Ranking 15 Years Of Heritage, Part 4: #6 through 4

For those of you who missed the first three 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.

Part 1 is HERE; Part 2 is HERE; Part 3 is HERE.

Previously, on “Ranking 15 Years Of Heritage”:
#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)

And now, back to the action!

#6:  2013 Heritage (1964 design)

I grew up in the 1970’s, where Topps’ standard operating procedure was to have a particular color combination (blue & green, red and yellow, orange and brown, whatever) assigned to a team… or, more often to a pair of teams, one NL team and one AL team.  Because that’s what I grew up with, that is what I regard as THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE (and is the way I conduct my business when creating my custom sets).

So what does my little side tangent have to do with 1964 Topps? Because 1964 was the first year Topps did that. As in the original set, every Red Sox player in 2013 heritage has the same color combination as Koji Uehara.
2013 Topps Heritage Hi#'s Koji Uehara

2013 Topps Heritage Hi # Koji Uehara
I think this is a design that carries over well to Heritage.  It’s appealing, but very basic and simple so there’s not a whole lot to screw up.

…Well, except for the absolutely humongous trademark symbols on the combo cards..
2013 Heritage Tops In NL Cain Posey

I didn’t let it factor into these rankings, but I’ll make a side comment that if I were doing a ranking of Minor League Heritage sets, 2013 would rank at the top… Even though the Minor League set didn’t stick to the “one team, one color” rule, it has a design that’s well-suited for featuring minor league team names…
2013 Heritage Minor League Dilson Herrera
…Although next year’s tribute to 1967 could also work well.  I’m looking forward to seeing “RUBBERDUCKS”, “CHIHUAHUAS” or “MUD HENS” at the bottom of a 2016 Minor League Heritage card.

I’ve been working on this series for several weeks and I originally had a reason for including this Miguel Gonzalez card, but I can’t remember it now.
2013 Topps Heritage Miguel Gonzalez

I guess I can use this opportunity to point out a subtle little thing I like about this design – the way that many of the photos just barely edge into the white border at the top… Just a nice touch.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  No real change to how I view 1964.  Liked the set before, still like the set

2013 Heritage in my collection: 266 cards out of 500 in the set, not including the “Hi Numbers” box set released later (53.2% of the set)


#5: 2002 Heritage (1953 design)

I ranked the 2001 Heritage set down at #15 because I’ve never liked the 1952 design.  In 1953, however, Topps made a quantum leap in card design.  Even though it’s similar in concept  – Player name in a rectangle at the bottom of the card, with a logo stuck on one of the corners – it’s the way it’s implemented that makes all the difference for me.  White box surrounded by cheesy stars is replaced by a big slab of red or black, which were moved down to the corner.  The signature was removed to give more real estate to the player name, and to add the team name and player position.

It’s just a shame that 2002 Heritage couldn’t have been hand-painted like the originals… But that’s the way things go.  It still makes for a nice set.

2002 Heritage Bartolo Colon
2002 Heritage Bartolo Colon back

One thing about this set… the colored rectangles alternate between the right and the left.  This is something I appreciated much more once I saw an uncut sheet of this set.  I couldn’t find a decent image of an original sheet, so I’ll have to fake it using Heritage cards.

2002 Heritage faked uncut sheet

The way the cards are arranged to subdivide a big color rectangle into 4 smaller rectangles, that’s just damned clever.  I love that.

Another thing I love about this design is the way they introduced multiple colors in subtle little ways, like on this Jeff Cirillo card:
2002 Heritage Jeff Cirillo
Player name in white, position in red, team in yellow. I really like the way that looks.

This next card has nothing to do with the ranking of the set, but I ran across it when doing this post and I just really like the photo.  Simple, yet appealing.  Why don’t they do more posed shots like this?
2002  Heritage Joaquin Benoit

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  It made a big difference in how I appreciate the original, but I have to admit I still only have a couple of cards from 1953.  I need to do something about that.

2002 Heritage in my collection: 81 / 446 (18.2%)


#4:  2012 Heritage (1963 design)

To be honest, 1963 and 1953 are similar enough designs that I kept flip-flopping on the ranking of these two… but 1963 won out because its more colorful and because it uses photos that haven’t been run through a filter to make it look vaguely like a painting.
2012 Heritage Jose Reyes
So here I am talking about how much more colorful this set is, then I use a scan of a card with a red bottom.  I really should’ve picked a card with a green, blue or yellow bottom, but that would’ve required far more advance planning than I put into these posts.

The backs aren’t the prettiest, but they are easy to read.
2012 Heritage Jose Reyes back

I can’t let the color thing pass… Here’s an example I’d posted a while ago in another topic:
2012 Heritage Chris Ianetta

This is off on a tiny tangent, but it’s similar to my uncut sheet gushing of above.  It never fully sunk in until recently that the cards that have the colored stripe in other parts of the card – rookie cards, checklists, batting leaders – are “upside down” or “sideways” relative to the other cards on the printing sheet.
2012 Heritage NL Batting Leaders
2012 Heritage Mets Team Card
Makes sense, I just never really thought about it.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: I’ve liked the originals for quite some time, if only because they feature the first Mets cards which aren’t all samey-same wood paneling. Heritage also made me appreciate some of the finer points of the designs… and less-than-finer points (hello, floaty heads).

2012 Heritage in my collection (Not including Hi # boxed set): 270 / 500 (54%)

Coming up next:  Top Three!  …But the next post is not the last post in this series!  …But I’m not going to tell you what that’s about!

Ya Get Whatcha Get: 4 Arbitrary Cards From Black Friday

When I’m writing about my new acquisitions, I often end up trying to organize cards into themed posts, and a lot of cards have fallen by the wayside as a result.

So…. I’m going to try something new where I’m just going to write about cards on a first-in, first-out basis… Starting with this 1972 Topps Leo Cardenas In Action.

This card was a fairly cheap 1972 that was among my many, many needs. When you’re talking about a 700+ card vintage set, the needs are many.
1972 Topps Leo Cardenas IA
…Not that I’m working towards the 1972 set. Because I’m not. :-)

At a quick glance, it almost looks like an Orioles card, but I tend to forget that the Angels’ “A” was lower case for a short time.

Da Boid!  One of my secondary goals is to finally complete my 1979 and 1980 sets, as much because I’m embarrassed that I haven’t as it is because I want to.
1979 Topps Mark Fidrych
By the time this card came out, the former Rookie-Of-The-Year’s career had already been derailed by rotator cuff issues, but it’s still a good card.

A 2012 Heritage High # of Bruce Chen, one of those cards where desire converges with price. I’ve been a fan of Bruce’s since his time with the Orioles, so I couldn’t pass up an affordable, artificial “high number”.
2012 Heritage Hi# Bruce Chen
Bruce looks like he’s about to impart some wisdom on us… or more likely unleash one of the bad jokes he’s famous for.

Clay Kirby once had a no-hitter going through 8 innings against the Mets in 1970.  With San Diego down 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th, Padres manager Preston Gomez pinch hit for him. They’re probably fortunate that there were only 10,373 fans in attendance, because it could’ve gotten ugly.
1970 Topps Clay Kirby
Clay Kirby also took two no-hitters into the 8th in September, 1971. The Padres still don’t have a no-hitter in their history.

Kirby died of a heart attack at the age of 43.  When one is older than 43 (as I am), that tends to freak one out a little bit.

I’m going to end this post with a shameless plug: I’ve got a sale going on at COMC! Many other sellers are running promotions, and there’s free shipping when you buy & ship 30 or more items. Check it out!

Heritage High Numbers – The Dangers Of Buying Into The Hype

When Topps announced last fall that it would be selling an online-only update to the 2012 Heritage set, and that it would be limited to 1000 sets, my immediate thoughts were “Well, those are some Mets cards I’ll never have”.

I was wrong.

I think I bought into the Topps Hype Machine a little too much.  While 1,000 cards aren’t many for Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, it’s sufficient for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jon Niese.  When you think about it, if someone had told me “The Topps Update set will include Heritage inserts which will be numbered to 1000”, I probably wouldn’t have written them off like I’d written off the Heritage High Numbers.  I wonder why that is.

Anyway, I got these during last March’s “Spring Cleaning” promotion on COMC.

Jon Niese had a nice year last year, winning 13 games for a team that only won 74.  This year he’s not been as good, and he’s been on the DL since June with a partially torn rotator cuff.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Jonathon Niese

Jordany Valdespin is currently with AAA Las Vegas, and either has no shortage of confidence or is a cocky SOB, depending on how you want to look at it.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Jordany Valdespin

Andres Torres spent one year as a Met then went back to the Giants as a free agent.  If the Mets still had him, they might not have Marlon Byrd or Eric Young, both of whom I’ve enjoyed watching this year… and who would’ve thought that the Mets would have a better record than the defending World Champions?

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Andres Torres

I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis enough to be able to spell his name without looking at the image.  Although I like him, I’ll freely admit that the dude needs to hit above the Mendoza Line if he wants to stick in the majors.

2012 Topps Heritage Hi-#'s Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In 1977 and 1978, the Twins had a minor leaguer named Bart Nieuwenhuis, but if he’s any relation to Kirk, baseball-reference.com isn’t telling.

Bart Nieuwenhuis went to Tombstone High in Huachuca City, AZ.  How cool would it be to go to Tombstone High?

OK, Which One Of You Guys Is “Fiscal Cliff”?

On the TV, on the radio, all I hear is “Fiscal Cliff”, “Fiscal Cliff”.

I wish someone would just tell me who Fiscal Cliff is.

I don’t think it’s Cliff Johnson, but you never know.

Cliff Lee makes a boatload of money, maybe he’s Fiscal Cliff.

Cliff Floyd? Could be… (I feel like I’m doing the opening credits to “Hong Kong Phooey”)

Cliff Pennington was recently part of a three-team trade involving a Marlins salary dump… Is that enough to make him Fiscal Cliff?

Cliff Mapes passed away 16 years ago, so I don’t think he’s Fiscal Cliff… but he was the last person to wear #3 for the Yankees (and you thought that was Babe Ruth, you silly person, you).

1951 Bowman #289 - Cliff Mapes - Courtesy of COMC.com

1951 Bowman #289 – Cliff Mapes – Courtesy of COMC.com

It’s So Hard Being A Disembodied Head These Days

Chris Schwinden is one of the floaty heads that appears on multiple 2012 Heritage cards.  He started off the season with the AAA Buffalo Bisons and made occasional appareances with the Mets, but it’s been busy as anything for him since the Mets tried to send him to AAA after an appearance on May 30th.  On June 2nd he was claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays.  He appeared in one game in AAA Las Vegas and then he was claimed off waivers by the Indians.  He made a few appearances for the Indians AAA team in Columbus, but then on June 29th, the Yankees claimed him off of the Indians.  He appeared in one AAA game before the Yankees put him on waivers again.  This time, he was claimed off the Yankees by the Mets.  So, from early June to early July, Chris Schwinden pitched for four different AAA teams and ended up back where he started.

I’m not sure how to go about researching this, but I wonder if there are any ballparks he pitched in twice for different teams.  Any suggestions?

Here’s a nugget of joy I got from baseball-reference.com:  Chris Schwinden made  his Major League debut on 9/8/11 starting in a doubleheader against the Braves, and all four starting pitchers in that doubleheader – Schwinden, Dillon Gee, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran – were rookies.  That hadn’t happened since 1946.

2012 Heritage: Meet the new Gio, same as the old Gio

Here’s something I’d noticed while updating my team binders… This is Gio Gonzalez photoshopped into his new Nationals uniform…

…and here’s Gio Gonzalez from last year’s Heritage set.  Hmmm… Something about this photo seems strangely… familiar.

The odd thing is that on closer examination, it appears that they are two different photos.   Look at the railings behind Gio’s cap, they don’t match between the two.  It’s possible that they just took the image of Gio, separated it from the background and adjusted it slightly so it looks like a different photo, but that seems like it would be more trouble than it’s worth.  I want to say his expression is ever-so-slightly different in the two, but that might be just my mind playing tricks on me.

What’s really funny is that the black and white photo on this year’s card is almost the same pose as the other two.  Topps obviously bought their Gio Gonzalez photos in bulk from Costco.

2012 Heritage: Forget the base set or master set; I’m collecting the “Good Enough” set.

I consider completing any Heritage set to be far more effort and money than I would ever get back in enjoyment, so I just buy packs and see where it gets me, then fill in the Mets and Orioles, as well as the various players I collect.

This year, as I’m thinking though things I’ve never completely thought out before, I thought it might be good to define what I consider to be a complete set… That is, the base set minus the cards I have little or no interest in.  With the parallels and short prints which are pervasive in this hobby, I think that the “Good Enough For Me” set is something that casual collectors should strongly consider… We just need a better name for it.

So, what am I leaving out of my “Good Enough” set?  First off, I ignore all the short prints which don’t fall into Mets/Orioles/PC’s.  That’s 68 cards right there.  League Leaders are ugly, but I will save the cards with Jose Reyes and Mark Reynolds and ignore the other 8.  The 2012 Rookie Stars cards are a farce;  I’ll save the one with Chris Schwinden and forget the other 19.  Leave out the World Series cards, that’s 7, and the multi-player cards without players I care about, that’s 11.  I’ll go for the Mets and Orioles team cards and leave out the other 10.  Am I right that there’s only 12 team cards?  There were 20 teams in 1963, did Topps only do team cards for 12 of them?

OK, math time… 500 – 68 – 8 – 19 – 7 -11 – 10 = 377 cards in the “Good Enough For Me” set.  That’s well within my tolerance, and my budget.

Obviously, the “Good Enough For Me” set would vary by person… A Cardinals fan is not going to ignore the World Series cards;  if you like the multi-player cards or have a thing for floaty heads, then you’d keep them.  I want the manager cards, but I can competely understand others wanting to drop those.

Just like it’s up to you which sets to collect or which inserts to collect, it’s also up to you which cards within a set you collect.  Throw off the manacles of corporately-imposed set structures!  Be your own man (or woman)!  Let your freak flag fly!  Like the Isley Brothers sang in 1969:  It’s your thing, do what you wanna do.  I can’t tell you who to sock it to.

My first Heritage hit of 2012 – Jim Brosnan autograph

Heritage is really trying hard to suck me in this year.  On top of the design which is more visually appealing than the three previous years put together, I pulled this in the 5th pack I opened:

Brosnan pitched for the Cubs, Cardinals, Reds and White Sox over 9 years, compiling a 55-47 record with a 3.54 ERA.  What he’s probably best known for are his books “The Long Season” (written as a diary of the 1959 season) and “Pennant Race” (detailing the 1961 season).  “The Long Season” is a book I’ve long thought I should read, it was the first book that took an honest look at the life of a major leaguer.  Perhaps this is a sign that I should get off my duff and read it.

More 2012 Heritage stuff

I’m guessing these two guys were photographed separately… compared to Verlander, Valverde looks like his chest is about 4 feet wide.

That (R) after Tigers is pretty distracting, couldn’t they have made that any smaller?

Samardzija has a sort of Three Musketeers thing going.  Yippee!  Yappee!  Yahoooooooooooey!!!!  (There’s a reference for those old enough to remember 1960’s Hanna-Barbera cartoons).

This Ianetta card looks more like a painting than many of the early Heritage cards which were supposed to look like paintings.

Some short-printed All-star rookie action.  I often sell the SP’s of players I don’t collect, but I like this one, I’ll probably hang on to it.

Pack Animal! – 2012 Heritage Blaster

I’m excited about this year’s Heritage, more excited than I thought I’d be… It’s been a while since I’d gone out of my way to find just-released Heritage in the stores.  The last couple of years left me a little cold.  I’m really liking these cards, though.  I’ll bet they’ll look great in sheets.

I’m fairly impressed that they managed to photoshop Pineda, given that he was traded on January 23rd.   Seven weeks from trade to cards in a store, that’s pretty impressive.  The logo on his cap is pretty oversized and a little crooked, looks like one of those “Fashion Caps” they sell.

And, on the other side of the trade…

Floaty heads!  Makes you wonder if any of these guys will be a Pete Rose…

One thing I’d noticed is that Jesus Montero is on this Rookie Stars card, but the side of the blaster I bought shows an image of a solo Jesus Montero card.  Looks like the same photo was used for both.  I wonder if having Montero on two cards was a last-minute thing brought on by the trade, or if they’d planned this all along.  Kinda goofy if they intended to have the floaty heads on their own cards as well.

Five packs in (as I’m writing this) and I’ve got no Mets or Orioles players… not even floaty heads.  Someone doesn’t like me (or perhaps doesn’t like losing teams with few outstanding prospects).  I did get a Mets team card, though…

I’ve got more to share, including an on-card autograph, but I’ll post those later.  Right now, I’m going to get back to enjoying my cards.

Oh, one last thing… For those who can’t find Heritage yet, you should know that the Target near where I work has both Heritage and Opening Day, but two other Targets in my area have neither.  It seems like certain Targets are better about stocking new cards than others, for whatever reason.  …So if you don’t find Heritage in one store, it could be that other ones in your area do have them.

I should also point out that I found blasters, but no loose packs.