A Mother Of A Task

During a recent COMC promotion, I was trying to think of different ways to shop for cards, and I got this idea… I should get my Mother’s Cookies wantlists squared away so that I know what to look for.

It seemed like a good idea… I’m on the east coast, so I rarely see Mother’s Cookies cards at shows. If I can find relatively cheap examples on COMC, they would make some nice additions to some of my player collections.

So I decided that the best way to get a wantlist together is to compile a “master checklist” of Mother’s cards from tradingcarddb.com, and then I would know for sure which cards I want, and would also be able to go back and “check off” the cards I already had. Great idea, right?

Boy, was that a mistake.

I did not fully appreciate just how many Mother’s Cookies cards there are. I was thinking a couple of hundred, but my “master list” contains 115 Mother’s Cookies sets and 2,721 cards over a span of 20 years… and that doesn’t include the Pacific Coast League sets from the 1950’s.

It took me far longer than I’d intended but I did eventually get the task done, and here are four Mother’s Cookies cards I got off of my newly-established wantlists…

This one is my favorite of the batch; it’s from a 1994 set commemorating the fact that both of the 1993 Rookies Of The Year played for Southern California teams.
1994 Mother's Cookies Rookie Of The Year Salmon Piazza
There were four different cards which featured both Mike Piazza and Tim Salmon, plus two short printed foil inserts. Of the “base cards”, I liked this one the best.

The 1983 Giants set was the first one issued by Mother’s Cookies in the 1980’s, and it has a design that’s unusual in that it’s not full bleed like Mother’s Cookies cards typically are.
1983 Mother's Cookies Giants Joel Youngblood
Joel Youngblood spent six years with the Mets, and is probably best known for getting a hit with two teams in the same day. On August 4, 1982 he got a hit for the Mets at Wrigley Field, was traded to the Expos, flew to Philadelphia to meet up with his new team, and got a hit in the “night cap”. Both hits came against future Hall-of-Famers (Fergie Jenkins and Steve Carlton).

Mike Vail played mainly for the Mets, Cubs and Reds, but he’s also had several short stints, including 18 games for the Giants in 1983.
1983 Mother's Cookies Giants Mike Vail
As far as I know, this is the only card of Mike Vail to show him with the Giants. He’s got cards representing his other short stints – 34 games with the Expos, 16 games with the Dodgers – but nothing for his 14 games with the Indians in 1978. Sounds like a custom card waiting to happen… if there are any photos available…

Mark Carreon was in the Mets organization for 10 years, but it wasn’t until a year or so ago that I found out he was a second-generation Major Leaguer.
1994 Mother's Cookies Giants Mark Carreon
His father, Camilo, was a catcher who played for the White Sox, Orioles and Indians in the 1960’s. He got on baseball cards with the latter two, despite only 19 games for the Tribe and 4 games for the O’s.

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…

MLB 2 WIDE $3.99

That’s the way a 100-card repack shows up on my Target receipt.  For some reason, I keep buying these things, even though I only end up keeping 10-or-so cards out of each one.  What can I say, they can be fun even if the payout’s not there… and I don’t drink, smoke or play the lottery, so in theory I’ve got cash that needs to be blown on some vice, right?

I nearly fell out of my chair because with most repacks I’ll get a stack of junk wax cards which all end up in the recycling because I don’t get any that I need.  This time, I actually NEEDED this 1987 Topps card of Paul Assenmacher.

1987 Topps Paul Assenmacher

It might not be the most exciting card around, but you must look at it.  Look at it!  LOOK AT MY ASSENMACHER! Sieht aus meiner Assenmacher!!!!

Thank you.

1987 Topps:  1 down, 47 to go.

I got this fairly interesting minor league card of recent Oriole Wilson Betemit.

2001 Just Top Prospect Promo Wilson Betemit

He used to be a big prospect, but with the Orioles this year he got DFA’ed before the season even ended.

I was also surprised that I needed this 1990 Doc Gooden:

1990 Topps Doc Gooden

How does a Mets fan go 23 years without a major base card of Dr. K?  Don’t answer that.  1 down, 81 to go for that set.

Here’s a lovely Bobby Bonilla from the 1990 US Playing Cards “Baseball Major League All-Stars” deck.

1990 US Playing Cards Bobby Bonilla

I can’t help but wonder if all of the Jacks in the deck were guys with power… because, you know, they jack the ball out of the park?  Am I reaching?  Probably.

This 2002 Topps Gallery Piazza was on the outside; this card talked me into buying the repack in the first place… Oh, like I needed a whole lot of persuasion.
2002 Topps Gallery Mike Piazza