It was the best of boxes, it was the worst of boxes, it was an age of wax abundance, it was an age of overproduction...I'll stop. In 1999 Fleer released the highly anticipated Greats of the Game set. The boxes of cards had twelve packs and guaranteed one autograph per pack. The checklist of Hall of Famers was incredible. People were excited. At twenty dollars a pack, or $220ish for a box, I ventured into a card shop in west Saint Louis county which longer is open. I paid for box, sat down at a stool, and started opening. Some of my highlights:
1999 Fleer Greats of the Game Al Hrabosky Autograph
1999 Fleer Greats of the Game Bob Horner Autograph
I used the word highlight loosely above. These cards are only highlights because they have connections to the Cardinals and they can go towards my Cardinals autograph collection. Although, Hraboksy is the most annoying announcer the Cardinals have ever employed. Bob Horner was old, fat, and horrible as a Cardinal. The other ten autographs were even worse than these. Bo Belinsky, Mickey Rivers, and Rico Petrocilli aren't the names you want to see when you are busting high end wax. I think the card shop owner felt really bad for me. In true old man fashion I was then told "The Legend of Greats of the Game" It went something like this:
"I had a case of these boxes last week. Had a customer open a box and he got terrible autographs. I set out the next box, guy comes in and buys one pack. Pulls a Nolan Ryan autograph. Leaves the store. I open the rest of the box and swear that Lou Brock was the worst autograph I pulled. All short prints, all high end autographs"
I took this speech with a grain of salt and left the store. The next weekend I stopped by another card store in south St. Louis county. I was picking up some cheap singles and didn't have a lot of money with me. Another customer in the store bought a pack of Greats of the Game and pulled a Yaz autograph. Naturally the man was pumped up paid for his pack and left the store. The owner asked me if I was going to buy a pack. I told him I didn't have much money and was just filling holes. He then told me the following story:
"I had a case of these boxes last week. Had a customer open a box and he got terrible autographs. I set out the next box, guy comes in and buys one pack. Pulls a Stan Musial autograph. Leaves the store. I open the rest of the box and swear that Steve Carlton was the worst autograph I pulled. All short prints, all high end autographs"
The man walked back to the back room of his store returned with a six pack of Natty Lights opened the rest of box. I swear the worst card the man got was a Buck O'Neill autograph. The autographs included a Willie Mays, a Banks, and a Killebrew.