Saturday, September 8, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition

I am fast approaching my 30th year of collecting baseball cards in just a few months and have decided to share some more of my cards with the people who take a little bit of time out of their day to read about my collection.  The past week, I have spent time go back through my cards and have picked out the 50 best sets that I have collected over the duration of my time in the hobby.  As I was sorting through my cards and compiling my list I tried to evaluate the sets on several criteria.  Qualities such as design, innovations, key players and important cards weighed heavily in my decisions.  I also tried to pick out a variety of different years, companies, and brands.  Some sets are high end, some are low end.  One of the hardest parts of this process was judging some of the late 80s and early 90s sets which were produced in ridiculous quantities, but still featured important cards of important players.  Of course, discussion of the picks is always encouraged and most importantly I hope you enjoy looking back at some cool card sets.

#50 on my list definitley fits into the hard to judge late 80s/early 90s overproduced category.  If you paid more than $10 for this set you would probably be overpaying.  However, there are some major pluses for this set which allowed it to creep into the tail end of my countdown.  Namely, it features the only pure rookie card of one future Hall of Famer and one of two pure rookie cards of another Hall of Famer.

1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Jim Thome RC

1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Pedro Martinez RC

This set was released at the end of the 1991 season and is available only in set form and features 100 cards.  Of course, the two most important cards pictured above, are the only true rookie card of Pedro Martinez and one of two true rookie cards of Jim Thome.

The Pedro Martinez rookie features him in a Dodgers uniform before he was traded to the Expos for Delino Deshields.  Pedro Martinez, of course, went on to be on the most dominating and important pitchers of the 90's and 00's.  There are many people who also count his 1992 Upper Deck and Bowman releases as rookie cards too.  The Bowman sells more like a rookie card then the 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition, but the Bowman card is apart of a very important set (It's on the countdown). 

The Thome rookie is also a very important card that appears in this set.  He is also featured in the 1991 Bowman set along with the rookie cards of Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodrgiuez.  Personally, I finally bought the set for $9 a few summers back after I learned that Jeromy Burnitz had a rookie in the set.  I've heard people try to argue that Thome isn't a Hall of Famer, but he's got over 600 home runs and he's been successful since drug testing started.  He didn't have the postseason success that Pedro Martinez had, with the 2004 World Series, but he was an important player on some great Cleveland Indians teams in the late 90s. 

Overall, the set is pretty typical of the early Upper Deck releases.  The cards have the white border with a small green grass like design on the side.  The 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition release is extremely cheap and very easy to find, but it's hard to ignore a set that has two rookie cards of players as important as Martinez and Thome of been over the past 30 years.  While many people are annoyed that there are early 90s overproduced cards in their collections I have made my peace with these cards and am very accepting of owning them despite the fact that they do not really have any trade or monetary value.   

Like the 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Set?  Not appearing on my countdown is the 1993 Upper Deck set.  Just like the 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition Set, the 1993 release was completely overproduced and had lots of ho hum cards.  It also has a Derek Jeter rookie card that accounts for almost all of the sets value.  Seriously, I once went to a card shop that was giving away boxes of 93 Upper Deck with large purchases.  One guy in the store opened the whole box, got two Jeter rookies, asked for the trash card, and literally threw away the rest of the cards.  A little extreme, but ask around and you will hear other similar stories.

1993 Upper Deck Derek Jeter RC

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