Friday, February 24, 2012

Hero Numbers Pt I: Why Don't We Talk about Hero Numbers?

When I collected cards as a kid I had a certain fascination with Hero Numbers and to some extent I still do.  Each year I enjoy seeing which players have been awarded hero numbers - and with heritage it is interesting to see what players get paired with stars of yesteryear on those numbers.  
2012 Topps #100 Jose Bautista (b-Side)

Recently it occurred to me with literrally hundreds of blogs discussing every topic in the world related to cards we rarely hear any discusiion about Hero Numbers.  Heroes are an aspect of Topps Cards that date all the way back to their classic sets of the 1950s. 

This got me thinking, am I the only person that gives a damn about hero numbers?  Am I just numbers obsessed with numbers while the typical collector views them as fluff.
This led me to ask around for some outside opinions. 

One of the folks I thought of turning to was our resident Mathamatician, Reds Fan, and Super BoxBreaker Chris from Nacho's Grande.  I was interested on his take on numbers and our perception of them.

Nachos Grande: 
Although mathematicians don't think of numbers in terms of "hero" numbers much - they do think in terms of different bases.  For most of us, we are used to counting by tens (base 10) so numbers like 10, 100, and 1000 DO hold a special place in a mathematicians heart.  Computer scientists are used to base 2 (1s and 0s) so the powers of 2 are their form of "hero" numbers (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc.).

Ahh - of course - we have 10 fingers and that is the basis for a lot of our numbers thinking - can you imagine if we were all Simpsons - Our hero Numbers would be 80, 160, and 240 - actually they would still be 100 200 and 300, but they woudl occur every 80th card.  The 660 card set woudl contain 8 heroes rather than 6. 

For the record The Computer Scientists Hero Numbers in 2012 Series 1 would yield: 
2  Trevor Cahill
Jeremy Guthrie
8  Mike Adams
16  Desmond Jennings 
32   Detroit Tigers Post Season highlights
64 Michael Martinez
128  Lucas Duda
256  Mat Latos

of course all your Hero Numbers would be in S1 - Series two would only yield 512.  Interesting list there - Lets face it only in the Comp Sci world of Binary Numbers is Michael Martinez a Hero Number.  I think Desmond Jennings is a prospect - maybe he is a future HN candidate.
Next up I spoke with Greg from Night Owl Cards.  The Night Owl is one of the stronger Topps enthusiasts among card bloggers and is always good for fresh insight on every aspect of collecting.

Night Owl Cards: 

I've read hero numbers in the past from older blogs, like The Baseball Card Blog. I thought it was something that had been addressed pretty completely already so that's why I've never mentioned it on my blog.
As for what I think: I grew up with the hero number system, so it makes sense to me. At some point in the '90s, Topps got away from it. Now it addresses it -- sort of. It seems to be that it uses an appropriate hero number whenever it feels like it -- which is basically Topps' philosophy in everything now. "If I feel like it."
Personally, I'd like Topps to do what Fleer used to do -- group each team together by card number. Maybe it wouldn't look as great in a binder, but it sure makes it easy for collectors in other ways.

Interesting take here - Has Topps devalued the Hero Number by ignoring them?  Recently Topps Series 1 and 2 have at least given the idea a nod.  The Updates and Highlights sets have been sporadic.  Heritage only recognizes Hero Numbers to pair active players with their historically significant teammates. 

I was a little dismayed about all this.  Maybe I am the only person that cares about Hero Numbers and that is why they do not get talked about.  Perhaps they are too inherently obvious and posting about them is just restating the obvious.  

The last paragraph from Night Owl also bummed me out.  I have never been partial to the Fleer/UD thing of bunching teams together - I like the cards spread out through a set and seeing a binder page with a variety of players - that's just personal preference.  I appreciate the convenience of having all of a teams players in one area - for me the variety in a base set trumps that convenience.  In the NetWorld there are plenty of places to dig up team set information. 

Exception - Dammit Topps can you put the League Leaders cards together.  sprinkling them through the set is just plain annoying.

On Deck
Hero Numbers 2012 - in the Part 2 we will discuss the Merits of this years Heroes Mr Bautsita (above), Miguel Cabrera, and Josh Hamilton


Wilson said...

As a CS and Math double major, I was so happy to live in apartment 512 my entire time in undergrad. And it was the only power of 2 in the building, since there were 12 floors, 12 apartments per floor, numbered floor*100 + per-floor number, so the lowest was 101, highest was 1212, and there was no 128, 256, or 1024.

I like numbers a little too much.

As for the Hero numbers, I like it, because when I see a gap in a big set at 100 or 200, I'm excited to fill that gap since I know it'll be a star. Of course I could look up the checklist and know where the star gaps were, but I never do.

Wrigley Wax said...

I like the Hero numbers, too; though it is very rare for a Cub to get one. Here is a post I did last month on a random anti-hero number.

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