It's November, so I've begun transitioning 2019 cards to their ... um ... final resting place.
That means taking them from the stacks of 2019 cards that have built up on my card desk since last winter and moving them to boxes or binders. Spoiler alert: only sets that I particularly enjoy get the binder treatment and none of the 2019 cards will see the inside of a binder.
I always start with 2019 cards that I know I will not purchase again in a moment of weakness in the retail aisle. And, sadly, because I do love the brand, Heritage is getting that box treatment right now.
While inventorying what I have of '19 Heritage, I discovered something that I hadn't noticed, nor had read anyone mentioning: 2019 Heritage marks the return of full names on the backs of Heritage cards.
Topps has displayed the full names of players on the backs of their cards during two distinct periods: 1952-57 and then the early 1970s -- 1970, and after a two-year break, 1973-75.
That means we get to read the full names of current players on Heritage backs this year for the first time since 2008 Heritage when it copied the 1957 Topps design.
Don't you remember the great deal of fun you had back in '08 reading about players' full names?
You know, how J.D. Drew's entire name is ...
... what? David Jonathan?
So he should be D.J. Drew?
How does the family explain that?
So, anyway, there was hilarity like this on every 2019 Heritage card back, right?
Well ... not really.
Full names -- and specifically middle names -- have gotten fairly bland over the years. It's bad enough everyone's first name is Justin or Austin or Cole but the middle names don't even stand out.
Gerrit may spell his first name with just one "T" but that middle name is as straight-ahead as grounder up the middle.
A quick run through of the middle names in my 2019 Heritage cards produced very little excitement: James, Jeffrey, Tyler, Lee, Matthew, Wayne, Joseph, Jordan, Christopher, John, Thomas, Drew, you get the idea.
I could find very few of the middle names that stuck in my head while collecting cards as a kid in 1975. There is no Cyril or Duffield or Le Franco or Trumpbour.
I grew up with those unusual names and memorized them from the backs of my cards. Fritz Peterson was actually Fred Ingels Peterson and Mac Scarce was Guerrant McCurdy Scarce. Holy cow! How the heck do you pronounce that???
Players whose names you thought you knew didn't even have those first names. Chris Chambliss was actually Carroll Chris Chambliss. Dusty Baker was actually Johnnie B. Baker. Bert Blyleven was actually Rik Albert Blyleven.
And Nolan Ryan was actually LYNN Nolan Ryan. Every kid knew that.
Going through those 2019 Heritage cards I couldn't find a lot of players with different given first names than what showed up on the front of their cards (Although I was somewhat inexplicably relieved to learn that Dansby Swanson's first name is really his middle name and his given first name is James).
I did find a few Dodgers.
Ross Stripling and Alex Wood ...
... are actually Thomas Stripling and Robert Wood.
A.J. Pollock is actually Allen Lorenz Pollock and I don't know how you get "A.J." from that.
The point though is there was once a time when I knew the full names of a lot of baseball players because of what was listed on the back. It's why it's still so much fun to say "Reginald Martinez Jackson" or "Michael Jack Schmidt" or "Peter Edward Rose."
After Topps stopped listing the full names of players, Donruss took up the very worthy habit. From 1981 through 1992, Donruss mentioned full names for every player, so I could extend the full-name knowledge that began with knowing that Toby Harrah's actual first name is "Colbert" by knowing that Vince Coleman's middle name is "Maurice".
Today, we don't have any idea what players' full names are -- or at least I don't. The only one we know is C.C. Sabathia, where those initials have sat there and taunted us for years until you finally obsess: "well, they've got to stand for something" and, of course, everyone is thinking the same thing because everyone knows that it's:
But try to come up with another full name of a current player. I can't. Not for anybody.
Ever since that first year I collected cards I've known that my favorite player, Ron Cey, was born Ronald Charles Cey.
But I didn't know the full name of my current favorite player, Clayton Kershaw, until I turned over his 2019 Heritage card.
OK, that's not exactly Trumpbour or William Wattison Horton but at least I know.
Thanks, 2019 Heritage.
Now in the box you go.