It seems like one of the big things in 2011 Topps Heritage is all the variations. As I’m learning, this isn’t unusual for a Topps baseball product – but it’s also a throwback to the 1962 set. I’d never bought Heritage before, so maybe this has always been status quo for Topps Heritage. I have been / will be trying to collect (though with no sense of urgency) the Jackie Robinson Special, and Reds from the Heritage variations – which means basically the Tinted versions of Arroyo, Gomes, Volquez and manager Dusty.
Green Tint (along with Red & Blue)
The first variation of note is on nearly 100 cards. The entire second series of 1962 Topps has a variation where the cards were printed with a green tint. Topps had moved printing to a different plant, and the printing plates were slightly damaged in the process. This created cards with a green tint variation for the last cards run of printing in the 2nd series. Some of the plates were so damaged that Topps needed to include new photos for those cards – this resulted in a number of variations involving the photos in the 2nd series – from “cap-less” versions (Wally Moon, Carlton Willey), to portraits instead of poses (Lee Walls, Ed Yost, Bill Kunkel) to different caps (Bob Buhl, Willie Tasby). The Moon on the right below is the green tint.
Of course, Topps copied this issue in the 2011 Heritage set. Cards #110-196, which are the card numbers from the second series in 1962, also have an SP green tint variation. The green tint cards are pretty rare – coming 1 every 108 packs. Topps took this craziness a bit further, with retail-only red (Target) and blue (Wal-mart) tint variations. Those cards come 1 per 6 packs.
The Arroyo is a good imitation of cards with the same picture, however, Topps also did different photos of some cards just like in 1962.
The Sultan of Swat, Joba the Hutt, and… Porky?
Card #139 had quite a bit of confusion. The correct version is the “Babe hits 60″ card from the Babe Ruth subset. This card has a green tint variation in 1962 – and, as this subset was copied in 2011 – it has the green, red & blue tints in this year’s Heritage set. Not too confusing yet, right? Well, Hal Reniff (nickname – Porky) was a Yankee relief pitcher with card #159. Porky’s intended card showed him in a portrait, but the “green tint” print showed him in a pitching pose – AND some of his cards were incorrectly numbered as 139 on the back. So there are 4 potential versions of card #139 from the set (regular Ruth, green Ruth, regular portrait Reniff, green pitching pose Reniff) – though the Reniff’s were really supposed to be card #139.
Joba Chamberlain is card #159 in the Heritage set. The regular (portrait) card is #159, while the pitching pose and its green/blue/red tinted variations are card #139. I’m not positive if there is or isn’t a regular (non-tinted) card #159 (I think – the picture of the card below I snagged off eBay and doesn’t look tint – but it could be a blue tint).
’62 errors and ’11 variations
There were a number of errors in 1962 that were copied for the 2011 Heritage set. These variants are “super-short prints”, but Topps never released the odds.
- ’62 Topps #521 – Jacke Davis RC. On the front, he was correctly listed as an outfielder. On the back, he’s listed as a pitcher. Since the Heritage set only goes to 500, Topps did this in ’11 Heritage for #125 – Vladimir Guerrero. There is a super short print variation that lists him as a pitcher on the back.
- ’62 Topps #279 – Hobie Landrith. The back of the card shows him as born in 1954 (no, he wasn’t an 8-year old major leaguer). Bengie Molina. Variation shows his birth year as 1994 (Hobie Landrith)
- ’62 Topps – #392 – Ken Boyer. Boyer’s card has his .329 average from 1961 (which is impressive) incorrecly listed as .392 (which would have been the best in 20 years). On the same card # in the Heritage set, Ryan Zimmerman’s SSP variation card had his .307 flipped to .370.
- ’62 Topps #478 – Don Zimmer. Zimmer was traded to the Reds early in 1962, but the only picture Topps had was him in a Mets cap. The card listed him as Red, but showed him as a Met. David Wright got the equivalent in the Heritage set – the Super-Short Print pictures him as the Met he’s always been, but lists him as being with Cincy. Maybe the Mets will trade him to us and pick up most of his salary…
- ’62 Topps #490 – Clete Boyer. Ken’s brother Clete was shown batting from the wrong side – the card was a reverse negative. The Heritage SSP variation features a reverse negative of Alex Rodriguez (the card on the left is the reverse negative).
Jackie Robinson subset – 10 cards (1:50 – hobby only)
The 10-card Ruth subset has an inserted variation where Jackie Robinson’s career highlights replace those of the Babe. This set is inserted at 1:50 packs. Additionally, this subset has a relic variation #’d out of 42. Honestly, I kind of wish they had made the base cards the Jackie Robinson subset. It doesn’t make sense to basically reprint the same Ruth subset. They could have still done the Robinson relics in the same manner, and either a) not had a different player variation insert, or b) done it for Bob Feller. Feller was the other Hall of Fame inductee in 1962, and that would certainly have made a good subset – particularly appropriate given Feller’s recent passing. This would have been a great way to honor him. Regardless, I’m collecting the Robinson insert set – below are the two cards I have so far.
Jackie Robinson Special Relics – 10 cards (1:1,777; #/42 – hobby only)
The relic is NOT something I own, it’s a picture sniped off eBay. And it’s pretty sweet – I wish I had pulled one of these.