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Grumbling while we wait for 2009 Heritage to get here ...

In the early 1990s when the new-card end of our hobby was a much larger part of the whole pie than it is today, the card companies would issue so many card sets so quickly that it was hard for me to get too worked up about any individual ones. But around the turn of the century, old geezers like me caught a break when Topps launched the Heritage Series.

For nine years we’ve at least had the fun of seeing one card set every year that looked just like the ones we collected when just about everything was being left to Beaver.

The 2009 edition of Heritage, based on the oddly shaped but nostalgically attractive 1960 Topps set, is reportedly out and about in the world, but it hasn’t made its way to the cornfields of Iola, Wis., just yet. Which, when you think of it, is almost quaint. Here I am, a whisper away from being eligible for Social Security, and it’s spring and I am wondering about the arrival of baseball cards.

One of the reasons that product is so much fun is the company’s commitment to matching every idiosyncratic foible from the original issue, and it’s a lot of fun either trying to spot the connections or when you stumble across them without trying.

What prompts this was a press announcement via e-mail listing the shortprints from the issue, which, ironically, is a bone of contention for some collectors, but I understand is probably unavoidable given the structure that the card companies have developed for marketing new cards.

While I ain’t thrilled with the additional cost that all those shortprinted numbers place on set collectors, the procedure has been successful from Topps’ perspective. The latest list showing the high numbers shows the Coaches cards, which according to Heritage orthodoxy, are supposed to match the 16 Coaches cards included in the original 1960 set.

But the checklist shows the Tampa Bay Rays instead of the Kansas City Athletics, which I guess is merely another case of Topps working in mysterious ways, which is yet another tradition dating back to the beginning in 1951.

It could be argued that the Oakland Athletics would have been the suitable replacement, but I won’t quibble on that one. I am, however, a bit more mystified by the inclusion of the New York Mets further down the checklist, penciled in instead of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were in San Fran in 1960, and the Mets were still two years away from their National League debut. Huh?

I put in a call to my favorite PR guy, Clay Luraschi of Topps, but the immediate nature of the blogging phenomenon means this goes to cyberpress (I made up that word) and the explanation will follow.

Besides, I am sure I’ll blog some more about Heritage once that 20-mule train makes its way to central Wisconsin to drop off the samples.


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