Wednesday, June 7, 2023

where it is with heritage

i have had this 2003 topps heritage kazuhisa ishii short print black background variation card
in a draft post for over a year. i picked it up in early 2022 and figured i would share it at some point. with 2023 heritage out on the streets, now seems to be a good time. in fact, i've decided to take a deep dive in to the status of my topps heritage collection at the same time. here we go!

i often wonder if whomever decided to kick off the heritage brand regrets not starting with 1951 topps back in 2001. there would have been actually symmetry to the 50th anniversary buybacks had that been the case. at any rate, 2001 used 1952 topps and away we went. i've had the dodger team set completed for over 20 years, but just recently decided to add this kevin brown card
it's one of the pre-production sample cards
complete with missing stats. there were three of these cards, with the other players featured being andres galarraga and roger clemens. 2001 was a long time ago.

i recently completed my 2001 heritage non-high number short print set. some of the last cards i picked up inlcuded a barry bonds low numbered short print
and the last card i needed to complete the set from 1-310 was eddie perez' card
also a low number short print. these two cards weren't actually short printed, but the print run was split between red and black backs so they get treated as such by most sellers.

one of the final cards i picked up threw me for a loop - this brad fulmer card
clearly doesn't belong given it is a game action shot, but it's in the set anyway. this was before topps introduced the action image variation gimmickry.

i do have some of the high number cards, including this cal ripken jr
that slots in at number 316. i found it in a bargain box at a card show last year, thankfully. i will keep an eye out for more high numbers, but they aren't the sort of thing that show up too often at shows or in shops these days.

2002 moved on to the 1953 design, and this alex cora short print
was the final card i needed to complete my team set. two years in, and the dodgers only had one true short print card!

in 2003 with the 1954 design, topps upped the ante for dodger collectors and included three short prints plus the ishii variation up top. to date, i have two of the three short prints in my collection. those would be shawn green
whose card back mentions his four homer game in milwaukee that i attended
and brian jordan
i am missing the adrian beltre card and hope to pick it up someday soon.

2004 went horizontal with the 1955 design, and topps went further with the short prints. there are five dodger short prints in all, and they aren't all at the high number end of the set. shawn green's card
is a short print at number 210 in the set. the other dodger short prints are ishii (not pictured), brian jordan,
adrian beltre,
and edwin jackson
because you gotta short print those rookies.

like many collectors, i was really looking forward to 2005 and the 1956 design, and, like many collectors, i was underwhelmed. it was about this time that i recognized that heritage was never going to live up to the hype or the original cards, but i still collected. with five short prints again, i am still shy of completing my dodger team set. i have the hee seop choi
jose valentin
and hideo nomo
short prints, but not the ishii or cesar izturis ones.

in 2006, topps really stumbled in my opinion with the 1957 design. i remember buying a couple of packs and being so turned off by the washed out coloring. it took me a long time to get back to the dodger cards from this set, but i do now have the full team, including short prints of yhency brazoban
eric gagne
and brad penny
topps had still not initiated the action image variation, so the yhency and gagne cards are just regular ol' short prints.

the 1958 design wouldn't accommodate action images, but some of those sorts of shenanigans began in 2007 when topps pulled some things like a text color variation on this rafael furcal short print.
furcal's regular card, with "los angeles dodgers" in white text is a short print as well.  so is eric stults' card
and brad penny's all-star card
derek lowe has a short print, too, which i have had for a while now. with the addition of the furcal variation, my team set was completed last summer.

my 2008 dodger team set is complete as well (including the inaugural high numbers release), with the team card short print
being the last card i needed. the only other short print cards wer another brad penny all-star card and mark loretta's high numbers card, both of which i may well have pulled from packs back in 2008 as i've had them for a long time.

(i am going to gloss over a few heritage sets that i haven't had to pick up any cards from here, so no images to share).

i took a shot at completing the full 2009 heritage set back when it came out, and so my dodger team set (with one short print in the initial set and one more in high numbers) was complete early on. i abandoned that full set quest but still hold the 2009 issue as one of my favorites.

2010 heritage arrived with only one dodger short print - a matt kemp dice game back - that i don't really consider to be part of the team set. i still need that card, however.

2011 heritage really chapped my hide. there are three dodger short prints in the traditional sense (high numbers) including a kenley jansen rookie parade card, and i have all of those. however, i only have two of the ten "jackie robinson story" short print "b" card variations. the original 1962 set did not include a jackie robinson story subset so i don't know why topps did this. i really don't seek out the other eight cards i need but maybe someday i'll add a saved search for them.

2012 heritage was one that i was looking forward to, as the 1963 design is a semi-favorite of mine. this set brought three dodger short prints (dee gordon, jerry hairston, and aaron miles) that were relatively easy to track down, plus two tim federowicz rookie cards for some reason. there were also big gimmicks like this matt kemp image swap variaiton
which i picked up a few months ago. this team set is complete, short prints and this variation - not the target border parallels though (still need a clayton kershaw target parallel). i also am missing all of the heritage high number dodgers as topps brought the set back as an online only release. i don't plan to ever track those cards down.

i was pleasantly surprised with how much i enjoyed the 2013 heritage set. 1964 topps was never a favorite of mine, but i liked the heritage version it turned out. four of the dodgers were short printed, and this hanley ramirez card
was the last of those short prints i needed to complete the "non-variation" team set. i am missing the clayton kershaw and matt kemp color swap variations, as well as the matt kemp action image variation.

prior to the release of 2014 topps heritage, i was certain i was going to attempt to complete the set. shortly after it was released, however, i decided against it. still, i sought out the dodgers and nearly completed the team set. unfortunately, i am missing the hanley ramirez short print, along with the yasiel puig short print. i did track down adrian gonzalez' short print
last fall. i also added the matt kemp action image variation
to go along with that of hyun-jin ryu, although i am missing the same variations of clayton kershaw, ramirez, and puig. puig also has some sort of logo variation that i am missing. and, just like 2012, i have no plans to track down the high numbers online only set which included four dodgers.

there were no dodger variations in 2015 heritage, but there were a few short prints. the last two i needed to complete my team set were zack greinke's
and adrian gonzalez'. 

shown next to the gonzalez is yasiel puig's action item variation from 2016 heritage. that team set is complete as well (including a traditionally released high numbers set), with the only variation missing is clayton kershaw's color swap nonsense.

from 2017 through 2022 my team sets are complete with base, high numbers, and short prints. i only have a few variations from these years, but that's ok. i still consider the team sets complete. oddly enough, i was missing a 2019 topps heritage high number drew jackson card
until i entered my collection in tcdb last year and discovered the oversight. it was quickly corrected.

now 2023 heritage is out and i joined a group break for the dodgers so i expect to eventually have a complete set. i did pick up some cards at target last weekend and found a few dodgers, including julio urias
who is given the same dumb fake background we have seen for the last few years. it's really frustrating and diminishes the fun of seeing these designs that i knew from trading with kids in my neighborhood back in the late 1970's.

i was happy to see the all-star cards, and even happier to find clayton kershaw's
among the packs i opened. the back tells the story of the 2022 all-star game at dodger stadium
which is not unique to this card. i think all of the all-star cards have this back. the 1974 set had puzzle backs of the game's mvp bobby bonds except for the catcher all-star card which featured the game summary. no giancarlo stanton puzzle this year!

there are some other 2023 heritage cards (and thoughts) that i have, but i'll save those for another post. to summarize this one, i still have a couple of pesky short prints from the last 23 years to track down, but i'm close to having my dodger team sets completed!

bonus stuff - i have mentioned previously that my favorite thing about heritage has been the "then & now" insert sets. i've made it a point to collect all of the dodger appearances in these sets, and am looking forward (hopefully) to seeing guys like andy messersmith and davey lopes show up on these cards in coming years. anyway, i was missing a couple from 2002 that i tracked down last year. these feature carl furillo
and duke snider
who led the national league in batting average and runs scored, respectively. this is the good that heritage does - connect the present with the past, and not just with card design.


  1. Those early-2000s Heritage SPs are demonic in terms of how scarce they seem to be nowadays. I'm pretty much resigned to never owning most of them at this point.

  2. When it came to the 2005 set... I cheated and bought a complete set with all of the variations and SP's. Was planning to do that with the 2014 and 2021 sets too... but prices have gotten out of hand.

  3. I had never seen a Heritage card with a black background. That was a good look. They should've made more like that.