2006 Heritage pays tribute to the historic origina

Virtually from the moment it hit the streets replicating the classic 1952 Topps Baseball issue six years ago, the Heritage franchise has connected with the hobby in a big way, and there’s no reason to suspect that the sixth edition will do anything other than continue the tradition.

Topps clearly took great pains to try to match the look and feel of the original 1957 set, even to the point of attempting to match the unique, seemingly opaque look of the photography from that historic year and nicely reincarnating many of the campy, posed-action shots.

The set includes 485 cards in the base set, featuring Veterans, Rookies, Managers and Team cards, plus Heritage’s traditional New Age Performers, Then and Now and Flashbacks inserts, with Mickey Mantle, now exclusive with Topps after a decade’s absence, liberally sprinkled in those last two inserts.

As in previous years, Parallels include three 110-card sets: Chrome (sequentially numbered to 1,957), Chrome Refractor, (557) and Black Bordered Chrome Refractor (57). There are Real One autographed cards, featuring blue and red ink versions, includes stars such as Ernie Banks, Duke Snider, Frank Robinson, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson and Stan Musial, plus Flashback, Flashback Relics and Clubhouse Collection autographed cards.

There are even a couple of 1-of-1 cut signatures imbedded in a 1957 reprint: Mantle and Williams.

Once again, eight-card packs retail for $3, and Topps further trumpets the marketing effort by noting that gum is included in every pack.

In previous years, the Topps designers have had a lot of fun creating cards and often variations that pay tribute to many of the originals, and have similarly tickled collectors by numbering many of the cards in a fashion that offers a respectful nod to 1957.

In the advertising slicks that Topps distributes prior to the release of the set, information about shortprints and variations is not included, with company officials preferring to let that dribble out in e-mails after the fact and through informal online musings from collectors.

Perhaps the most famous oddity from the original set, Card No. 20 with Hank Aaron batting lefthanded, might serve as inspiration for comparable frivolity, but Topps wouldn’t deliberately flip a negative, would they?

And one guy is already having fun with the set. Jerry Snyder, an infielder for the Senators who appeared in the original 1957 set, is featured in the Real One autographed insert series in Heritage. Beneath his autograph, he inscribed “This is not me,” which is true enough, since catcher Ed Fitz Gerald, a teammate of Snyder’s, is actually pictured on the card.

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