Sunday, April 19, 2015

1993-94 Citizens' Drug Free Network Jim Lachey Set

Examples of this two-card set recently popped up on Ebay, and a set was promptly added to our collection this past week. Apparently released in smallish quantities, probably to school kids in the Washington D.C. or surrounding area, Redskins lineman Jim Lachey is the subject of both cards. 

The Peoples Bank Company and McDonalds are the two sponsors listed on the cards, along with D.A.R.E. and the CDFN (Citizens' Drug Free Network) designations. The same photo of an excited Lachey is used on the fronts of both cards, though the cropping of the photo is different. The black borders are very sensitive to wear and may be difficult to find in true mint condition. Card backs are numbered "1 of 2" and "2 of 2", and both card backs feature the same Jim Lachey bio -- a bio that literally requires a magnifying glass to read. The two cards in our set also have the same safety tip on the backs, though they are inexplicably numbered 14 and 107.

I'm typically a fanboy for police, fire and D.A.R.E. sets, and I'm more than happy to add these two cards to the collection. With that being said, this effort doesn't excite me all that much... The crummy photo. The blah design. The cursed small font used for the bio. I'm just not feeling the love.

On second thought, maybe these cards weren't distributed to kids after all. Maybe this duo was simply a limited prototype set, and you'll be hard-pressed to find any info whatsoever pertaining to the cards. I'd say ten dollars is a fair value for the pair, or perhaps a bit more to a Redskins' completist.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

1988 Tastykake Philadelphia Phillies Set

The Tasty Baking Company, otherwise referred to as Tastykake, partnered with the Phillies for many years and their logo can be found on pocket schedules dating back to at least the early 1960s. The relationship arguably peaked in the 1980s, with Tastykake sponsoring stadium giveaways such as baseball gloves, Phillie Phanatic dolls, different styles of tote bags, and of course... Baseball cards.

From what I can tell, the Tastykake Phillies card sets were issued yearly from 1982 to 1989. The cards were always larger than the standard baseball card size, and were particularly large in 1988, measuring a whopping 4-7/8 by 6-1/4 inches -- if they were any larger they might be considered photos instead of cards, but these do have player statistics and other information printed on the backs. While the methods of distribution may have varied over the years, we're thinking the cards issued from 1984 to 1989 were primarily given away or sold at The Vet (the Phillies' ballpark, not the place where Toto is taken with a fever). We also believe that most of these sets were issued complete and shrink-wrapped in clear plastic, a form in which these sets can still be readily found today.

True fans and collectors should love sets of this nature, as they not only go deep into the team rosters, but also include a few special cards as well -- i.e. all of the team coaches, a team photo, and the Phillie Phanatic riding a four wheeler. Another interesting find in the '88 issue is a "Phillies Prospects" card, which features eight up-and-comers in the Philly system. In hindsight, we now know that none of these guys would achieve much at the Major League level, with outfielder Ron Jones winning the MLB longevity prize (97 Games, 264 PA, 13 HR, 40 RBI, .272 BA). Another card that caught our attention features veteran infielder Bill Almon, who is shown at the end of his fifteen-year MLB career. He was traded to Philadelphia shortly before the season began, and managed to sneak in to 20 games with the Phillies before being released on June 16; this might be the only card made of Almon in a Phillies uniform.

As mentioned before, card backs do feature player statistics and biographical information -- did you know that catcher Darren Daulton was chosen in the lowly 25th round of the June, 1980 draft? The thirty cards found in this set are not numbered except for uniform numbers, and were printed on thin, soft white card stock. Because most of these cards were tightly shrink-wrapped, many of them may show some wear on their unreasonably finicky corners.

While these cards may be under appreciated by the majority of the collecting universe, there are of course the contrarian, die-hard fans who love 'em.  Count me in. The Tastys are not rare, but they're somewhat hard to find when compared to the glut of other late 1980s baseball releases one must trudge through whilst on the hunt. With the spotlight being long since unplugged, you can grab a shrink wrapped set these days for ten dollars or less.

Click here to find Tastykake Phillies Cards on eBay

(4) Lee Elia, MGR
(8) Juan Samuel, 2B
(9) Von Hayes, 1B
(10) Darren Daulton, C
(13) Lance Parrish, C
(15) Bill Almon, INF
 (16) Luis Aguayo, INF
(18) Chris James, OF
(19) Mike Young, OF
(20) Mike Schmidt, 3B
 (21) Greg Gross, OF/1B
(22) Bob Dernier, OF
(24) Milt Thompson, CF
(27) Kent Tekulve, P
(28) Shane Rawley, P
(29) Phil Bradley, OF
(30) Steve Jeltz, SS
(31) Jeff Calhoun, P
(38) Wally Ritchie, P
(40) Steve Bedrosian, P
(42) Don Carman, P
(44) Mike Maddux, P
(45) David Palmer, P
(46) Kevin Gross, P
(47) Bruce Ruffin, P
(52) Todd Frohwirth, P
Phillies Prospects (Tom Barrett, Brad Brink, Steve DeAngelis, Ron Jones, Keith Miller, Brad Moore, Howard Nichols, Shane Turner)
Coaching Staff (Claude Osteen, Del Unser, John Vuckovich, Dave Bristol, Tony Taylor, Mike Ryan)
The Phillie Phanatic
The 1988 Philadelphia Phillies (Team Photo) 

Friday, April 3, 2015

1985 Chicago Renaissance Society White Sox Set

Consider yourself fortunate if you own these. If you've ever seen a set of 1980s baseball cards that were not marketed to 1980s baseball card collectors, this 1985 Chicago Renaissance Society White Sox set would probably be the best example.

In honor of both the 75th anniversary of Comiskey Park and the 70th anniversary of The Renaissance Society, a set of 18 cards was created featuring fifteen White Sox players, manager Tony LaRussa, Comiskey Park and a header card with the "75 Years" logo. Cards measure approx. 5 inches by 4 inches and are printed on semi-glossy cardboard. The cards have blank backs, are unnumbered, and come packaged in a small white cardboard portfolio.

In the words of the Society, "This unique 1985 exhibition brought together seventeen Chicago artists to offer their interpretations of seventeen White Sox players. The format, the baseball card, provides a creative link with our youth that is as refreshing as it is colorful." And boy, are some of these cards colorful indeed. And unique. Each artist was given full rein to paint their picture in the style of their choosing, which makes the set much different than all the others in our collection. First Baseman Greg Walker is painted in a realistic style, with the exception of the strange thing he's swinging at the plate. Ron Kittle looks to be the subject of expressionism, as he's pictured with a large oval head that's branded with the "Special K" cereal logo. Our favorite card is perhaps of Luis Salazar, who is depicted in action with a butterfly net, toilet plunger and straw broom. Eight naked female admirers are holding up the letters of Salazar's name, and based on the generous bulge found in the crotch of his pants, I can certainly guess why.

A limited amount of posters picturing the cards were created, and 100 special sets were signed by both the artists and players. I'm not sure how many "regular" sets were issued, but you simply don't find these anywhere (when I picked up my set off of Ebay five years ago, I had never seen them before). Update: We found an advertisement in the March 1986 issue of Beckett, which stated that 850 unsigned sets were printed... See photo at the bottom. As a general rule, we never picture every card in a set because we want purchasers to have the satisfaction of seeing many of their cards for the first time. In this case we will make an exception, as there is virtually no information regarding these cards to be found on the web. If you'd like to see all of the set, just click this small photo.

It's difficult to establish a value for the set when examples rarely surface on the market. The original asking price for a set back in '85 was $25, and a signed set was $450. Fifty dollars might be a good starting point today, and piecing out the singles may net considerably more -- most Carlton Fisk, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Guillen and Tony LaRussa collectors don't even realize that these cards were printed. 

The October 28, 1985 edition of Sports Illustated published a story regarding the original artwork for the cards, which was sold by auction at Comiskey on August 24. It can be found here on the SI website: 1985 Sports Illustrated Article.
The checklist below gives the names of both the players and artists.

(1) 75 Years Logo Header Card
(2) Harold Baines/Ed Paschke
(3) Floyd Bannister/Mark Jackson
(4)Britt Burns/Phyllis Bramson
(5) Julio Cruz/Karl Wirsum
(6) Richard Dotson/Paul LaMantia
(7) Carlton Fisk/Richard Hull
(8) Scott Fletcher/Hollis Sigler
(9) Ozzie Guillen/Robert Barnes
(10) Jerry Hairston/William Conger
(11) Ron Kittle/Jim Nutt
(12) Tony LaRussa/George Cohen
(13) Rudy Law/Don Baum
(14) Tom Paciorek/Robert Donley
(15) Luis Salazar/Gladys Nilsson
(16) Tom Seaver/Ellen Lanyon
(17) Greg Walker/Margaret Wharton
(18) Comiskey Park/Buzz Spector