Thursday, January 4, 2007
2006 Bowman Heritage
I am a sucker for all the various retro and heritage sets that have been steadily pumped out in the past few years. I absolutely love vintage cards, and any set that blatantly panders to that love will get my cash. In fact, Upper Deck's decision to make Origins a high-dollar gambling set was the final straw that really put me off their product and got me to finally focus on Topps sets.
Topps has done wonderful stuff with their back catalog. When you have close to 60 years worth of material to build on, it's not hard to put out great cards that pay homage to vintage sets. Bowman Heritage has always been the red-headed stepchild of the heritage sets however. Stuck as one of the last sets of the year, it sometimes seems as just an excuse to pack as many last-minute rookies as possible in a set to 'scoop' the competition. However, after the blah Black & White initial set and the lackluster '54 model (pastel did not look right on baseball cards in the 50's and it doesn't look right now) the Bowman Heritage line had some winners with the '55 set, the what if? '56 set and last year's excellent '51 tribute. Another plus for the Heritage set in recent years has been the fact that unlike Topps Heritage, it was fairly reasonably priced, and you didn't have to pay a ridiculous mark up if you were unlucky enough to miss grabbing a box the moment it was released. Plus, the boxes were loaded, netting 2 relics and an auto, when other products couldn't even promise one big hit a box.
This year they update the 1949 set, and unfortunately a promising set has been hampered by some bizzare coices by Topps. Once again, the set has short prints, but no one can quite figure out which cards are actually short printed. Beckett reports from Topps that high numbered cards are short printed, but case busters report otherwise. This means that either cards 251-300 are shorted or that even numbered cards from 202-300 are. To further confuse matters, there is a 'White' variation inserted 4 per box. The sell sheet shows an example of a 'Black' which shows the card has a black background. However, no one is finding any cards with white backgrounds, only slight color variations that could only be spotted with the two versions side by side. I haven't actually seen any hobby packs yet, but I'm assuming the 'white' variation doesn't refer to the card stock as surely that would have been reported on by now. This choice on Topps' part to make a virtually invisible parallel set is bewildering considering that the '49 set already has the 'name on front' variation built in to the original set.
Nevertheless, it's a Heritage set and I gotta have it. After checking several different places, Bowman Heritage finally hit the local Wal-Mart, so I snagged a couple of packs to hold me off until I can finnally pick up a hobby box. Here's what I got in my first pack.
First off, I have to stress that this is not a typical pack. The retail packs have the mini parallel in the front of the pack and it was quite obvious that this pack had an extra mini when I picked it up.
I absolutely adore these kinds of mini parallels and I wasn't going to pass up on an extra. My pack had Brian Roberts, who would be a Brave right now if not for Peter Angelos meddling in his GM's affairs, and Tony Gwynn Jr., who gets to see his dad elected to the Hall of Fame next week.
Next in the pack are the two 'prospects and draft picks' cards that are now banished to their own seperate insert set due to the MLB marketing deal that put that tiny little logo on Tony's card up above. I got Wyatt Toregas, a catcher for the Indians and Andy Sonnanstine, pitcher for the Devil Rays. Lord only knows if these will eventually be considered rookies or XRC's or whatever when the whole rookie card debate is finally settled.
Next up is the 'rainbow foil' parallel card which I suppose would be rainbow if you held it up to a TV test pattern or a gaudy sweater. It looks like easily dingable boring plain ol' foil to me, but hey, I'm not a marketing manager for Topps Inc. I have Bobby Livingston, a rookie pitcher for Seattle who is labled as an outfielder on the reverse. Maybe Topps has openings in their proofreading department if not the marketing department...
Hot Dog! A redemption card! I guess that extra mini was to tip off the hot pack. With my luck it was meant for a spy and I'll end up getting a shipment of Polonium nibbles instead of my auto. Good luck convincing the interrogators at Gitmo that all you wanted was an autograph of a minor league catcher...
Yawn. Here's the boring common part of the pack. Of course between parallels and the prospect insert set you only get 4 boring commons per pack. Three if you're unlucky enough to pull an auto. My commons are boring indeed with Alou and Pierzynski.
Now we get to the fun mysterious part of the pack. Is this a short print? A boring old common? A washed out parallel? At the very least it's a Jared Weaver O-Fish-Al MLB rookie card (2005 sets be damned!) and a pretty good cap to my weird mutant pack.