Product Highlight: 1996 Best Harrisburg Senators Team Set

Today I was planning to watch the Harrisburg Senators take on the Bowie Baysox on City Island in Harrisburg, PA.  I guess we all know that’s not going to happen due to COVID-19.  This was going to be my first bobblehead giveaway of the year too.  Fans were going to receive a bobblehead of Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner.

In early March I purchased three sets of tickets for some minor league games.  Two in Harrisburg, and one in Lancaster.  With MLB looking to play half of a season starting in July with no fans in attendance, I highly doubt MiLB would be much different.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t play at all.  I’d like to get my money back for these tickets, but all I can do right now is exchange them for other tickets to a 2020 game.  This makes no sense because even if they do play fans most likely won’t be allowed in to watch.  I think they’re just holding out for as long as possible on giving refunds.  Its possible they’re holding on to the tiniest bit of hope that perhaps a certain percentage of fans might be allowed to attend.  You can’t blame them for doing so.  Tons of money has been lost already.  The last thing they want to do is dish out refunds.

In 1997 I attended my first professional baseball game on City Island.  The game was between the Harrisburg Senators and New Haven Ravens.  While sitting in my seat, a Ravens player walked by and gave me a broken bat.  To this very day I do not know who that player was.  I like to think it was Todd Helton as he was part of the Rockies minor league system at the time.

Heading in to the game, I remember stopping at a souvenir booth.  Team sets for the 1997 roster hadn’t been released yet, so I bought one leftover from the 1996 season.  The two most recognizable names on the 29-card checklist are Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Vidro.  Both players already had cards in nationally distributed sets prior to this team set release.

Product Highlight: 2002 Topps Commemorative Packs Collection

To quote the great Anchorman Ron Burgundy – “I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”  This is exactly what comes to mind when I think back to the 2002 Topps Commemorative Packs Collection.

Topps consolidated all of their baseball products they released that year into a single product – 2002 Topps Commemorative Packs Collection.  Housed inside this fancy red binder is one pack of each baseball product Topps released in 2002.  That’s (27) total packs which include:

  • 2002 Topps Series 1
  • 2002 Topps Series 2
  • 2002 Topps Traded & Rookies
  • 2002 Topps Chrome Series 1
  • 2002 Topps Chrome Series 2
  • 2002 Topps Heritage
  • 2002 Topps Tribute: Milestones & Memories Edition
  • 2002 Bowman
  • 2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects
  • 2002 Bowman Chrome
  • 2002 Bowman Heritage
  • 2002 Bowman’s Best
  • 2002 Topps T206 Series 1
  • 2002 Topps T206 Series 2
  • 2002 Topps Opening Day
  • 2002 Topps Total
  • 2002 Topps 10
  • 2002 Topps Archives: Best Years Edition
  • 2002 Topps Archives Reserve: Best Years Edition
  • 2002 Topps Finest
  • 2002 Topps Gallery
  • 2002 Topps Gold Label
  • 2002 Topps Pristine
  • 2002 Topps Reserve
  • 2002 Topps Stadium Club: Relic Edition
  • 2002 Topps American Pie: Spirit of America Edition
  • 2002 Topps Super Teams

Each binder is limited to (500) copies.  Binder pages hold up to (4) packs.  A detailed write-up about each pack is also supplied.

The two most valuable packs would be 2002 Topps Tribute: Milestones & Memories Edition and 2002 Topps Pristine.  Those guarantee a relic in every pack.

Its all about the presentation here.  The packs are no different than the ones found in their traditional boxes.

Product Highlight: 1994 Fleer Baseball

A lot of collectors consider 1994 Fleer Baseball to be one of the company’s best products.  The base set consists of (720) cards, which was released all in one series.  When it comes to the base cards, the design is very simple.  Card backs have full stats, and a head shot of the player.  Nothing too fancy.

In addition to the massive base set, you’ve got a bunch of inserts to collect.  You’ll find an insert in every pack.  There are (12) different inserts to find, and none of them are that difficult to pull.

My favorite looking insert are the Pro-Visions.  Wayne Still is the artist behind these crazy looking fantasies.  There are (9) Pro-Visions in all, and every box should have (3).

Fleer made a 12-card insert set based on Tim Salmon.  Those come (1) per box.  If you were really lucky you could’ve pulled one of the autographed versions.  Fleer was able to get Tim Salmon to sign 2,000 cards.

The most difficult insert to pull are the All-Rookie Team redemptions.  You could redeem this for a 9-card set featuring some of the best rookies from 1994.  None of these players appeared in the main base set.

From a set collector’s perspective, this product has it all.  The cards were released in one series, the design is simple, (1) insert per pack, and its not expensive.  This product does have it’s share of rookies, but none of them are worth talking about.  Fleer released an Update set later on that has an Alex Rodriguez rookie.

Product Highlight: 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball

Boxes can be expensive.  Sometimes an older product might take care of that pack busting itch for a much lower cost.  Just because that new box guarantees ten hits doesn’t mean you’ll come close to pulling something anywhere near what you paid.  One hit from an older set could easily be better than ten from that newer product.  Then again, making money shouldn’t be your #1 concern.  Cards are for fun, not investing.

If you’re looking for an affordable box from the 1990s that has an autograph checklist which hasn’t dwindled too much, I’d suggest 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Baseball.  Upper Deck introduced the high-end SP brand in 1993, but in 1998 they changed the name to SP Authentic.  This is mainly due to each box containing an autograph.

The 1998 SP Authentic set consists of (198) base cards.  They’ve got a foil-photo in the middle which is then surrounded by an all-white border.  Magglio Ordonez is the most notable rookie.  David Ortiz has a somewhat popular second year card.  As far as inserts go, there really is only one – Sheer Dominance.  These come in Silver, Gold #’ed/2000, and Titanium #’ed/100.

Autographs are the main attraction.  Glancing over the checklist you’ll notice its fairly solid.  Of course there are some duds, but what product doesn’t have those?  Key autographs include Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Mussina, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Tony Gwynn, Todd Helton, and Vladimir Guerrero.  Every Chirography autograph is signed on-card.

Upper Deck included various Trade Cards for oversized 5″ x 7″ jersey cards as well as full size autographed memorabilia.  If this were 1998, you could redeem them.  Given that they’re decades old, I highly doubt you would receive anything for them today.

On the bottom of the box Upper Deck lists how many of each Trade Card was made, and the approximate retail value of that item.

  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Mariners Jersey #’ed/30 – $399
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Signed Glove #’ed/30 – $449.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Life Size Standee #’ed/200 – $29.95
  • Ken Griffey Jr. Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • 5″ x 7″ Ken Griffey Jr. 300th Home Run Commemorative Card #’ed/1,000 – $10
  • Robin Ventura Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Raul Mondesi Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Albert Belle Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Brian Jordan Signed Baseball #’ed/50 – $89.95
  • Roberto Alomar Signed Baseball #’ed/100 – $89.95
  • Tony Gwynn Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/415 – $50
  • Greg Maddux Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Alex Rodriguez Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Gary Sheffield Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50
  • Jay Buhner Oversized Jersey Card #’ed/125 – $50

Browsing over this price list is fun.  I certainly wouldn’t use it as an official guide though.  There is no way to know if everything on that list was even redeemed.  Quantities could be lower.

Product Highlight: Revolutionary Comics 1992-93 Baseball Legends

Revolutionary Comics had a short lifespan.  It was founded in 1989, and went belly up five years later.  They were known for printing unauthorized biographies of celebrities, specifically musicians.  Their line of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics was very successful.  Some musicians were totally for them, while others took up legal action.  It seemed the more legal cases thrown at them, the more comics they sold.  But in the end, it was their line of sports titles that lead to their downfall.

During it’s reign, Revolutionary Comics issued four different sports titles.  It began with Baseball Superstars Comics in 1991.  They then went on to print Baseball Legends ComicsSports Legends Comics, and Sports Superstars Comics.  Much like their Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, these told the unauthorized biographies of popular sports figures from the past and present.  Sports fans didn’t find these as entertaining as they thought.  I don’t think they caught on because you know how the story was going to end.  Their sports titles racked up a lot of debt.  Losing a lawsuit to the Pittsburgh Penguins over the use of their logo, and having to settle another suit brought on by Joe Montana certainly didn’t help.

Some of their sports issues contained cards.  In March of 1992, Revolutionary Comics started their Baseball Legends Comics.  This particular series ran until September of 1993.  In total there are (19) issues.  The issues about Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, and Willie Mays all contained (3) cards each.  You would need to tear apart the cards as they came in an uncut strip.

Product Highlight: 2003 Topps Kanebo Baseball Series I & II

Kanebo sounds like the name of a character you would see on a Mortal Kombat player selection screen.  “Kanebo Wins!”, “Flawless Victory Kanebo!”, “Kanebo Finish Him!”.  In reality, its the name of a Japanese gum manufacturer.

Topps and Kanebo Foods came together in 2003 to bring collectors this crazy set.  It’s official title is 2003 Topps Kanebo Baseball, and is split between two different series.  Series I contains (55) cards.  The design is identical to that of the regular 2002 Topps Baseball flagship set.  On the back is the main difference where everything is written in Japanese.  Randomly inserted are Silver and Black parallels.

Don’t let the design fool you.  They look like 2002 cards, but all of the cards from Series I have a 2003 copyright date.  This can be extremely confusing when it comes to rookie cards.  Luckily, Topps and Kanebo only used two players in their Series I set that actually had real rookies in 2002 – So Taguchi and Kaz Ishii.  Neither of these players have much demand today, so their rookie cards from 2002 don’t hold much value.  But its still nice to know the difference between a 2002 and 2003 card.

Series II was issued a little later on is a bit easier to follow.  Not only was it issued in 2003, but it also utilizes the 2003 Topps Baseball flagship design.  The size is doubled compared to Series I, and comes in at (110) cards.  You’ll find Series II cards much more difficult to locate, and they have Copper and Silver parallels.

Hideki Matsui has very few Topps rookie cards from 2003.  Most of them come from Upper Deck, Fleer, and Donruss/Playoff.  His 2003 eTopps card is the main Topps card you see from that year.  Matsui didn’t have a rookie card in the 2003 Topps Baseball flagship brand, but he did get one in the Series II Kanebo set.

Product Highlight: 1963 Scanlens VFL

Have you ever heard of Scanlens?  No.  Then you haven’t been keeping up with your Victorian Football League (VFL) vintage card knowledge.  Scanlens was an Australian company that began to insert trading cards within their candy and chewing gum packs in the 1930s.  They produced their first VFL set in 1963.  This set consists of only (18) cards, and is the Holy Grail to VFL collectors.  Several other manufacturers of VFL cards popped up, but Scanlens vintage cards are by far the most popular.

The 1963 Scanlens VFL set contains the following players:

  • Ted Whitten #1
  • Ron Evans #2
  • Allen Aylett #3
  • Ken Fraser #4
  • Bob Skilton #5
  • John Schultz #6
  • Haydn Bunton #7
  • Brendan Edwards #8
  • Verdon Howell #9
  • Neil Roberts #10
  • Alex Epis #11
  • Graham (Polly) Farmer #12
  • Graham Arthur #13
  • Len Fitzgerald #14
  • Bill and Matt Goggin #15
  • Ron Barassi #16
  • Murray Weiderman #17
  • Bob Johnston #18

The hardest card to find from this particular set is Graham (Polly) Farmer #12.  For some reason it just doesn’t surface that often.  Many collectors believe they were heavily damaged during the printing process, and got thrown out.  Another rumor suggests that a Scanlens employee stole stacks of Graham (Polly) Farmer cards, and stored them in a drawer at a railway station.

You can’t help but notice how the design looks very similar to 1959 Topps Football.

In 1963 Scanlens issued three sets – VFL, NRL, and a soccer set.  Each set contains (18) cards.