Yesterday I wrote about how Darren Daulton was the first player I saw in the minors who made it big in the Majors, and that put me in mind to pull out some of my old minor league sets.
I saw Daulton in 1983, but unfortunately I didn’t buy an R-Phils team set that year… or perhaps I couldn’t. Back in the early 1980’s, minor league marketing was nothing like what we have today, and outside of going to the ballpark, my experience in buying team merchandise was this:
- Write to the team and request a “catalog”.
- Receive a form letter and a mimeographed order form containing one-line item descriptions and prices.
- Return the order form with a check (or a money order if you didn’t have a checking account).
- Patiently wait for the front-office person who did mail order on the side to send you your merchandise.
I’m pretty sure that mail order is how I got the following team set. It’s entirely possible that in 1983 I tried this but the set was sold out. …Or perhaps I just didn’t try. Having the minor league cards wasn’t quite as important to me then as it later came to be.
Anyway… This card set is from 1982, and you should remember what I said about Darren Daulton being my first impact future Major Leaguer in 1983. Hint Hint. Just setting expectations here.
OK, let’s launch into the more notable cards from this set.
Jay Baller pitched in 94 career games, mostly in relief. He played for the Phils, Cubs and Royals, and appeared in a few sets during the junk wax era.
Jay is card #1 in this set, and I’ll show you how much information is included on this “PHOTO FACT CARD”.
I hope you’re not overwhelmed by the sheer number of facts on this card.
Oh, and before I move on, I should mention that TCMA did make color minor league sets in 1982. I’m not 100% sure until I dig out my scorecard, but I’m pretty sure that I saw the Buffalo Bisons (then the AA Pirates affiliate) in that 1982 game and their team set is in color (and nicely captures the yellow Pirates-like uni with a Padre-ish cap” look that I remember from that game). I really need to track down that team set… assuming they’re the team I saw. I really need to dig out the scorecard and buy the set of whoever the opponent was in my first minor league game.
Getting back to the B&W R-Phils set, I’m guessing that one of two situations played out: 1) The R-Phils provided TCMA with black & white photos or 2) TCMA charged more for the color cards and the R-Phils went for the cheaper option. I have no problem imagining either option to be true… Minor league revenue in the 1980’s was nothing like it is today, and the R-Phils 1980’s ownership seemed pretty tight with a buck.
OK, sorry about the side trip. Back to the cards.
Jerry Willard probably has the relatively best career of anyone in this set and like with Jay Baller, his cards are well-known to collectors from the junk wax 1980’s.
Also like Jay Baller, Willard was part of a trade package sent to Cleveland for Von Hayes. Unlike Baller, Willard never played for the Philadelphia Phillies. He would also play for the A’s, White Sox, Braves, Expos and Mariners, although most of these are the proverbial “Short-Term Stops”.
This Steve Harvey isn’t THAT Steve Harvey….
Or, to put it another way, he’s not *the* Steve Harvey, he’s just *a* Steve Harvey (“Haven’t you heard? I come in six-packs.” — Zaphod Beeblebrox). This Steve Harvey topped out with the AA R-Phils.
Denny Thomas also topped out in AA, but Thomas gets featured because he seems to be enjoying himself the most.
R-Phils manager John Felske went on to manage the parent club a few years later.
He also is a former catcher with the Cubs and Brewers, and his rookie card – and ONLY card as a player – is in 1973 Topps.
Finally here’s Steve Jeltz, who is not related to Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (Two “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” references in one post! Woo!)
Steve Jeltz played 8 years in the Majors, mostly with the Phils (and three as the starting shortstop) and one final season with the Royals. Through all of this, he never batted higher than .243 nor scored more than 44 runs.
Future Major Leaguers who played in Reading in 1982 but did not get a card in this set include Kevin Gross (15 year career), John Russell (10 year career and managed the Pirates) and Don Carman (10 year career).
Apologies to Roy Smith, who pitched for 8 years with the Twins, Indians and Orioles and has a card in this set… but I hadn’t scanned it because the card lists him as “Leroy Smith” (which is his given name).