Star Power: C
At some point this week I decided that I was going to take a run at collecting a full set of Phillies’ Triple-A team sets. I’ve been sitting on the ’88 Maine Phillies team set since 1988, and found this ’87 Maine Guides set on eBay for about $10 shipped. So, good news, I already have a complete Maine Guides/Phillies set. I also have 2 Lehigh Valley Ironpigs sets, which just leaves every Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, the Ottawa Rapidz and the rest of Ironpigs sets for the complete set.
So, this is the 1987 TCMA Maine Guides team set.
It’s interesting that we can make a direct comparison to the ‘88 Cape Cod Ballpark set. Right away, I really like this set. The front is simple, feels a bit inspired by the 1986 Topps set without being a rip-off. The front of card quality is better than the ’88 Ballpark set. The photos are all posed headshots, but the quality of the photos are much better. The print quality is also better on the front of the card, as is the paperstock.
The reverse of the card is maybe a quarterstep behind the Ballpark set. Plain black and white on the back with player vitals & 1986 simple stat line. I remember in the 80’s playing games like Earl Weaver Baseball, I would have to add players and their stats. I assure you that you would not get an accurate simulation of a player’s ability with the stats provided here.
I just sleeved this set and realized something I missed when I originally flipped through them. The cuts are irregular. They are all about the same width, but they’re all slightly taller. There are also a lot of micuts, which is disappointing for a small print run set. I took a half letter grade off the quality score for it.
While I like the design, it is fairly plain and not much effort was put into the backside design. The color match between the team name banner on the front and the team’s color set is fine. But other than that, there really is no design element.
What I do like about the design was that there was some effort to make sure the portraits filled the frame. And here I am vacillating on the design. I say in one sentence that it’s plain and uninspired, but I really do like it. It’s simple and clean. The pictures are light enough that you can really see the details in player’s faces. For the era is it s a nice design. I have certainly seen worse. The only way to improve this design would be to add a Guides’ logo to the front. I would have also maybe used the Guides’ wordmark as the header of the back and used a smaller International League logo under the info elements.
But that would have made a good card great.
Star Power: C
The late 80’s were not a good time for the Phillies. 1993 was a great season, but it was on the heels of a last place finish in ’92. With that, the ’87 Maine team did not have many arrows in the quiver. Some of the guys who had a cup of coffee in Philly include Ron Jones, Mike Maddux, Greg Legg and Steve Jeltz. But, the biggest name is obviously Darren Daulton. I’ve talked about Darren Daulton before. But he really was the heart and soul of the Phillies throughout the 90s. I don’t think I ever really considered Darren’s minor league career. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw Dutch show up in this set.
Unfortunately, Darren Daulton alone does not make a star packed set.
Darren Daulton is the only player in this set that had any real success in the majors. Besides the 93 World Series appearance, he was a well regarded defensive catcher with a couple All-Star games. That really limits the collectiblity. We’re limited with this set to 80’s collectors, Phillies completists, Darren Daulton super collectors, people who collect teams from Maine, and maybe people who collect both Maddux brothers.
This is a TCMA set, and TCMA did release a laundry list of minor league sets.
Shuffling through the cards and stopping at the Darren Daulton brought a real sense of nostalgia. It gave me a nice warm feeling. Greg Legg and Steve Jeltz also have a special spot in my heart as they kind of become shorthand for the mediocrity of my Phillies’ when I was a kid (which I’ve mentioned here before).
It’s possible that the venn of interests that would lead people to this set is comically minuscule. In fact, it may just be me. Like, I can’t even make the sale of “Hey, check out these pre-debut Hall of Famers”, or “look at the long history of this league”. There are no hall of famers. The Maine Guides lasted for 5 years, two with the Phillies (and one of those years they were the Maine Phillies).
There isn’t much draw to the set, unless you’re a TCMA set collector, or love late 80’s Phillies. I want to say “but there should be”, but let’s face it, there’s not much draw to a set featuring Fred Tolliver.