I had a chance recently to get my hands on some 2023 Topps Heritage baseball cards. This is a series of cards that’s been going for a few decades, with current players but in cards of previous Topps sets nearly 50 years prior.
When Topps Heritage started, this was a relatively rare phenomenon within the industry, but since then there have been various specialty inserts each year that look like previous years’ cards. But Heritage has remained as an annual look back to cards 49 years before.
This year, the set is 1974 Topps, which holds a special place in my heart because, as a child of the 1980s, I first starting getting into collecting cards by inheriting (some siblings may have described this transaction as “stealing”) a shoebox full of cards from my older brothers.
This would have been around 1984 or so, and the cards in question were all Topps cards from 1974 to 1980, which makes the 1974 set the earliest set I was familiar with for some time.
Here are a few 2023 Topps Heritage cards alongside 1974 Topps cards with similar poses.
The backs of these cards is very green. The top features the player’s full name in all caps, with the first and middle name in smaller type atop a larger last name, with the player signature on the right side of the card.
Stats take up the bulk of the bottom of the card, with at-bats, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, and batting average for hitters, or games, innings pitched, wins, losses, strikeouts, walks, and ERA for pitchers.
On the right side of the back, biographical information is near the top, with a cartoon on the bottom accompanied by a fact about the player, like “Freddie had 31 doubles in the first half” or “was only 20-game winner in MLB in 2021” for Julio Urías.
In the space between the top of the card and the stats is space for other factoids about the player.
Minor nit picks
For James Outman, the back of his card says “Hit for the cycle two times in a four-day stretch for Triple-A Oklahoma.” Ignoring leaving off “City” here, Outman’s two cycles in the minors last year came on August 26 against El Paso, then four days later on August 30 at Round Rock.
That’s a five-day stretch, not four.
The back of Mookie Betts’ card says “Finished in top eight in MVP voting (AL: 2016-19; NL: ‘20).” This has to be an issue of production timing, because Betts also finished fifth in National League MVP voting in 2022, an award that was revealed on November 17.
Max Muncy is listed on the front of his card as “2B-1B,” which does not correctly represent how he was used defensively in 2022. Muncy last season started 80 games at third base, 25 times at second base, and 25 games as designated hitter.
With everyday Freeman at first base, Muncy only played three games in reserve and five total innings at the position.
But those are only small blemishes in what is an otherwise fantastic-looking set of cards.
There are 400 cards in the base set of Topps Heritage, plus another 100 cards that are short-printed and thus more rare to find. Seven Dodgers cards are in the base set, plus two in the short-print set.
- 56 — Julio Urías
- 93 — James Outman
- 186 — Trayce Thompson
- 194 — Max Muncy
- 267 — Will Smith
- 315 — Mookie Betts
- 377 — Freddie Freeman
- 432 — Walker Buehler
- 445 — Dustin May