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Maybe Henry gets an asterisk HR record

I have not blogged for a couple of weeks, but at least for once I have a fairly good excuse: I’ve been on vacation. Actually took four days off (plus a weekend) for a golf tour in Alabama, doing a swing between Birmingham, Montgomery and Auburn along what is called the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.


I would never violate community standards of decency by subjecting readers to details of my golf game, but it was nice to get out of Central Wisconsin for nearly a week in the closing weeks of the ugliest winter I can remember in my 15 years here at Krause Publications (now F+W Publications).

I managed to immerse myself in the vacation spirit enough to get behind on my traditionally voracious consumption of daily newspapers, but I did see a copy of The Birmingham News on Saturday, March 8, and quickly noticed two things I really liked: pictures of Henry Aaron and Billy Bob Thornton on the front page, and a second picture of the all-time nonpharmaceutically enhanced home run record holder on the inside of the front page.

Thornton was pictured atop the fold as the star attraction of the 11th Annual George Lindsey Film Festival at the University of North Alabama. I don’t know about you, but I just sort of liked the idea of a film festival named in honor of a guy who played Goober Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Henry’s front-page mention (and tiny photo) was to plug a contest coming in the next day’s paper that would have readers vote for Alabama’s Greatest Sports Legend. The Hammer was there on the next page, this time with wife Billye, attending the opening of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City.

Now that’s my idea of a good newspaper.

* * * * *

On the collecting front, I have started to piece together a set of the 2008 Topps Heritage Baseball issue, an undertaking I began primarily because of my fondness for the original 1959 Topps set.

I’ve had a lot of fun over the years piecing together the Heritage sets, though I haven’t done every year. Topps is getting better at this Heritage deal every year, and that’s really saying something, because they nailed it almost from the beginning in 2001 with an issue that paid homage to 1952 Topps.

The refinements over the years have mostly been nuances like matching colors and players with their counterparts in the original issues, something that really worked well with the bright color backgrounds of 1959 Topps.

I know it’s a generational thing, but I can’t shake the idea that it would be more fun if the sets could be completed by buying packs (and boxes) rather than purchasing missing high numbers and short prints from dealers. The generational part is simply that the process of collecting has changed so much over the years, and the Heritage issues are genuine godsends for dealers in that they are huge draws for set collectors, a group that’s had a rough time of it in our hobby over the last 15-plus years or so.

Still, you gotta admit I’m trying to adjust to new realities. Putting anywhere from $350-$400 or more into a new set takes some getting used to. For me, it’s jarring enough to make me end a sentence with a preposition.