Friday, September 25, 2015
2015 Topps Heritage High Numbers: A retail surprise
Yesterday, I took a walk to Target after school because I needed to break a $20 bill.
No, I really did need to break a twenty...but, okay, it was kind of an excuse to buy baseball cards. I haven't busted any retail in months, and I was thinking of sampling a five-dollar rack pack of Archives or Series 2.
That plan went out the window when I saw Heritage High Numbers staring back at me from the center of the shelves.
For some reason, I had it in my head that High Numbers was coming out next week, so seeing them yesterday caught me completely off-guard. In a stupor of surprise and pack-busting angst, I bought two hanger boxes and a rack pack of the stuff, and, in the end, I did get that change for the twenty.
The only difference was that I handed the cashier two twenties, rather than the one that I'd originally planned on spending.
I didn't mind spending a little extra on High Numbers because I'm just so gosh darn excited to see this brand back on retail shelves.
The original incarnation of High Numbers didn't last long. It first came into existence in 2008 and was out of business by the next year. I seemed to be in the minority, because I bought boxes of the product in both years and had a ton of fun breaking them.
As you probably know, High Numbers did come back a few years ago as an online-only product. Only a thousand of each set were produced, and for the low, low price of $100, you got the full 100-card checklist and one autograph card. At that price point, I wasn't even close to being in the market.
When I heard High Numbers was coming back as a standard, pack-based product here in 2015, I could've just about hugged Topps. Heritage always lends itself to fun pack breaks, and now we get an Update-esque second edition of the brand.
I haven't had a ton of time or energy to devote to baseball cards lately, but, true to form, Heritage snapped me out of that little funk. I did pull what you might call a "hit" with this Sandoval, but it'll be going to one of the handful of Red Sox collectors I know in due time.
The only problem is deciding which one.
Unlike Flagship, Heritage tones down the number of inserts.
I'm not sure anyone buys Heritage for the inserts, but I don't mind seeing one fall out of a pack every now and then. The "Rookie Performers" were a staple of High Numbers during its brief original run in 2008-09, and I'm glad to see them back this year.
The team combo series is new, and I don't think Topps could've made that Hosmer-Gordon shot any more awkward.
The "Then and Now" series is new-ish.
Topps appears to have done away with the multi-player format of olden days and is instead sticking with single subjects now. The Award Winners series is a new one, although largely unoriginal.
I guess my Target sells Dodger hot packs now.
I really don't have much to say about the inserts in Heritage, because my heart is with the base cards.
High Numbers is something like a second Update. While that may seem repetitive to some, I tend to be in "the more the merrier" camp. The more cards I get to see of guys in their new uniforms, the better. (Just as long as Topps doesn't recycle photos between Update and High Numbers.)
It's been a long time since anyone's been proud to show off a new Dan Uggla card, but, doggone it, I am.
It's the guy's first as a National, and I have to give him credit for hanging around the bigs after being the butt of many, many jokes these past few years.
High Numbers (and Update, for that matter) is often a good reminder to myself that certain guys are still kicking in the major leagues in the first place.
I collect both Ike Davis and Corey Hart, but, until I saw these cards, I'd admittedly forgotten what teams each of them played for.
It's obvious that the checklist for High Numbers was drawn up somewhere in late April or May.
None of these guys currently play for the teams they're pictured with here. Kelly Johnson was traded to the Mets in July, and the other three were all released by their respective franchises at some point in 2015. It seems a little strange to say, but I'm actually glad they made it into the checklist.
I'm all about unfamiliar uniforms, and there's nothing more unfamiliar than a guy who spent less than two months with a team, like Jason Marquis did with the Reds.
I started with the rack pack in my High Numbers extravaganza last evening, and this was the very first card to greet me.
As Night Owl has already discussed, this is what I call a "zero-year" card. Trevor Cahill was released by the Dodgers before ever suiting up in a big-league game for them. (He's currently a Cub.)
You don't see zero-years too often these days, so Mr. Cahill is a welcome addition to the exclusive club.
Heritage doesn't have the ooh-aah action shots that some other brands do, but you'll find some subtle greatness lurking beneath the surface if you look closely.
Most of the time, I can't tell you exactly what defines a beautiful Heritage card, or how one goes about finding that beauty.
Some cards in Heritage, for whatever reason, just speak to me...like these two.
The one qualm I have about buying packs of these late-season sets is the overload of rookies.
I get that High Numbers and Update are the places to go to find those coveted 2015 call-ups, but almost half the cards I pulled from yesterday's breaks had that Rookie logo. Of those, I'd only heard of about half. (Most, only vaguely so.)
I get the whole rookie craze, but that seems like too many. I'd much rather see a seasoned veteran get a card than a Quad-A guy. But, through it all, I did pull my first Steven Matz and Joey Gallo issues, and both will be going into the binders.
Most of the other rookies, however, went into my extras box.
Pat Venditte, on the other hand, will get first-class treatment in my collection.
I decided that this was the #1 card I wanted during my initial scan of the High Numbers checklist earlier this week. I guess I had the magic tough yesterday, because the switch-pitcher himself fell out of the first of the two hanger boxes.
Topps made a great card even better by getting a shot that prominently displays Venditte's quirky six-fingered glove. And I had to scan the back just to display the "Throws: Both" designation. (Hey, he's a switch-hitter, too.)
The Venditte capped off this joyful retail break, a break that reminded me why I loved this brand so much back when I was in high school. Thanks to those pesky online-only box sets, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to open a pack of High Numbers.
It beats the hell out of a five-dollar rack pack of Archives, I'll tell you that.