Anybody important missing from the 1960 Topps set? …

Heritage2009-4.jpg   Returning to the topic from yesterday about the 2009 Topps Heritage issue, which is slated to hit the streets in late February, I have always liked the way Topps focuses on seemingly minute details that can actually wind up adding a lot of nostalgic vitality to what they are trying to do.

   As has been the case in other years, the issue nicely replicates both the box and the package design from 1960, though the company has to make minor concessions to things like the various wording legalities from licensing agencies.Heritage2009-5.jpg Modern packaging doesn’t technically replicate the ancient “wax” packaging system, but the Heritage packs retain the wax feel.

   The various inserts included in 2009 remain essentially identical to last year, obviously with new names added to relic and autograph rosters. Mickey Mantle appears in the inserts, though not in the base set as was incorrectly listed in the initial advertising information. There is even a 1-of-1 Mantle Cut Signature card, which presumably will be a pricey item.

   But that said, Topps Brand Manager Clay Luraschi explained to me that there are still a number of collectors who build “Master” sets of Heritage that have varying levels of thoroughness with inserts, relics, autographs, etc. Now that is impressive to me, who has enough to do to complete the regular-issue Heritage offering.

   Besides, I tend to like all the idiosyncratic stuff, like the team cards matching the look (and card numbers) of their original counterparts, a neat touch that has been done for several years with a number of star cards.

   In 1960, I wasn’t that thrilled with the coache’s cards, what with the tiny floating heads of guys who looked soooo old, you know, roughly how I look right about now. But when I was 10 years old they were old geezers, and the cards were roughly, even rudely, treated by us. By the time I was an adult, I liked the cards a lot better, and am looking forward to seeing the 2009 versions.

   The Coache’s cards are from teams essentially linking to the same 16 that were in Major League Baseball in 1960, which I guess means my Mets lieutenants won’t be included in the deal. “It’s a little quirk that we’ve created as we try to stay as true as possible to the original issue,” Luraschi said. He swears he didn’t hear any grumbling from collectors about their team cards not being included in last years version, so I assume those same fans wont be disturbed when their favorite coaches don’t show up this time.

   Luraschi also pointed out that the early Heritage release date means it gives Topps a chance to picture some of big-name free agents or players who have been traded in their new duds, like a C.C. Sabathia as a Yankee, or a K-Rod as a Met. That early issue date also means that Topps doesn’t get some of the hot rookies into the regular issue, making a nice intro to the Update release that they added in 2008 and will almost certainly revisit in 2009.

   “It’s a no-brainer,” is the way Luraschi responded to a query about whether there would be another Update, noting that the response to the addition has been very positive.

   He had one other nuance that he wanted to mention, one he insisted was one of his favorites. “The Real Ones” Autograph inserts, which along with some current players featured signatures from players who last appeared on a Topps card in 1960.

   That eclectic lineup includes intriguing names like Nelson Chittum, Buddy Gilbert, Jack Harshman, Bob Rush, Bill Harris, Stan Lopata and Bobby Thomson.

   Bobby Thomson, Hmmmm. Wonderful ballplayer. Outfielder who played his final game in 1960 after a sterling career. Wasn’t there another famous outfielder who played his final game in 1960? Can’t think of his name right off, but if I remember correctly he didn’t have a card in the 1960 Topps set, and I do remember that as kids we were really bothered by that. Ted-something, I think it was.

   “We might have a surprise,” was all I could shake out of Luraschi.

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