otero appeared as a Phillie in only the Circa set. Even more amazingly, he had an insert card in that set as well. He very likely appeared as an update in the Phillies Team Issue set, but thanks to my move to New York I never had the chance to purchase it, or even know if one was issued.
  • I didn’t see the Phillies win until I went to my fourth game that year. Even then, I had to wait three extra innings to see the win because Bottalico blew the save on a 3-run lead that night. Much to my amazement, the box score shows that Mahi-Mahi Man got the win for that game.
  • I was at the game where Alex Ochoa hit for the cycle against the Phillies. I’ve never been to no-hitter, but I have witnessed a cycle twice (the first being Gregg Jefferies’s the year before). Oh, once again Mahi-Mahi Man provided one very effective inning of work. What the hell?
  • That season marked the first time I saw a Phillies game anywhere other than Veterans Stadium: their season finale at Shea Stadium against the Mets. Pitcher Glenn Dishman made his only start as a member of The Fightins, and Jon Zuber got the start at first. Neither would appear on a card as a Phillie. Poor Rich Hunter made the final appearance of his Major League career — as a pinch runner — and against his former club, Ricky Otero probably had the game of his career. Much to my amazement the box score shows that Mahi-Mahi Man received a Hold despite giving up a run on two hits over 1⅓. Maybe I need to recheck the box score from the games I attended to determine whether I was being unfair to the guy.
  • Unlike so many others, J.R. Phillips did appear on a Phillies card that season. However, it was just one card — the only Phillies card of his career. Interestingly it was an autograph card in the Extended Series of Leaf Signature Series — a set that deserves its own post at some point in the future.
  • Finally, a certain future Phillies General Manager was a reserve outfielder on that squad, and in the midst of the carnage he put together what was arguably the best season of his career. I’m sure that somehow his experience on the ’96 Phillies contributed to the mental makeup he now demonstrates in the front office. Clearly, this man never wants to witness anything like that season ever again. I don’t think any one can blame him, and Phillies fans today should be all the more thankful that his experiences on that team made him the GM that he is today.

Surprises & Discoveries

Featured Cards: 1977 O-Pee-Chee #168, Richie Hebner; 1998 Donruss #275, Billy McMillon; 1990 SCD Baseball Card Price Guide Monthly #34, Ricky Jordan; 1989 Score Rising Stars #67, Shane Turner

Since early last year, when I returned to collecting in a much more active fashion, one of my projects has been accumulating a comprehensive list of every Phillies card made. I figure that if I cannot actually afford to collect each and every Phillies card, I can at least find out about the existence of each and every card. Because I am sifting through and cross-referencing a number of sources — including my collection, the Beckett Online Price Guide, VintageCardPrices.com, the 2011 Sports Collectors Digest 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and TeamSets4U.com — it’s a tedious and time-consuming process. However, I’m really enjoying this and almost compulsively finding a little time each day to expand the list (I’m sure the compulsiveness is somehow related to my Asperger’s, and I wonder how many compulsive collectors are actually undiagnosed Aspies.)

When starting this project, I fully expected to find lots of information on vintage pre-WW II cards that I didn’t previously have. Before I stopped collecting actively in 2003, my purchases and knowledge of those cards was limited to the big name sets from the ’10s and ’30s. Clearly, there were large gaps — such as strip cards, oddball issues and the various stores and companies who rebranded the M101-4 and M101-5 sets — requiring research. In addition, I expected to find lots of information on most of the sets I missed out on from 2003 through early 2010. What I didn’t expect was finding information on cards that I felt I should have known about and discovering cards that I never would have imagined existed.

The first of these was the 1998 Donruss Billy McMillon card. This was a card I should have known about and had. However, this was from just before the Internet changed collecting and at that time, I had to put together my team sets from visiting various dealers and searching through the product they opened. I guess that at that time I felt I had scoured through enough material to assume that my set was complete. Luckily for me, it was a very easy card to find and add, but the fact that I initially missed the card 13 years ago actually irritated me just a little bit.

This irritation was more than eliminated when a post over at The Phillies Room alerted me to the 1977 O-Pee-Chee Richie Hebner card. For the most part, I have paid little attention to the O-Pee-Chee cards because in my mind they are basically a parallel set (yes, I will cover them in my next post about parallel cards). Yes, they frequently updated team designations on the cards. However, those cards still used the same pictures, and when it came to displaying my cards, I had little interest in upsetting the appearance of nothing but Phillies photos with photos of other uniforms — even if the cards said that the player was now with the Phillies. Thus, it was very easy for me to be ignorant of the fact that in 1977 O-Pee-Chee actually did some airbrushing of their own, thus creating a Phillies card of Hebner that didn’t exist in the Topps issue. (It certainly didn’t help that the Beckett Online Price Guide does not list the card as a Phillies card.) I think this is the only time O-Pee-Chee did something like this with a Phillie, but if I find others, I will be sure to track them down.

Just as surprising was when I recently found the 1990 SCD Baseball Card Price Guide Monthly Ricky Jordan. I knew about the series of baseball cards produced by Baseball Cards Monthly from 1989-1993 and have them all in my collection. However, I knew nothing about the SCD cards, and I only found out about the Ricky Jordan card when performing a simple “Phillies” search on eBay and just skimming through the first few hundred results. Admittedly, I would have eventually found the card when examining the corresponding pages in the 2011 SCD catalog, but actually stumbling onto the card via pure chance provided an element of pleasant surprise I wouldn’t have experienced finding about the card via research and cross-referencing.

The last of my recent surprises was another eBay find: a number of cards from the 1989 Score Rising Stars set. The situation was very similar to the one in which I discovered I was missing the 1998 Donruss McMillon card in that I had a few cards from the set already. Furthermore, for years (most likely, two decades) I thought I had a complete team set already. However, the difference is that I no longer have any recollection as to how I picked up the three cards I already had. Anyway, when searching for Phillies team sets on eBay, I came across a 1989 Score Rising Stars team set that listed in the title that it contained seven cards. For some reason, I recalled that I didn’t have that many in my set, and after a quick cross-check against SCD and Beckett, it became clear that I never actually owned a complete team set — in fact, I possessed less than half. The Shane Turner card here is one of the four I was missing.

I don’t know how many more pleasant surprises continue to await, but should I encounter another, I’ll be sure to share whatever it is.

Two New Autos for the Collection

Featured cards: 1993 Fleer #489, Tommy Greene & 1993 Fleer #103,
Ricky Jordan

In an ideal world — which I won’t detail because I’m purposefully keeping my personal politics and belief system out of this particular blog — I’d obtain all my Phillies autographs in person. Alas, it’s not even close to ideal — in fact, the distance between the two approximates that between the Earth and Oort Cloud — so I rely on certified autograph issues and PSA/DNA-certified autographs far more than I care to. However, I sometimes get lucky, and this past weekend was one such occasion. I made a trip up to Philly to visit some friends, and before leaving I discovered that Ricky Jordan and Tommy Greene were signing at the Havertown location of BC Sports. I planned accordingly, and I now have autographed cards for both of them.

Although I don’t care a whit about the resale value of things, I went ahead and paid the extra $5 each to have BC Sports place their hologram on the back of the cards and receive a certificate of authenticity. I view the tiny BC sticker as a form of decoration that makes the cards appear far more official, thus less out of place alongside all my other certified autographs of players from the early-to-mid ’90s. Unfortunately, since I live over three hours from the Philly area, my ability to do this sort of thing is extremely limited (BC Sports holds similar signing events fairly frequently). However, I’ll hold out some hope that my next visit up there coincides with a similar opportunity to expand the autograph collection.

Although Jordan had an autograph card in the 1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended Edition, he was pictured as a Mariner and therefore the card is of no interest to me. With no certified autograph card for either Phillie at this time, I no longer need to wait for Topps or some manufacturer-to-be-named-later to ever issue one. Therefore, I am completely free to resume my cathartic ranting against Topps in my next post.