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Topps Heritage Sets Remain Very Popular

by Paul Angilly
January 11, 2005

Since its inception in 2001, the annual Topps Heritage baseball set has been one of the most popular releases of the year among set collectors -- providing attractive base sets based upon past Topps designs from half a century ago, short-printed cards that make the set challenging but not impossible to complete, autographs of some of the best players from both the ’50s and the modern era and an assortment of other memorabilia cards.

Heritage also includes a stick of fresh stick of bubble gum in each pack, to boot.

That first set in 2001 replicated Topps’ 1952 design, right down to the number of cards in the set, a short-printed "high number" series and assorted variations. Topps has continued to recreate its old designs in order since then, with the 2005 Topps Heritage set modeled after its classic 1956 cards.

For those unfamiliar with that 1956 design, the cards are horizontally-oriented on front and back, with a large action photo on the front behind a head-and-shoulders picture that fills about one half of the card. The action photo in the background is cropped so that the featured player is visible on the other half of the card, so each card has two visible photos of the featured player. Two colored bands (coded by team) appear in one corner, with the player’s name in one and his position and team name in the other. There is also a facsimile autograph on the front.

Backs of the cards feature the player’s batting (or pitching) and fielding records from the past year and career at the bottom and basic biographical information (height, weight, birthplace) at the top. Across the middle of the card back is a series of cartoons depicting significant moments in that player’s career.

The popular design -- Topps’ first set after buying out the Bowman line the previous year -- was previously brought back as the basis for the 1988 Topps Big set. Arguably the first retro-themed set ever made, it also marked the first time a single company created two completely different major-issue baseball card sets in the same year.

The 2005 Topps Heritage set, due out on Feb. 14, includes 475 cards ($3 suggested retail price per 8-card pack). The popular Chrome (numbered to 1,956) and Refractor (numbered to 556) parallels continue, while an all-new Black Chrome Refractor (numbered to 56) makes its debut. "New Age Performers," "Then and Now" and "Flashbacks" inserts return as well.

Real One Autographs will include greats such as Hank Aaron, Duke Snider, Yogi Berra, Ernie Banks and players who were pictured on a Topps card for the last time in 1956. Each player has signed 200 cards in blue ink and an additional 56 cards in red ink. Topps has also seeded seven unique 1-of-1 cut signature cards featuring the likes of Dwight Eisenhower and other figures from 1956.

For relic card fans, Heritage is stacked once again. Not only will Clubhouse Collection Relics and Flashbacks Relics feature the brightest stars in the game, they will also include an autographed version numbered to 25. Clubhouse Collection will also include three dual relic cards.

Bowman Heritage short-prints announced: The 2004 Bowman Heritage baseball set, which features the 1955 Bowman design, includes 51 short printed cards in the base set. These short printed cards are seeded 1:3 packs.

Topps recently announced the list of short-printed cards, which is as follows (card number followed by player’s name): 2 Mike Piazza, 9 Alex Rodriguez, 13 Joe Mauer, 21 Eric Gagne, 25 Magglio Ordonez, 40 Victor Martinez, 46 Hank Blalock, 48 Pedro Martinez, 50 Ken Griffey Jr., 55 Rafael Palmeiro, 61 Scott Rolen, 77 Aubrey Huff, 80 Alfonso Soriano, 87 Miguel Cabrera, 89 Todd Helton, 95 Richie Sexson, 100 Roger Clemens, 104 Nick Johnson, 109 David Wells, 127 Miguel Tejada, 130 Curt Schilling, 132 Sammy Sosa, 141 Nomar Garciaparra, 183 Alex Gonzalez, 189 Zack Greinke, 204 Jon Zeringue, 206 Kurt Suzuki, 208 Jason Vargas, 210 Ray Liotta, 213 Gaby Hernandez, 216 Wade Davis, 220 Josh Johnson, 224 Matt Macri, 228 Matt Tuiasosopo, 234 Jordan Parraz, 240 J.C. Holt, 243 Daryl Jones, 246 Lucas Harrell, 249 Donnie Smith, 259 Mitch Einertson, 268 Carlos Quentin, 270 Jeff Salazar, 271 Akinori Otsuka, 282 Kazuo Matsui, 291 Jose Capellan, 304 Brad Halsey, 318 Nyjer Morgan, 327 Kazuhito Tadano, 334 Tim Stauffer, 342 Felix Hernandez and 348 Barry Bonds.

The Black & White parallels of these cards are not short printed.

Additionally, there are three cards with variations that mimic errors that were made in the original 1955 set: 40 Victor Martinez (variation features Pedro Martinez’s stats), 48 Pedro Martinez (variation features Victor Martinez’s stats) and 183 Alex Gonzalez, Padres (variation features Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins).

Fan Favorites coming to the gridiron: Topps has announced it is bringing its popular Fan Favorites line to football. The 85-card base set will feature retired football greats on classic Topps designs, and all 85 true fan favorites are signing autographs for the new product (2 autographs per box). The base set will feature both Chrome (numbered to 499) and Chrome Refractor (numbered to 99) parallels.

The autographs will also come in parallel Team Combo Nicknames. All 85 players will sign an additional 10 cards each with their Combo Nickname, such as Joe Greene signing "The Steel Curtain" under his signature.

Other unique autograph inserts include Co-Signers, featuring classic winning combos like Joe Namath/Don Maynard, Roger Staubach/Tony Dorsett and Dan Fouts/Kellen Winslow. There will be six cards in all limited to just 50 copies each. Plus, nine players such as Y.A. Title, Ken Stabler and Joe Namath will sign 20 of their original Topps cards.

Each box will also include a sequentially-numbered oversized Team Combo card, with 10 different cards available.

Topps Fan Favorites, which ships the week of Feb. 28, will carry a $5 SRP for each 6-card pack.

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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