Category Archives: Steven Lerud

Panini a Boon for Phillies Autograph Collectors

Featured Cards: 2013 Panini America’s Pastime #256, Jonathan Pettibone; 2013 Panini Cooperstown Cooperstown Signatures #HOF-JIM, Jim Bunning; 2013 Select #215, Steven Lerud; 2013 Panini America’s National Pastime Pastime Signatures #MS, Mike Schmidt

I completely understand why other c2013 Panini AP Pettiboneollectors choose to stay away from the partially-licensed Panini and Leaf sets. Aside from the fact that all of us prefer to see the team logos and insignia, the efforts required to digitally remove both them and easily identifiable stadium/field structures from the cards result in a rather limited array of photograph types. In-action cards (other than ones taken mid-swing or mid-pitch) are nearly impossible, and the frequent decision to crop out the player’s hat from the photo gives the cards a somewhat odd look in the same way that capless photos do. It’s not their fault, but these issues means that Panini and Leaf sets just don’t look like proper baseball cards. In fact, until last year, I really didn’t feel much need to add any of them to my collection. Oh, a few trickled in, but there was no concerted effort on my part to add them.

2013 Cooperstown Signature BunningThat changed in 2013. Panini, in particular, started to release sets that showed that they were serious about designing good-looking sets that stayed within the restraints imposed upon them by MLB’s refusal to license its insignia and trademarks to anyone other than Topps. True, the cards still suffer from the flaws I previously enumerated, but they certainly look a lot better than the sets that Donruss and Leaf have issued over the past few years. Just as importantly, though, Panini has positioned itself as a major force in the autographed card arena. I would go so far as to say that if you’re refusing to collect Panini cards because of the lack of an MLB license, then you are missing out on some awesome Phillies autograph cards.

In my opinion, Panini issued two of the best Phillies autograph cards of 2013: the John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz dual-autograph card from Panini America’s Pastime and the surprise Tony Pérez card in Coooperstown Baseball. However it didn’t stop 2013 Select Lerudthere. They issued the first, and almost certainly only, Steven Lerud Phillies autograph card, a large number of Larry Bowa autograph cards (remember, he had only one prior to 2013), a large number of additional John Kruk autograph cards that all used different photos — something Topps needs to work much, much harder on — and a decent array of cards that didn’t use autograph stickers. Although, to be fair to Topps, Panini did make far more liberal use of stickers, and that should be held against them.

When I looked at the final counts of 2013 autograph cards I added to my collection, I was surprised to discover that I possessed only two fewer Panini cards than Topps cards. Actually, this is technically an undercount as I am awaiting delivery on two additional Panini autograph cards that will bring the two companies even. This is in spite of the fact that Panini issued roughly half the number of sets 2013 Panini AP PS Schmidtreleased by Topps. I’m also willing to bet that the amount I spent on the Panini autographs was significantly less than the amount I spent on the Topps autographs — though I didn’t keep any real records that would let me conclusively answer that question.

My point is that if you love collecting Phillies autograph cards, then you shouldn’t just dismiss the Panini sets just because they lack an MLB license. Yes, some of the sets are nowhere near as appealing as Topps issues, but in addition to some of the things I’ve already highlighted, without them I wouldn’t have the number of John Kruk, Carlos Ruiz, Larry Bowa, Cliff Lee, Pete Rose, Steve Carlton or Mike Schmidt that I currently own. Panini isn’t for everyone — and they certainly do need to engage in some better quality control — but I view their presence in the hobby as an absolute plus.

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The Parallel/Printing Plate Glut

Featured cards listed at end of post.

65,860. That’s approximately how many entries are in the version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database I posted last night. I am fairly certain it’s the largest Excel file I’ve ever worked with (my job requires me to work with large Excel files on a regular basis), but how many truly unique Phillies items are there really?

Well, if you filter out printing plates and parallels (not a perfect way to determine this, but it works nicely for my purposes here), the number drops drastically — to approximately 36,950. That’s still a lot, mind you, but it quickly demonstrates the extremely small possibility of someone actually putting together a comprehensive Phillies collection. What’s truly mind-numbing is that number also means that parallels and printing plates make up nearly half of the current content of the database. Worse still, that percentage is likely going to grow dramatically as I continue with the project and continue adding new material. For proof of this, look no further than the parallels from 2013 Topps:

2013 Topps Camo Contreras2013 Topps Em Green Aumont2013 Topps Factory Orange Rollins2013 Topps Gold Brown2013 Topps SS Blue Kendrick2013 Topps SS Contreras2013 Topps Target Lerud2013 Topps TRU Cloyd2013 Topps WM Cloyd

The worst part is that there are still a few additional parallels missing from this collage. For the 20 Phillies cards (not counting the gimmick variations) in the 2013 Topps set, there are 340 parallels and printing plates — and each of those cards and plates has its own entry in the database.

I first attempted to assemble a comprehensive, unabridged list of Phillies cards back during my teen years in the mid-to-late ’80s. I still have an original printout somewhere in a box of mementos — I’ll have to see if I can find it and post a scan of one of the pages in a future post — and if I recall correctly, I was able to print out the entire list in roughly 30 pages, at two columns a page, in a nicely-sized, easily legible font. After playing around with the newest version of the database, I determined that I could probably port a legible printout in roughly 260 pages — but that really is a best guess.

This is the primary reason why this project has taken so long. I’m convinced that without parallels and printing plates I’d likely be done this project by now. As it is, 2015 seems like a reasonable estimate as to when I’ll finally have it at the point where I’m only updating for new releases. In the meantime, every time I see Topps announce yet another new parallel, I will be muttering curses under my breath.

Featured 2013 Topps Parallel Cards: Desert Camouflage #152, José Contreras; Emerald Green #646, Phillippe Aumont; Factory Orange #206, Jimmy Rollins; Gold #625, Domonic Brown; Silver Slate Blue Sparkle Wrapper Redemption #71, Kyle Kendrick; Silver Slate Wrapper Redemption #152, José Contreras; Target Red Border #424, Steven Lerud; Topps Toys “R” Us Purple Border #424, Tyler Cloyd; Walmart Blue Border #424, Tyler Cloyd