Heritage High Numbers may have only been out a little less than two weeks, but it feels like months; after seeing it all over the blogosphere and not being able to get my hands on any packs, it was starting to drive me up a wall. Lately, it feels like my LCS refuses to stock anything that's not Flagship, last weekend's card show stock had already been picked through, and none of the big-box retailers in the area were placing any new product on their shelves. Look, I'm just trying to get my cardboard fix, okay?
At long last, Target finally came through for me yesterday evening. Any longer and I would have been asking if I could just stock their shelves for them. They could pay me in cards.
Thank goodness it didn't come to that, huh? Anyway, the reason I've been so keen on HHN this year is because of one player - Munenori Kawasaki. The little-used, utility infielder/team mascot defied the odds and made the checklist this fall (despite only playing in two games when the list was finalized)... an obvious testament to his popularity. After all, he's a pretty amusing dude.
I truly did not expect Mune to receive any cardboard commemoration of his time with the Cubs, since bench players rarely get love; so, when I saw his name, I got a touch carried away. After all, his slot in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder would look much better filled by a Cubs card than a Blue Jays one.
So, after much debate in the red bulls-eye card aisle, I decided to try my luck with a 35-card value box. Would one of those 35 be my coveted Kawasaki?? I did pull two Cubs cards in the first ten out of the box:
Alas, neither were the Cubs' latest Japanese import. On the bright side though, I was able to land Albert Almora JR's very first Major League card (excluding Bowman product, of course). Apparently, Topps didn't get the memo that Almora has started to specifically include the Jr. as a tribute to his father. That's okay - they'll catch on by next year, when Albert takes over in center for the inevitably departing Dexter Fowler.
Furthermore, it's also nice to see fourth outfielder Matt Szczur get some recognition; he's been a surprisingly potent bat in the pinch this year. However, my biggest takeaway from this card is what is that red, white and blue thing on the handle of his bat? Also, I love the light tower in the background; that just screams classic baseball scene.
That was all when it came to uniformed Cubs; that said, there were a couple more Cubs of a Different Color cards contained within.
Apparently, the trade deadline comes after the deadline for this set, as otherwise the side-arming Joe Smith would be in Cubbie blue. As such, it appears as though Update is the last hope for a properly-uniformed Smith card. On a related note, we also have a former Cub in Austin Jackson who was brought in to bolster the playoff roster in August of last year, too late to be added to any products. In the offseason, he decided to cross over to the other side of the Windy City, a fact which the back of this card notates:
After not doing much for the North Siders, he decided to be fair and do nothing for the South Siders either; his season ended in the first week of June, thanks to a torn meniscus. Here's hoping the former Tigers star heals up and gets his career back on track in 2017.
There was one more card in this value box that fit into a collection of mine, this one slotting into my Coulda Been a Cub binder:
This single also covers this ground with the write up on the back.
Hunter was acquired by the Cubs in the Marlon Byrd trade in 2012 and, despite flashes of greatness, he was never able to put it all together for the organization. After spending most of 2015 in the independent ranks, he beat the odds and made it up with the rebuilding Braves out of spring training. Like Smith, his contract switched hands at the Deadline, as he pitched well enough that the contending Marlins wanted his services.
That did it for the Cubs-connections; but, what about the rest of the contents?
A couple of high-profile rookies - not bad pulls at all, especially since that Nomar is a dreaded SP.
Unfortunately, the immediate future of Keon is in doubt; he broke his arm after colliding into the brick wall at Wrigley Field a couple of weeks ago. That ivy is a disarming danger when tracking fly balls in Chicago - get well soon Keon!
Another notable newbie and my first card of the biggest teen sensation since Britney Spears, Julio Urias. As beautiful as this card is with the bright, blue sky accentuating the Dodger Blue of the pitcher's jersey and glove, this will be going to one of the blogosphere's plentiful Dodger collectors.
On the opposite end of the pitching life spectrum, here's a truly odd sight; "The Freak" in an Angels uniform. Some day, Tim's short, career reboot-attempting stint with the Angels will be a short term stop Hall of Famer.
Remember when Bartolo's record-breakingfirst career home run at the age of 43 and it's corresponding Topps NOW card broke the internet? With a little restraint, I didn't end up having to pay $9.99 plus shipping just to get a single card commemorating the feat. Patience is a virtue, ain't it?
The Now portion of this insert was obviously Bartolo's blast; the Then portion pays note to Jim McGlothlin throwing the first of four shutouts in a six start span in 1967. Both events occurred on May 7th. I'd say Bart definitely wins the battle of notoriety here.
Finally, we wrap up the box with a card featuring a local yokel, Tony Cingrani, who hails from New Lenox. That Chicago suburb is just a 15 minute drive away from where I sit, banging out this post. Seeing as we're about the same ago, I may very well have played against him in my one year of high school baseball.
With guys like Cingrani, Tanner Roark and Mike Foltynewicz in the Majors, the Chicagoland-area must be a good place to grow pitchers.
So, I didn't get my Mune, but it wasn't a total loss. I ended up with 2 Cubs, 2 Cubs of a Different Color and a Coulda Been a Cub, plus some nice trade-bait; so, that's pretty cool. What more can you ask of a value box?
If anything you saw above interests you, drop me a line and it's yours.
In the meantime, my obsessive search for Munenori Kawasaki continues. This wasn't the first time I got High in a Target and, with that goal in mind, it probably won't be the last either!