Card of the Day: 2009 Topps Heritage Luis Cruz

There have been ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on February 10th. A few of them don’t have Card of the Day options that show them as a member of the Pirates, but it’s always good when you have multiple options. Today’s card choice comes from the 2009 Topps Heritage set, and it features infielder Luis Cruz, who played for the 2008-09 Pirates. In fact, he made his big league debut with the Pirates.

Cruz is featured here on a 1960 Topps throwback design, which looks a bit different for the Rookie Stars subset. It’s funny because whenever I see that design, I think about the rookie card of Jim Kaat from this set. I bought a bunch of his rookie cards about 15 years ago when I saw how cheap they were for someone who had a Hall of Fame shot. It only took about 14 years for that to come true. Kaat was around forever in baseball, debuting in the majors in 1959, then finishing up his career with the Pirates during Spring Training of 1984.

Kaat is known for his longevity because it happened at the Major League level. Luis Cruz is barely known outside of his home country of Mexico, but he just recently completed a season of winter ball in Mexico. He was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in August of 2000, so he’s been playing a long time. The amazing part is that it has been 9 1/2 years since his final big league game. Today’s his 39th birthday, so we take a look at card #133 from the 2009 Topps Heritage set.

Here’s the front of the card:

This is very similar to the Rookie Stars subset from the 1960 Topps set. The words across the bottom look exactly the same, except for the legal short-hand after the word Pirates. That didn’t exist on cards back then. The “rookie card” symbol next to his photo is an addition. The 1960 Topps set has nothing like that. Obviously the Topps Heritage symbol wasn’t there in 1960. The other change might be easy to miss. The part where it says “Topps Magazine” on this card, said “Sport Magazine” back in the day, which was a real magazine that existed from 1946 through 2000. Topps just made the newer cards more personal.

That photo pictures Cruz in a 2008 Pirates uniform. The identifier is in the bottom left side (his right). You can see part of the 250th anniversary patch for the city of Pittsburgh, which the Pirates wore than season.

Here’s the back of the card:

The backs of the cards look just like the design of the 1960 set as well. All of that legal mumbo jumbo at the bottom and on the right side changes the look a bit, but the stats are set up just the same. All of the cards had one year and lifetime stats. They all had a bio section and a cartoon. One thing in his bio shocked me. The World Baseball Classic started 17 years ago? Seriously? Where did that time go? I may have guessed 2009, but even that seems like a long time ago.

Cruz actually had a very embarrassing WBC moment when he didn’t know the scoring rules rewarded teams that scored more runs, and then he got mad that a player on Canada put down a bunt for a hit late in a game with a big lead. He got caught on camera telling his pitcher to hit the next batter, which kicked off a wild brawl, all because Cruz didn’t know the scoring rules of the tournament.

These cards are typical common cards on Ebay. You shouldn’t pay more than $2 to get one delivered. There are four autographed copies up right now. Three of them are priced between $5 and $6 delivered. The other one is $33. The difference between that one and the other three you ask? About $28. Otherwise, nothing is different on the card.