Card of the Day: 2008 Topps Heritage Pitt Hill Aces

The 2008 Topps Heritage set recreated a Pittsburgh Pirates card from the 1959 Topps set, which was featured here early in our series. Both of the cards pictured four pitchers from the Pirates. The 1959 card was titled “Buc Hill Aces”, while the 2008 Topps Heritage card was titled “Pitt Hill Aces”. The cards looked alike, but the results between the players on the two cards were vastly different. Here’s a look at the latter card, with a scan of the first card for comparison. If you want to read the first article, here’s the link.

Here’s the front of the 2008 Topps Heritage card:

Here’s the original card from 1959:

The 1959 Bucs went for more of a fun-loving photo with everybody smiling, while the 2008 picture went more for an intimidation group photo. The smiling guys win out in a comparison of the players on these cards, as the tribute card certainly didn’t live up to the performances of its predecessor. If you were going to rate the top four pitchers between these two cards, you might have some thinking to do to figure out the order of the top four, but there would be no argument from any sane person about which players would compromise that group. It would be all four players on the 1959 card, Vern Law, Bob Friend, Elroy Face and Ron Kline, and no one from the 2008 card has a legit case to be included in the fourth spot.

All that being said, I still really like the 2008 card. At one time, I had higher hopes for all four of those players, so I can imagine that getting that card in 2008 was actually a really nice pull for Pirates fans. Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny and Paul Maholm were thought to be 3/5ths of the rotation for better times in Pittsburgh. Matt Capps was going to be the closer for that team. Things didn’t work out as planned, but at least in 2008 the Pirates were a lot closer to their next winning season than they were to their last winning season.

Here’s the back of the 2008 card:

The back gives a quick rundown of the four players. Obviously with the amount of room for writing, you can only say so much about each player. Topps noted that both Gorzelanny and Snell pitched over 200 innings and had an ERA under 4.00 in 2007. Paul Maholm finished second with ten wins, while Capps picked up 18 saves. Three of these four pitchers finished 2-4 in WAR for the Pirates in 2007. Jack Wilson had the best mark on the team with 3.6 WAR that year. He was followed by Gorzelanny (3.4), Snell (3.2) and Capps (2.7). Maholm finished way down in 16th place on the team in WAR at 0.4, but when 2008 rolled around, his 3.8 WAR was the best mark on the team, so it ended up being a smart pick by Topps. The other three guys combined for -0.5 WAR, so it really didn’t work out for that trio in 2008. If you didn’t know already, the 2008 Topps Heritage cards also mimicked the back of the 1959 Topps in set-up/design.

If you’re interested in this card, you might be sad to know that there aren’t a lot of options on the Ebays. It’s a short-print card and no one has one for under $8 delivered. There are only about ten of them on Ebay right now and most are in those auctions where you have to select your specific card from a drop-down menu. That’s an easy way for sellers to list multiple cards from the same set. It throws you off because the scan almost never matches the card you’re looking for, but it’s still there to purchase.