Completed master set – one last look at 2011 Topps Heritage

11 03 2016

As i mentioned yesterday, I finished up the 2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson set.  That also means I finished up the 2011 Heritage master set.  Out of the products that aren’t part of my Lifetime Topps project, this is easily my favorite.  1962 Topps is just about my favorite design.

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Info about my base set

How I put the set (non-SP / SP) together:

  • 204 (196/8) cards from my hobby box
  • 153 (146/7) cards from trades
  • 39 (36/3) cards from a blaster
  • 38 (36/2) cards from various retail packs
  • 15 (11/4) cards from a card show
  • 38 SP cards from eBay lots
  • 4 SP cards from Sportlots
  • 9 SP cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #437 – Adrian Gonzalez

Best card (my opinion):  #81 – Jason Varitek

Catcher’s mask? check.  Catcher’s mitt?  check.  Cool background?  check.  One of the last cards of a team captain?  check.

Check out this link to see the rest of the base set post.

My Master” Set Info:

560 cards – 500 “base”, 5 promo, 55 “insert”

How I put the additional sets together:

  • Promo set – 4 from COMC, 1 from Beckett Marketplace
  • Inserts – 7 from my hobby box, 2 from a blaster, 1 from a retail blister, 15 from trades, 15 from Sportlots, 8 from COMC, 4 from eBay, 3 from a card show

Toughest card to track down:  Jackie Robinson Special: #143 – Robinson shines in the fall

2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson Special 143

NSCC promo:  #DC2 – Dee Gordon

2011 Heritage NSCC Promo Dee Gordon

Usually I would only pick 1 in this case, and usually the answer would be the last card I got.  In this case, though, I have to pick 2.  Both of these cards were ridiculously difficult.  They’re difficult sets, but these particular cards, I just couldn’t find.  Which is why it took my nearly 5 years to complete this master set!

Other product info

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Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson Special

10 03 2016

It’s finally over!  I finished the 2nd to last insert set for 2011 Topps Heritage in early 2014, and have been waiting on finalizing this one for the past 2 years.  This is my 5th and final insert set completed from 2011 Topps Heritage.  This one was, as expected, the toughest to finish.  I’m now done with my 2011 Topps Heritage “Master set”!

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Info about the set

Set description:  2011 Topps Heritage has a 10-card Babe Ruth subset that reprints cards #135-144 from 1962 Topps.  This is a variation of that subset, with Jackie Robinson’s story replacing those of the Babe.  It’s a very difficult pull; 1:50 packs. The set is done in exactly the same fashion as the Ruth subset from 1962 Topps.  It has wood-grain bordering like all 1962 Topps cards.  There’s a red book cover with “Jackie Robinson Highlight” and a yellow banner with the specific highlight.  The back has statistics or a write-up about Jackie’s life from his childhood to his days in Dodger Blue.

There are also relic versions of the cards numbered to 42.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:50 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers:  2 – Jackie Robinson on every card, and Branch Rickey is shown on card #138, which is a picture of Robinson signing his first contract with the Dodgers.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from a trade
  • 4 cards from eBay
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 4 cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set: #143 – Robinson shines in the fall

2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson Special 143

I never saw this card, except for sale for $50 on Beckett Marketplace.  That’s almost 3x what I’d be willing to pay.  I’ve had an eBay search called “Jackie Robinson Heritage 143” up forever, but with no results.  However, not soon after I created the “Elusive Eight” at the end of December, I got a hit on the card, and picked it up for a Buy it Now of $12.

Thoughts on the set:  I love this subset, though I wish the format was different.  The idea is great, however, here’s my one nitpick.  I wish they had made the base cards the Jackie Robinson subset.  It doesn’t make sense to basically reprint the same Ruth subset that’s in 1962 Topps and put it into Heritage.  They could have still inserted relic versions of the Robinson cards.  Bob Feller would have been an interesting player variation, as he was the other HOF inductee along with Robinson in 1962.

Also – it doesn’t really make sense that it’s called “Highlights”.  This has a card from his days at UCLA, one of him as a kid, and another for his military service.  I’d say “Highlights” implies his career highlights.  Not a big deal, though – just me being OCD 🙂

It’s also worth noting – there have been a few other Jackie Robinson tributes in recent years.  So while the idea may seem a bit overused, this was the first that I know of, and the fact that 1962 was his HOF induction really fits.

Finally, I really think the set is missing cards from his time with the Kansas City and with the Montreal AAA-affiliate.  I wish those would have been worked in instead of the 2 of last 3 cards.  Those last 3 don’t seem to fit as they aren’t specific highlights or seasons, they are just look backs at his career.

Best card (my opinion):  #136 – Robinson emerges as a collegiate star

2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson Special 135 UCLA

This card shows him playing basketball at UCLA.  Very cool.

Here’s a scan of the full set:

2011 Topps Heritage Jackie Robinson Special full set

Any other tidbits:  Topps came out with a Jackie Robinson Story set last year as a retail-only insert set.  I don’t have the full set yet, but I did check on which ones are essentially duplicates.  I’ve put the checklist of the set below, and noted which ones are essentially duplicated in the 2015 Topps set.

  • 135 – Robinson displays athletic talents at an early age
  • 136 – Robinson emerges as a collegiate star
    • same theme and picture as card #1 from 2015
  • 137 – Robinson serves 3 years in the army
    • same theme as card #2 from 2015
  • 138 – Robinson breaks the game’s color barrier
    • same theme as card #4 from 2015
  • 139 – Robinson takes ROY honors, then MVP
    • same theme (somewhat) as card #7 from 2015, as it honors the MVP
  • 140 – Robinson wraps up Hall-of-Fame career
  • 141 – Robinson’s legacy lives on
    • Same theme as card #10 from 2015
  • 142 – Robinson racks ’em up
  • 143 – Robinson shines in the fall
  • 144 – The Robinson resumé

Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage New Age Performers

10 04 2014

This is my 4th insert set completed from 2011 Topps Heritage.  I’ve knocked off both Flashbacks sets, Then & Now, and now New Age Performers.  I’ve still got 3 cards to finish off the Jackie Robinson special set – then my 2011 Heritage “Master set” will be complete.  Getting very close!

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Info about the set

Set description:  “15 players whose performances have surpassed the giants of the past”.  The front shows a current Major League star with a wood grain border.  The word New Age is at the Top, with Performers at the bottom below the player name and team in yellow background. The back is designed similarly to the 1962 Topps set as far as color scheme and font.  There is a cartoon on the right and statistics from 2010 to the left.  The write-up compares the “New Age” player to someone who was a star 50 years ago (i.e., Roy Halladay is compared to Don Drysdale).

Set composition:  15 cards, 1:15 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers:  None – as they’re all active players.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my hobby box
  • 1 card from a blaster
  • 1 card from a retail blister pack
  • 1 card from a card show
  • 5 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from Check Out My Cards
  • 3 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #NAP-8 – CC Sabathia

2011 Topps Heritage New Age Sabathia

I got the last card as part of a recent Sportlots purchase in March.

Thoughts on the set:  I love the 1962 design – and Topps did a good job making this a little different from the base set but still tied to the wood-grain borders of that set.

Best card (my opinion): #NAP-7 – Joey Votto

Best Reds card (my opinion): #NAP-JV – Joey Votto

2011 Topps Heritage New Age Votto

The only Reds card is Votto, but it’s a good one, and I think the best of the set.  I really like the picture – it goes well with the design.  Votto was coming off an MVP campaign, and he’s compared to another former Reds MVP – Frank Robinson.


2011 Heritage New Age Performers2011 Heritage New Age Performers_0001

Completed set – 2011 Topps Heritage

8 08 2012

I finished the 2011 Heritage set in the same purchase as the 2011 Gypsy Queen set.  Like 2011 GQ, this is another pretty big one to complete – in fact, with 75 SP’s, it’s definitely the harder set.  Unlike my 2011 Gypsy set, I haven’t yet finished my “master set” – so this only covers finishing the set itself (no inserts).

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Info about my set

How I put the set (non-SP / then SP) together:

  • 204 (196/8) cards from my hobby box
  • 153 (146/7) cards from trades
  • 39 (36/3) cards from a blaster
  • 38 (36/2) cards from various retail packs
  • 15 (11/4) cards from a card show
  • 38 SP cards from eBay lots
  • 4 SP cards from Sportlots
  • 9 SP cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #437 – Adrian Gonzalez (1 of 2 SP cards I got from a COMC purchase – the other was Stephen Drew)

General Set Info

Set composition:  500 cards (410 individual player cards, 1 duplicate player card*, 15 managers, 10 Babe Ruth story, 11 Combination cards, 10 Statistical Leaders, 6 World Series Highlights, 9 In Action, 20 Sporting News All-Stars, 8 Rookie Parade)

* – Mark Teixeira inexplicably has 2 cards – clearly a mistake by Topps

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Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage Then and Now

30 12 2011

This is the third of the “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage that I’ve completed.  After this, I’ve still got the “New Age Performers” insert set and the Jackie Robinson variations to finish up – but I don’t know if I’ll get those finished in the very near future.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “Statistical comparisons between today’s stars and legends from 1962″.  The front shows the 2010 Major League leader in a specified category next to a player who was in the top 10 in the same category in 1962.  The reverse shows the MLB top-10 in that statistic for both years.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:15 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers:  8 players – every retired player in this set is a Hall-of-Famer, however, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson are featured twice.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from the hobby box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 5 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #TN7 – Bob Gibson / Jered Weaver

2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Bob Gibson Jered Weaver

I got the last card as part of a Check Out My Cards purchase where I finished off a bunch of these insert sets.

Thoughts on the set:  Like the other sets from Heritage, this is one I think they’ve done each year for Heritage.  Unfortunately, this set gets limited by the older players Topps signed to be part of the Heritage brand.  Hence they’ve used Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson twice.  Topps didn’t sign Willie Mays for 2011 (though they have for 2012), so I understand him not being there.  Either way, this means they couldn’t always get the actual statistical leader from 1962 to compare to the 2011 leader.  I’m kind of wondering why they didn’t have Hank Aaron or Sandy Koufax – who are featured in autograph cards of the set.  Like many of these Heritage sets – I do like the idea – just asking for a little more in the execution department.

Best card (my opinion): #TN9 – Warren Spahn / Roy Halladay

2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Spahn Halladay

I just really like this card – Spahn isn’t always the first choice for these retro sets, so it’s good to see the greatest pitcher of his era next to the guy I think is the greatest pitcher right now.


2011 Topps Heritage Then Now Bautista Killebrew

Any other tidbits:  Here’s the Statistic associated with each card and where the 1962 player ranked in the majors in that stat if they didn’t lead (and who actually did lead if they weren’t first):

  • TN1 – HR:  J. Bautista / H. Killebrew (2nd – Willie Mays led the majors, Killebrew did lead the AL)
  • TN2 – RBI:  M. Cabrera / F. Robinson (3rd – Tommy Davis)
  • TN3 – AVG:  J. Hamilton / F. Robinson (2nd – Davis)
  • TN4 – SB:  J. Pierre / L. Aparicio (3rd – Maury Wills, Aparicio did lead the AL)
  • TN5 – BB:  P. Fielder / M. Mantle
  • TN6 – ERA: F. Hernandez / R. Roberts (3rd – Hank Aguirre)
  • TN7 – K:  J. Weaver / B. Gibson (3rd – Don Drysdale)
  • TN8 – W:  CC Sabathia / J. Marichal (not even in the top 10 – so not on the back of the card – Drysdale)
  • TN9 – IP:  R. Halladay / W. Spahn (7th)
  • TN10 – SHO:  R.Halladay / B. Gibson (tied with 5 others)

Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage Baseball Flashbacks

29 12 2011

This is another one of those “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage.  Like the set I covered yesterday – this one is a “flashbacks” insert set.  Unlike the News Flashbacks set, this one honors baseball news in 1962.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “10 memorable baseball highlights from 1962.”  The front shows a player with the 1962 wood-grain border and headlines an accomplishment he made in 1962.  The back describes the accomplishment in more detail.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:12 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers: 9.  Only Roger Maris isn’t in the Hall out of this group.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from the hobby box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 cards from either Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set: #BF6 – Whitey Ford

2011 Topps Heritage BB Flashbacks Whitey Ford

This was from my Sportlots purchase in early December.

Thoughts on the set:  Like the News Flashbacks, this is a cool set.  I guess there weren’t a ton of big time accomplishments in 1962.  They included Mickey Mantle’s 400th home run, but the other 9 are just good games that certain players had.  Here are some of the things I think they missed – and I’m excluding the 3 baseball moments they had in the News set (which I’d have put here):

  • The Houston’s Colt 45’s had their first season as a franchise
  • Bo Belinsky of the Angels and Sandy Koufax threw the first 2 no-hitters in Dodger Stadium
  • JFK was the first president to throw out the first pitch of an All-Star game (it was held in DC)
  • Hank and Tommie Aaron both hit home runs in the same inning.
  • Tom Cheney struck out 21 batters in an extra-inning game – still a record
  • And the biggest oversight – Maury Wills became the first player with 100 stolen bases in a season, taking the NL MVP award
  • Whitey Ford (who is in the set) broke Babe Ruth’s scoreless innings mark for a World Series

Best card (my opinion): #BF6 – Whitey Ford

2011 Topps Heritage BB Flashbacks Whitey Ford

I almost went with Mantle, because it’s the only card that represents a true milestone.  However, I have a soft spot in my baseball card heart for the 1962 Topps card of Whitey Ford.  You see, my dad and I went to a sports show a long time ago, and Whitey Ford was signing autographs.  I got him to sign a somewhat beat up version of his 1962 Topps card.  It’s just about my favorite card in my collection.  So to have him on a card that is based on the 1962 Topps design?  That’s my winner!


Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks

28 12 2011

This is one of the “standard” insert sets in 2011 Topps Heritage, though this one has (for the most part) nothing to do with baseball – it honors the 1962 year in the world.

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Info about the set

Set description:  “10 cards commemorating major news stories from 1962″.  The design is an offshoot of the 1962 Topps design.

Set composition: 10 cards, 1:12 odds (2011 Topps Heritage)

Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson did made it into this set – for his HOF induction.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from the hobby box
  • 1 card from the blaster box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from either Check Out My Cards or a card show

Card that completed my set: #NF4 – U.S. announces embargo against Cuba

2011 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks Cuba Embargo

This was from a 2nd Sportlots purchase.

Thoughts on the set: This is a cool set.  I think they’ve done this each year for Heritage – and I think it’s a great idea.  The point of Heritage is to honor a past Topps set – and having an insert set that also shows what happened in America (and the rest of the world) definitely makes sense.  There are a couple of things I’d change.  First, I’d number the cards in chronological order – no reason to make it random.  Also, they already have a baseball flashbacks set; move the 3 baseball-themed cards in that set.  There are certainly some other things that could have gone in this set.  Things Topps could have considered:

  • West Side Story wins Oscar for Best Picture
  • Johnny Carson takes over hosting The Tonight Show
  • The first transatlantic television transmission occurs via the Telstar satellite
  • Moon River by Henry Mancini was song of the Year

Regardless of changing a few cards – overall, I’d still give this set high marks.

Best card (my opinion): #NF2 – Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth

2011 Topps Heritage News Flashback Glenn Orbits Earth

The Navy Seals and the Mona Lisa cards both informed of things I didn’t know – so that is kind of neat.  Out of those 2, I think it’s kind of cool to have a card of the Mona Lisa  – so it has the better picture of the 2.  But, when it comes down to it, I really like the space shuttle photo of the card noting that John Glenn orbited the earth.  So it wins.


Any other tidbits:  As I did with the Goodwin Citizens set – I thought it would be fun to take a look at each of these cards and what they represent.

NF1 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins:  The cold war turned frigid in September 1962, as the Cuban and Soviet governments built bases for nuclear weaponry on the island nation.  Only after tense negotiations was the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved, with the Soviets agreeing to remove the arms as long as the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba.

NF2 – Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth:  On February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.  Piloting the Friendship 7, he circled the globe 3 times in 4 hours 55 minutes and 23 seconds.  Glenn was hailed as a hero upon his return, receiving acclaim from President Kennedy and a ticker-tape parade.

NF3 – Mona Lisa exhibited in U.S. for first time:  In December 1962, the Mona Lisa went on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington – the first time the iconic painting had left France in 50 years.  More than 500,000 people viewed the work at its first stop in the U.S.  One million more saw it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NF4 – U.S. announces embargo against Cuba: On February 7th, 1962 – in an effort to promote democratization and greater respect for human rights in Cuba – President Kennedy broadened existing trade restrictions against the island nation. The embargo still exists today, limiting American businesses from conducting transactions with Cuban interests.

NF5 – U.S. Navy Seals are activated: The first two U.S. Navy Sea, Air and Land teams were commissioned in California and Virginia in 1962.  Part of the Naval Special Warfare Command, the maritime special operations force now includes approximately 2,400 elite fighters who undergo some of the most rigorous training in the world.

NF6 – Dodger Stadium opens its doors:  A crowd of 52,564 gathered to see the first MLB game at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962.  Bob Purkey of the Reds pitched 7-1/3 strong innings while Vada Pinson went 4-for-4 ands scored three runs to lift Cincinnati to a 6-3 victory.  The Dodgers captured their first win at the $23 million ballpark the next day.

NF7 – Mariner 2 successfully encounters Venus:  On December 14, 1962, Mariner 2 became the first space probe to conduct a successful planetary encounter.  The craft, which could carry 40 pounds of scientific equipment, passed within 35,000 kilometers of Venus while measuring the temperature distribution on the surface and making atmospheric observations.

NF8 – New York Mets join the National League:  After the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved west in 1958, the Big Apple was left without an NL franchise.  The Mets filled the void in ’62, one year after accepting a certificate of membership from League president Warren Giles.  The club played its first game on April 11 – an 11-4 loss to St. Louis.

NF9 – Jamaica gains independence, ends British rule:  On August 6, 1962 – a date celebrated annually on the island – Jamaica left the Federation of the West Indies and declared its independence, ending more than 3 centuries of British rule.  The affairs of the nation became the responsibility of the newly elected prime minister and a locally elected cabinet.

NF10 – Robinson enshrined in Cooperstown:  On July 23, 1962, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.  A first ballot selection who helped the Dodgers with six National League pennants, he thanked Branch Rickey, his mother and the fans who supported him during a career spent battling racial injustice.

Blog Bat Around – 400th post – 2011 Set of the Year

20 12 2011

OK – so this was a post I was going working on for December 31st.  But a few days ago, a blog bat around was thrown out there by This Card is Cool asking the following question:

The 2011 baseball card collecting season is finally over — other than Bowman Sterling. What set or release stands out as your favorite from the year? What set or release brings your lunch back up in your throat?

So I instead decided to move it up to an earlier post.  And what better than to “celebrate” my 400th post!  Here’s what I wrote:

So as we close out the new year (see – I was gonna do this literally on December 31st), I wanted to look back at my collecting this year and dub a “LifetimeTopps favorite set” for 2011.  Well, you know what that is from the title (see, I originally put the set name in the title, but took it out to say “Blog Bat Around”) – but first I’ll note a couple of things.  Like any collector of baseball cards, I have a limited budget.  There are over 30 products out this year if you count everything Topps did, what Leaf put out, and Goodwin Champions / SP Legendary Cuts from Upper Deck.  If I go by order of release date, here’s what came out in 2o11:

Baseball “standard issue” sets (it’s a bit of a stretch to include Goodwin here – but it’s very similar to Ginter):

  • Topps (series 1) – February 2nd
  • Topps Opening Day – March 5th
  • Topps Heritage – March 14th
  • Topps Tier One – April 11th
  • Gypsy Queen – April 25th
  • Topps Attax – April 27th
  • Bowman – May 12th
  • Topps (series 2) – June 6th
  • Upper Deck Goodwin Champions – June 29th
  • Topps Allen & Ginter – July 10th
  • Bowman Platinum – July 26th
  • Topps Lineage – August 3rd
  • Topps Chrome – September 7th
  • Topps Marquee – September 12th
  • Topps Triple Threads – September 27th
  • Topps (Update) – October 5th
  • Topps Finest – October 11th
  • Bowman Chrome – October 17th
  • Topps Tier One – November 9th
  • Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects – November 17th
  • Bowman Sterling – December 21st
  • Donruss Elite Extra Edition – December 21st

Minor league card sets:

  • Topps Pro Debut – June 1st
  • Topps Heritage Minor League – September 21st
  • Leaf Metal Draft – October
  • 2011 Playoff Contenders – to come in January, 2012

“Autograph-only” products:

  • In The Game Heroes & Prospects (series 1) – February 24th
  • SP Legendary Cuts – June 2nd
  • In The Game Heroes & Prospects (series 2) – August 3rd
  • Leaf Valiant – November 5th

“odd-ball” sets:

  • Topps Team Sets – April
  • Topps Stickers – August 15th
  • Leaf Valiant – November 5th
  • Leaf Pete Rose Legacy – November 11th

Out of those, this year I collected base Topps (including Update), Topps Heritage, Gypsy Queen, Goodwin Champions, Allen & Ginter, Lineage and Heritage Minor League (which I have yet to feature on this blog – but I will show this off the someday, I promise – though I may wait until Bryce Harper is officially washed up next June).  If you consider that I was also collecting a bunch of earlier Topps base sets (i.e., the “mission” of this blog) – this is a fairly large amount of NEW cards for me in 2011.  I may need to scale back next year, though I think Topps will come out with all of those next year, except it sounds like Archives will replace Lineage.

For those sets I collected, I bought 2 hobby boxes of everything but Heritage, Heritage Minor League and Topps series 2 / Update.  I also think (if anyone wants to sift back through my blog and check – please let me know if my memory serves correctly!) I bought a blaster of every product except Heritage Minor League – which was hobby only.  If I could go back and re-distribute my money, I would purchase a 2nd Heritage box, only buy 1 box of Lineage, Topps series 1 and A&G. 

With two less boxes – I wouldn’t buy other boxes.  Not crappy Bowman (that at one point from 1989-1991 was kind of “retro” set) or all its offshoots.  Not shiny Chrome or Finest (though I do like the look of Finest this year).  Not Marquee, Triple Threads, Tier One or Tribute – which I’m pretty sure are all different series of the same thing.  And certainly not that new American Pie set.  I’d probably buy more singles of Lineage inserts – thus I’d have fewer base Lineage and more of the inserts that drive that product anyways!  Or maybe I’d just buy flowers for my wife instead.  Who knows.  Regardless, it’s funny that, after all’s said and done – my favorite set of the year was the set where I only bought 1 box – that would be 2011 Topps Heritage.

Before I get into why I like Heritage the best here – I’ll answer that second part: What set or release brings your lunch back into your throat?

Nothing baseball card-wise has made me hurl (at least from what I can remember).  But – I think whatever they’ve done to Bowman is starting to get there.  I kind of liked Bowman when it first came out in 89-91, and it really changed in 1992, but in a good way.  The design still had somewhat of a retro / homage to the old Bowman in ’92 – but they added the gold foil cards and it really started becoming a prospect-heavy set.  I think that was good – because it was prospect-heavy, not prospect-only like it seems to be now.  And, now there are 5 or 6 products associated with it – where I think that only two would be plenty.  Seriously, though, how do those products generate money – who buys them?!?!  Anyways, that’s the closest thing to making me hurl.  Paying 200 bucks for 4 3-card packs or whatever some of those Triple Threads / Tribute sets are – that could also do it – but I’ve just never done that.  At least some of those cards look cool – I just don’t think if it’s worth the money.

The next part is the “positive” part of the question. What set or release stands out as your favorite.

Before I get to Heritage – let me go “honorable mention”.

My honorable mention for “Set of the Year” would go to Gypsy Queen.  It’s a great product.  The base set pays tribute to a really old card set that hadn’t been re-done before, and the design is very cool.  The oil painting look is great.  It’s got good card selection – and the SP’s are actually much easier to collect than those for Heritage.  I like the insert cards – not counting the 2 retail only inserts (Boooo!) there’s 3 baseball inserts totalling 75 cards, and they are all about 1:4 hobby odds, so, again – fairly collectible!  Finally, the Framed Paper parallels are amazing.  That would probably be my insert set of the year – they are even cooler than the Sparkly Diamond Anniversary from the base Topps!  The downsides for me are – too many mini variations, some players have 2 cards in the set (i.e., Babe Ruth with Red Sox and Yankees) and they even do that in the Great Ones insert set.  Also on the negative, they had the well-documented snafu with getting shafted on one autograph per hobby box.  This was frustrating, because even though Topps quickly dealt with it – you knew you were going to get a crappy auto out of the send-back you’d receive.  But – overall, a very good product that I’m glad they are bringing back. 

Especially with this sweet looking Ken Griffey Jr. card.

So – on to my favorite!  My set of the year is Heritage.  Not because it’s perfect – it isn’t.  Not because Heritage will be my favorite every year – it won’t.  But to me, the 1962 design was awesome.  The first older card I ever owned was a Whitey Ford 1962 Topps, and I got it auto’d by the Chairman at a card show in the late 80’s (probably for less than 10 bucks).  It had corner wear, but damn, it was money.

Heritage brings back that kind of cool.  But they made the cards super thick, so, as Night Owl often points out – it kind of seems like they are actually made of real (mahogany?) dark wood.  Heritage does a lot of things I appreciate that other “Retro” sets don’t. 

The set mirrors the old set it pays tribute to.  There are rookie parade cards at the end of the set.  There are special cards like “Manager’s Dream” where they’ll put give Braun (ouch) and Pujols on the same card number as the “Dream” card Mantle and Mays were on in the 1962 set.  The all-star cards look the same, the league leaders look the same, there’s a World Series highlights set that’s the same.  (Note: they should have put Jackie Robinson in the regular set instead of doing exact reprints of the Babe Ruth subset)  A promising young Braves outfielder (Jason Heyward – #320) has the same card number as an iconic Braves outfielder (Hank Aaron).  A promising young Cubs shortstop (Starlin Castro – #25) has the same card number as an iconic North Side short stop (Ernie Banks).  If you get a chance – read my favorite post I’ve done on this blog – it covers this stuff in more detail.  Also, I know many people don’t like variations – but they do their variations in a way that mirrors the 1962 errors.  There’s an A-Rod card with a variation that mirrors the error of 1962 Yankees third-baseman Clete Boyer.  The green tints ARE ON THE SAME CARD NUMBERS.   Did they need to shove retail red and blue tints down our throat?  No – but at least they are really being creative and paying attention to the history.  I can’t emphasize this point enough.  Collecting this set has been really fun – I’ve looked into these things from the 1962 set.  This is the biggest difference between Gypsy Queen – where I love the look of the cards, but really, they just took the design and put current players and Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Frank Robinson on it.  There’s no 1887 subset paying tribute to Sam Thompson, Tip O’Neill, Charlie Comiskey (as a player), Cap Anson, Dan Brouthers, John Clarkson or Buck Ewing.  So this is the biggest area where Heritage one-ups the other sets in my mind.

 As mentioned, I love the design.  I’m still mad they aren’t giving 2012 a similar design like they did in 1987 (though they are doing the league leaders – cool, but not good enough, Topps!)

The product is pretty collectible.  The 75 SP’s is a bit too much – Gypsy Queen is better here, much easier to finish a set.  But, I’d rather have 500 cards than 350 – I just wish there were only 25 or 50 SP’s.  And not just the set – you can find the inserts, too.  The odds are around 2 per box for each of the 4 insert sets, and they’re all pretty interesting.  There are Baseball Flashbacks and News Flashbacks, covering what happened in baseball and the world.  There’s New Age Performers and Then and Now, which compares guys from today to 1962.

They have cool box-toppers, that, again – pay homage to the 1962 set and show that Topps clearly thought through what they were doing.  Baseball Bucks and promo panels – both things that Topps did in 1962.  There are baseball stamps inserted into packs – which Topps did in 1962.

There are autographs of players from 1962, on reprints of their 1962 cards, like Hank Aaron…

like Sandy Koufax…

and even this guy (which of these 3 do you think I own)…

And even the relic cards, which you are much more likely to pull, are very tastefully done (I do not have this card either).

So – that’s my set of the year, and, in answer to the question – those are the packs and cards that brought me the most joy to sift through in 2011!

2011 Heritage Relics and Autographs

5 05 2011

The 2011 version of Heritage is full of relics and autos of different variety.  Below is a brief description of each of the possible pulls.  This will look very similar to my “Reds” post from this set – because Frank Robinson was highly utilized in the set, and I’m including pictures in both posts.  Also – note that I included the Jackie Robinson Special relic cards in the “variations” post I did earlier.

62 Mint Coins – 20 cards (1:263 – Hobby only)

These cards have a coin embedded into them – note the coin is covered by a plastic seal on both sides.  The coins include:

  • Penny – 4 players born in 1962
  • Nickel – 3 players whose rookie year was 1962
  • Dime – 4 events showcased in the 1962 News Flashbacks insert set
  • Quarter – 7 players with significant achievements in 1962
  • Half-Dollar – 2 Hall of Fame inductees in 1962 (J. Robinson, B. Feller)

I bought this Eric Davis which I showed a scan of earlier.  The big one here is the Jackie Robinson half-dollar, but so is the Bob Feller.  This is especially special given Feller’s recent passing.

Clubhouse Collection – 4 levels

Clubhouse Collection – 50 cards (1:29)

This is the most common relic – just over one per hobby box.  These cards have either a jersey swatch or a bat square of a current player.  I pulled Josh Johnson from my box, but am shopping around for the Votto and Rolen cards.

Clubhouse Collection Dual – 5 cards (1:7,600; #/62)

From here, the pulls are far more difficult.  This set pairs a current player with a star from 1962, with a jersey swatch from both players.   Of course, they put 2010 NL MVP right on there with 1961 NL MVP.  Hopefully Votto never wins the award in both leagues like his counterpart Robinson did.  And, hopefully he has his number retired by the Reds just like Robinson did.

Clubhouse Collection Autograph – 10 cards (1:9,500; #/25)

These cards are even rarer.  5 are cards of current players, 5 are cards are of a 1962 player (where the relic is obviously harder to come by).  The cards are numbered to 25, and with an on-card autograph to boot.  I really like the auto on the yellow.  Mr. Robinson had a card in this set, too.

Clubhouse Collection Dual Autograph – 5 cards (1:14,833; #/10 – hobby only)

The same 5 “1962 players” from the previous set also autographed cards for this dual autograph set, which is numbered to 10 and has a relic and a patch of both the “old-timer” and a prospect / star from today’s game.  They put Frank Robinson with Mike Stanton here, which is kind of a weird combination.  Some more intriguing cards – Banks / Castro was on the  sell-sheet, then there’s Gibson / Strasburg, Kaline / A. Jackson and my personal favorite – Brooks Robinson / David Wright.

Flashback – 4 levels

Flashback Stadium Relic – 10 cards (1:1,175)

These ten single player cards all come with relics.  These aren’t jerseys or bats that the players – they are “stadium relics”.  I assume that means they are cut-ups of the seats from the stadium.  That’s pretty cool considering these tend to be old stadiums.  The card below is Bill Mazeroski and what I presume is a relic from Forbes Field.  This is pretty cool – the guy who hit the biggest home run in that park’s history.

Flashback Dual Stadium Relic – 5 cards (1:45,000; #/10)

We’re back to some more Frank Robinson cards.  These 5 cards feature 2 players each.  The other guy with Robinson here is “the other” Frank Thomas – and another seat relic.  The Frank Thomas relic is from the Polo Grounds – where the Mets played in their inaugural season.  Also notable in this are cards of Mickey Mantle / Roger Maris (Yankee Stadium), Stan Musial / Bob Gibson (Sportsman’s Park – a.k.a. Busch Stadium), Brooks Robinson / Robin Roberts (Memorial Stadium) and Harmon Killebrew / Luis Aparicio (Metropolitan Stadium & Old Comiskey Park).

Flashback Autograph – 5 cards (1:19,000; #/25)

Flashback Autograph Stadium Relic – 5 cards (1:19,000; #/25)

Real One Autographs – 3 levels

Real One Autograph – 37 cards (1:303 – blue ink)

There are three “monster cards” from these autograph sets.  The Sandy Koufax card below is easily the headliner of the set.  Topps got Koufax and Hank Aaron to sign on as spokesmen for the 2011 year.  Koufax has been a notoriously difficult signer, and Aaron is, well – he’s Hank Aaron.  Finally, Stan “the Man” Musial also has a card in this set.  Unfortunately, the Aaron below is just a fake internet picture – you would pull a redemption, not the actual card.

Real One Autograph Special Edition – 37 cards (1:700; #/62)

There are a couple of Reds in the Real One set.  They are both “Hatless” cards reprinted from the 1962 set.  I got the one below from ebay.

Real One Dual Autograph – 10 cards (1:2,989; #/25 – hobby only)

Another card of the odd Robinson / Stanton combination.  The Brooks Robinson / Evan Longoria might be the neatest combo card here.

Other Autographs

60th Anniversary Autograph – 5 cards (1:7,500; #/60)

This is a continuity set from other Topps releases throughout the year.  You could pull Robinson, Kaline, Gibson, or Banks from Heritage.

1962 Cut signatures – 10 cards (1:238,000; #/1)

Finally – the rarest pull out there.  There are 10 cut signatures from the set #’d to 1/1.  I’ve found a few of these on eBay thus far.  The Roberts sold for $225, the Burdette sold for $300, while the Wilhelm is listed for $250 right now.

2011 Heritage insert sets

4 05 2011

Aside from parallels, variations, stamps, box toppers and Relics, Topps included 4 “traditional” insert sets into 2011 Heritage.  These sets are included below with the write-up from the Topps sell sheet.  Odds below are for hobby packs – you’d get at least 6 (but probably 7) of these per hobby box.

New Age Performers (15 cards, 1:15)

“Players whose performances have surpassed the giants of the past”.  These cards show a current player on the front, while the reverse shows his 2010 statistics and compares his season to the 1962 campaign of a former superstar.

Then and Now (10 cards, 1:15)

“Statistical comparisons between today’s stars and legends from 1962”.  The front shows the 2010 Major League in a specified category next to a player who was in the top 10 in the same category in 1962.  The reverse shows the MLB top-10 in that statistic for both years.

Baseball Flashbacks (10 cards, 1:12)

“10 memorable baseball highlights from 1962”.  The front shows a player from 1962 and headlines an accomplishment the player made in 1962.  The back describes the accomplishment in more detail.

News Flashbacks (10 cards, 1:12)

“10 cards commemorating major news stories from 1962”.  Three of these news stories are actually baseball news items – Jackie Robinson enshrined in Cooperstown, the Mets joining the NL, and the opening of Dodger Stadium.  Two of the stories involve U.S. foreign policy with Cuba – the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U.S. embargo on Cuban goods.  Two more stories were from space exploration – John Glenn’s orbit of Earth, and Mariner 2’s planetary contact with Venus.  The remaining three stories are the Mona Lisa being displayed in the U.S., Jamaica’s Independence and activation of the Navy SEAL program.