by Mike Fruitman
Last week 2013 Topps Heritage MLB hit hobby shelves and it is clear that what is old is once again cool. This year’s offering grows another year newer and takes on the 1964 Topps design with customers quickly snapping up singles, packs and boxes.
In less than a week, my store has gone through more than half of my initial offering to a mix of single box buyers and to those who are taking on the daunting challenge of the 425 card base set and the somewhat dreaded 75 card base set short print list.
Master set collectors have their job cut out for them with (get this) six additional variations. Yes, there are error short prints, action image variants, full-color blue bordered variants, full-color red variants, color variants and Washington Senators variants to go after if you are so inclined. Why there was not Justin Timberlake on SNL variants is beyond me.
Higher-end collectors will have fun chasing the 1/1 cut signature cards featuring stars from 1964. Some of the possible monsters include Harmon Killebrew, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges, Walt Alston and many other solid stars. If you were hoping to pull the Gene Mauch 1/1 yourself, sadly it looks like someone beat you to it.
Numismatists with an inkling of sports card appreciation might even take a gander at the 1964 Mint Set which features coins from 1964 paired up with all the heroes from that year. Look for possible nickel cards /15, dimes /10, quarters /5 and JFK silver half dollar cards with only one copy available. If you thought the above autographed card checklist was impressive, try adding names like Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Lou Brock and Juan Marichal to current stars Derek Jeter, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Prince Fielder and more. Adding Hammerin’ Hank to this half dollar apparently added $699.45 to the value of that coin.
Current hobby rage, bat knobs make an appearance with 1/1 booklet versions possible of Banks, Evan Longoria, Eric Hosmer, Lance Berkman, Justin Mourneau and please feel free to email me should you see the Todd Helton bat knob card posted online. With fewer and fewer tricks remaining up their sleeves, I just hope that manufacturers do not beat these unique relics into relative submission.
From the “Here’s To Good Planning” file, Topps included the recently passed Stan Musial into a number of their autographed sets. Look for signatures of “The Man” in their Real One Autograph Set with red parallels /64, Real One Dual Autographs with him paired with David Freese and Flashbacks Autographed Relics. Musial is also paired with two other players on 3 different cards in the Real One Triple Autographs Set. Look for these gems /5 of him paired with Hank Aaron/Carl Yastrzemski (yes I spelled that without any help), Dick Groat/Bob Gibson and Billy Williams/Al Kaline.
If you have a cool 2 grand lying around you can own the coolest combination (unless someone clicks buy it now before you do).
Not all the fun is to be found in the 24 packs included with each box. Topps has thankfully brought back the popular box toppers that customers have learned to associate with Heritage. Possible toppers include 1964 oversized box loaders (some feature either relics or autographs), three-player strips and 1964 original buyback cards (side note: I provided 300+ of these original toppers and if yours is damaged, it was NOT from me).
Topps Heritage always runs out of the gate strongly and with all the possible chase cards to keep collectors challenged, my last few cases of the 2013 edition should not have much chance of surviving until Opening Day.
Mike Fruitman owns Mike's Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo. You can read his column here every week, focusing on what products are selling best in hobby shops. See his eBay listings here. Enjoy new arrivals and big hits from Mike’s on Twitter. Mike’s is always looking for more friends on Facebook and you can email him at [email protected]