Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1984 Richmond Braves TCMA

Set size: 27 cards

Front Design: The color photo is surrounded by a rounded purple border. Purple stars appear in the upper corners. A green border outlines the purple border and contains the player's name, position, and team in white letters at the bottom.

Back Design: The black-on-white backs contain the team and league names and year of issue at the top; a border similar to the purple front border surrounds the card number, player's name, position, vitals, and basic statistics. Sponsor logos and a TCMA advertisement fill the bottom half of the card.

Parallels and Similars: All 1984 TCMA minor league issues follow the same design, and most TCMA issues of the period have similar designs.

Distribution: TCMA sold their own sets, but it was also possible to find them at dealers and stadiums (especially sets with sponsors like this one). *Note: This actual card is most likely a reprint, possibly part of a sheet distributed with collectors kits in the mid-80s. However, the design is the same, except for the borders - note that in my card, the green border does not go to the edge; on original-issue TCMAs, the green reaches the edge.

Thoughts: Am I the only one who wishes he had one of those TCMA checklist books? $4 was a lot of money back then. I would like to see one! The cards themselves are fairly unimpressive, as most minor league sets are from the 1980s. By 1984, Rufino Linares was on his way out. He never found his place, despite hitting .298 in 1982. He would finish with the Angels in 1985, batting .256 in 18 games. He died in an automobile accident in 1998.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1943 MP and Co. (R302-1)

Set size: 24 cards, 2-11/16" by 2-1/4"

Front Design: A low-quality cartoonish drawing of the player with no borders takes up the entire front, except for a large baseball with the player's name in red ink.

Back Design: The backs are printed in blue, with the player's full name in all caps at the top, followed by his position and team. A short career biography and vital statistics fill the bulk of the card; the bottom contains copyright information. There are variations that do not include the team, and variations in ink color.

Parallels and Similars: The similar 1949 issue contains a new checklist and card numbers on the back. The 1949 issue is also more washed out than this release. Though only six players from the 1943 set also appeared in the 1949 set, many of the images were reused.

Distribution: This is one of the few sets issued during World War II, and the first one from that era added to my collection. The cards were originally issued in strips and sold in candy stores. The strips were eight cards long (horizontally), and three strips were issued. The variations in fonts and ink colors indicate the cards were reprinted several times, possibly for several years during the war. Jimmie Foxx appears with two different teams, the trade occurring in 1942.

Thoughts: My thoughts on card sets that feature artwork should be well-known. If they aren't - I love them. These cards are very low quality - the sample image above should be shown at original size. The quality is similar to (or less than) the comics in the newspaper. But I still like this set's style. This is another issue that I hope Topps (or another manufacturer) uses in a throwback design. Granted, the paper would need to be better, the printing quality improved, and the cartoons would need to at least somewhat resemble the players mentioned in the text.

Monday, August 29, 2011

1955 Dodgers Golden Stamps

Set size: 32 stamps, 2" x 2-5/8"

Front Design: A white border surrounds a color portrait. The player's name is presented in capital letters at the bottom of the stamp. The borders are perforated.

Back Design: The backs are blank, as all stamps should be.

Parallels and Similars: There are four issues of Golden Stamps (Giants, Braves, Dodgers, and Indians).

Distribution: Two sheets of 16 stamps, making a complete set, were included in a team album.

Thoughts: The stamps are quite plain, but the 32-page albums are the real gems of this set, with drawings and write-ups for the players. The albums are designed to complement the stamps, unlike albums like the current Topps offering, which provides storage, display, and team sorting of the stamps but no real extra supplemental content. The albums are the expensive part of the set, with the Dodgers album valued at $200 (including stamps in their original unpasted format).

Additional Images: album:
 Inside the album (front page/first stamp sheet)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

1974 Topps Stamps

Set size: 240 stamps, 1" by 1-1/2"

Front Design: A color player photo in a black frame dominates most of the stamp, while the player's name, team, and position are in a solid-colored oval at the bottom.

Back Design: Stamps are blank-backed.

Parallels and Similars: There are several issues of Topps Stamps, but each year had its own design.

Distribution: Stamps were issued in sheets of 12 with one of 24 different team albums. Each album held the ten stamps of players for that team.

Thoughts: The design is clean and relatively attractive, and with 24 unique, relatively inexpensive sheets, collecting a full set isn't too difficult. Of all the Topps stamp issues I'm familiar with, this is most likely my favorite.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

1962 Topps Stamps

Set size: 201 stamps, each 1-3/8" by 1-7/8"

Front Design: Each stamp has a color photo on a red or yellow background. The player's name, team, and position appear over a white background beneath the photo. A black frame surrounds the picture and text. The stamps have a jagged edge.

Back Design: Being stamps, there are no backs.

Parallels and Similars: Topps has issued stamps in multiple years, though the design differs. Other companies have released stamps as well, and reprinting or copying this design wouldn't be difficult. I'm not aware of any reprints. The 2011 Topps Heritage set created new stamp panels, but those were mounted to cards. Original 1962 stamps were used in a separate set that year.

Distribution: Stamps came in panels as shown above, inserted into regular packs of 1962 Topps.

Thoughts: I enjoy products which are unique, and stamps are a departure from the usual baseball card. The design is minimal, unlike the prior year's ornate release. These are full-color though, as the 1961 stamps were drab. The stamps aren't too expensive, other than Mantle, but with a large checklist, assembling a full set poses a challenge.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Yankees Yearbooks, Scorebooks and Programs

"I thought this blog was about baseball cards," I hear you saying. That's the basic premise, but when it comes to baseball, I don't know a collector who doesn't have at least a few souvenirs. My souvenir collection probably started with my first baseball game ticket, but the first souvenirs I remember owning were some of the old Coke baseball bottle caps.

I'm not planning on showing all my baseball souvenirs here. I can show most of them on my regular blog - This Card Is Cool in a feature called This is NOT a Baseball Card - but every once in a while I find something that belongs here. You see, my Zoo list is based on the Beckett database, which includes some more frequently-traded valuable souvenirs. Yearbooks, programs, and ticket stubs are just a few of the oddball items found in the Zoo.
Scorecards have been an important part of baseball since, well, scores were first kept. They're fairly unique to baseball. Do fans at basketball, football, and hockey games keep stats during the game? Have you seen scorecards at the Daytona 500? The extension from that (which you find at most events, including concerts, plays, etc) is the program, and then the yearbook. Take a scorecard, surround it with biographical and statistical information about the players, add an article or two, and throw in a bunch of advertising, and you have a program or yearbook. The first yearbooks listed in the Beckett database date back to 1887! Programs have been around longer than that.
The first Yankees yearbook was issued in 1950. Through the 1950s and 1960s, they issued multiple versions and were issued by different publishers (Jay Publishing had a "competing" yearbook during that period). The 1966 season saw four versions of the yearbook published. Since 1968 things have settled down, and modern yearbooks don't really hold a premium.
My representative copy is a 1984 program, instead of a complete yearbook. I'll be looking for a replacement eventually. My yearbook/program goal is one per team/location (NY Giants and SF Giants count as two teams; Seattle Pilots and Seattle Mariners count as two teams), plus both LDSs, both LCSs, a World Series program and and an All-Star Game program.

Thoughts: In my mind, the cover is the most important part of a yearbook or program. Many of the older programs have interesting art, such as the 1963 yearbook above. While the 1984 program shows a legacy of greatness, it doesn't have the cartoonish joy of the '63 or the triumphant imagery of the '57. There is a card set that showcases the history of World Series programs, issued by Topps in 2004 (Fall Classic Covers). Due to the difficulty and cost of purchasing old World Series programs, this set is a great way to collect and display these works of art.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1960 Dodgers Team Issue

Set size: 20 5x7 photos

Front Design: A black and white photo appears with a white border; a player's facsimile signature appears below the photo.

Back Design: The backs are blank.

Parallels and Similars: These "cards" are essentially the same as the Jay Publishing issues of the same time period, except for the facsimile signature in place of the player's name and team.

Distribution: Similar to Jay Publishing distribution, these would have been sold through mail order and at the stadium. They came as complete sets in a manila envelope that contains the year of issue.

Thoughts: I'm not sure why the Dodgers felt the need to go with a larger set of their own issue, instead of the 12-card Jay Publishing sets. The facsimile signature helped me identify this as a 1960 issue, as it appears (from the limited amount of information available) the 1958 and 1959 issues did not use signatures, and Jay Publishing sets didn't either. Other than the lack of statistics, write-up, year of issue, etc, I would love to see these issued again each year for each team. I'm guessing a licensing agreement with Topps makes it difficult or impossible for major league teams to make their own sets. Why can't major league teams carry their own team-issued sets in stadiums? (Or, why can't they carry photo packs, at least?)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1991 Homers Cookies Classics

Set size: 9 cards

Front Design: The white bordered cards contain a sepia photo of the player inside a bronze frame; a box in the lower left corner contains his name in white capital letters.

Back Design: The black-ink-on-white backs have the player's name, date of Hall of Fame induction, lifetime statistics, and a collection of career highlights. The complete checklist and Homers Classics logo appears at the bottom.

Parallels and Similars: none known

Distribution: One card was inserted into each box of Homers Cookies.

Thoughts: The set is very plain in its design, and looks like card layout was an afterthought. On the other hand, the checklist contains a good selection of Hall of Famers, and kids opening the cookies in 1991 would receive a little bit of baseball history with their sugar rush. At only 9 cards, it's an easy set to complete, but only if you have an emotional attachment to the cookies or like all nine players.

Additional Images: card back:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1994 SP Holoviews

Set size: 38 cards

Front Design: A color player photo appears with a multicolored band along the right side containing the player's name, while an identically styled banner across the bottom half surrounds a hologram containing a portrait of the player and a cloudy sky.

Back Design: Another photo is placed over a large "Holoview FX" cloud logo containing the players name, team and position; a short highlights writeup is on the right side of the card.

Parallels and Similars: A die-cut version parallels this set.

Distribution: Cards were inserted one in five packs of 1994 SP.

Thoughts: Upper Deck's hologram sets usually look good, and this is no different. A larger hologram would put this set on my want list, but for this issue the hologram is secondary to the rest of the card. As far as SP inserts go, this shouldn't be too difficult to find. Many SP inserts were inserted one per box or tougher.

Additional Images: card back:

Monday, August 22, 2011

1994 Classic Four Sport Printer's Proofs

Set size: 201 cards

Front Design: A full-bleed color photo with a beveled-edge effect encompasses the basic design. The Four Sport logo, the player's name, and a Printer's Proof "stamp" all appear in red foil over the photo.

Back Design: The back contains a second color photo; the card number is in the upper-right corner in a small black box. A beveled edge shaded box sits over the bottom half of the photo with the player's vitals, stats, and a short list of highlights.

Parallels and Similars: The Printer's Proof set is a parallel of the regular Four Sport set, distinguished by the red foil stamp on the front of the card. A gold parallel also exists.

Distribution: One thousand of each card was printed and randomly inserted into Classic Four Sport packs.

Thoughts: As the name implies, this is a multisport product. The Four Sport line started in the early '90s during the first-card phase of the hobby. Manufacturers rushed to be the first to release cards of the latest, hottest picks in each sport; Classic's releases were usually among the earliest. The set's design relies on quality action photos, which this card exhibits well; it is a simple yet effective layout for its time.

Additional Images: card back:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

1990 Canton-Akron Indians ProCards

Set size: 27 cards

Front Design: Cards are designed to resemble hand-made photo plaques. The photo appears with a white border on a woodgrain background; a gold plate at the bottom contains the player's name, position, and team.

Back Design: The horizontal backs contain the player's vitals and minor league statistics on a peach background. The card number appears in the upper-left corner, and is numbered as part of a master set. Note: as Jason points out in the comments below, my card back is different from the team set by essentially two things: the additional card number in the lower right, and the black border.

Parallels and Similars: All 1990 ProCards team sets follow this design.

Distribution: Cards were distributed through dealers, the team, and the manufacturer.

Thoughts: I remember making photo plaques like that at camp or in boy scouts. You'd cut out a photograph, glue it on a piece of stained wood, and cover it with varnish. Maybe you'd use a drawing, make your own nameplate, put something like "Happy Mother's Day!" in cheap marker, and you'd have a gift ready to go! If the wood color didn't remind me of a 1970s station wagon, and the borders weren't white, I would enjoy this design a good bit. The backs are plain, though I always appreciate minor league statistics. There is plenty of room for a write-up, but I suppose when you're a company printing over 1300 different cards each for two different sets, with players moving up and down daily, a biography can be tough to write and out of date before it's even printed.

Additional Images: card back:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1990 Richmond Braves CMC

Set size: 27 cards

Front Design: A color photo appears inside a green and yellow frame. The team name appears on the left side, with the player's name and position on the bottom edge. A team logo is positioned inside a home plate in the lower left.

Back Design: A sponsor's logo appears at the top, followed by the team name and affiliation. A cropped version of the front photo appears in a gray box, while the player's name, jersey number, position, vitals, and minor league statistics are to the left. The cards are numbered in an overall master set scheme at the bottom, while the team set card number appears in a circle above the player's name. Team set cards have a minty green back, while this actual card comes from a larger release (thanks Jason!).

Parallels and Similars: None.

Distribution: Cards were sold through team stores, dealers, and the manufacturer in team set form, packaged in a plastic wrapper. Only 1100 sets were manufactured.

Thoughts: This is one of the more uninspiring designs in the era of overproduction. Adding to the issue is the ready availability of these sets, purchased in bulk by speculators and now dumped back on the hobby, full of players who never made it to the majors. Every team set has a few stars, and Brian Hunter spent some time in the majors, though he never attained stardom in nine seasons with six teams. The Richmond Braves are no more, playing now in Georgia as the Gwinnett Braves.

Additional Images: not exactly the card back:
Team set back style (different team, thanks again Jason):

Friday, August 19, 2011

1995 Emotion N-Tense

Set size: 12 cards

Front Design: A player photo sits over an etched-foil background, while a giant silver holographic foil N hovers behind him. An "N-tense" logo, the player's name and his team appear in gold foil at the bottom of the card.

Back Design: Another photo and a paragraph describing the player's intensity fill most of the card space over a color swirling lightning background design similar to the front design.

Parallels and Similars: None.

Distribution: Cards were inserted 1 in 37 packs of Emotion, a Fleer/SkyBox set.

Thoughts: For a foil-heavy 1990s insert card design, this is an attractive card. As you can see from the write-up on the back of Gant's card, the cards are inspirational. The giant N haunts Gant like a Sesame Street letter that was killed by Bert...

Additional Images: card back:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

1991-92 Pro Cards Tomorrow's Heroes

Set size: 26 cards

Front Design: A player photo appears in a white diamond-shaped box, surrounded by small gray diamonds at the top and silver foil diamonds below over a pink background. The player's name, position, and team name appear in a red banner at the bottom while the ProCards logo is at the top.

Back Design: The backs contain the player's name and position in a red box at the top, followed by team details, vital statistics, and career minor league statistics.

Parallels and Similars: I'm not aware of any, though they may exist.

Distribution: Cards were sold in 12-card packs, and the set was fairly limited (Beckett reports 1009 cases).

Thoughts: Poor Chad Curtis needs some sunglasses after sitting in the clubhouse playing Super Mario Brothers for several hours. The use of foil is fairly new for baseball card sets at the time this card was released, though the design is fairly basic. It is much more attractive than the ProCards notebook set design. I suppose they wanted to go all-out for this limited edition set featuring the best of the minor leagues?

Thank you, Jason, for your help (see comments).

Additional Images: card back:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1991 Front Row Draft Picks

Set size: 50 cards

Front Design: A color photo sits inside a thin black border. The Front Row logo appears in the upper right, and a shadowed diamond identifies the player as a '91 Draft Pick. The player's name and position appear beneath the photo in the gray card border.

Back Design: The backs are a bit more attractive than the front. The player's full name is at the top left in a green box, while a second color photo is in the top right. The light-gray remainder of the backs contain vitals and high school/college statistics and a highlights paragraph.

Parallels and Similars: Gold and silver parallel sets exist.

Distribution: Cards were distributed in "complete" set form, containing cards 1-49, a serial-numbered certificate of authenticity (240,000 sets were produced), and a bonus card. The bonus card could be redeemed for card numbers 50-54 (51-54 were "update" cards) and one card from a separate bonus set.

Thoughts: The overall design quality of this set is on par with what a teenager could make in Microsoft Publisher in a few minutes. Front Row must have secured individual licenses with the players (as they did with Griffey Jr.). An unexpected bonus of this set may be the ability to see the players in amateur uniforms on high school or college fields.

Additional Images: card back

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1994-95 Excel All-Stars

Set size: 10 cards

Front Design: A full-bleed color photo received a "crayon" highlighting treatment around the player. His name appears in a large, broken, off-kilter wild font, and gold foil at the bottom left gives the name of the set; the Excel logo is in the upper right corner.

Back Design: A cropped version of the same photo is the background to a highlight biography. The player's name is repeated in the same crazy font beneath the biography, followed by his team name and position, the card number and copyright information.

Parallels and Similars: None.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of the minor league issue 1994-95 Excel.

Thoughts: Sure, it's a wild, loud design, but it's different from most of the uninspired inserts we see these days. The set featured what Excel considered 10 of the best minor leaguers of the 1994 season. Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon are the two real success stories from the set, though many of them made the majors. A design like this would be good in a kid/family/value-oriented product, such as Opening Day.

Additional Images: card back:

Monday, August 15, 2011

1994 SP Previews

Set size: 15 cards

Front Design: The design is identical to the 1994 SP set, with a color photo on foil cardstock. The player's name, position, and team appear in a black banner, set sideways along the right side, with a gold band of SP logos taking up the far-right border. The region of distribution (see below) appears in the bottom right corner of the photo where the team name is located on the regular issue.

Back Design: Again, the design is the same as the 1994 SP set. A color photo uses most of the card back, with a black border on the left side containing the player's name and a career highlight; the card number is in the upper-left corner with an ER, WR, or CR prefix. The bottom of the card contains vitals and best and recent season and career stats.

Parallels and Similars: The set is identical to the regular SP set except for the region on the front and card number on the back. There is no die-cut parallel for these previews, though there was for the base set.

Distribution: Cards were inserted into Upper Deck Series 2 at a rate of one in 35 packs. The fifteen card set was divided into regions; west, central and east regions contained five cards each of regional stars. In order to complete the set, one would need to buy from or trade with people in other parts of the country.

Thoughts: I remember when these first came out. At the time, I was living in Atlanta and purchasing boxes from a store in San Jose, so I was one of the few with western region previews on the east coast. I don't remember what I did with the cards - they're probably still sitting in my collection in George. I tend to dislike foil cards like this because it detracts from the quality of the image, though the SP logo on the right side looks nice.

Additional Images: card back:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

1940s-1950s Japanese Menko Cards ("Tobacco" Style)

This weekend I've posted four sets, including the one below. All five cards displayed over the weekend were recent pickups at the Alameda Antique Fair. 
 Set size: Unknown. These cards are approximately tobacco-card sized, though they are a little wider.

Front Design: Japanese Menko baseball cards tend to feature either a specific or generic player in a comic book-style image. A minimal amount of Japanese text accompanies the image.

Back Design: The backs of this design are relatively identical, and are printed in blue ink. Three crossed bats sit behind a large black baseball. The image of a glove and trophy, and the words "BASE BALL" all appear horizontally between the two seams of the ball. A six-digit code in the format ####X## appears in a white box at the bottom.

Parallels and Similars: There are many menko sets, and without a guide I'm unable to identify the details of this set.

Distribution: The story of Japanese cards - and menko in particular - is fairly interesting. Cards like these got their start for use in games, though Americans serving in Japan frequently brought the cards back with them.

Thoughts: I love the art on these cards. They look awesome in person, and it doesn't matter if I don't know who the player is or if it's a real player at all. It's like a little slice of a comic strip removed from its context. Maybe the batter above is staring down the pitcher because he just got a brush-back pitch. Maybe the runner in the card below is about to steal third or score the winning run to win the championship. Once I buy a guide to Japanese cards I'll be able to revisit these two and determine what I have and where they really came from. Until then, these are highly welcome in my collection.

Additional Links: While it's mostly a sales outlet, there is some information on Japanese cards at Rob's website.

Additional Images: A second example bought with the first card (front and back):

1962 Angels Jay Publishing

Set size: 12-5x7 photos.

Front Design: A black and white photo sits inside a thick white border; the player's name and team appear at the bottom.

Back Design: The backs are blank.

Parallels and Similars: There are many issues by Jay Publishing over several years. Most issues of this era have the same design, and there are no markings to identify the date. There are additional similar issues (such as the late-50's to early-60's Dodgers team issues) that have slightly different markings.

Distribution: These 5x7 photos were sold in packs of 12 as stadium souvenirs. You could also buy them in stores and order them directly from the company. Each year a new set would be made, and as players were added or removed from teams the content of the sets would be updated. Sets were issued for several teams in several seasons, and identifying the actual year of release is quite difficult without a complete pack or set - the intact packs contain the date and a full set can help identify the year due to trades and new teammates.

Thoughts: I dislike the lack of information on these photos. For single-item collectors such as myself (and player collectors), these will be a nightmare to fully unravel. I'm going through a similar issue with a '58-65 Dodger Team Issue - I have no comparisons to identify which set it came from. On the other hand, having a collection of 5x7 photos is a fantastic way to collect autographs - the larger size makes them great for pinning on a wall. The set I bought this from was glued to something at some point, and there's some signs of that on the back.

Additional Images: An intact picture pack. Note the date of issue included on the plastic cover.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

1910 T218 Champions

Set size: 153 cards, 2-1/2" wide by 2-7/8" tall.

Front Design: A white border surrounds a painting of the subject; his name appears in capital print in a corner.

Back Design: The backs contain a simple frame with fanciful loopy corners. Inside the frame is the subject's name in caps and a short career highlights biography. Beneath the biography is an advertisement for a tobacco brand, and some identification of the card series. There are multiple series and tobacco brands (Hassan and Mecca); as a result the tobacco advertisement can vary slightly from card to card.

Parallels and Similars: None known, though there are multiple series and tobacco backs. I don't have enough experience with tobacco cards, especially of this size, to know if there are other similar issues.

Distribution: Tobacco cards were distributed with packs of cigarettes as "premiums" designed mainly to keep the cigarettes from being crushed.

Thoughts: There are no baseball players in this set, but it fits into the multi-sport part of my type collection. The art is high-quality, and a baseball set or other interesting subject of the same style would be a great set to pursue. Since this set doesn't contain baseball players, information is scarce.

Additional Images: Card back:

1935-36 Diamond Match Co. Series 3 Type 1

This is the first of four posts this weekend depicting vintage cards found at last weekend's Alameda Antiques Fair.

Set size: 151 or 156 (depending on source) matchbooks

Front Design: The front of a closed matchbook contains a sepia colored player photo inside an off-white border. The player's name and team name appears on the saddle with a baseball banner. This series is bordered in red, green, or blue.

Back Design: The back of the closed matchbook contains the player's name and a career biography. A light-blue background with a white silhouette of a batter appears behind the text. On the bottom edge is "THE DIAMOND MATCH CO. N.Y.C." The inside of the matchbook is blank.

Parallels and Similars: There were four matchbook sets issued by the Diamond Match Co. Series 3 is distinguishable by the baseball on the saddle, the colored (red, green, or blue) borders, and the lack of a team name on the back. Type 2 contains almost entirely Cubs (including Tex Carleton), and can be distinguished by the stats on the back. (This is a Type 1 because Carleton was 28 in 1935. Type 2 is essentially a 1937 issue, so it would list his age as 29 or 30.)

Distribution: Matchbooks were big collectibles in the 1930s, and they were readily available with the large number of smokers back then.

Thoughts: These matchbooks are fairly unique additions to my collection. I'm not aware of any other baseball player matchbook sets issued, though I imagine (and vaguely recall) team logo matchbooks exist.

Additional Links: Old Cardboard tends to be my online resource for pre-war sets. They have a page combining all four series of the Diamond Match Co. books.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1998 Pinnacle Museum Collection

This is post number 50! I want to thank all of my readers (the approximately 20 of you per post), because without your continued interest, I probably wouldn't keep putting so much effort into these posts. Sets like this one can be written in about 10-15 minutes, because information is readily available. However, posts like the 2009 Fan Pak Standees and 1947 Smiths Oakland Oaks take much longer. In fact, the Fan Pak and 2009 Fatheads posts have taken the longest to write out of all of them, because there is no information on them in the SC and Beckett guides, and my information has to be gathered from web postings. Thankfully, company websites still exist to make some of it easier.

I know the 1990s/early 2000s stuff isn't the most exciting to many of you, but if nothing else it introduces you to many of the sets you probably missed while you were busy chasing women and alcoholic beverages. So we continue with this one!
Set size: 100 cards

Front Design: Pinnacle applied their museum finish, an etched silver foil, to the base set in this partial parallel. The player's color photo appears in the etched format, while the Pinnacle logo appears in gold foil, as does the player's last name and position, turned sideways on the right-side border. There are several subsets in the Pinnacle set that were included in the Museum Collection set, including All-Star (shown), Rookie, Field of Vision, and Goin' Jake.

Back Design: The backs contain a PP-prefix card number over a different player photo in the upper-left; the player's name, vitals, and position appear over a black-and-white version of the front card photo in the upper left. The color photo continues, faded as a background, through career stats to the bottom of the card. Most cards contain a brief highlights biography beneath stats. The Museum Collection identification, team logo, and copyright logos and information fills the card bottom.

Parallels and Similars: This set is a partial parallel to the 200-card base Pinnacle set, and an Artist's Proof version with gold foil and a red Artist's Proof seal.

Distribution: Museum Collection cards were inserted into 1998 Pinnacle packs at a rate of one in nine packs.

Thoughts: The etched foil never really seemed to catch on. I didn't find it terribly attractive, because it took away from the high-quality photos and printing later-issue Pinnacle sets provided. It is best used in inserts. That said, these parallels provide something more to the parallel aspect than just extra gold foil stamping or different-colored borders. At only 100 cards, this isn't too difficult a parallel to complete, if you can find the cards at decent prices.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2001 Upper Deck Home Run Derby Heroes

Set size: 10 cards

Front Design: The fronts feature action photos surrounded by a gold foil border and a blue-tinted border. The bottom of the card contains a gold foil and red logo, the player's name and team.

Back Design: The blue border is repeated around a description of the player's success in a particular home run derby.

Parallels and Similars: None.

Distribution: Cards were inserted 1:36 packs of 2001 Upper Deck, making it one of the most difficult non-relic/auto pulls in the release.

Thoughts: If this wasn't such a difficult set to obtain, it would be perfect for use in my Home Run Derby winner collection. However, as you can see from the Belle card, the winner isn't always pictured. Albert Belle came in second in 1995, but never won a Derby. Other than the "logo" for the set name being difficult to read due to the foil, the design is acceptable.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1999 SP Top Prospects

Set size: 126 cards

Front Design: A color photo is surrounded by a "dried marker line" border and a thick white border; the player's team name appears at the top; the SP Top Prospects logo, his name, position, and team logo appear across the bottom. The card fronts are foilboard.

Back Design: The player's name and vials appear at the top. A color portrait in a similar "dried marker" border and a short career highlight and team logo fill most of the card. The bottom of the card contains recent and career minor league stats.

Parallels and Similars: A parallel with holofoil instead of standard foil exists, called the President's Edition. These are extremely rare, serial numbered to 10.

Distribution: Cards were issued in 8-card packs for about $5. There are a few insert sets including an autograph set.

Thoughts: I could do without the foil board. It makes the card feel like a failed ancestor of 2010 Bowman Platinum. Otherwise, the design is nice and simple. The border is surprisingly attractive and unique, though there is too much white (foil?) space around the photo. Russell sure looks sexy with that slick hairstyle, though. Maybe he gave Upper Deck his modeling head shots for his card. You know, in case baseball didn't work out. The only thing I really don't like about this set is the lack of team affiliation. The Akron Aeros mean nothing to me if I don't know to whom they belong.