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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

The Sports Bookie

A sports blog by Bob D'Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia.

Topps releases info, images for 2015 Heritage baseball


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My baseball card nostalgia is in full flower.

Earlier this year, Topps released its 2014 Heritage baseball product, which paid tribute to the 1965 Topps set — my all-time favorite baseball card set.

On Monday, Topps published information and images for its 2015 Heritage set, which will be released on March 4. Next year’s product will be patterned after the 1966 Topps design — another one of my favorite vintage sets. The design is simple and effective, and all the players looked good, whether it was card No. 1 (Willie Mays), Sandy Koufax or even Don Mossi (still one of my favorite vintage cards — do a Google search on Mossi’s 1966 card and you will understand).

For 2015 Heritage, the formula will remain consistent — 425 base cards, with an additional 75 short prints. An autograph or relic card will be included in every 24-pack hobby box.

Other staples of Heritage sets — Baseball Flashbacks, News Flashbacks, New Age Performers and Then and Now — will return. So will hobby box exclusive cards of action image variations; also returning is a 100-card mini set. Chrome cards will dot packs, with gold parallels numbered to five and black ones numbered to 66.

Autographs will be fun to collect, with Real One autos in blue ink, along with red-ink versions limited to 66 copies. Some collectors will pull Real One dual autos (numbered to 25) and triples (numbered to five). Clubhouse Collection autograph relics will include a signature along with a uniform swatch and will be limited to 25 copies. Dual relic autos return, numbered to 66, and cut signatures will be 1/1 cards.

The 2015 version of Heritage will add triple and quad autograph cards to the mix. Triples will be limited to 25, with quads numbered to 10.

I do like the autographs that are penned on the 1966 card designs, like the Lou Brock photo that accompanies this blog. Some of them, like the Ernie Banks relic, are not bad. There was plenty of space for Banks to sign, and since he’s 83 years old, that’s a good thing. However, the one autograph card I saw of former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (also included among the photos in this blog) is disappointing. Rivera’s signature was bold enough, and very neat. But the left-hand side of the card is dotted with tiny, neon-colored baseballs that actually look more like tennis balls.

Very distracting.

One welcome feature will be Rub-offs, which are patterned after the 120 waxy iron-on panels that appeared in 1966. One of my friends ironed his Mickey Mantle Rub-off onto his T-shirt; he’s probably regretting that move now.

The 2015 Heritage set also will feature cards from 1966 television classics like “Batman,” “Get Smart” and “Lost in Space.” Would you believe … the original “Get Smart” set had 66 cards and packs went for a nickel apiece; “Batman” cards in 1966 went for 10 cents a pack. “Lost In Space” was a 55-card set.

Postage stamp and coin relics will make another appearance, although I really wonder why a 1966 quarter embedded into a card would be coveted. It was two years after the U.S. Mint discontinued coins that contained 90 percent silver (although coins minted in 1965 and ’66 still bore the “1964” date), and the “real” 1966 versions were copper-nickel clad coinage. Their worth? A quarter.

But in 1966, a quarter would have gotten you five packs of Topps cards before tax. That was a nice deal.

Even though a pack for 2015 Topps Heritage will cost much more than that, it is still a nice trip down memory lane. And with current and past players inserted throughout the set, it will be fun to collect.

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