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That was a rush ... until it wasn't

Upon opening my first packs of 2023 Heritage on Saturday, I felt a little bad about the rant that I posted on everything that's become wrong with Heritage the last few years.

Heritage is still Heritage and it still does try to get some things right, paying accurate tribute to the set that featured the design the first time. Also, this was my first experience with opening Heritage that is showcasing the design that I knew as a kid, cards I opened with that design.

What a rush.

Now I know what all the older collectors were feeling when Heritage was trotting out designs from the '50s, '60s and early '70s. Sure, I liked some of those sets, but the first-hand knowledge wasn't there. With '74, those are cards I opened, and that's the way Heritage will be for the next 15 years or so.

I adore '74 Topps because it comes straight from my childhood and the design and colors and photographs -- the LOOK of the cards -- is etched in my brain, so my goodness, those feelings came surging right back and there was a thrill to this opening that no previous Heritage set can match. So that's why I felt bad about the earlier post.

But ... this is still a modern card set. All I needed to do was give it some time and I knew there'd be something that would spoil the experience. So here were those somethings:

1. Half a Dodger in the entire blaster. This will not be an issue though because there are a couple of people already promising me Heritage Dodgers.
2. A filthy number of Yankees. Way too many. Three of the 8 packs led off with Yankees and then there were Yankees added in between. It was bad enough I had to watch them play my Dodgers this past weekend.
3. 60-70 percent of the cards were dinged on the bottom right corner.

That last one is really annoying. This happens way too often with modern cards. This never happened when I was collecting in the '70s. Hell, I will take cards with wax stains, off-center cards before dings due to the packs being wrapped too tight or whatever. Now I've definitely got to buy more Heritage just to replace some of the dinged cards.

I didn't notice the dings until I was taking pix for this blog post last night. That and snapping pictures while trying to watch the Dodgers on ESPN led to some not great images. Sorry, it's difficult to do when you're annoyed.

So, this blaster is why I saved my gift card for five-plus months. Let's see the contents:


324 - Gerrit Cole, Yankees
219 - Ranger Suarez, Phillies
279 - Seth Brown, Athletics
27 - Rowdy Tellez, Brewers
129 - David Villar, Giants
11 - Jose Ramirez, Guardians, chrome parallel
491 - Rookie Pitchers
268 - Jakob Junis, Giants
207 - 2022 Strikeout Leaders

Right away I noticed the style of the action shots, which are perfect for the mid-1970s. In fact, these are perfect action shots period. I don't know why we got away from this, with the zoomed-in junk. That Ranger Suarez is all I need.

I really like the chrome parallels with this set, probably because I dig this original design so much. I won't collect them all but I'll probably store a few pretending that I will.

Heritage pays tribute to the original set with images that look like images that appeared in that old set. There are a few examples from this box, although you can't be too sure unless the player actually shares the card number with the original '74 card. Let's see what we have in this pack.

Gerrit Cole, 324
Steve Kline, 324

That's an intentional match with the shared card numbers. Pretty good. These are kind of awesome.

Seth Brown, 279
Reggie Jackson, 130

This is the sad state of the current Oakland A's. This is a definite match, even though the card numbers don't match, but Seth Brown is no Reggie Jackson. It doesn't help that the A's were at their absolute peak in 1974.

Rowdy Tellez, 27
George Scott, 27

Another certain match with Topps using large first basemen in each case.

Jakob Junis, 268
Elias Sosa, 54

I'm pushing it in this case, but there are some slight similarities.

Other notable card from the pack

These four-player rookie prospects cards are all stashed in the high numbers. I originally thought Tyler Cyr was a Dodger because he was acquired by the Dodgers prior to this season but he's not.


158 - Nick Gordon, Twins
370 - Alex Bregman, Astros
298 - Martin Perez, Rangers
73 - Ryan Helsley, Cardinals
167 - Rafael Ortega, Yankees
15 - Byron Buxton, Twins
NA-5 - Julio Rodriguez, Mariners, New Age Performers
177 - Sean Murphy, Braves
396 - Nick Solak, Reds

Alex Bregman, 370
Bob Watson, 370

This is a definite tribute as they each have the same card number.

Byron Buxton, 15
Joe Torre, 15

This one probably is, too, even though they don't share the same team and the photos are different. At least the color scheme is the same, I guess.

Nick Solak, #396
Pete Rose, #300
Weird. But I think it's a match. Solak is blatantly airbrushed into a Reds uniform, which takes away the effect.

 214 - MJ Melendez, Royals
50 - Adolis Garcia, Rangers
181 - Ryne Nelson, Diamondbacks
379 - Tim Anderson, White Sox
117 - J.T. Realmuto, Phillies
195 - Ramon Laureano, Athletics
276 - Ryan McMahon, Rockies
398 - Jameson Taillon, Cubs
335 - Trea Turner, Dodgers/Tim Anderson, White Sox, All-Star Shortstops

There's my half a Dodger. I got two Tim Andersons in this pack and one Dodger in the whole box, that's how this break went for me.

I love seeing red flags with the White Sox card, it makes me very happy. The Rockies take on the Angels colors with their color scheme and the Diamondbacks are using the Reds '74 colors. I love that Diamondbacks card and, again, why can't we have this regularly in flagship?

Just one match/tribute with this pack:

MJ Melendez, 214
Fran Healy, 238

At first look you don't think it's a match -- the card numbers aren't the same -- but Fran Healy is the only horizontal Royals card in the '74 set and then you notice that both cards show two catchers.

 7 - Adley Rutschman, Orioles
191 - Kyle Bradish, Orioles
269 - Hunter Renfroe, Angels
302 - Nestor Cortes, Yankees
323 - Leody Tavares, Rangers
White Sox Topps Stamps
441 - 2022 Postseason, ALDS
209 - Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks
124 - Mark Vientos, Mets
All right, this is the pack where the box went off the rails. THERE WERE NO ROOKIE CUPS IN 1974 TOPPS. That Rutschman  card took me right out of the happy feeling I was in. Then the dumb, dumb Angels card showed up right after that.

Also, the postseason card, which is a high number, omits Aaron Judge's name. Also, also, the bottom blurb on the '74 postseason cards listed the series score, which in this case would be "Yankees: 3 games, Guardians: 2 games." It's not that hard.

Kyle Bradish, 191
Tom Bradley, 455

Not the same card number, nor the same team name, but the team colors are the same and I think the similar rotation look clinches it for me.

Fred Beene, 274
Nestor Cortes, 302


Other notable card from the pack

The stamps are numbered individually, so I assume you can peel them off, but I was too chicken to try.


242 - Jose Trevino, Yankees
57 - Cole Irvin, Athletics
86 - Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays
137 - Trent Grisham, Padres
343 - Luis Severino, Yankees
305 - Dalton Guthrie, Phillies
327 - Andrew Chafin, Tigers
346 - Ha-Seong Kim, Padres
372 - Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates

Ke'Bryan Hayes needs to stop doing that right now, there was none of that in '74 Topps. 

Cole Irvin, 57
Darold Knowles, 57

This is a definite match. Sadly, there's no base runner lurking behind Irvin.

Luis Severino, 343
Pat Dobson, 463

So many f'n Yankees. I think that's a match. You can't see a tobacco tin in Severino's back pocket though.

Dalton Guthrie, 305
Willie Montanez, 515

Might be a match, but I don't know who Dalton Guthrie is.

Other notable card from the pack

This seems like the first fake background from the box. I didn't notice this quite as much as in previous years, although this is a small sample size. Hopefully Heritage has it out of its system by next year's '75 tribute, but I don't have my hopes up.


150 - Vinnie Pasquantino, Royals
119 - George Kirby, Mariners
61 - Equy Rosario, Padres
28 - Cody Bellinger, Cubs
31 - Ezequiel Duran, Rangers
44 - Tyler O'Neill, Cardinals
454 - JT Brubaker, Pirates
235 - Lance McCullers Jr., Astros
296 - Danny Janssen, Blue Jays

Uh, oh, I think the McCullers background is fake, too.

Vinnie Pasquantino, 150
John Mayberry, 150

Intended match, although the rookie cup is killing the vibe.

Other notable card from the pack

Damn that corner ding. OK, Bellinger is definitely wearing a Dodgers uniform in this photo but has been painted into a Cubs uni. The question is, was the tribute picked out before Bellinger became a Cub? Because this card could be a tribute to:

Willie Crawford

Or ...

Billy Williams.

Crawford looks like a closer match.


34 - Harrison Bader, Yankees
381 - Jerar Encarnacion, Marlins
233 - Randal Grichuk, Rockies
55 - Alexis Diaz, Reds
310 - Jose Butto, Mets
400 - Carlos Santana, Pirates
NF-1 - Sears Tower, NF-1
78 - Elier Hernandez, Rangers
361 - Andres Gimenez, Guardians

I appreciate Gimenez making the effort but between that and the green screen he is standing in front of, that's not '74 Topps.

Jose Butto appeared in one whole major league game prior to this season (now he's up to 4), which makes me wonder what potential never-will-be's show up in the '75 tribute. Ugh.

Alexis Diaz, 55
Tom Hall, 248

No shared number but I see some resemblance. Once again, I really appreciate these full-body action shots, just the right distance away, just the right cropping.

Other notable card from the pack

I really like the News Flashbacks every year and now that we're getting into a time period where I was starting to be aware of what was going on around me, I was looking forward to these. Cards of buildings though are kind of boring. Let's see from the checklist if this is the most-boring one:

1 - Sears Tower
2 - World Population
3 - Daylight Savings Time
4 - Ray Kroc Buys The Padres
5 - Charles de Gaulle Airport
6- Dow Jones
7 - Richard Nixon
8 - Gerald Ford
9 - Freedom Of Information Act
10 - Nelson Rockefeller
OK, very newsy and not terribly exciting. I might light No. 3 on fire if I pull it.


43 - Michael Chavis, Pirates
303 - Zack Wheeler, Phillies
120 - Jesse Chavez, Braves
77 - Franklin German, Red Sox
360 - Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
357 - Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
230 - Nick Senzel, Reds
116 - Clay Holmes, Yankees
58 - Robbie Ray, Mariners

If you were keeping track, that was eight Yankees cards total. Just gross.

Zack Wheeler, 303
Larry Christenson, 587

The numbers don't match but that's a pretty good comparison especially with Wheeler wearing the '70s retro uniform.

Other notable card from the pack

This is phenomenal. It doesn't quite match the Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack or Milt Pappas cards from the set, and the Braves don't have any horizontal cards in '74, but everything about this catches the vibe of the best '74s and why I love some of the cards from that set so much.

That's a phenomenal back, too.

This reminds me that I haven't reviewed the back yet. I love the '74 backs and the cartoons in particular. I haven't had a chance to check out the cartoons much, but they seem in the spirit of the originals, even if ballplayers don't have second jobs anymore.

But this justification nonsense (see write-up on Cole and the stats on Brown) has got to end. Check out that unfortunate signature as well.

That was a few too many complaints with this box considering I really enjoyed myself opening it -- the most I have with any Heritage set. So I'll probably buy more than a couple more over the months to come.

I think I might keep myself to hanger boxes and racks though. I can't take anymore dings.


Nick said…
I like these card-number Heritage comparisons because I don't have near the front-to-back knowledge of vintage Topps sets to keep track of those tributes. Looks like Topps hit the nail on the head with a lot of them.

And even as a longtime fan of those News Flashbacks, I'll admit this year's aren't very exciting. (A Dow Jones card?)
The Dick Allen sticker is right on.
jacobmrley said…
The one I noticed immediately is the Al Kaline and Spencer Torkelson. That one is spot on.
Zippy Zappy said…
I'm surprised and very happy to see Frank German get a card/RC, I saw him in Staten Island a long time ago.
The Buxton card is a tribute to Torre? You are really stretching it in your attempt to justify this set. You are better than this.
I think the Bellinger Match up was better with the Cubs player. Yeah, I'd been bummed too with only 2 Braves to 8 Yankees. So far you have 2 more Braves than I do. I am hoping to remedy that Wednesday, hoping.

BTW: here's a 50/50 for you.
The Bad (for you): 2023 Donruss
The good for you: Sutton has his perm and is in a Dodger uniform.
I have some serious ranting about the Donruss this year later this week. I'm hoping to score the Heritage to offset the ugh I am feeling.
night owl said…
Settle down there Downington. It's pretty obvious it was an attempt by Topps. I didn't say it was good.
steelehere said…
The pose on Kyle Bradish card looks a lot like Jim Palmer's on his 1974 Topps card. They're both Orioles too.
night owl said…
Yeah, OK, it's Palmer, not Bradley ... Some of you guys need to write your own blogs again, instead of pointing out things in mine.
I was negative 2 years old when 1974 Topps came out, but it was the first "old" group of Cubs cards I ever got. Still remember getting a bunch of these while visiting a local Air Force base and my grandpa buying a stack of these from a collector outside the commissary, Plus was lucky enough to get the Billy Williams autographed at a Cubs Convention in the 80s when I ran into him in an elevator!
Dave said…
Would have loved it if they made half the A's cards as Las Vegas "Ame'n. Lea." Then again, those would have been super impossible SSSPs for anyone to enjoy.
Jeff said…
Seems like the tribute matches to the original set were a big thing a number of years ago, but I don't remember hearing much about it the last few years. Thanks for pointing them out.
Old Cards said…
That 74 design is nice! The Ranger Suarez is my least favorite of the bunch because the featured player is in the background with an ugly blur in the foreground. I know, I know. Write my own blog! Thanks for writing this one.
bbcardz said…
Very nice break/review! Love the card comparisons. This is why I try to lower my expectations with Topps. This way I'm not disappointed as much. And it's not like Topps ever put out perfect or even superior products anyway. But I have a feeling that if I worked at Topps and was responsible for producing just one of their product lines by a particular deadline, I'd feel a bit rushed/hurried (just like the product).
Nick Vossbrink said…
I'm intrigued that you like the red flags on the White Sox. This is one of those designs that I'd love for them to update with better team color matches and, more importantly, a variable width font (eg Helvetica Now).

But yeah as is the fonts are even more of a mess than the 1974 fonts (hello REDS, TEXAS, and TWINS). Some of the color philosophy makes zero sense like with the White Sox. And that's before getting to the script font used on half the "signatures" or the way things like the All Stars have essentially common backs instead of a puzzle.
night owl said…
My enjoyment of the red with the White Sox is simply because I like the color the White Sox used to have. They're colorless now and have been since the '90s. It may not be accurate, but the red both recalls the days when they did have color and also brightens up their cards a little.
Brett Alan said…
Perhaps there were rights issues, but the News Flashbacks should have included the Rumble in the Jungle and the publication of Carrie (Stephen King's first novel).

Is there a tribute to the "Washington Nat'l League" variation anywhere? For Padres cards or Nationals?
steelehere said…
Thanks for writing this one! I know, I should restart mine.
Michael D said…
Got some nice cards. I hate the corner dings too. I do like the look of the set.
Eric C. Loy said…
I had the master set of 1974, my first set chase as a kid, but had to pay bills. Also, Pirates DH is a yuck.
Bo said…
Looks like the green for the backs is not as rich and dark as the originals? Too bad. Glad the photos selection seems to have been done with care, that seems to rarely be the case for Topps these days.
Fuji said…
A. Bummer about the dings.

B. I hope I get to experience a similar rush in seven years when I open Heritage and see the 1981 design.

C. Love all the zoomed out action shots in this set!
bamlinden said…
Exceptional!! Really enjoyed this post. Loved seeing the card comparisons. Looks like a super-fun product.
Jafronius said…
Thanks for the comparisons! I have yet to see Heritage in the wild, but then again I haven't been out much. While I agree those spaces in the back are real bad, I don't think anything can be done about the RC logo.
Next year there needs to be a capless Guardian rookie who had just a cup of coffee in 2023 and whose capless head takes up most of the picture, a la Bruce Ellingsen :-D