If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps; The Final Batch Of Customs

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I touched on some of the things which Topps could do – but wouldn’t likely do – to make 2018 Heritage that much more like its inspiration, 1969 Topps.

Today I’ve got one last batch of cards which meet these criteria… although all of these “features” apply to cards from many 1960’s sets.

A lot of team collectors and fans of Heritage wish that they’d go back to including manager cards.  Sure, I’d like cards of Buck Showalter and new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and I’d also like cards of HOFer Paul Molitor, Don Mattingly and guys like Joe Maddon.

I wonder if guys like Molitor and Mattingly are indirectly to blame for the lack of manager cards. Managers are not covered under the deal that Topps has with the MLBPA, so Topps probably has to negotiate with managers individually. It’s not a stretch to think that a HOFer like Paul Molitor would command a much higher fee than Brian Snitker and most of the other managers.


Another type of card we wont see – but which isn’t specific to 1969 – was the checklist card which featured a player’s head shot. I’m sure if Heritage included checklist cards then they’d include one (with Aaron Judge on every one, given Topps’ man crush on him)… but since they aren’t, I figured I’d whip one up.


In 1968 and 1969, Topps referred to the Astros as simply “HOUSTON”, most likely due to a trademarking issue.  I don’t know if the specifics of this issue had ever been completely determined, but Topps either couldn’t or wouldn’t get in the middle of it and didn’t use the Astros names or logos for all of 1968 and part of 1969.

Whatever the issue, it must’ve shown signs of coming to an end sometime during 1969, because the later series cards still said “HOUSTON” and featured mainly road uniforms, but at least showed cap logos… something like this:

For 1970 Topps went back to using the Astros name, and finally allowed collectors to get more than a glimpse of the “Shooting Star” home uniforms of the day.


One of the first things I think of when I think of the quirks of 1960’s Topps cards are the clumsy methods they used to cover the fact that a photo was old or that a player had been traded to a new team. There’s always the capless photos (as I’d covered in Part 1 of this series).

One method which continued to get used into the 1970’s was having photos with the classic “guy looking up so you can’t see the cap logo” pose. Of course, since nobody is taking photos specifically for Topps anymore, players don’t actually pose this way… However there is a thing certain players do which is “close enough for government work”:

Sometimes when a player went from one team with a blue cap to another with a blue cap (i.e. Dodgers to Cubs), there would be a photo where you couldn’t see the front of the jersey and someone took a brush and just put a little blob of blue over the cap logo. I wanted to do something like this and was pondering who to use for this example… and then the Mets signed former Dodger Adrian Gonzalez.  Perfect!

My first attempt at this was a little too good and looked more like a logo-free Panini card. I still don’t feel like I’ve properly replicated the “blue blob” technique, but it’s frankly not worth agonizing over.

Of course, what most of us think of with these “updated” photos are the ones where the crown of the player’s cap was completely blacked-out. In order to maximize the ridiculousness in my custom, I wanted to use a player who was traded to a team where the resulting combination of the original cap’s bill and a blacked-out crown would be something that wasn’t even remotely close to something his new team would wear… And so I set out to find a workable photo of Stephen Piscotty who was traded from the Cardinals to the Athletics. I wouldn’t normally consider photos that were more than a year old, but since older photos is completely in character for 1969 Topps, I found a lovely example from a team photo day from a few years ago.

If I really wanted to go nuts with the blacked-out caps, I would black out caps for many of the players in an Athletics uniform (since they’d moved from Kansas City to Oakland for the 1968 season) as well as the four expansion teams of the day — the Royals, Padres, Nationals (Expos) and Brewers (Pilots).

…but that, of course, will never happen in Heritage.


So that’s the last of my attempts to re-create questionable 1969 Topps techniques for 2018.  I’ve enjoyed playing with this particular card design, so I will likely make more “1969 customs”, but it will likely be more along the lines of “Gosh, I wish this guy had been included in Heritage”.

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If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I got into some of the weirdness which would have to be perpetrated by Topps if they really wanted 2018 Heritage to be 100% faithful to the quirks of 1969 Topps.

I’ve got a few more examples, including two suggested by readers of The Shlabotnik Report!

First off I have a suggestion made on Twitter by Lanny Ribes @DOCBZ17:

There are a couple of instances I know of where Topps reused a photo from 1968 or earlier, but by referencing Freddie Freeman I believe Lanny is specifically referring to Topps using the same photo of Hank Aaron in both 1968 and 1969 Topps.  Unfortunately I don’t have a Freddie Freeman card from last year’s Heritage set, so I hope Nick Markakis will do.

I had to tighten the crop on the custom card on the right, being that I needed to get rid of the puple “BRAVES” circle on the 2017 Heritage card… but it works out fine, because the two Aaron cards were cropped differently anyway (although the 1968 was cropped tighter than the 1969, but that’s the way things go.)

Next up was a suggestion from Night Owl, who suggested riffing on this card:

This is another instance of Topps repeating a photo from 1968 Topps, but the key thing with this card is that Topps flipped the negative for 1969, thus making Larry Haney a left-handed catcher.

The Seattle Pilots are, of course, now the Brewers.  I went looking for a photo of a Brewers catcher on which I could pull similar shenanigans.  Nobody poses for pictures like this anymore, but I did find an action shot of Jett Bandy which does the trick.

A little side note:  I just realized that I’ve made a mistake on all of these customs thus far in that I’ve been making the position all capitals (CATCHER) when it should be sentence case (Catcher).  I’ll fix this in future customs.

One last custom for this week… or to be precise, one last pair of customs.

On January 20, 1969, the Phillies traded catcher Clay Dalrymple to the Orioles for outfielder Ron Stone.  For whatever reason, Topps decided to update Dalrymple’s 2nd series card after printing a number of cards showing him with the Phillies.  The updated card showed a bare-headed Dalrymple on an Orioles card (and much to my chagrin, I don’t have either of these cards, but I intend to remedy that in 2018).

For the purposes of this post, I figured where the traded player was going wasn’t as important as where he came from, so I went with Freddy Galvis, who was traded from the Phillies to the Padres this past December 15th.

Here’s the Phillies version of the Galvis:

I suspect that the capless photo of Clay Dalrymple was an old photo (and honestly, the full uniform photo was likely pretty old as well), so when I went looking for a Freddy Galvis photo, I chose a pre-dreadlocks shot from 2016.  I think his expression also fits pretty well…

That wraps things up for now, but I intend to do at least one more post in this series.  Feel free to make a suggestion on what particular quirk of 1969 Topps could be replicated… Suggestions which are already in the works include having the Astros be just “HOUSTON” and having a traded player with a blacked-out cap.  I have a couple of other ideas in mind which I won’t mention just yet.


Before I go…

Some of you probably read an off-hand reference to Twitter above and said “Twitter?  Since when is he on Twitter?”

Well, dear readers, I had never made an official announcement about it here in this blog, but The Shlabotnik Report has been on Twitter since November.  The Twitter handle is @Shlabotnik_Rpt.  If you’re searching on it, keep in mind that there are no C’s in Shlabotnik and that there’s an underscore between “Shlabotnik” and “Rpt”.

After looking at my own Twitter feed for the past two months, I feel it necessary to point out that @Shlabotnik_Rpt is this blog’s Twitter account and is intended as another channel for the same kind of content and PG-rated nonsense you get here.  So far it’s largely been notifications of new posts, but I’m starting into some Twitter-specific content.  What you won’t find are political views, fat-shaming or other bits of shouting… unless I’m quoting Daleks or Vogons (“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!”).

If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps, Part 1

1969 Topps, as a set, has plenty of quirks, and enough bad ones that that we wouldn’t really want 2018 Heritage to be 100% faithful to the source material… But if Topps were to make a full effort to duplicate 69T, warts and all, what would be involved?

This is the question I’d asked myself at some point where I really should’ve been doing something more productive, but if nothing else it got me to lay the groundwork for creating some 1969 Topps customs.

While we have a general idea of what kind of parallels and inserts will be used for 2018 Heritage, I don’t believe we fully know what kind of gimmicks Topps might foist upon us.  You’d think there would be white letter variations; A super-short-printed white letter Aaron Judge variation (replicating the pricey Mickey Mantle variation) seems so obvious that it’d be shocking if it doesn’t happen.

But if Heritage were completely true to 1969 Topps we’d have…

…Plenty of capless photos, especially of newly-relocated players like Giancarlo Stanton…

…and plenty of photos which were taken years before the release date, like this relatively-unshaggy Justin Turner…

There are many other ways in which Topps could be true to 1969 Topps.  Of course, one significant way is to include managers, but it seems like that ship has sailed.  I’ve got some others in mind, but I’ll play my cards close to the vest until I share those in another post or two (hint:  I’m looking for a photo of an MLB batboy, preferably from the Angels).

And now it’s feedback time… What other things can you think of which would make 2018 Heritage more like 1969 Topps?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a good thing, or one we’d want to see, but it still might be fun to replicate some of these in custom form.