If you need any help looking for cards to chase for your favorite players, then Five to Collect is here to help. These aren’t necessarily the five best cards for a player. The list won’t always include a rookie card. The list is simply five cards that are interesting and show off both the best of the player and the best of baseball cards.
When I returned to collecting in 2005, there were two sets that hooked me back into the hobby. The first was 2005 Topps Total and the second was 2005 Bowman Heritage. In a rash of irrational spending, I would seek out excuses to go to Target, and with every visit, I’d buy at least one box of each product. The Bowman Heritage product in 2005 was based on the design of the iconic 1951 Bowman product. 1951 was a big year for Bowman and was the last year that they would dominate card collecting as Topps would become the hobby leader in 1952.
The 2005 Bowman Heritage set did a masterful job of mimicking the classic look of cards from the early 1950s. Typically, the cards were black and white photos that were then hand colored with black outlining used throughout the photographs as well. For years, I had no idea how exactly these cards were created. They looked a little too photo-realistic to be paintings, but they were clearly not photographs. I have no idea of Topps used this technique directly, or if they just used some fancy Photoshop filter to mimic the effect, but it works and it works well.
As a rule, I’m not a fan of parallel cards in a baseball card set. I’m a bit of an old school set builder type. Every parallel card I get in a pack is one less card I get towards the set I’m looking to build. The parallels in this set though fascinated me from the start. Each pack contained two parallel cards. The first parallel card was a mini card. The size of the modern baseball card has been more or less fixed since 1957 when Topps slightly reduced the size of the cards in their base set. Although the base cards in 2005 Bowman Heritage mimic the design of 1951 Bowman, they are sized to the 1957 baseball card standard. To celebrate the connection to the 1951 Bowman design, the first parallel set was a mini set whose cards were sized the same as the rather small 1951 Bowman cards. A great many collectors preferred the minis to the regular cards, and it’s hard to blame them.
My favorite parallel is represented by the card you see pictured here. The mahogany parallel cards are sized the same as the base set, but are printed on extra thick cardboard stock. Additionally, the cardboard used is a dark mahogany color. The dark color of the stock somewhat obscures the photo, but I think the look works in spades. (No, I wouldn’t care to have the photo obscured in a new card, but it’s a look that works in a retro set.)
This is my favorite Tim Hudson card in my collection. I love the thick, sturdy feel of the card when I hold it in my hands. I love the grainy look and feel of the photo. More than anything, I love that you can just make out Hudson’s gigantic right eyebrow. This card is a home run.
The other four cards are after the fold.
When Tim Hudson was traded to the Braves, I didn’t know if it was possible for me to be a fan of his. Yes, I knew his career had gotten off to a great start. Yes, I knew that the Braves had gotten the best pitcher on that A’s staff. (I’ve never been a Zito or Mulder fan.) As someone who grew up in Columbus, Georgia, I wanted to love Hudson immediately, but one thing stood in my way. He went to Auburn. I respect the Tigers, but as an Alabama and Georgia fan, I do not like them.
Hudson would, of course, win me over. Watch any interview with the guy and it’s easy to see why he remains one of the Braves most popular players. Not only is he immensely likable, but he battles on the field, whether he has his best stuff or not. In terms of his makeup as a competitor, he reminds me of Tom Glavine. (Although, I doubt Glavine could have pulled off a prank like the one Huddy pulled on Eddie Perez.)
We all hope that Hudson makes a speedy recovery and gets back to the rotation as soon as possible this season. His presence in the rotation isn’t only about his own performance. Like Charlie Liebrandt on the 1991 Braves, Tim Hudson provides veteran leadership to an otherwise young rotation. They learn how to battle just watching the guy pitch.
When I reviewed this year’s 2012 Topps set, I made a meager attempt to wax poetic about this perfect baseball card. I am not, however, a poet and my writing skills do not allow me to adequately describe my love for this card. The moment when Tim Hudson hit his first career home run has been so perfectly captured that it’s hard not to hear Joe Simpson’s ebullient "Are you kidding me?" every time I look at the card. There are certainly more important Topps cards of Braves players. There are many more expensive ones. I can’t think of one better.
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces Stroke of Genius Autograph #SG-TI
A few months ago, I recommended a Brian McCann card from this set. Like that card, this Tim Hudson example from the same set is a nearly perfect auto card. The textured front soaks up the ink and displays the signature flawlessly. If I had any complaint, I think the Stroke of Genius logo on the card is a little too dominant, especially when compared to the McCann "Captured on Canvas" autograph card. It’s still a good photo of Huddy, and he is by no means rendered irrelevant on the card by the other design elements. Any complaints about a card this nice are minor and nit-picking. The card doesn’t show up on eBay all that often anymore. If you see it and you want it, I’d snap it up immediately.
2005 Upper Deck SP Authentic Jersey
I’m of the opinion that as a rule, most jersey relic cards looked better in the period from the late 1990s through around 2003. Now, there was no way I would ever recommend a Hudson jersey card with a piece of an Oakland A’s uniform embedded in it, even though there are many gorgeous Huddy cards that do just that. I’ll instead recommend the pictured SP Authentic jersey card. Yes, the card would look better if the swatch was blue or red. Still, it’s a great shot of Hudson in motion. I like that the weird background pattern is blue so that it goes with the Braves uniform. SP is one of those Upper Deck sets that even though it might not always wow, it would also rarely disappoint. I’ve always preferred Topps to Upper Deck, but I miss Upper Deck’s presence in the hobby.
2009 Topps Heritage #374
There were a lot of contenders for my final favorite Hudson card, and I went with his 2009 Topps Heritage card. I would say it was for the classic 1960 Topps design used in this Heritage set, but that would be a lie. I would say it was the cold eyed stare he’s giving the camera, as if he was trying to intimidate a batter with his eyes alone, but that would also be a lie. I picked this card because of the eyebrows. If you ever have a choice between different Huddy cards, go with the card that shows off the eyebrows best.