I mention frequently how much I love the Heritage concept. Having collected all the original sets (and at one point being complete back till 1953) I have good memories of what it took to complete all of those. Nowadays, it would cost a great deal more money but in many ways the process is easier as thanks to many on-line tools such as eBay, COMC and countless other methods the access to cards is greater than ever. In fact, one could almost claim there is a double renaissance currently in baseball cards as the young collectors of the 1990's are returning after their 20 year absence while other collectors like having the greater accessibility to all cards.
A popular theme that comes up each year in the 2014 Heritage Baseball box break discussion is how much longer can this product continue? My opinion, for all that it is worth, is there is still at least another 25 years or so in Heritage before the concept of distinctive designs goes away.
To me, the 1965 Topps set was the most hidden tough set in the 1960's. We know the 1961 high numbers are always in demand and certain 1966 and 1967 cards are considered incredibly scarce today. However, in some ways 1965 has them all beat.
One of the reasons is the middle series in 1965 are pretty difficult. At a show a while back, I remember having a conversation with a collector who was building his 1965 set. My comment was “I bet most of the cards you are missing are in the 300's”. His response was to laugh and then look at his album and confirm that was true.
One thing Topps has always been great with in the Heritage product is the "game within the game" to mimic the original set. Mickey Mantle is #350 in the set. In one of the many nods to the original, Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano is number 350 in the 2014 Topps Heritage set (he’s no Mick, but you get the idea).
I picked a random handful of cards from this break and while many of the cards I could not match, these are some other easy match examples. Card #330 C. C. Sabathia matched Whitey Ford, both veteran lefties and don't be surprised if Sabathia's career numbers end up close to Ford. Card #291 Bob Melvin A's manager mimics Mel McGaha the Kansas City A's manager at that time. Card #240 Jarred Cosart is in the same vein as early Astros ace Bob Bruce. And finally card #70, Paul Konerko matches fellow veteran first baseman Bill "Moose" Skowron. To me, picking up things like that with Heritage is very special.
Heritage consists of 24 packs with 9 cards per pack. Each box has either one autograph or one relic card. When I went to ask my local card store about Heritage he mentioned while the product was popular as always, his collectors were disappointed in the autograph to relic ratio. I mentioned that if we could get more of the cheaper retired players to sign cards we should be able to get a nice increase in that ratio. If I'm Topps, I think I should be able to get those players to sign for less per money than today's stars and thus be even more aggressive in procuring those players autographs.
My local card store did report decent sales at his standard $74.25 per box while leading on-line retailers are at the $65-75 range. So how did we do in our 2014 Heritage Baseball box break?
Short Prints: Nolan Arenado, Chris Davis, Billy Butler, Jacoby Ellsbury, Paul Goldschmidt, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tim Lincecum, Anthony Rendon
Chrome (#to 999). The print run on these are reduced significantly from previous years. David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval
Chrome Refractors (#d to 599): Matt Carpenter
Flashback: Alexsei Leonov (Cosmonaut). Willie Mays, Joe Namath, Jim Palmer
New Age Performers: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Mike Trout
Then and Now: Sandy Koufax/Yu Darvish; Willie McCovey/Joey Votto
Relic Card: Buster Posey
My local card store did get a couple of really good hits from the one box he opened and while we did not match those cards what we received is perfectly in line with Heritage past and present. A few minor tweaks such as re-creating scarce card numbers in a specific year or making this a 600 card set to match the original are some of my suggestions for making Heritage more fun. But still, at 30 cents or so per card, it’s still a nice product that will likely continue.
Click here to see Heritage cases, boxes, singles and sets on eBay.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]