Today’s Card of the Day article takes a look at the 2023 Topps Heritage card of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Roansy Contreras. He just turned 24 years old yesterday. I was looking for a random new card that caught my eye, and that process usually ends up with me picking a throwback design. Contreras just happened to be the first one I saw, which works out great with the birthday timing. This 2023 card uses a 1974 design, as Topps continues their odd yearly tradition of looking at the 49th anniversary of old sets.
Here’s the front of the card:
That’s the typical 1974 Topps design, as they decided to use team colors as part of their look that year. That decision has never not worked, at least for the Pirates. That 1974 Topps team set is popular due to the Dave Parker rookie card, though you can also pick up some cards that feature the Roberto Clemente commemorative 21 patch on the sleeves, which the Pirates wore during the 1973 season.
I don’t know if anyone else wears it, or I just never noticed it before, but check out the jersey number on the belt there. The empty stands of what appears to be a game in Cincinnati gives this card and odd reddish/pink background effect.
I tried to figure out the date of this game, but the Pirates played two day games against the Reds in 2022 with Contreras on the mound and no one in the stands. As you may or may not know, MLB “lies” about their attendance numbers by counting tickets sold instead of people in the seats. It’s not actually attendance, it’s the tickets sold (including complimentary tickets issued), and even those seem to be fudged a bit to make things seem better. Crowds of 11K (July 7, 2022) and 13K (September 14, 2022) that year probably didn’t have more than 5,000-6,000 fans actually there, which lines up with what you see behind Contreras. It’s one of those games, as he didn’t pitch in Cincinnati during the 2021 or early 2023 seasons.
Here’s the back of the card:
I really like the throwback designs for the fronts, especially how the bolder/brighter colors can make the worst sets look better. I’m a fan of the 1974 set (trails just the 1970-71 for the decade from Topps), so this didn’t need any help to make the front look better. The thing about throwback designs is that they keep the back looks too, so you get this tough to read boring back. It comes with an appearance by Generic Gray Topps Man, who thought it was a good idea to use a bat with a huge hole in the barrel. Predictably, poor results followed, though his batting stance might have something to do with that outcome.
This card as is can be had for $2 off of a site called Ebay, where you can find most of your baseball card needs. There’s a tougher to find black border option that sold for around $6 delivered not long ago. Otherwise this is a pretty straight forward card for the pricing section. One person had a lot of 25 cards for just over $10 delivered. Not a bad deal if Contreras can bounce back from a rough season.
The daily Card of the Day articles should return very soon, as I recently finished up two history projects (one very big one). Expect about 5-7 Card of the Day articles per week soon. Here is the archive of past articles, which has plenty to read if you’re new here. I believe that there are over 1,100, but I’m not going to count.