Friday, May 24, 2013

Complete Set: 2000 Fleer Gamers

There is a reason that several of the card companies from the card boom of the late 90s and early 2000s are bankrupt and out of business.  The main reason was probably the fact that the companies competed with each other, but also with themselves.  There is only so much money that collectors spend on cards each year, as much as we would all love an unlimited budget, and Fleer, Donruss, Upper Deck, and Topps pumped out an overabundance of products.  There were products that were definite hits and a few flops along the way too.  There were also a few card products that flew under the radar.  The Fleer Gamers set is one of those sets that has gotten a little bit better and stronger with age.

2000 Fleer Gamers Jose Canseco 

First, the base set is nothing that great.  It's pretty typical of a Fleer release from this era and that is all I can really say about the design.  There are 120 total cards in the set, so it's not too difficult to track down the complete set with a box and a little help.  In fact, the box prices are one of the best things about this set.  Back in 2000, this set was one of way too many released by Fleer.  Of course, it was deemed a flop and many shops and Ebay sellers have boxes of Fleer Gamers on the cheap.  With a mediocre base set why would one care to roll the dice on a $30-$40 box of wax?  Inserts, Relics, and Autographs. 

2000 Fleer Gamers Cal Ripken Cal To Greatness 

Let's start with the inserts.  They are not very Fleer like in some regards.  There are die-cuts that look more like something that Pacific would put out on the market, but if nothing else there is the stand-by Cal Ripken insert set which yields two to three cards per box.  The Cal to Greatness set is pretty popular and the cards in the set hover around $5 on Ebay.  Three of these cards alone can pay for half of your box before you pull anything else.

2000 Fleer Gamers Lumber Ray Lankford Bat Card

The relic cards look like your typical late 90s relic set, small relic, not so great player card that would sell on Ebay for $2.  Almost not worth buying when you include shipping, except Fleer actually did a few things right with this relic set that most sets in the card boom era failed miserably with.  First, the list of players included in the relic set (all bat pieces) includes plenty of Hall of Famers, but also a lot of solid players with little to no relic exposure.  I could use Ray Lankford as my example, of a player with no relic cards outside of this set, and an above average Major League resume.  There is also a relic card for ESPN announcer Chris Singleton which is also his only relic card.  Of course there are the usual suspects of good players, average players, with a few Hall of Famers sprinkled into the mix.  Which leads me to my second point.  

The set is named Lumbers, the relic cards are all bats (notice a theme) and yet the relic cards are only planted two per case, or one every box and a half.  If Topps put out a set like this there would be a bat card in every pack.  The result of short-printing unique relic cards is directly reflected by the price that collectors pay for these cards on the secondary market.  Excluding a $0.99 bat card of Royals prospect-flop Carlos Febles, almost every bat card from this set is over $5 on Ebay with star players over $10 and Hall of Famers north of that point.  But wait, there's more....

2000 Fleer Gamers Lumber Shawn Green Bat/Auto 

To make this set a little bit sweeter Fleer also put in signed (on-card) versions of the bat cards.  The autographs were seeded at about one per ten boxes, or one per case and a half.  Long odds for an autograph.  The checklist includes Derek Jeter and Robert Alomar as the Hall of Famers included, but also features Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Konerko, Sean Casey, and ARod.  The autographs tend to fetch a pretty good price with most commons reach at least $20 on the secondary market.

Overall, I am aware that the base set is not that appealing, but if you are looking to pick up a cheap box and find something cool (and enjoy opening some wax) then this is a great product to look into picking up.  Boxes are easy to find on Ebay and the right hit could add a great card to your collection, or give you a nice trade chip to pick up something else for your collection.

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