I can recall the moment the 1962 Topps cards arrived in our neighborhood as if it were yesterday, assuming that yesterday was 48 years ago and the ensuing near half-century has whisked by in the blink of an eye.
But 1962 was the last year that I chased cards virtually all year long by buying packs, and even then I probably dropped out of the race in the later series, certainly for the final one. It was just bad timing for me, what with puberty and the related distractions merging with the prevailing sentiment at the time that you weren’t supposed to be still fiddling with baseball cards much beyond fifth or sixth grade.
The result was that years later when I went back and filled in many of my earlier sets, I never did so with 1962-63, even though I thought both years were great designs. Now I wish I had, but that’s fairly routine for old geezers like myself who had opportunities to buy classic cards at the time they were issued.
So the arrival of the 2011 Topps Heritage product (based on 1962 Topps) in mid-March should be pretty cool, since the Topps guys have been getting better and better every year at replicating all the charm and nuance from these vintage sets ... on both sides of the pasteboard.
Unfortunately, the sell sheet from Topps doesn’t provide the kind of information I’m interested in, since the focus of those pieces is to entice dealers to purchase their product, and so tends to emphasize the autographs, relics, etc.
I’ve got nothing against that stuff, and I’d be tickled to open a pack and find that replica of Stan Musial’s nifty 1962 Topps card with a handsome autograph included, but I’m more interested in the intricate maneuvers that Topps makes every year to link the Heritage issue to the original.
The new-card business has changed so much in the 17 years that I’ve been working full time at Sports Collectors Digest that much of what propels it is completely foreign to me. Autographs I understand, but the fabric stuff and wood chips, etc., kind of skate past me.
Fortunately, Topps relies on a lot of fun nuance with the Heritage issue aside from all of that, like linking modern players on their Heritage checklist to some of the players in the original, or creating odd variations here and there based on the particular vintage issue being mimicked.
The sales sheet Topps released mostly tells about the various bells and whistles being featured, but a preliminary checklist (sample, only 85 numbers) offers some hints of the fun stuff. Like card No. 50 being Albert Pujols, a nice nod to the 1962 Topps counterpart, Stan Musial. Or the No. 1 Josh Hamilton (Roger Maris in the vintage set). The checklist says Mantle/Mays Combo card for No. 18, which I would hope would be a reprint of the cool Manager’s Dream card from 1972, but who knows?
For years I’ve tried to cajole Topps Director of Product Development Clay Luraschi into offering some hints about the various Heritage surprises every year, but he’s as tight lipped as can be. I even tried to get some hint about whether Topps would try to offer some proper nod to the “Green Tint” variations that are a significant part of the lore surrounding the original 1962 issue.
Officially, all I got was the normal party line about there typically being unannounced surprises. My take on it is that there will be some Heritage Green Tints, and if I’m wrong, I’ll have to (figuratively) fall on my sword.