Sunday, May 26, 2024



1975 Topps, man. The Minis.

Baseball is a game with a fair bit of mathematics involved. And there is yet more math involved in Baseball Cards. That's just the way it is, and that's not a big deal.

But that last word I just wrote - "deal" - is a big part of Baseball Card math. Because that revolves around dollar$. And that is the hardest part of Baseball Card collecting - you are never going to own a T206 Honus Wagner. If you are reading this and you do own a T206 Wagner, I'd love to shoot the breeze sometime. I could probably help you with the Timber out on the Estate you must surely own as well, for example - I work for wealthy landowners all the time. We never discuss Baseball Cards.

And the whole Hobby just cascades on down from that particular root level Baseball Card. How much will you really spend on this particular recreational activity?

That is not always a pleasant question to ponder. I generally don't ponder it often, nor do I become particularly unhappy knowing I will never own that Wagner card. That's because I know I will someday own a nice little reprint of it that I will enjoy a whole lot, with no cares at all that is not an original copy. I spend most of my Baseball Card collecting time enjoying Baseball Cards that are worth precisely $0.00, something a whole lot of people can't seem to do, from what I continually read on this here Internet. I feel sorry for them.

But I am far from immune from desiring expensive Baseball Cards; I am just lucky that there aren't a whole lot of such cards I truly desire. The greatest exception to that in my trading card dreamscape is most certainly 1975 Topps Baseball, man, though there are a few others bobbing around in my noggin from time to time.

Unfortunately such concerns were foremost in my mind back on May 1st, when I set out to simply enjoy opening some packs of 2024 Heritage in the historical "mini" format launched way back in 1975 - something I never saw until the summer of 1978, in the "trade it" boxes of the other kids on my street, after a family move during my childhood. Nevertheless I knew I would quite enjoy opening some such packs, maybe even a whole box, seeing as they were appropriately even "mini" priced at exactly half of what I paid for a full box of regular sized Heritage back in March.

Within about 60 minutes of opening that box, I found myself owning a whopping 8 more boxes of the product, after pulling the trigger on the highest amount of money I have spent on Baseball Cards in a single transaction in my entire life.

What was I going to do with such a seemingly gi-normous purchase? I wasn't really sure.

I did know what the online chatter about this product was like - I was reading some of it simultaneously with opening it, and also simultaneously with reading the checklist for it, all in the last hour or so before it went on-sale on this here Internet.

I fully expected it would sell out fairly quickly; most "on-line" Topps releases do. If this one hadn't also been offered to Friendly Local Card Shops (the friendly part does now seem to be a requirement, on the part of Topps/Fanatics, which seems a good thing, to me), well then I doubt I would have ever ended up owning more than 9 or 18 cards from this product, some day. That's because I'm just not into competitive online shopping and expensive merchandise sitting around on a porch later. And I didn't know if the whole thing wouldn't be just co-opted by "bots" anyway, as was the case with on-line sales of sports cards a few years ago.

Turned out, most anyone who knew these cards were going to be sold could have purchased excellent amounts of them, from 3 possible options, though for only about a half hour or so in each case. For whatever reason, Topps Baseball Cards are sold on the Fanatics website separately from the website. And more understandably, Topps products are also sold on a Topps UK website. 

So a small upside to this experience I am re-living for you (and, me, as I write it down) is I am now a bit less pessimistic on buying these special "on-line" Baseball Cards. But I am also more determined than ever to stay with collecting those wonderful 100% worthless Baseball Cards, because that is a much more low-key activity — and that's important, to me, in a recreational activity.

My first thought on buying 9 whole boxes of Baseball Cards (at the same time!) was that it was highly likely I could later sell a few boxes and make the cards I kept a bit cheaper that way.

I did not at all expect for just one Baseball Card product to so thoroughly illustrate the contemporary Baseball Card Hobby and lead me to carefully re-consider my participation in it. But with these 2024 Topps Heritage Minis, that's what happened. After all, it's 1975 Topps, man. The Minis. 

We are getting pretty far from that delightful Reese Olson /15 Purple RC up there at the top of the post. That is one of 5 parallels in the Minis, after the regular sized Heritage release basically punted on the concept, in my opinon. White border cards of the most colorful set of Baseball Cards ever made? Really?
Yes, really.

The parallels I ended up owning treated me OK, I guess. Reese Olson currently has the 5th best ERA in Major League Baseball though he only picked up his first "W" just this afternoon as the Tigers seem as lackluster as ever this year. But we do got Olson going for us, and I have an extremely rare - only 15 copies made! - Rookie Card card of the young phenom. Which is nice.

And that Jasson guy there, that's a card with some actual buzz, unlike that around brilliant Tigers rookies, which are exceedingly rare. The 5 parallels in the Minis are Black at /50, White at /32 although without a stamped s/n proof of that, Blue at /25, Purple at /15, Orange at /5, and of course a /1, of Pink. And without any Chromes or other "gimmicks" as Baseballcardpedia snidely (and, correctly) labels them, so no Superfractors. Just 5 color parallels, 3 per box.

Which does make this product seem exciting - every Baseball Card product absolutely must have a card that might be somehow more valuable than all the other cards, or no one would want the product. But these products with a long checklist and s/n stamped cards of players you have never heard of, which are chock-a-block in 2024 Heritage Baseball Cards, aren't ultimately that exciting, as you realize later.

I basically understood that ahead of time; I had a different goal in mind. I simply wanted to see what parallels could be created with the 1975 Topps design. All of them. While held in my hand. Buying some whole boxes of the product should certainly help reach that goal.

There is an odd result with all those parallels in this product - all those limited edition, stamped serial #'d, hard-to-get Baseball Cards worth just a couple or maybe even a few dozens of dollars, each - are almost all universally: not "Gem Mint." Worthless. 

That's because the "special" card in 9 of the 12 packs in each box is always the last card in the pack. In a tightly wrapped pack, in a box that feels just a touch too small to hold the packs without, well, bad things happening, like this:
once you see it

in case you can't see it, let's zoom in:

I think I quite like this turn of affairs, actually. It will likely make these parallels far more easily collectable, for people, like me, who don't care one whit whether a card will "grade." Condition freaks best stay far, far away from these cards.

Which is especially delicious because all of this terrible damage - is on the back of the card. Let's review:

but in the interest of fairness, -that- corner, again

This situation on parallel after parallel probably leads to lots of strife on the ole ebay, where plenty of listings for 2024 Heritage Minis include the "*READ" note in the keywords as sellers attempt to get buyers to understand that these cards are not Gem Mint, before they purchase them.

Thus if you'd like a colorful miniature parallel of your favorite player in the 2024 Topps Heritage 1975 Topps Baseball design, they might not be as pricey as you might expect, if you can manage to avert your eyes from that horrible damage to each corner. Good luck.

So how did my quest conclude, to see one of each of the 5 parallels? Fairly well. I will be working up a just exactly perfect collection of a set of 9 fine examples of the concept; I will wait until that's complete to show off my nifty picks to represent the black and the blue parallel in my special binder of 2024/1975 Topps Baseball, forever and ever.

And I did luck into "pulling" one of the more difficult parallels, the /5 Orange. That happened in box #5, and overall wasn't a remarkably "tough pull" as only 16,000 boxes of this product were made, and with 500 oranges or 2,500 cards, that's 1-in-6 boxes, I think. Maths. Uggh. 

Anyhow, my Orange experience went like this:

I've never owned a /5 Baseball Card, ever before. I can't say I plan to own any more of them, either. So it seems just exactly perfect for a collector of usually totally worthless Baseball Cards to end up with a quite rare version of what is effectively an "Error Card" of a Baseball Player that history is quite unlikely to ever remember.

Devin Sweet has never in any way been connected to the San Diego Padres organization. Kind of amazing really, considering how much that club wheels and deals players, much like I did with Baseball Cards in my Topps childhood. 

Sweet pitched exactly 2.0 innings in just 2 games for Seattle last year before being waived; so an authentic picture of him in Mariners garb is itself a pretty rare thing. Maybe there are only 5 of them in existence.

After that teaspoon of coffee he did get a further try-out down in Oakland (still a real MLB team, I think) in 5 more relief outings last September, before technically joining a "San -" team, as in Francisco, not Diego. Maybe that confused those hard working Topps Baseball Card miners, down in the mines. But that was in December 2023; within a month the Giants had cut Devin and he has currently "latched on" with my very favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. And despite listening to more pointless innings of Spring Training Baseball than I could ever be able to remember, I have never yet heard anyone discussing Tigers baseball in minute detail ever mention Devin Sweet to me. He currently works in the bullpen at their AAA affiliate in Toledo, so I guess I might hear his name again, some day. Thanks, Topps.

That incredible "pull" did make for an easy decision regarding a small disappointment with these minis - I did not luck into even one of the 1/1 Pink ones. (I saw a card numbered 11/11 at my LCS this morning; I should probably purchase it for an upcoming 1-1 project). 

I had a particular plan for the Pink card - I wanted to obtain one with a blue team name. Because I am now certain that my favorite color combo in 1975 Topps is the pink-yellow - but mostly for when the blue is added, as on the delightful World Series cards. Which in turn probably explains falling for the pink parallels in 2013 Topps.

My plan was to lay in wait for a 1/1 Pink of the scrubbiest scrub player with a blue ink team name, and then pounce. This plan faced an immediate challenge when the 1/1 Pink with the correct blue top was posted, fairly cheaply — of George Springer. Ugggh. 2019 Astros, cya. Easy pass, even at only $30. That cost me some money, a few days later.

Once I had that sweet Sweet card, the appearance of this next card was an instant must-have, as soon as I saw it, despite being twice as expensive as the Pink Springer. This will be the centerpiece in my eventual Nifty Nine of 2024 Topps Heritage Minis parallels:

1975 Topps, man. The Minis.

My 2nd new favorite who-are-you-talking-about footnote-of-a-footnote MLB reliever has, like Sweet, never ever been connected to the team name printed at the top of his parallel 2024 Heritage Baseball Card. It's hard work, down in those Baseball Card mines.

Felipe has almost twice as much MLB experience as Sweet - 15.0 IP! And is also no longer with the AAAA team called the Athletics. He owns a delightful 4.20 ERA so I somewhat hope that remains his career mark at the, yes, highest level. But really I do wish him well and a potential return to The Game as he is now in the Angels organization so some Angel Felipe Angels Baseball Cards would be kinda neat, don'tchathink? Until then, I own his #1/1 very best ever Rookie Card card. And you, don't.

We'll see that Sweet, and Angel card again here someday. That about covers the 3-per-box #'d cards, which every collector dreams about. But that's not all that is in this product.

In each box you also get 2 inserts. That means there aren't very many of these little doo-hickeys, either. 320 of each, to be exact, although they aren't stamped with proof of that, but it is in the maths, trust me. 

At first it seems the mini inserts are just re-runs from regular Heritage:
You rang?

That one is certainly a best-of-24 pick for my collection, although I wish they would have used this photo in Big League somehow instead.

But upon further review, the insert checklists have been expanded in the Minis, I think by 10 cards in the New Age Performers. Also appearing are the "75 Baseball Sensations" which are only in retail versions of regular sized Heritage, and again with an expanded checklist as compared to their bigger brothers, with some more 1975 stars on the Mini checklist that don't appear on the regular sizes.

One altogether new insert appears, the "1975 Fall Classic." I just had to buy this one:

I had a minor reservation here - it feels near certain that this card will appear as a regular sized insert in the Heritage High Numbers release, which has recently featured a Playoffs themed insert. And it would surely help out those hard-working Baseball Card miners to simply re-run these.

But, what if they don't? I saw that game live. It was the first time I ever got to watch a night-time Baseball game all the way to the very end. I was rooting for the Red Sox. I will never forget it. I can't pass up a Carlton Fisk Game 6 Baseball Card, ever. 

Almost. I do have no particular interest in the Fisk Baseball Flashbacks card in regular sized 24 Heritage, which titles itself "Waves Home Run Fair" and then uses a picture of Fisk batting in the daytime. Wrong.

Which might help explain another checklist anomaly in the Minis, amongst the Baseball Flashbacks. The Mini checklist is both 5 #s longer, but actually 7 cards are different. Two of the regular sized BFs are not miniaturized, including the Fisk card. (You'll have to figure out the other one as a homework assignment.) Maybe the baseball card miners were horrified to notice that picture and caption anomaly on 1975's most iconic Baseball moment. I somewhat doubt that, but nevertheless the Minis have more Flashbacks than the bigger cards.

Including, this one:
None more 70s?

I already went ahead and used a bit of my trading stock to pick up an extra one of these for Mr. Night Owl, don't worry.

This is another one I absolutely had to have for my modest Bob Gibson collection. There is a tiny chance I saw Bob Gibson pitch on a Saturday afternoon Kubek/Garagiola Game of the Week in 1975, but my memory is not quite -that- good, sigh. What really got me into setting aside my Bob Gibson cards was this book, which I quite recommend:

Every time I find a new Bob Gibson or Reggie Jackson Baseball Card, I want to read it again.

Once again these Minis delivered another just-had-to-have Baseball Card there in the inserts.

But those discoveries are somewhat jumping the tale of base_set vs. maths that is my 2024 Topps Heritage Minis experience. That's because the key part of any Heritage adventure is of course, the Short Prints, uggh. Particularly, this one, a single card (with all the just exactly perfect colors I could ever want) which will have an extensive blog post dedicated mostly to it, coming soon, right here:
This is now a > $100 Baseball Card.

1975 Topps, man. The Minis.

...To Be Continued

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