2013 Topps Heritage is both great and annoying.
My wife had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday and I didn’t hear the mailman come and knock on the door. When she arrived home, she told me there was a large package sticking out of the mailbox. My 2013 Topps Heritage set from Brent and Becca had arrived! I took the box back to my office and opened it immediately. I removed the boxes that contained the cards from their Priority Mail container and set them on the side of my desk. It was difficult to get through the rest of my work for the day with those cards staring in my face. The end of my work day eventually arrived through and I promptly went through the cards, one by one, pulling out all of the Braves cards. I examined each lovingly and scanned them to share with you. Later that night, I pulled out a binder and a new pack of card sheets and placed each and every card into place.
I like 2013 Topps Heritage quite a bit, but the set also annoys me, because I’m me. The set is based on the design of the 1964 Topps set which I’ve always loved as a nice and clean design. They’ve also done a few nifty things with card numbers. For example, Hank Aaron was on card 300 in the 1964 set and Jason Heyward is on card 300 in the current set. Warren Spahn and Kris Medlen share card number 400 in the sets. Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax share the same number and so on. It’s these cool little details that makes Heritage great. To Topps credit, they really nailed the 64 design in Heritage this year. Unlike some, I even like the white card stock they used over the thicker gray stock that has been typically used in Heritage sets. This years relics look especially nice, as you can see with my Jason Heyward relic in the picture up top there. They are of a piece with the 1964 design: simple and clean.
The annoyances are plentiful as well. There was a time when Heritage sets attempted to match the original set in more than just design and the occasional number match. There is absolutely no reason that this years Heritage set couldn’t have been 587 cards like the original. They could have short printed cards 523 through 587 to match the final series released in 1964. There is simply no reason for Topps not to have done this. The gimmicks annoy me as well. There were no errors of significance in the original set, so I see no reason there should be fake errors cards in this set. They are action gimmicks and color gimmicks, for no rational reason. I accept that the chrome parallels are here to stay, but why on earth should there be minis in Heritage when there were no minis in 1964? Most offensive are the stupid Washington Senators variations. Four Nationals players are featured in airbrushed Senators uniforms. The Nationals have absolutely no relationship to the Senators. None. The problem is that Topps had promised Colt 45/Astros variations before they were sure they could actually deliver them. (The story is that MLB wouldn’t allow them to use the Colt 45 logo. I suspect this is cover for the fact that the Astros are devoid of name players and even the rarest variations of unknown players won’t reach ridiculous valuations.)
That said, I still like this set. The annoyances prevent me from buying a lot of unopened material, but I’m happy to buy the portions of the set I like, so I did! I recommend this set, but with some reluctance. (If you are looking for a set from the 60s to build, I also highly recommend the 1964 Topps set. The high number series aren’t as rare as many other years. The only Hall of Fame rookie in the set is Braves great Phil Niekro. Once you have the Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Sandy Koufax. it’s all downhill. A great, and collectable set.)
The 1964 set is largely based on head shots and these are typical of those cards. The look on Medlen’s face is a bit of a puzzler for me. He looks bored with the photographer. I suppose that happens on photo day. I have no idea where Beachy is looking, and maybe that’s the point. Do you want every shot to be a guy looking straight into the camera, like Huddy? That would get pretty monotonous over the course of the set.
I really don’t think Maholm and Minor are wearing eye liner here, but it sure looks like they are. Maybe it’s a new look for Braves southpaws. Try to picture Warren Spahn or Tom Glavine with eye liner.
If you have to pick two relievers from the Braves bullpen, it’s fairly obvious that one of them should be Craig Kimbrel. Incidentally, this is a great Kimbrel card. The killer look in his eyes is just great. Clearly, with only two cards allocated to the Braves bullpen, the second reliever should have been Eric O’Flaherty. Considering his past few seasons, it’s remarkable that Topps hasn’t been treating him with more respect. Of course, I’m always happy to have another Jonny Venters card. Still, he was off last year and EOF was on his game.
The “Baseball Flashback” insert set is one of the staples of Heritage. It focuses on baseball highlights from the year on which the Heritage set is based. For Braves fans, this means we get a great Hank Aaron card celebrating hit number 2000. Sweet. The “Then and Now” insert set is also a long time staple of Heritage. I’m not exactly sure why they’ve matched up the great Eddie Mathews with Adam Dunn. One is clearly greater than the other and I don’t see that changing. The “New Age Performers” insert set has been around since the first Heritage set and it’s one of those stupid non-sensical insert sets that Topps seemingly specializes in. Yeah, it’s a stupid subset, but it gives me another Kris Medlen card, so all’s good.
The Long Gone
Here we have what will most-likely be the final Topps Heritage card featuring Chipper Jones. I would have loved to see Chipper get an actual picture, but how could we risk obscuring the fact that this card includes BRYCE HARPER - HOBBY HERO TO ALL! Clearly, Chipper was an afterthought on this card. (The original Hitting Area card from 1964 Topps featured Dick Sisler and Vada Pinson and you got to see both of their faces. You blew it Topps.) These are probably the final Topps cards that will feature Martin Prado and Michael Bourn in a Braves uniform. I hope both do great in their new locations.
Here we have another situation where Topps has to choose two players from the Braves bench. If the goal were to simply to choose the two best players, the cards would be Juan Francisco and David Ross. Personally, I would have loved one last Braves card of David Ross. It’s not to be. Topps is clearly still behind Rev though and that’s fine. Like Brandon Hicks before him, it looks like Pastornicky will get many, many cards.
Cap-less pictures were used throughout the 1964 set, so it’s no surprise that there are a few of the Braves pictured that way. The BJ Upton card, his first showing him with the Braves, is a bit of a strange picture. (Using a topless picture meant that there was very little photoshopping Topps needed to do to get him in a Braves uniform. That said, they didn’t really get it right, but I guess it’s close enough for modern Topps.) The Andrelton Simmons card is great. He looks a little cocky. I’ve never seen someone stare at the label on their bat as seriously as Jason Heyward here.
Is it just me, or does the Freddie Freeman card do a great job of capturing his personality? He’s the goofiest player on the team so I love that Topps found a picture of his goofy smile. The Uggla card is just plain strange though. I can only assume that this was a random candid shot and not a posed picture. As for the card I fear will be Brian McCann’s last Heritage card in a Braves uniform, I can only assume that he was told by the photographer, like Medlen, above, to look bored. Good job Brian!