Wednesday, December 6, 2023

the eras tour

i continued my annual ritual of purchasing at least one box of topps archives. it's a pattern that began in 2001, and my excitement at seeing so many vintage reprints then and in 2002, and then continued with the new photos on old designs that began in 2003 with all-time fan favorites. i picked it back up when archives returned in 2012, but it's a bit less of a thrill with heritage now in its 23rd year which makes the designs not that fresh. 

on that point, i do not understand why topps used 1965 again in 2023 archives - just a year after using it in a flagship insert set - but that is something that i choose to accept when it comes to topps and this release. i will say that topps did pay attention to logos fairly well (or at least tried to) from what i saw, giving us a sampling of franchise histories through cardboard. for example, the twins.

i didn't pull any 2003 design twin cards, but harmon killebrew is featured with the original "tc" logo. that is good by me, although the first time a twins logo showed up on a topps card, it was 1965 and topps went with the "minnie and paul" logo. speaking of the 1965 design, kirby puckett is featured using that templated. kirby is probably the most recognizable twin from the 1987 and 1991 world series champions, and topps used that era's cap logo on his 1965 design card
the underlined m logo matches the one on kirby's helmet, so totally appropriate. also in the 1965 design, we have david ortiz
topps used the same logo within the pennant, but ortiz is sporting the original tc logo on his helmet. i am ok with this because in 2002, ortiz's last season as a twin, the club reintroduced that logo as part of their home uniforms. the underlined m was still the primary logo, or at least an equal logo.

logos aren't a part of the 1956 card design, but max kepler's card
shows a transitional period in twins branding history. his portrait photo shows him sporting the original tc logo that the club fully adopted for home and away unis in 2010. the version kepler is wearing is accented with gold - a tweak the team instituted in 2020. the action photo of kepler shows him in one of the team's alternate uniforms that was first worn in 2023.

finally, simeon woods-richardson's card shows the current team logos
the tc logo has been rounded and is visible on his sleeve, although the new m logo he is sporting on his hat is used as part of the away unis. the tc logo remains on the home hats. unless they are wearing the twin ciies uniforms, and then i think they have a third hat with two flags - one for minneapolis and one for st. paul.

more franchise era stuff is noted on the boxtopper that was included in my collector's box. i pulled the marlins' 1969 team postcard
and immediately noted that it only refers to them as the "marlins". i believe this is because they have been both the florida marlins and the miami marlins. there is a mix of florida and miami players on the card, with a couple of interesting choices and omissions. here's the back
interesting that the back mentions christian yelich and giancarlo stanton, but they are absent from the front of the card. obviously topps didn't know max meyer would miss all of 2023 (or did they?) but i think either of those players would have been a better choice. and i am a big max meyer proponent! still, the most obvious omission is mr. marlin himself, jeff conine. i am not complaining, because topps once thought it was a good idea to include the team's owner jeffrey loria in one of their archives/fan favorites releases. yuck.

i'll have a bit more to say about these cards later in the post. until then, here is a look at some of the other cards from my box

derek jeter
i think the jeter card is probably the best of the 1956 cards i found. it works for me.

i pulled bo bichette
and bo jackson
back to back in one of the packs. back to back bo!

now for a couple of 2003 designs, featuring cardinals paul goldschmidt
and adam wainwright
the goldy shows him either right after contact or way out ahead of a pitch, and it also features the bruce sutter memorial patch. i was worried the patch was worn for too short of a time and wouldn't show up on cardboard (hence my reason for purchasing a topps now card for the memorial collection) but there it is. and it's not the only card it shows up on, either.

as for wainwright, i will always give props to the cardinals and card manufacturers for choosing cards that show the murals on the busch stadium wall. here we can see rogers hornsby and ozzie smith. ozzie is forever celebrating his 1985 nlcs home run on that display. sigh.

you may have noticed that those cards feature the bird on bat logo. topps used the interlocking stl cap logo for the aforementioned smith's card
signifying that different era of cardinal baseball.

similarly, they used different logos for giants
willie mays and buster posey. it's a hat logo for the say hey kid, and the team's current primary logo for buster.

for roger clemens and alek manoah
topps used era appropriate primary logos

and they did the same for ted williams and wade boggs and rafael devers
although the splendid splinter has a hat logo, while boggs and devers get the team's primary logos from their respective eras.

sticking with the red sox, one of the inserts i pulled was boggs' 1957 topps hit stars
those inserts are pretty clean, unlike the 1979 topps comics inserts. i found mark mcgwire's card from that set in one of the packs.
it looks like moving the design to a standard sized card cramped its style somewhat, but seeing william howard taft's large frame is almost worth it.

next up is the 1989 topps double header card i found. it features mike trout
and shohei ohtani
this two player format is not consistent with the original design of these cards - back in 1989 (and 1990 for that matter) these cards featured one player with their rookie card on one side and their (then) current topps card on the other side.

i found a 1997 number crunchers card of jeff mcneil
which is actually a "season's best" insert. the back says both "season's best" and "number crunchers" but the numbering (just like in 1997) is "sb-#". the more you know.

while i recall finding the number crunchers/season's best inserts in '97, i have no recollection of baby boomer inserts in 1998. i found one of the 2023 archives versions in my box - that of riley greene
i guess i was unfamiliar with these because no dodger was featured back in '98. this year miguel vargas is part of the set, so maybe i will finally get a dodger in this design.

i found one parallel card in the box, and it was a blue foil parallel of tyler o'neill
o'neill is also sporting the bruce sutter memorial patch, but what i like most about this card is that it features the first pitch clock i have seen on cardboard. it's also numbered to 25
sticking with the cardinals theme, my guaranteed autograph is of hall of famer scott rolen
on the 1972 design. i could have done much, much worse. i think i will stick with the card i already have for rolen in my hall of famer collection, however.

as for dodgers, i didn't do so well with this box. i found the will smith
and mookie betts cards
along with michael grove's card
the grove card is weird because topps copied and pasted the state farm text to the right of grove's portrait for some reason. actually, i think they needed to extend the frame of the action photo (here's the original) and so the text behind him looks like it says state state farm.

with that poor showing of dodger cards, i wound up picking up the team set. here are the other 1956 design dodgers:
nice to know i will have an amed rosario dodger card, and it's a double play turn to boot!

here are the 1965 design los angeles dodgers
and the lone brooklyn dodger
with an appropriately different logo.

the two logos can be more readily compared on the 2003 cards of james outman and roy campanella
and i am left to wonder why topps didn't use the brooklyn era logo that was on the 1952 cards for jackie robinson and campy. it would be closer to what they used on the original 1965 cards and it would be heckuva lot more visible on the 2003 card here.

i mentioned that the box i purchased was the "collector's box" and that was because it gave me the only shot i had to pull a steve garvey card. he is only featured on the 1969 team postcards, but as you saw earlier, my box had the marlins.  so, i went and purchased the dodger version:
here's the back:
i am not going to nitpick the player selection as the team has been blessed with some really great players in their history. instead, i'll mention that the team gets the same treatment as the marlins since they have played in both brooklyn and los angeles, and both eras are represented. that makes sense to me, and franchises in similar situations - the giants, braves and even the angels - get the same treatment. for once, it makes sense to just see "angels" on a card since their california, anaheim, and (second) los angeles eras are all represented. other teams like the brewers and a's are recognized as the "milwaukee brewers" and "oakland athletics" since there are no seattle pilots or philadelphia (or even kansas city) a's featured on those cards. this all makes sense to me!  however, topps called the nationals the "washington nationals" on their card even though they feature a few expos on that card. i suppose with a complete relocation and name change there isn't a point to omitting the current franchise location. i can't see any better way of handling that team's card.

for the rays, formerly the devil rays, the card just says "tampa bay", and for the guardians, it just says "cleveland". it is noteworthy that the players featured on that card that did not play under the guardians name, the hats are blacked out of any logos. topps avoided the logo issue on the base cards, too, by only featuring current franchise players in the set. just something i found interesting in a set that recognizes the game's history through cardboard.

finally, one of the other exclusives to these collector's box is a lunch box tin. jackie robinson is on the checklist, but i got roberto clemente.
which was fine by me.

all in all, i am happy with my purchase(s) and with archives this year. it's fun to me to see the different eras of teams represented on different topps designs. still, let's put 1965 out to pasture for a while, shall we?


  1. The winking Campanella is definitely a highlight.

  2. Eh. Freeman and Green over Koufax and Hershiser seems a bit misguided.

    Clemente has to be one of the better pulls for the lunch box.

    I'm surprised Phillies legend Rolen is already in the Hall.

    As for the cards, Trout / Ohtani wins it.

    I'm still waiting for Smith to play for the Marlins, so I can say the thing.

  3. Agree that the '65 design is overused; but I'm very pleased that '56 design is included this year; the first time Archives has featured it. Fills out my Archives/50's binder nicely as now every design in that decade has been used (except '51).

  4. Dang it. I convinced myself to save my money and just buy a completed set on eBay. But after seeing that lunch box again... I might just need to order one of these Collector Hobby boxes.

  5. Seeing a modern card showing Ortiz as a Twin is different. It's probably not popular with Sawx fans though.