Thursday, May 21, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 1997

Another week, another year of cool sets.  This year I am going with 1997.  This was a fun year for my collection.  Lots of packs, not necessarily a ton of boxes, but lots of different types of cards.  Years after 1997 I found myself with a ton of incomplete sets, but lots of cool single cards.  I have finished off a bunch of these sets, but this year could be a set completion projection that could last years.

Here's my list......

5. Fleer- Not a really well noted set, but it makes my list for a few reasons.  Let's start with the simplest first.  There was not an "it" rookie in the 1997 card products.  There are some very good rookie cards in several of the products, but in my opinion the David Arias, now David Ortiz, is one of the iconic rookie cards from the late 1990s.  Again, not many of them, but this is a great card.  Great cards help make the sets around them better and more collectable.  Second, the set was large.  In general 1997 had some really small sets.  The Topps set was only 495 cards with no update set.  The Upper Deck set was 550.  Meanwhile this Fleer set was 761 cards.  Every year needs a big set.  Every set had a Ken Griffey Jr. card.  I want a set where I can get a full team set.  Everyone.  Some people may not like getting cards of players like Aaron Hobert and T.J. Matthews, but those players appeared for the Cardinals, I saw them play, and I own their cards.  Lastly, I love the finish of these cards.  Yes, each pack did have a tiffany card, but the majority of cards had that old fashioned feel.  They were terrific.  

4. Pinnacle Certified- I have been trying to understand for some time know why collectors love finding all of the rainbow parallels of different cards.  It seems like a difficult task, but I have been sucked in a few times over the years.  Sometimes I wonder if the collectors who pursue the rainbows out of current Bowman and Topps products know of some of the products that existed in 1997?  Let's take this set.  I loved this set in 1997.  I went out and bought a few packs and then just spent a lot of time tracking down all of the Cardinals cards.  There is a Certified Red, Mirror Red, Mirror Blue, Mirror Gold, and Mirror Black.  They look really good together, and I have to admit, they are probably a lot easier than tracking down some of these cards numbered to 10 or anything involving a printing plate.  These cards do have the goofy Peel protector covering the cards, a la Topps Finest.  I love the look and feel of the cards, I just wish Ray Lankford did not have a big Peel Off sign across him....Still a cool set.  

3. Donruss Preferred- I have two reasons for putting these cards on my countdown this week.  First, I liked the look and design of these cards.  Cool texture, and while they did have the whole color thing going on that seemed so popular around this time, this product only had three metallic colors.  They looked pretty good on the cards.  See the Bonds card above.  There were cool inserts and short prints and the cards still sell decently on the secondary market.  I dare say, they are somewhat worth something.   The Donruss Preferred set also tinkered in the packaging department.  I have long thrown away my tins, but yes, these cards came in tins.  There was also a Donruss product that came in a can.  The cards in a can were not cool, cards in a tin were cool.  Watch this classic clip from late 90s MTV show Sifl and Oly and substitute baseball cards for get the idea....

2. Bowman- One of my favorite Bowman sets ever.  This set has some good rookies with Kerry Wood, Miguel Tejada, and Lance Berkman, but I just simply love the design and look of the cards.  I actually think of the Berkman card as being another iconic rookie card from the late 1990s.  He was a good player and this is an awesome card.  I know a lot of collectors who love this piece of cardboard.   The black borders are really cool.  There have been some other black bordered Bowman sets over the years, but this is the best of lot.   The Bowman set had a better set up back in the later 90s too.  The first 70 cards of each series were veterans with the rest of the 150 cards belonging to younger players or prospects.  This set also came with those $125 value cards.  Basically, you filled out the card, mailed in $5, and if the set was not worth $125 at the end of the 2000 calendar year you could mail in your set for a check from Topps.  Pretty bad gimmick, but I am not sure whether the set made it to that amount or not.  I am leaning towards no, but I am not sure how many people mailed in their checks.  Boxes of this are still floating around cheap and there are some nice highlights outside of the base set, mainly the autographs and the International parallel set.  I like these.....

1.  Flair Showcase- I got onto the Flair bandwagon later than most, but I loved them once I got there. The Showcase set was arranged in rows with Row 2 cards being the easiest to find, Row 1 cards being short printed at 8 per box, and Row 0 cards at 1 per box.  It was basically like having three 180 card sets.  I picked up the base set and also picked up a lot of the Cardinals cards from the short printed rows.  These were high end cards that were printed on really nice cardboard stock and have aged very well.  I think these are nicer than some of the high end stuff that comes out today.  Flair Showcase also started the craze for the 1/1 cards with the creation of the Masterpieces cards.  I cannot remember how much the Griffey's sold for, but at the time it was a completely ridiculous amount of money.  While the argument we could have a long drawn out argument over whether or not having 1/1 cards is really a good thing, or really matters too much anymore, it is important to acknowledge the fact that it was an important innovation that occurred with this product. 


  1. You like the Fleer David Arias better than the Ultra?

    1. I do. Fleer Ultra is a nice set that year, but how many sets from the late 90s were 200 card sets with a blah design and Mylar finish? Blah. I do like the picture on the David Arias Ultra, but in my opinion the Fleer is a better overall set.

  2. Lol. We finally agree on #1's. Flair Showcase rules!

    1. It took me awhile to find Flair during this era.