My wife was pretty nervous our three year old was going to attack the coffee table underneath all of these cards, but he did a great job of respecting the cards and practiced his yoga/gymnastics off to the side (note purple yoga mat). So, I now have about 38 to 39 sets to put together. I am not sure if I am close enough to assemble the Archives Reserve (aka Archives Chrome set). If I am missing too many cards I will break it apart and use it as some trade bait.
I sorted out one of the sets, a short one, and here's my quick take on the 2002 Upper Deck Ovation set:
The Ovation set was first put out by Upper Deck in 1998 with the primary feature being the cards being a pair of embossed baseball seems that ran on all of the other Ovation sets until this one. This was the last Ovation set that Upper Deck put out and truthfully, was probably one too many. Fair warning for the collectors who see these boxes really cheap on Ebay. There is a really good reason they are inexpensive.
First, the set design got pretty stale fast. In 1998 two embossed baseball seams was cool. 1999 and 2000 too. 2001 Upper Deck changed it to a single baseball seam on a puffy baseball which took up half the card. By 2002 the company switched up the design and embossed the team logo with some sort of greenish/grey color scheme in the background. Meh. Upper Deck really banked on a few other factors selling this set beyond the base set of cards. This set had one major attraction and maybe a few minor ones too.
This was the first product which featured a bevy of Mark McGwire autographs. Before the 2002 Upper Deck Ovation set the only place to find a Mark McGwire certified autograph was in the popular Mother's Cookie Set. I know some people walk around and say, "but I have a copy of his 1998 Upper Deck card signed." Upper Deck had McGwire sign autographs for the Ovation set, but he also signed a very small amount of his previous Upper Deck cards. The autographs in this set were seeded similarly to the SP Authentic boxes at the time with a line of autographs made for the set and another set of buybacks. The odds on the McGwire autographs were really really steep, but there were a few minor attractions in the set beyond McGwire autographs.
I know I just said that their were attractions beyond the McGwire autographs, but those even include more McGwire. The Superstar Spotlights were a regular part of the Ovation sets, but the 2002 set featured a handful of players with three or four cards each which made up a timeline of the players career. Pretty cool to see a young version of McGwire in an A's uniform or a younger Ken Griffey in a Mariners uniform. Really cool idea and I honestly wish Upper Deck had made this part of this set bigger. One more, Yankees fans cringe and turn away.
While Topps was busy airbrushing Jason Giambi into a Yankees uniform, Upper Deck actually had real photographs of the newly minted free agent in his new pinstriped uniform. At the time these sets were released Upper Deck made a pretty big deal of having the first cards of the Giambino as a Yankee. Unfortunately, Giambi really never lived up to the contract he signed with the Yankees. To make up for the fact he is mentioned I will share his best moment in a Yankees uniform, in my opinion.