I Think Too Much About 2023 Heritage Border Colors: National League

In my previous post, I discussed what may or may not happen with the border colors used for the 15 American League teams in 2023 Topps Heritage.

A quick recap for those who didn’t read the previous post:  1974 Topps baseball had specific color combinations assigned to the different teams.  The colors sometimes matched the actual uniform colors, sometimes were similar to actual team colors, and in other cases were just bright colors which didn’t clash with the actual colors.  Today, some of these teams have different colors that don’t go as well with the 1974 border colors and some teams didn’t exist in 1974.

What will happen in the rest of this post is to use graphic examples of what the colors were in 1974, what colors were used in 2020 Archives, what colors Topps might use in 2023 Heritage, and – in those cases where it’s different – what colors *I* would use if Topps were foolish enough to put me in charge.

When appropriate, I’ll also point out the 1974 “Color Buddy” that each team had, if any.  A number of National League teams had a corresponding American League team which had the same border colors, and I call them Color Buddies.  BTW, the same often happened in the Football sets of the 1970s.

BRAVES

This is another case where the originals work just fine.  Leave ’em alone.

1974 Color Buddy: Tigers

BREWERS

The Brewers’ uniform colors now are more or less the same as they were… The blue is a bit darker now than it was in 1974, which is even more reason to stick with the original color combo.

2020 Archives changed the darker blue to a more medium blue, but there’s no real reason for that.

1974 Color Buddies:  The Brewers were near-buddies with the Royals, but the Brewers used the darker blue

CARDINALS

Like with the Twins, the Cardinals’ 1974 Color Buddies, the original colors match the team’s colors for the most part.  Today they probably match even better given that the Cardinals use navy blue a lot more now than they did in the 1970s.

2020 Archives used medium blue, which is OK but there’s no need to do that.

1974 Color Buddies:  Twins

CUBS

The Cubs road uniform is pretty much the same as it was in the 1970s, except back then they had pullover jerseys and Sansabelt pants.  I’m guessing that a fair number of Cubs fans don’t like the pink/magenta pennants, but as a somewhat neutral third party I will encourage Topps to stick with what it used in 1974.

1974 Color Buddy:  The Cubs were near-buddies with the Angels… both had magenta pennants but the Cubs had a blue frame while the Angels had a gray frame.

DIAMONDBACKS

The Diamondbacks played their first season in 1998.  For 2020 Archives, Topps made them Color Buddies with the Cincinnati Reds, who didn’t have a Color Buddy in 1974.

This is fine but I, of course, have some other thoughts on the subject…

In 2008 when I made a bunch of customs using the 1974 design, the D-backs had “sand” as a trim color on their uniform, so I took the Padres’ design and changed the frame from yellow to red. That worked pretty well 14 years ago, but I’m not sure it’s the best combo for today’s team.

An alternative I recently came up with would be similar to the Astros/Red Sox combo, but would change the lettering from yellow to white. This is OK, don’t love it, don’t hate it.

An idea I had while writing the previous post, one that might work nicely… If the Chicago White Sox combo got updated to match the current team colors…

Then that would free up the White Sox 1974 colors for a more appropriate team, like the Diamondbacks.

If we’re going the “Update the team colors” route, I like this quite a bit for Arizona

1974 Color Buddy:  N/A

DODGERS

The Dodgers had a combo that was unique to 1974 Topps, but was very similar to the Expos and Rangers. The only difference is that the frame is magenta where the Expos and Rangers had a red frame.

1974 Color Buddy:  None, but the color combo was similar to the Expos and Rangers

EXPOS / NATIONALS

The Nationals were the Expos in 1974, and if they kept the Expos colors, they’d look like this.

Topps and/or Major League Baseball has been kind of funny about the colors used for Nationals cards in Heritage and Archives. Generally speaking, they treat the Nats as being a team that did not exist before 2005 and therefore does not have colors to carry over.

There are exceptions to this…

In 2020 Archives the Nats were represented by the Padres’ 1974 colors, but that was for transparent reasons – They wanted to be able to have WASHINGTON “NAT’L LEA.” variations for the Nationals without having different colors on the variations. The colors don’t go with the team at all, but fine, I can go along with that.

If I were the product manager of 2023 Heritage, however, I’d maintain the Expos colors. Whether it’s “bleu, blanc et rouge” or “red, white and blue”, the colors from 1974 are largely the same as they are today (although the blue is darker now)

1974 Color Buddy:  Rangers

GIANTS

I don’t see how there’s anything to talk about here. The Giants’ black and orange goes back to their New York days. The color combo matches that. End of discussion.

1974 Color Buddy: Orioles

MARLINS

The Marlins started playing in 1993 and have had some branding changes in between.

In 2020 Archives they were made Color Buddies with the Dodgers, which is fine… but their uniform is predominantly black with blue and red accents.

I was thinking of changing the pennant text to black, and making the blue more teal-ish… but either version is OK.

1974 Color Buddy:  N/A

METS

The 1974 Mets cards used team colors to a very nice effect.  Yes, it made orange a priority over blue, but many teams were blue while only the Mets wear blue and orange.

For 2020 Archives they changed the text to black, which I didn’t care for.  I don’t know, maybe it’s to reflect that black has become a sort of alternate color for the Mets over the years, or maybe for other reasons.

1974 Color Buddy:  None

PADRES

As recently as 2019 we might be sitting here discussing if the Padres should have brown on their cards since the team’s primary color was navy blue.  Thankfully the Padres organization came to its senses and decided to own the one part of their history which they truly owned… and as a result, I’m not sure there’s anything to discuss here.

1974 Color Buddy:  None

PHILLIES

Back in the 1970s the Phillies home uniforms were burgundy and white.  Now they’ve added blue into their uniforms, and the red is a more normal red.  An argument could be made for changing the yellow frame of 1974 to blue in 2023, but I don’t know that this would be a huge improvement, and it would make this grumpy old man mutter to himself when opening packs.

1974 Color Buddy: White Sox

PIRATES

The 1974 Pirates cards had yellow letters against a black pennant…

…but for 2020 Heritage they went with red letters, which I thought was unnecessary and fairly crappy looking.

1974 Color Buddy:  None

REDS

This is a case where the colors used then actually matches the team a little better now.  In 1974 the uniforms were red and white with no other colors present.  Now the Reds use some black trim and accents, which goes with the black lettering on the cards.

1974 Color Buddy: None

ROCKIES

The Rockies didn’t exist until 1993 so for 2020 Archives Topps went the route of minimum thought and effort, using the color combination also used for the Angels… and it’s… well, it’s *fine*.

But this is one of those cases where I’d go with the team colors more, make a small change and replace the magenta with purple.  Purple wasn’t a color they used in 1974 Topps, but it certainly was a color in their palette… Purple was all over 1975 Topps

I mean, that just looks WAY better.  Why wouldn’t you do that?

1974 Color Buddy:  None


And with that I’ve gotten all of this off of my chest. Are there any changes you would make that I hadn’t? Let me know!


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