Ranking 15 Years Of Heritage, Part 3: 9 through 7

For those of you who missed parts 1 and 2 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.

For those who didn’t click the links, here’s a list of #15 through #10:
#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)

Once more, into the breach…

#9:  2003 Heritage (1954 Design)

It sounds kinda stupid on the surface, and almost a little heretical, but I prefer the blatant “homage” of 2000 Fleer Tradition…

2000 Fleer Tradition Bo Porter

Yes, this is the guy who used to manage the Astros.

…to the legitimacy of 2003 Heritage.
2003 Heritage Pedro Martinez
I suppose that part of that is because 2000 Tradition came first and I really enjoyed it, but when 2003 Heritage came out just a couple of years later, I ended up with sort of a “Meatloaf again?!?” attitude.  Not Topps’ doing, but it still bit them in the butt.

It might also have something to do with the colors.  It’s a little hard for me to say definitively, since I only own two cards from the 1954 set, but some of the Heritage colors seem a bit dull and muted compared to the original (and absolutely dull when compared to 2000 Tradition).  What looks to be pea green in the original is more or less olive drab in Heritage;  what’s a reddish orange in the original is cantaloupe in the Heritage set.

The backs are nicely done and colorful.
2003 Heritage Pedro Martinez back

One thing I didn’t realize about 1954 Topps until 2003 Heritage came out was the fact that the color background goes off the top of the card, and the white border is only along the sides and bottom. It’s a little detail that I kinda like, even if I’m not 100% sure I understand it.

Like it’s two predecessors, 2003 Heritage has no subsets other than the checklist cards which aren’t really part of the set.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  It wasn’t until a year ago that I said “Hey, I don’t own a single baseball card from 1954, what’s up with that?”  Part of what’s up with that is that I don’t often spend much time hunting for cards from before my Mets existed, but the Heritage set gets a tiny bit of blame for not igniting a fire underneath my butt.

2003 Heritage cards in my collection: 56 cards out of 430 in the set (13%)

#8:  2015 Heritage (1966 Design)

I don’t think there’s any question that this year’s Heritage set suffers from following a set based on the classic 1965 design. It’s not like I don’t care for the 1966 design in use this year, but it still suffers by comparison.

Even so, the design is still one I appreciate in a “Less is more” sort of way.
2015 Heritage Neil Walker

…And I do think that Topps did a decent job of re-creating the original, with some notable exceptions like inexplicably changing the color of the lettering on Cubs cards. They did fine on most of the other teams, and the backs are pretty nicely done …even if the card numbers are a little hard to read, but that’s a mix of the pink being a shade too light and it not being a great idea to begin with.
2015 Heritage Neil Walker back

I think one of the reasons why this year’s Heritage is a little more “meh” than it had to be is because of the photograph selection. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the photographs used are bad, they’re largely fine taken on a case-by-case basis. My problem is that, as a set there’s an awful lot of sameness to it. Candid shots of players, “Photo Day” poses, the occasional standard action shot. Someone in the MLBPA needs to train these guys on how to strike appealingly fake-y baseball poses like this:
1992 Stadium Club Gary Scott
Maybe they should buy a few pizzas and have a “lunch and learn” on the subject.

Team cards were a somewhat controversial subject with this set; The original team cards featued a photo of – imagine that! – the team. This year, they have subsituted generic crowd shots which remind me of the Fleer “NFL In Action” cards of the 1970’s.
2015 Heritage Cardinals Team card

This Cardinals team card has a halfway-decent photo, but several of the others have a shot which is basically just the backs of several players.  If it were something they could get away with, it’d be kind of fun to feature the 5th place teams as dejectedly walking off the field after yet another loss… that’s probably just the downtrodden Mets fan in me doing the talking.

Anyway… If this is the future of Heritage team cards, I’d just as soon they be done away with.  Some of you might be saying that they can’t axe the team cards because they were in the original set.  I say that ship has already sailed… You don’t see any Heritage checklist cards, do you? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Before I wrap up, I’d like to call attention to this particular card (Wainwright/Kershaw).
2015 Topps Heritage NL Aces
It’s not a tremendously great photograph, but it is a notable 21st century combo card… Both players are more or less facing the camera, and both players were photographed in the same place at the same time.  It’s not two different photos digitally combined into the same image, it’s not a photo of two players who were brought into proximity of one another during the course of a game, these guys are actually together… on purpose.  It happens so infrequently anymore that I felt I had to bring some attention to it.

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals:  2015 Heritage made me doubt my fondness for 1966 Topps, and that can’t be a good thing. I did go back and spend some quality time with my cards from ’66 and yeah, I still like them.

2015 Heritage cards in my collection:  This is kind of pointless in that the numbers will change as soon as I buy another pack or blaster, but… 121 / 500 (24%)

#7:  2008 Heritage (1959 Design)

For the longest time, I’d never really thought of 1959 Topps as my kind of set… I prefer cards where the photo takes up a larger percentage of the real estate.
2008 Heritage Mike Piazza
By the time 2008 rolled along, I’d gotten into something of a Heritage habit, plus there wasn’t much in terms of non-foil-y, non-glitzy 2008 sets to compete with Heritage. That turned out to be a good thing, because it gave the 2008 Heritage set time to grow on me.  The more packs I bought, the more cards I thumbed through, the more I understood their appeal.

I grew to appreciate the colorful borders, the “friendly” lower case lettering at the top, and the fact that the “spotlight” design necessarily limits the type of photos that Topps could use…  The border draws the attention to the player while only allowing space for a portrait, or maybe a fake swing of the bat.

I like the backs, but I wish I’d scanned a card which had a cartoon.
2008 Heritage Mike Piazza back

Too late, I’m not going back.  You should’ve thought of that before we left the gas station.

The subsets in 2008 Heritage fall into the category of “A little busy for my tastes, but damned if it doesn’t work”.
2008 Heritage Carlos Gonzalez
It would’ve looked a little better if they came up with a fake name that’s longer than “Topps News”… it doesn’t fill up the card as nicely as “Sporting News” did… but that’s a minor quibble.

Take everything I just said about the Rookie Stars subset and apply it to the All-Stars subset.
2008 Heritage Justin Morneau AS

Last-minute update:

I also very nearly forgot to include these, but I like the combo cards in this set, even if they do illustrate the very “Photoshopped together” combo card I was kvetching about above:
2008 Heritage Young-Zimmerman combo

How Heritage affected my opinion of the originals: This is kind of a tricky situation.  I really like the Heritage set quite a bit, but I never went back and bought large quanties of 1959 Topps as a result.  I have just 6 cards from the original.  As with all sets from before 1962, it suffers from not having any Mets to chase and no large wantlist that gets me diving into that section of my favorite “Bargain Bins”, but I also think that this is a case where I like the Heritage set better than the original.  Maybe at my next show, I should go through the 1959’s from my favorite dealers and pick up some Orioles and “Guys who would eventually be Mets” and see if it even things up a bit.

2008 Heritage cards in my collection: 326 / 722 (45.2%)

Coming Attractions

We’re coming down the home stretch, next week will feature #’s 6, 5 and 4.  I’d tease it a bit more than that, but that would require my being able to remember which sets those are.  Don’t remember, I’ve got it written down… somewhere around here…

Pack Animal: 2015 Stadium Club

True confessions:  I’m not really much of a Stadium Club guy.

I like the cards just fine, but the value’s not there for me.  They cost – what? – a little more than twice as much per card as regular Topps?  The thing is, I don’t like them twice as much.  Sure they’re nice, they often have nice photography and are glossy glossy… but I don’t see them as being twice as nice. As a result, I generally don’t buy many packs.

Let me put it this way… Only once have I ever bought a wax box of Stadium Club.  It was a box of these…

1992 Topps Stadium Club Series 3 Pack

…And I bought it earlier this year.

…For five bucks.

I keep a couple of packs in my car for when I need a pack-bustin’ fix during the work day.

But this week at work has been… Well…. Let’s just say that it’s been a bit short on stimulation and fulfillment.  I needed something a little more exciting than 23-year-old packs… even if those 23-year-old packs contained “SUPER PREMIUM PICTURE CARDS”.

So, off to Target I went.  I bought a repack (which I’ll tell you about in a few days) and I bought this:
2015 Stadium Club pack
What the heck, y’know?  See what the excitement’s about.

It’s a loose pack from Target, I’m sure the pack feelers have already been and gone, but we’ll see what happens.

First card:
2015 Stadium Club Steve Pearce
Sweet!  An Oriole I would’ve been looking for anyway.  Steve Pearce made a nice catch yesterday in Boston, one that clearly irritated David Ortiz (who’d hit the ball).  Anything which annoys Big Papi is worthwhile in my book.

The card design – such as it is – is OK, but it most likely will fail my “can I read it while it’s in a binder?” test.

The backs are pretty nice.
2015 Stadium Club Steve Pearce back

Second card:
2015 Stadium Club Oswaldo Arcia
Oswaldo Arcia does an impression of the Salt Vampire from the original Star Trek.

Third card:

Tanner Ro-ark of the Nationals (at least that’s how the Nats broadcasters say it).
2015 Stadium Club Tanner Roark
Down at the bottom of the card, where they’ve got the photo sort of faded out, it looks sort of like he’s got his pants hiked up and not wearing any socks.

Fourth card:
2015 Stadium Club Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau of the Rockies… something I’m still not quite used to.

Fifth and final card:
2015 Stadium Club George Brett
George Brett, and he’s surrounded by The Ood.  (Hey, as long as I’m making nerdy references…)

…And I’m already done. 

I had more fun with the repack.

Unless one of these cards is a short print, that’s not much return for $3.  And this is why I don’t buy packs of Stadium Club.  But what the heck, it served it’s purpose and gave me a little bit of fun after a less-than-fun day.

“Hot Stove” Custom – Justin Morneau Joins Exclusive Denver Club

2013-14 TSR Hot Stove #15 - Justin Morneau

No pressure on Justin Morneau with the Rockies… just because an entire generation of Rockies fans has never known the team without Todd Helton at first base… it’s all good.

When Morneau signed with the Rockies, he joined an exclusive fraternity.  Over the 21 seasons of Colorado Rockies baseball, for any of those seasons if you would single out a guy and say “That’s the Rockies’ first baseman”, then you’d be singling out Todd Helton, Andres Gallarraga and…………… that’s it.  There ain’t nobody else.

Best of luck to Morneau, I’ll be rooting for him.

About this particular custom card…

Regulars will know that these customs are based on the 1959 Bazooka set.  Well, this is the first time that I’ve “gone rogue” with the color combinations.  This black with white letters/red with yellow letters combination didn’t exist on any 1959 Bazooka baseball or football cards.  I improvised on the colors because I didn’t like the way the “authentic” color combinations clashed with the purple Rockies logo.

Next week’s card: Tell me who should be on it.
I really don’t know at this point.  I thought about Shin-Soo Choo or Joe Nathan, but I’ve already done a few Tigers and Rangers and it might be good to do some other teams.

…but at this point there aren’t a lot of outstanding transactions that leap out at me.  Which transplanted baseball player do you want to see?  Dan Haren?  Mark Trumbo?  Jarrod Saltalamacchia?  Brent Morel?  Clark, the Cubs’ new mascot?  Leave a comment, let me know…

This Weirds ME Out, And I’m Not Even A Twins Fan

Justin Morneau in a Pirates uniform? Say it ain’t so!!!
2013 TSR #750 - Justin Morneau

I know he’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year and for all we know he could be wearing an Astros cap next year, but for now this is just… odd.  Extremely odd.

For what it’s worth – and it’s not worth very much at all – Morneau is the first card from the 6th and final series of 2013 TSR cards.  As one of the biggest names traded before the 8/31 deadline, he gets the semi-coveted card #750.  I gave some thought to putting some sort of “TRADED” banner on the card, but I wasn’t sure how I’d want to implement one, so I just let it slide.

While I was preparing this card, I found that I had two unpublished custom cards that had been sitting in my folder for a month or two… and strangely enough, the two cards are for a Twin and a Pirate.

2013 TSR #222 - Pedro Florimon

These both fell into the category of “Oh, I gotta use that photo”.

2013 TSR #478 - Russell Marti

This card is a cool action shot and it features Eric Young, Jr., who is one of the finalists for “My Favorite Met of 2013”.