Category Archives: Roy Halladay

2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs #TA-HRY; Halladay, Ruiz, &… Young?

There are very few cards that reach “must have” status for my collection. Most of them, such as the Richie Ashburn rookie card, in my opinion are just prerequisites for any serious Phillies team collector. However, every once in a very rare while, I just see a card and decide that I absolutely must have it. It’s almost always an emotional response — there’s no reason or logic as to why I need that card. But, I suspect on some level that’s true in varying degrees to what a lot of us collect. It’s just that some impulses are ridiculously stronger than others.

With that in mind, I bring 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Philsyou the 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs card of Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young.

At the beginning of the year, I posted about the head-scratcher that was the 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Hitters Ink John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz card. I reference it now because it seems to me that it’s the only Phillies-only multiple autograph card issued thus far that makes less sense than this card (though, the 2013 Topps Archives Triple Autograph of Larry Bowa, Darren Daulton, & Juan Samuel is certainly in the running). I’m being a little unfair with that statement — after all, each of these three were members of the 2013 Phillies. However, I just can’t imagine any Phillies fans picking Young when asked which other team member they associate with Halladay and Ruiz.

Another fascinating thing about this card is that the autograph stickers represent the disconnect; Ruiz’s and Halladay’s are clear on top of a gold foil background while the Young sticker has a silver foil backing. The scan of the card doesn’t do justice to how badly the silver foil wrecks the overall appearance of the card. For a premium product, it looks juvenilely slap-dash. Yet, Topps clearly had Michael Young stickers lying around that needed to be used; hence this monstrosity.

2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Phils BackHere’s the real kicker about this card: it’s the only certified autograph card of Michael Young picturing and denoting him with the Phillies, and Topps only made 10 of it. The fact that 2013 Topps Supreme was (in theory) released only in Asia means that this is even harder to find in the US than the print run suggests. One day I plan to write a short series on the Phillies with the smallest number of certified autograph cards available, and I’m pretty certain that Michael Young will top the list.

Even though I try to make sure that I grab as many certified Phillies autographs as I can, Young’s presence still doesn’t fully explain my irrational need for this card. It’s ugly and reeks of Topps trying to make sure that they weren’t stuck with unused old autograph stickers for Young. Of all the cards with a print run of 10 or less in my collection, this is easily my least favorite. Yet, I’m still happy to have it.

Topps’s Awesome Job of Handling Roy Halladay’s 2010 Cards

Towards the end of the 2011 season, 2010 Topps Complete Set Halladay FrontI noted that Topps amazingly made sure that each of Roy Halladay’s cards in the 2010 Topps Opening Day, Topps Phillies Team, Topps Chrome, Topps Factory Set Phillies Team Bonus, and Topps Updates & Highlights sets carried different photos. Given Topps’s track record in regards to how it treats these sets, the only card you could’ve reasonably expected to use a different photo was the Factory Set Phillies Team Bonus card. Because of that history, it never occurred to me to check to see if Halladay’s Silk Collection card from Topps Updates & Highlights followed the same pattern. After all, why should it? The Silk Collection parallels always use the same photo.

Or, so I thought.

I was looking through Halladay’s Phillies cards on COMC to fill some holes in my want lists when I stumbled across the Silk Collection parallel from Updates & Highlights, and I paused. Something didn’t feel right — like there was a strange disturbance in The Force. 2010 Silk HalladayRemembering the post from over three years ago, I went back to it and the evidence was irrefutable: his Updates & Highlights Silk Collection card had a different photo from the card used in the main U&H set, and the photo was different from all the others Topps used in the aforementioned sets. I couldn’t believe my eyes; every Silk Collection parallel I had seen up to that point (aside from the special case 2011 John Mayberry, Jr.) and have seen since uses the same photo as the set it was issued with. Someone at Topps that year decided that they were going to use as many different photos as possible with Halladay, and I applaud them for it.

I wish they would do this sort of thing more often so as to insert some joy and reason into collecting all those sets that are little more than derivatives of the flagship set. Until that happens, I’ll attempt to take a closer look at any other Silk Collection cards I see in the future. I don’t expect any more surprises such as this, but I certainly would love to find one.

2014 Topps Turkey Red, Revisited

2014 Turkey Red HalladayOver the weekend, I gave some more thought to what I wrote about the newest iteration of Topps’s Turkey Red brand. My opinion on the set remains the same, and I wouldn’t retract or change a single word. However, it did occur to me that if Topps was indeed attempting a modern take on the Turkey Red design — one of my suggestions for why the set looks the way it does — then they managed to completely overlook a direction suggested by their own designers approximately 15 years ago: the 1997 and 1998 Gallery sets.

When you look at those sets, it’s clear that they contain the same basic design elements employed by the original Turkey Red set. Both the ’97 and ’98 Gallery sets contain the picture frame and nameplate motifs, and both sets actually employ multiple variations of it in each year. Remove the foil and the gloss from

1997 Gallery Jefferies1997 Gallery Schilling1998 Gallery Rolen1998 Gallery Schilling

the cards, and you essentially have Turkey Red sets with frames embodying a much more modern appearance. Topps could have taken this direction, and even potentially created a “Gallery” parallel set that used foil, gloss, and the Gallery logo. While I typically avoid parallels and find most of them to be utterly banal and superfluous, I would’ve applauded Topps for updating a retro design and paying homage to a brand that they’ve let lay fallow for quite some time now (and I’m not just saying this because I came up with the idea.)

One other thought regarding the 2007 Turkey Red Utley2014 Turkey Red set: who the hell thought that new photo treatment looked attractive? I can accept that paying artists to do original artwork for baseball cards can become quite pricey and that it’s more cost effective to apply some kind of filter to an existing photo to make it appear like artwork — even though original artwork is what made the 2007 Turkey Red set arguably the best of the series. However, the new filter they used on this year’s set was just awful — even if they did manage to correct the error that caused coloration problems on the Phillie script on the jerseys and the “P” on the caps. Why the change from the one they used on all the other Turkey Red sets? If they felt such a change was essential, there were better filters available, such as the one they used on the 2007 Bowman Heritage sets.

2007 Bowman Heritage IguchiComing back to my primary complaint about the 2014 Turkey Red set, this boils back down to an overall lack of attention to detail at Topps. I know that once you take into account all its other sports and non-sports brands, Topps creates and distributes an ridiculous number of sets per year. That type of production schedule must be difficult to maintain, as evidenced by the fact that the release date on this year’s Heritage offering was pushed back to March 14 from March 5. Because Topps is a privately-held company and therefore isn’t required to publish annual earnings statements, there’s no way for me to know Topps’s profit margins for 2013. However, are their earnings so slim that they can’t hire one person — an expert on both the details of baseball card design throughout the product’s history and baseball history in general — 2009 Turkey Red Ibanezwhose job it is to ensure that such inattention to detail doesn’t occur? Or is this a case of a company that actually doesn’t care all that much about what its customers think, so long as they somehow maintain their current profit margins?

In the end, I just wish that Topps showed that they care as much about the minutiae of the final product as collectors such as myself do. The key here is that we want to unabashedly love these sets — that’s why we purchase them and write about them in the manner we do. Out criticism stems not from a desire to berate the product but from the understanding that it could be made significantly more enjoyable without much in the way of effort. Deep down, however, I know that Topps will show no inclination to address these flaws so long as I, and collectors such as myself, continue to purchase such product  despite our complaints. However, I will continue to voice such objections in the hopes that one day Topps may actually start listening to them.

Featured cards: 2014 Topps Turkey Red #83, Roy Halladay; 1997 Gallery #23, Gregg Jefferies; 1997 Gallery #54, Curt Schilling; 1998 Topps Gallery #74, Scott Rolen; 1998 Topps Gallery #127, Curt Schilling; 2007 Topps Turkey Red #56, Chase Utley; 2007 Bowman Heritage #162, Tadahito Iguchi; 2009 Topps Turkey Red #TR129, Raúl Ibañez

Oddball Game Card Week, Post #1: Uno!

Featured Card: 2005 Uno National League #7 (Blue); 2005 Uno Philadelphia Phillies #Acqusition, Jon Lieber; 2010 Uno Philadelphia Phillies #8 (Red), Roy Halladay

2005 Uno Phillies BackWhile I try to collect as many different Phillies cards as possible, the fact is that there’s a lot of material out there that you can easily miss because it doesn’t pass through the typical hobby circles. Because of this, I try my best to monitor what’s happening in the toy world in regards to games licensed by both the MLBPA and MLB. I think I’ve done a decent job of this over the years, so I thought that this week it would be fun to highlight a few items that less hardcore Phillies collectors might have missed. In the case of one particular set that I’ll be featuring at the end of the week, it’s a Phillies card I only very recently discovered and actually isn’t the version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database that’s currently online (it will appear in the next version).

One of my favorite of such 2005 Uno NL Burrelloddball items are the sporadic Uno baseball sets issued by Hasbro over the past 10 years. To my knowledge, there have only been three Uno sets containing Phillies. Two of them were completely Phillies-themed and issued inside customized tins to hold the cards: a 2005 set that Hasbro co-produced with Sababa Toys and a 2010 set co-produced with Fundex Games. Interestingly, though the sets are just five years apart, Jimmy Rollins is the only player to appear in both sets. The other Uno set to feature a Phillie was another 2005 set (some eBay sellers list it as a 2006 set), also co-produced with Sababa, that featured at least one member of every National League team; Pat Burrell was the sole member of the Phillies included in the set. Across all three sets, the same player appears on the same type of card, regardless of color. So, for example, Pat Burrell appears on the #7 card for red, blue, yellow and green, in the 2005 Uno National League set.

2005 Uno LieberThe really fascinating thing about such specialty-themed Uno sets is that they occasionally (not always) have cards unique to that version of Uno and that those cards even come with their own rules. In the case of the 2005 Uno Phillies set, that special card is an “Acquisition” card. Appropriately, the card features Jon Lieber in a Yankees uniform, with all Yankee insignia airbrushed away. Without getting into the supporting details, a player who draws this card has the “ability to make major moves and acquire a card that can improve his/her hand.” I never actually played a game with this particular deck of Uno cards, so I don’t know how much impact such a card actually has on a game, but the inclusion of such a “transaction” card was certainly a thoughtful attempt to customize the game play for baseball purposes. Sadly, the 2010 2010 Uno Halladayedition of the Phillies set (which is still available on Amazon, by the way) includes no such specialty cards and follows standard Uno rules, which is a shame because such a card could’ve been used for Roy Halladay, who appears on all the “8” cards in the set and whose picture clearly comes from the press conference where the Phillies announced his acquisition. Using an “Acquisition” card for Halladay would’ve allowed for the inclusion of another Phillie, notably Jamie Moyer or Joe Blanton.

Who knows when, or even if, the next Phillies-themed Uno set will appear. I’m not actually counting on the appearance of one, but I will certainly continue to sporadically search online toy and game vendors for “Uno Phillies” for the forseeable future.

2013 Allen & Ginter’s: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured cards listed at end of post.

2013 Topps AG KnightsYesterday, I reaffirmed my love for sets that reuse vintage designs; this extends to sets inspired by vintage designs. I thought that the 2005 Topps Cracker Jack was a nice update the classic Cracker Jack design and I have absolutely loved the follow-ups to Topps’s first Gypsy Queen set — I particularly hope that Topps does not stop producing those anytime soon. Yet, I have not been as big fan of Topps’s Allen & Ginter’s (A&G) brand over the years. The primary reason for this has been the inclusion of cards highlighting individuals, items and locations outside of MLB. I am fully aware that this is keeping in within the spirit of the original Allen & Ginter sets from the late 19th century, and as such I don’t fault Topps for their inclusion. Furthermore, since I primarily collect Phillies cards, this isn’t that much of a concern. However, for this very reason alone I very rarely buy packs of A&G and am even less likely to ever attempt completing a set, or even buy one already complete. That doesn’t negate, 2011 Topps AG Oswalthowever, my looking forward to how the Phillies in the set look, and I have to say that I am very pleased with the 2013 edition.

Last year’s set featured what looks like an overcorrection to a major mistake Topps made in 2011. I’m sure that creating a design to look very similar to a iconic 19th century set while simultaneously sporting a new look must be difficult, but the 2011 set just looked too modern; the solid, rounded border looked like it came straight from the 1980 Topps set, and team logos do not belong anywhere on a set harkening to the 1880s — very few teams (if any) actually had anything that could reasonably called a logo back then. It appears that Topps realized this after the fact, but the effort to make the border on the 2012 set look like it could’ve been from roughly 18872012 Topps AG Pierre was far too intricate. Furthermore, the stylized art deco font for the A&G brand name actually looked like it belonged on a movie poster from the 1920s. It was actually a decent retro design, but still too modern, for completely different reasons.

This year’s edition of A&G, now in its eighth year, finally gets it right. Everything about the set screams 19th century design. The fonts look period appropriate and the lined border manages to be decorative without becoming ornate. Furthermore, Topps even managed to avoid their mistake from the 2010 set by leaving the area around the photo predominantly white. It’s a very clean look, and is easily Topps’s best A&G base set effort since it started to create new designs that were clearly different from the ones used by the original Allen & Ginter cards.

2013 Topps AG KrukFrom a Phillies collector’s perspective, the player selection is decent given that once again, as with the Archives set, the team’s decline over the past couple seasons means a drop in the number of Phillies cards from last year’s set (only 11 Phillies this year, as opposed to 14 last). The only real omission is from the base set is Rollins, who gets a Mini Framed Relic insert card, which helps to remove the injustice of not seeing one of the most important players in franchise history in the set (regardless of how you feel about Rollins, this is an indisputable fact). The nicest thing about the base set has to be the inclusion of, for Topps, a new picture for John Kruk. It’s not completely new as Donruss used it in its 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures Material Ink cards, but it’s still nice to see Topps finally select a new photo.

The parallels and relic insets are basically what we’ve come to expect from Topps’s A&G set over the years, so there’s little need to go over most of them. However, I would like to know how/why Topps chooses to include some relic cards in a standard-sized format while other are issued as a Framed Mini Relic 2013 Topps AG AtY Howardas I can’t discern any pattern to the process. This year’s unique, big, concept insert set is Across the Years. The thing about insert cards are they really are just flimsy excuses to make more cards of star players. However, manufacturers attempt to give a justification the existence of most insert sets — including previous, similar past A&G insert sets such as last year’s What’s in a Name in 2012 and 2o11’s Hometown Heroes — by providing information that you won’t find about the ballplayer in his base set card. This really isn’t the case with Across the Years, which lists events that occurred on the player’s birth date and the names of other celebrities who share the same birthday. Interesting idea, but with no real information about the player depicted on the front, it does drive home the fact that inserts really are nothing more than excuses to print more cards of the game’s stars (the same criticism can be leveled at the This Day in History insert set in 2010 A&G).

Now I’m up2013 Topps AG Rip Halladay to the point where I really want to rant against a particular element of A&G: the Rip Cards. Before I start, I understand that Topps shows no inclination to discontinue producing them and that they are here to stay. Nonetheless, every time I see one, I wish a pox upon the people at Topps who continue to allow the production of these cards. I hate them because they’re an extraordinarily unnecessary gimmick that requires the destruction of a card. In addition, most people just haven’t figured out that you can very carefully slice open a Rip Card using something like an X-Acto Knife and leave the back far more intact than just ripping it. As a result, most opened Rip Cards just look terrible on the back. Furthermore, each card that isn’t ripped means there’s a card that has been, for all practical purposes, produced and deliberately withheld from the hobby.

Admittedly, I can’t afford 1/1 cards in 2013 Topps AG Rip Halladay Backnearly all instances, but that’s not the point. You don’t announce the making of a 1/1 card or special extremely limited mini inserts and then leave the hobby wondering if/when it will finally emerge from its prison. I really wish Topps would just seed all the cards buried in Rip Card directly into packs and just transform the Rip Cards into a super-limited, serial-numbered insert set. Instead, this year Topps decided to double-down on the Rip Card idea and create Double Rip Cards. Now, you have a card in which the picture on both sides of the card can be ruined. At least before, the front of the card could be left intact and otherwise pristine. Not anymore. I don’t just wish a pox on the idiots who came up with and approved this concept — I wish a pox on their entire genetic line.

Sadly, I doubt that my wishing a pox upon the people behind the Double Rip Cards will work, which means that they will become another staple in the A&G line, and we will continue to see even more otherwise rare cards either desecrated or forever locked away from the hobby for no rational reason whatsoever.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Martial Mastery #MM-KN, Knights; 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #108, Roy Oswalt; 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #2, Juan Pierre; 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #333, John Kruk; 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Across the Years, #ATY-RHO, Ryan Howard; 2013 Topps Allen & GInter’s Rip Card #RIP-88, Roy Halladay

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

2013 Topps Heritage: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Heritage #16, Cliff Lee; 2013 Topps Heritage #72, Chase Utley; 1964 Topps Heritage #258, Michael Young; 1964 Topps #243, Dick Allen & John Herrnstein; 2013 Topps Heritage #243, Darin Ruf & Tyler Cloyd; 2013 Heritage Then & Now #TN-BV, Jim Bunning

2013 Topps Heritage Lee FrontI love the Heritage series, as well as most other series and inserts that replicate vintage designs. I’m sure it’s just an aspect of my particular brand of Asperger’s coming out, but the reason for this is that I really like to see players from different years and eras in cards sharing the same design. In that vein, always wished the Phillies would authorize/produce a set similar to the 1991 Crown/Coke Orioles or the 1990 Target Dodgers sets. I don’t think that will ever actually happen, so the closest experience I have to this is the 1989-1994 run of Tastykake/Medford Phillies Team Issue sets — although, the ’52 Rookies sets from a few years back and both last year’s and the upcoming Archives sets also fill this role nicely too.

For this reason, I look forward to each year’s Heritage release. And, like a demented Alzheimer’s patient, I eagerly anticipate the set, only to find myself disappointed by some aspect of the newest Heritage offering once I have my team set and various inserts and parallels in hand. Here are my key observations about this year’s set.

1. What Topps Got Right

2013 Heritage Utley FrontBefore getting into what I don’t like about the release. I want to give Topps kudos what for what they did do right. First and foremost, some of the posed shots (in particular, Cliff Lee’s, Chase Utley’s, Roy Halladay’s and Carlos Ruiz’s) look like they belong in the original 1964 set — even though they don’t actually mimic any of the pictures found in the Phillies cards that year. Topps doesn’t have to meticulously attempt to completely reproduce every aspect of the original set — they just have to show proper deference and reproduce the feel of it. Along those lines, Topps finally figured out that the registered trademark symbol, which didn’t appear on the 1964 release, doesn’t have to be obtrusively obvious and just needs to be large enough to be seen. This was a definite improvement over the way it was prominently displayed in last year’s Topps Archives 1977 Cloth Stickers inserts.

Then there’s the trivia questions on the back. I had to wait until I had a duplicate in hand before I would actually rub a nickle over the white box to get the answer (the very act of doing so feels like you are purposefully damaging the card, and I couldn’t bring myself to do that 2013 Heritage Young Backto a card that I was keeping in my collection), but Topps completely followed through with historical authenticity and made the process work. I also discovered that looking at the back under bright light and at the correct angle makes the answer temporarily legible as well. Failing that, you could also just track down the Venezuelan black back parallels — an incredibly awesome and justifiable parallel — which have the answer already revealed for you.

2. What Topps Got Wrong

Let’s start with the Darin Ruf/Tyler Cloyd Rookie Stars Phillies card. Thankfully, Topps’s long-standing effort to as best as possible maintain continuity regarding card number and team assignment across the Heritage offerings meant that we can line it up with a Rookie Stars Phillies bearing the same card number from the ’64 set:

2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Front2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Back1964 Topps Allen Herrnstein Front1964 Topps Allen-Herrnstein Back

This manages to somehow surpass Topps’s own long-established record of laziness. The wrong font sizes, incorrect color choice and refusal to get the title on the back of the card correct make their 2001 Archives reprint of the 1967 Dick Groat card look positively competent. Sadly, the Ruf/Cloyd card isn’t the only screw-up on Topps part. Given the lack of Phillies in this year’s various Heritage inserts, it was nice to see Bunning appear on a Then & Now insert. However,2013 Heritage Then & Now Bunning Topps clearly still hasn’t learned from the mistake it made with its 2003 All-Time Favorites card of Bunning — it replicated the error of using a photo from the wrong period. Really, Topps, is it really that hard to find a color picture of Bunning dating from the 1964-1967 timeframe?

Then there’s the full-color border variations and color swap cards. I understand that Topps feels as though they need to make special variations exclusive to certain retailers, but could they please just find a way to make the variations look like they might have actually occurred back in 1964? The red and blue borders make sense on the flagship Topps product — they make no sense whatsoever in the Heritage line. The color swap variations — which 2013 Heritage Red Halladay Frontkind of made sense in the 2012 Heritage, with its wide array of color combinations that varied even amongst players from the same team — are marginally less atrocious. Thankfully, Ryan Howard is the only Phillie with such a variation, and I will not be tracking that one down.

Finally, there’s the issue of the Real One Autographs. I suppose I should be thankful that there’s at least one Phillie this year (in a few different years, there have been none), but as I’ve previously stated, there were a plethora of Phillies from the 1964 squad who still haven’t appeared on an officially-issued autograph card. I’m just afraid that we’ll never see such a card for many of those players. Thankfully, the Topps’s Archives offering provides more opportunities for these players, but I’m really concerned that some of them will never actually appear on one.

My Irrational Love for 2012 Topps Museum

Featured Cards: 2012 Topps Museum Collection Green #89, Steve Carlton; 2012 Topps Museum Collection Signature Swatches Autographed Dual Relics Gold #SSADR-CHA, Cole Hamels; 2012 Topps Museum Collection Momentous Material Jumbo Autograph Relic #MMJAR-RH, Roy Halladay

2012 Museum Green Carlton FrontI’ve made no secret that I hate high-end issues, but I don’t think I’ve quantified how much I hate them. Think about the amount of hate Gollum has for Bilbo Baggins for “stealing” the ring — well, that pales in comparison to what I feel every time Topps announces yet another high-end product. If I had Nazgûl at my disposal, I would have dispatched them to the Topps corporate offices for the Five Star set. I long for the return of another manufacturer so that can more easily ignore product shipped in packs that cost far too many multiples of my hourly wage; I devoutly wish that my compulsion to maintain as thorough a Phillies collection as possible would wane for me enough to not acquire any high-end cards at all — even when I find such cards at prices I can easily fit into my budget.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself falling in love with 2012 Topps Museum Collection. It’s totally irrational, but it’s there. The cards are just so attractive and, compared to other high-end offerings from Topps, relatively affordable. While I 2012 Museum SS Hamels Frontwasn’t getting caught up in the parallel game (really, does anyone actually care whether they get a regular, Masterpiece, Gold or Platinum version of what in every other discernible fashion is the exact same card?), I found myself acquiring as many of the Phillies memorabilia inserts as possible. Before I realized what came over me, I even purchased a couple autograph-memorabilia redemption cards. The moment I did that is when I realized that my irrational love affair with the set had gone too far — I needed to reign it in.

For the past few months, I had managed to do so. However, I hadn’t completed my set of Material Jumbo Relics — somehow, I previously neglected to find an Utley card at a price I was willing to pay. So, treading carefully onto eBay, I went in search of one, and that’s when I inadvertently let my love for the set get the better of me again.

2012 Museum MMJAR Halladay FrontNo, I couldn’t just content myself with looking for an Utley Material Jumbo Relics. I had to see if any of the really rare Phillies inserts were available, and that’s when I saw the Halladay Momentous Material Jumbo Autograph Relic. I posses very few cards with a print run of 10 or smaller — which probably fed into the sudden need to have it. Before the sensible portion of my brain could throttle the reptilian section that demanded instant gratification, I negotiated with the seller, blew my budget, and within a week was holding the card and calling it, “My Precious.” Interestingly, even though I am now in position where I’ve blown through over two months worth of my baseball card budget and will likely need to sell a few select items to properly justify the purchase of this card, I have no regrets. That is what a deep, irrational, non-abiding true love will do for you.

It should be noted that my particular quest with this set is still incomplete. Although I am now content with what I have acquired and will not be attempting to find any of the Phillies Dual Jumbo Lumber Relics, Momentous Material Dual Jumbo Relics or Museum Collection Autographs, I am still waiting on Topps to deliver the Hunter Pence Signature Swatches Autographed Dual Relic card for which I submitted the redemption back in July. If it comes back as a Giants card, Topps will need to wish that I do not find a way to hire some Nazgûl.

2011 Topps Manufactured Glove Leather Nameplates

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Black, serial numbered to 99; Nickname, serial numbered “1/1.” All parallels bear serial number on front of card.
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in specially-marked blaster packs of 2011 Topps. The manufacterd leather nameplate on the base cards used brown leather and block lettering in black stitching, while the Black parallels used black leather and cursive script in white stitching. The Nickname parallels used the same leather and stitching as the regular cards, but instead bore the player’s nickname rather than last name and number. The Utley, Howard and Halladay cards were distributed in Series One packs, and Schmidt and Ashburn were distributed in Series Two packs.

Any information as to what the nicknames Topps chose for the Phillies players is appreciated. Presumably (hopefully?), Topps used “Whitey” for Ashburn and “Doc” for Halladay.

Chase Utley
Mike Schmidt
Richie Ashburn
Ryan Howard
Roy Halladay

2012 Topps A Cut Above

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in Series Two packs of 2012 Topps.

Mike Schmidt
Roy Halladay