Ranking The 15 years Of Heritage, Part 5: The Top Three

For those of you who missed the previous parts of this series, I’m ranking all 15 Heritage sets from 2001 to 2015, rating them based on a number of factors, including the original design being “Heritaged”, how successful Topps was in replicating the design and feel of the set, and whether the Heritage cards changed my feelings towards the original cards.

You can read the previous parts here:  PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4

Where we stand to date:
#15 – 2001 Heritage (1952 design)
#14 – 2011 Heritage (1962 design)
#13 – 2009 Heritage (1960 design)
#12 – 2010 Heritage (1961 design)
#11 – 2004 Heritage (1955 design)
#10 – 2006 Heritage (1957 design)
#9 – 2003 Heritage (1954 design)
#8 – 2015 Heritage (1966 design)
#7 – 2008 Heritage (1959 design)
#6 – 2013 Heritage (1964 design)
#5 – 2002 Heritage (1953 design)
#4 – 2012 Heritage (1963 design)

And now, the top three!

#3:  2007 Heritage (1958 design)

In an earlier post, I’d made a comment that I was waffling on some of these rankings all throughout the process, and that I’d probably have a different ranking as soon as I was done with this ranking.

Well, I was wrong. I haven’t finished ranking them and I want to change them already.
2007 Heritage Frank Catalanotto
2002 Heritage Frank Catalanotto back
Not that 2007 Heritage isn’t one of my favorite Heritage sets, it most certainly is.  …But top three? I’m not so sure now… But its too late to change.

I also want to change the card I chose to represent this set…  Frank is a player I’ve collected since there was Frank to collect, but this card isn’t the best representative of 2007.

Getting back to the set… A big part of the reason that this one ranks above many of its Heritage brethren is because it’s one I unexpectedly had fun with.  I don’t often care for designs which feature a solid-color background – I love to see little pieces of ballparks and/or teammates in the background – but this set made it work.  Like the 2008 Heritage set, this one sucked me in as I went along.

Here’s a better representative of the set…
2007 Heritage Johan Santana
This set is just all colorful and happy and “YAY!!! Baseball!” The fonts and colors really work for me. If the player name were a different font or just black or white or not enveloped by the same colored background, it wouldn’t be the same.

The All-Star subset is also sharp, and everything an All-Star card should be.  This particular card would benefit from some tighter cropping, but…
2006 Heritage Edgar Renteria AS

The combo cards are basic and have the typical nonsense where they photoshop two separate photos into the same image.
2007 Heritage Verlander Weaver
With Verlander in a fake windup and Weaver just standing there, this card comes across like Weaver had wandered into a photo shoot and said “Hey, bro…  What’s going on?  You getting your picture taken?”

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: I’ve pretty much gone into that already…. and you know a set in my top three isn’t going to have me say “I loved the originals, but this set trashed that memory”.

2007 Heritage in my collection: 145 / 528 (27.5%)

#2:  2005 Heritage (1956 design)

With all my waffling about the rankings, I’ve never had a shred of doubt about the top two.

If there was ever a Heritage set that made me go back and really appreciate the original, it’s this one.  2005 Heritage made 1956 Topps go from “That’s nice” to “OMG, I love this set!”

2005 Heritage Miguel Cabrera

Hey, remember when Miguel Cabrera played for the Marlins?


2005 Heritage Miguel Cabrera back

Heritage was my gateway drug to the awesomeness that is 1956 Topps.  I’d never paid a huge amount of attention to 1956 because it predates my Mets and even the minor stars are pretty much out of my budget, but my desire to have 1956’s introduced me to a new way of collecting (and I’ll get to that later).

One thing that added a little extra “Woo Hoo” to 2005 Heritage, but doesn’t apply to the original 1956 set, is the presence of the then-newly-relocated Washington Nationals.

2005 Heritage Tony Batista

The team had just moved to D.C., so it was neat to see players in Nats unis, even if they’re photoshopped, and even if the photoshopping wasn’t always first rate…  But it undoubtedly contributed to the appeal of the set.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  This Heritage set made me want more 1956 cards, but the problem was that I wanted to do more with this set than just pick up affordable Orioles.  That lead to a new strategy… I started going through bargain bin 1956’s and looking for cards that were visually appealing, regardless of who was on them.  I enjoyed that enough that I’ve started doing it with other vintage sets.

So, in a sense, 2005 Heritage indirectly gave me a new way of appreciating vintage cards.

2005 Heritage in my collection:  206 / 495 (41.6%)

#1:  2014 Heritage (1965 design)

This is one of the all-time classic Topps designs… even Upper Deck couldn’t screw it up when they paid “homage” to it in 2003 UD Vintage.

…But I screwed it up when I scanned a sample card.  To be honest, I really just want to get to the end of these rankings at this point.

2014 Heritage Brett Oberholtzer

It’s just a great design… It’s colorful, has the team logo, a little pennant to add to the visual appeal, and it even finds the space to list the player’s position.

The back is a fine homage to the greatest card backs ever created… So great that I co-opted the design for my blog’s header.  In terms of Heritage cards, they did about as good a job as could be expected when trying to duplicate stupendousness.

2014 Heritage Brett Oberholtzer back

I would’ve loved it if they could find a way to have the back of the card hand-lettered like the originals, and maybe created some goofy new cartoons, but I understand that we can’t always get what we want.

1965 Topps Larry Miller Back 1965 Topps Donn Clendenon back 1965 Topps Dave McNally back

If nothing else, this one fact tells the story of how I feel about 2014 Heritage: While I’ve never entertained the thought of completing any Heritage set, this is the only one where I bought a wax box, and the only one where I kept the short prints that don’t fit into my collection.  Because of the short prints, “complete the set” was never an objective, but “get as many as I can without getting crazy” was absolutely my goal.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  For a set like this, where I was already fond of the original, the best that Topps can do is to follow the Hyppocratic Oath:  First, do no harm.

No opinions of vintage cards were harmed during the creation of this Heritage set.

2014 Heritage in my collection (Not including Hi # boxed set’s):  385 / 500 (77%)

So, that wraps up my rankings… Far more work than I’d expected, and I’m glad it’s over…


I’ve got one more post coming, a sort of epilogue… But I’m not going to say exactly what it will be just yet.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what it will be, the basic premise has already changed several times.

…But there will be something next weekend!  (He says, carefully setting a deadline for himself).

8 thoughts on “Ranking The 15 years Of Heritage, Part 5: The Top Three

    • Thank you, Tim… I really appreciate it. I started on this series at least a month before it began, and the more I worked on it, the more angles I thought of to approach it… and well, it ended up being more work than I counted on. But I think it was worth it, and it’s good to know that someone else enjoyed it.

  1. What’s wild here is that that card of Tony Batista apparently fell out of a time warp from the future. Batista was with the Expos in 2004 which is why he has a 2005 Nats card but he never played for the Nats that year – he spent the 2005 season in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. He returned to the US to play for the Twins in 2006 before “rejoining” the Nats for the 2007 season.

  2. Pingback: The Next Fifteen Years Of Heritage | The Shlabotnik Report

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