The Heritage Of Alex Gordon

As a follow-up to the 10th annual “Topps Pack Opening Day,” I was studying the 2012 Heritage proof sheet by pals there were nice enough to provide. A familiar face showed up:

Last year, after a lot of hard work and a willingness to change what he had done all his life, the former collegiate superstar finally lived down his reputation as a man most famous for one of his baseball cards, and is now “just” a top flight hitter on what might quickly become a tremendous offensive machine in Kansas City, and this is “just” what his 2012 Topps Heritage Card #51 is going to look like.

2006 Topps #297 Alex Gordon

Even most non-collectors remember the brouhaha six years ago at this time when cards of Gordon appeared in the 2006 Topps and 2006 Topps Heritage sets – even though the MLB Players Association had recently codified the rules about who could and couldn’t be in big league card sets. It was comparatively simple: if you hadn’t already played a major league game, you couldn’t be included in a major league set. Topps, either accidentally (or many critics say, deliberately) got confused because that one rule meant Gordon – with 0 major league games under his belt – was eligible to be included in one of its brands, Bowman, but not eligible for its two others, Topps and Topps Heritage.

Gordon cards were made for all three sets and the MLBPA screamed bloody murder and just before the sets were released, the cards were supposedly pulled out of the packs of Topps and Heritage. The regular Topps set was released first, and cards of Gordon with a two-inch square hole in the middle started appearing in the packs (a ‘punch’ of some sort being used to destroy the inner portion of the cards while they were still on the uncut sheets, and the sheets were still stacked at the printers’). Not long after, full versions of the card appeared, some of them in packs shipped to PXs at American Military Bases in Germany.

If you think the thing with the Skip Schumaker “Squirrel” card is crazy, it pales in comparison to L’Affaire Gordon. I bought a few of the cards at four-figure prices on eBay, on the premise that this was the first regular Topps card ‘pulled’ from circulation since at least 1958. I was actually accused of being some sort of shill for the thing, because I consult on Topps’ retro issues; in point of fact I learned about the card’s scarcity on ESPN’s website, weeks after it came out. Topps estimated that maybe 50 to 100 of the Gordon cards got out, and maybe an equivalent number of ‘cutout’ cards. In the spring, however, a longtime dealer friend told me he’d been offered a large quantity of them. “I can get you 500 of them if you’ll pay the price.” Needless to say, I didn’t. As of this writing, there’s exactly one of them on eBay, but I’m confident that the number in circulation is closer to 1,000 than it is to 100.

2006 Topps Heritage #255 Alex Gordon cutout card with two "fragments"

Weeks later, Topps Heritage hit the stores and sure enough, the #255 Alex Gordon appeared – but only in cutout form. This frame-like card still shows up at times, although only a few of the fragments from the cutout parts ever hit the hobby.

You can see from the little Frankenstein-like assemblage of parts here that there must’ve been a third “fragment” there bearing Gordon’s face. This was the only time Topps ever actually issued a jigsaw puzzle kind of card (although they experimented with a set of them in the early ’70s – and it bombed). One wonders if somebody opened a pack of 2006 Heritage and found these little pieces of junk without realizing what they were, and tossed them.

In any event, six years and five Alex Gordon Topps Heritage cards later (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), a full uncut version of the #255 2006 Heritage has never turned up. But I think it’s time for me to confess that I have one – sorta. We end as we began, with the fact that Topps indulges my long-standing fascination with their production process by donating the occasional proof sheet or printout to my Unintentional Museum.

So, for awhile now, I’ve had a paper proof version of the uncut 2006 Heritage Gordon. You’ll notice it looks different than the issued card – the proofs had red outlines, a “Rookie Card” logo, and the position designation had not yet been coordinated with the original abbreviations from the 1957 Topps set on which the Heritage cards were based. But, if you’ve ever wanted to see what the ’06 Heritage Gordon was supposed to look like… Ta da:

2006 Topps Heritage #255 Alex Gordon Proof (from the Keith Olbermann Collection. Ok, Obsession)


  1. Jennifer Vajda (@JenniferVajda)

    Would you like a few boxes of baseball cards? Clutter in attic had been former coworker’s son’s collection- no idea what is in the mix. Don’t want to throw them away but posting them to ebay seems troublesome. Examples from a box: Pirates, Bob Walk topps 349 June 1984; Phillies, Todd Frohwirth topps 378; Domingo Ramos 622, 1987; Jose Quendo, 68, St Louis Cardinals 1990; Phillies, Steve Jeltz, topps 126, Twins, Dan Schatzeder, topps 218, 1988 I think, needing bifocals or magnifying glass. Appears to be 1980’s mostly. 100’s of them. Not in any order. Commemorative set of 1969 Seattle Pilots has 40 cards. Stuff, it’s so much fun.

  2. Logan Strickland

    I have one of the 2006 topps #297 cut out cards. I got it when I was in high school (back when I didn’t know much about collectors cards) and I tried to return the pack of cards since one of the cards was a cut out ha. Luckily for me the guy running the card shop where I bought it told me I should hang on to it because it was a pretty rare card. Glad I did!

  3. Drycounty Bullies Mike

    .I too was a part of that Alex Gordon Walmart pack craze in 2007 and spent $1500 on packs to only come out of it with an autographed AG card. Since then I’ve picked up some blank cards, full cards and cut outs. After collecting several of the gold foil blank cards, I realized that the first card I bought in late 2007 or early 2008 of the blank was actually SILVER foil. After researching this… it seems it may be the rarest of the Alex Cards from that set… I’ve only heard of 4 from a collector that deals with rare or error cards and he says you, Keith O owns one of the silver foil blanks. IF this is right what I’ve read on Baseball Card Pedia, that there are 4 variations consisting of.

    297a Alex Gordon full

    297b Alex Gordon cut out

    297c Alex Gordon framed

    297d Alex Gordon blank

    This would indicate there may be a scare 5th version? I’m only basing that on the fact it seems the “regular” blank AG card seems to be in Gold foil writing.

  4. Jill Palmer

    I have a Alex Gordon Rookie Card #297 , when you turn it over the trademark date says 2010. Please tell me this is the correct card. It looks exactly the same.

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