Sunday, September 16, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1999 Pacific Crown Royale

Number 47-It's hard to make a list of great card sets from the past thirty years and not include some Pacific cards on the list somewhere.  Pacific started out as an oddball brand, run by card tycoon Mike Cramer.  My first run in with Pacific happened in 1992 when they released the 100th Anniversary Team set for the Cardinals.  The packs were sold at McDonald's and were really popular that summer.  The sets can still be found in fine card shops throughout the Midwest and on Ebay.

1992 Pacific Cardinals 100th Anniversary Stan Musial 

The height of Pacific's run came in the late 90s and was followed by a quick demise, baseball wise, in 2001.  I really enjoyed the Pacific brand of cards and busted a lot of their wax boxes in 1998, 1999, and 2000.  Like many baseball card companies of the late 1990's, some of their products were repetitive and   overproduced.  However, there were some real gems too.  One of my hardest decisions in putting together a list of card products from the past thirty years was sorting out the Pacific products.

At one point, I thought about scanning the internet for old boxes of Pacific cards, finding a whole bunch of them, and spending a day busting old wax boxes to relive the experience.  However, I voted against it, my wife is thankful in advance, and just spent a little bit of time looking back through my old Pacific sets.  I choose this set of several others including 1998 Pacific Omega, any release of Paramount, Pacific Revolution, and the 1999 Private Stock release.  The base sets were nice, but not as good as the non-flagship releases and I never really dug Aurora or Crown Collection too much.  Invincible were cool too, but you only got one translucent card per pack.  

1999 Pacific Crown Royale Mark McGwire

1999 Pacific Crown Royale Manny Ramirez

So, what makes the 1999 Crown Royale set better than the rest of the other late 90s Pacific releases?  The best reason I can give is the use of die cut cards.  Thirteen years after this set was released we have all seen plenty of die-cut cards in our life, but this was an earlier attempt by a card company to use die-cuts in a base set and they look really nice.  

Pacific had always used die cuts in it's sets from the Cramer's Choice inserts to the inclusion of Christmas Ornament shaped cards in it's base set release.  The Crown Royale set took it to another level though.  The were much more serious looking than a Christmas Ornament insert and much easier to find then the Cramer's Choice Die Cuts which almost always had the longest odds of all the Pacific inserts.  

2001 Pacific Christmas Ornaments Todd Helton

1997 Pacific Cramer's Choice Albert Belle

Crown Royale also featured a few insert sets which were the hallmark of Pacific products.  Most weren't too difficult to run across and putting together a master set wasn't ridiculously difficult to accomplish.  The other big plus I give the Crown Royale product is the parallel sets.  There were a total of two.  How many parallel sets are in Topps products now?  I am not sure, but the Printing Plates are 1/1 even though there are probably four of each player per set.  Pacific issued an Opening Day parallel, which ran across all Pacific products, and a Limited which was numbered to 99 and inserted at one per box and a half.  

1999 Pacific Crown Royale Ray Lankford Limited 

Boxes of Crown Royale can be found, but they aren't plentiful or cheap.  The single cards can be found around, but they tend to be a little pricier than normal late 90's base cards.  They look like inserts and sometimes they sell and trade like inserts too. 

Like the 1999 Pacific Crown Royale set?  Not in my Top 50 of the Past 30 years is the 1996 Topps Laser set.  Topps went through an experimental phase in the mid 90s with die-cuts and shaped cards.  Topps Embossed is another set that could fit here, but still not as cool as the Laser release.  

1996 Topps Laser Pedro Martinez 

Topps Laser was only produced in 1996 and was released in two different series.  There were a couple different patterns used for the base set cards, but they were all die cut.  The cards were a little bit wild and really hard to keep in mint condition.  Even pack fresh cards had knicks and dings.  There weren't any really great rookies in the set, but the Bright Spots insert sets ranks high on my personal list of cool looking inserts.  The Bright Spots cards all featured young and upcoming stars with a really cool looking card background.  

1996 Topps Laser Bright Spots Derek Jeter

 I am not a huge Jeter fan, but this card and the Hideo Nomo in the set are my personal favorites.  Really tough to find and tougher to find in mint condition.  On a comical side note the cards featured projected stats for the 2010.  Jeter's aren't bad, but the card for one Jimmy Haynes is hilarious.  Check out the wins and strikeouts.  Guess they missed.  

1996 Topps Laser Bright Spots Jimmy Haynes

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