Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Farewell To Heritage

I wish I had a clever or humorous way to start off this story, but I don't. Around lunchtime today I started thinking about giving up collecting Heritage sets. Within an hour I'd made up my mind.

I'm calling it quits.

I was late getting into Heritage. I gave a valiant effort collecting 2001 Bowman Heritage (2 boxes) but never really came close to finishing the set. I bought a few packs of Topps Heritage in 2002, 2006, and  2007. I bought a couple of blasters in 2008 and 2009, and bought a lot more a couple of years ago when I found some heavily marked down. I also added most of the base cards from 2006 and 2007 by picking up lots on the ebay.

I went full bore in 2010. I probably spent in the neighborhood of $500 that year buying packs, boxes, and SP singles, and I'm still 8 cards shy of the set.  I tried again in 2011, spending around $300 that year and still coming up short by about 40 or so SP. In 2012 I just bought a base set on the ebay and spent the rest of the summer trying to hunt down the SP at shows. I'm probably short 30 SP of that set.

I know now that I'm never going to finish any of these sets. So in a great moment of clarity today, I gave up. Which is too bad, because quite frankly I like the concept of Heritage. But I'm no longer going to be a slave to the execution of them.

Oh, I'll continue putting together Heritage Tigers team sets every year. That's not such an enormous undertaking that it can't be completed. In fact I have almost all the base, SP, and Variations that have ever been released. I still get great enjoyment from collecting Tigers, especially those that are appearing for the first time as Tigers.

I'll also continue putting together a couple of the Heritage insert sets I really dig: Baseball Flashbacks and Then & Now. I think these are the cards where Heritage shines. In fact one of the things I would've loved to have seen was for these players to have actual cards in the Heritage set, similar to how they're handled with Archives. How you can produce a set that harkens back to 1961, but not include base cards of Maris or Mantle is beyond me, but I digress.

I fancy myself as a dinosaur in today's collecting world. One of last of the set builders. I came from a time when building a set was fun and more than just about collecting cards and making a buck. A set was also a yearbook. My yearbook. It marked the season before, which was chronicled on the backs of each card, as well as the season at hand, when you chased the rookie cards and blooming superstars that had never been sought after before.

Now there are no more rookie cards. Only autographed chrome inserts, never pulled from exorbitantly priced packs and boxes. And by the time a player becomes a star today, there have already been dozens of cards issued in dozens of sets that have had scans plastered across the internet an infinite amount of times for all to see, so that by the time I finally got one it felt like I was just dutifully crossing that name off a list of must have cards, instead of savoring it as I had done with so many cards in my youth.

It's not all doom and gloom though. In that same moment of clarity, while I reminisced about how much more fun it was back then, that I realized it could still be fun again. This time by going backwards from the cards I collected as a kid, instead of going forward with the ones I laboriously collect as an adult.

I started collecting in the summer of 1978. My oldest complete set is a 1979 Topps set. Over the last couple of years, I started fishing through bins of old cards buying up nice condition cards from 1974-1978. Within a couple years, I've added a couple hundred cards from each year. So I'm off to a nice start towards building attainable sets. Sets with rookie cards. Sets without inserts. Sets without parallels. Sets without short prints. Sets without variations (some 1974 Padres and a 1979 Bump Wills notwithstanding.....)

I've always had a fervor for set building. I always will. I've spent too much time enjoying it to give it up completely. I have too many memories of opening that first pack or box of that year, as well as finding that last card needed to finish that year's set. Now the time has come to make new memories by rediscovering old cards, and for the first time in a long time, I'm eagerly looking forward to collecting again. By looking backwards.


night owl said...

When modern Topps turns its back on set collectors, there's always vintage.

Have fun!

Carl Crawford Cards said...

Strange but true, I turned toward vintage for much the same reasons. I went AFTER 2002, then 2003, but base sets from ebay in 2004 and 2005, then crapped out. Why chase a set that will cost you north of 2 car payments to finish when you can work on vintage sets with no parallel and less annoyance for less?

Captain Canuck said...

I'm soooooo close on my 2003 set.
Then I stopped.
Then in 2013 and 2014 I started again... they're both about half done :(

Chances are, I'll do it again this year. Well, about half anyways.