1991 Donruss – The Elite Quest

When I was in the 9th grade (1991), I was obsessed with a PC game called Space Quest Chapter 2 – Vohaul’s Revenge.  This was before a lot of the RPG games were released and I thought it was really cool.  All of the Nintendo games at the time were basically “games with a little story” and this was a “story with a little game”.  Before Nintendo, the Atari just had games that were nearly impossible to beat unless you were some sort of genius that could figure out patterns and tendencies of the CPU opponent.  Up until SQ2, the closest I had gotten to an RPG was Bedlam on the Tandy 1000.  Bedlam was a text only game that gave you options throughout the experience and your survival was based on the choices you made.  Does anyone remember this game or am I dating myself?Back to SQ2. This game sticks in my mind because I discovered it the first year I took keyboarding in high school.  We would learn how to type for half of the class and then play games like Space Quest and Oregon Trail (another great one) for the other half of the class.  We could even get extra credit if we came in before school or during lunch to work on the computer.  I used my lunch period for basketball but I did make it in to the keyboarding class a few times before homeroom to work on Space Quest.  I was offered extra credit to play PC games!  Who wouldn’t have taken advantage of that?  I wish my Trigonometry class had offered such a sweet deal!My goal was to complete SQ2 before the end of the semester.  I have always been somewhat of a completionist with video games and try to finish what I start.  That has been detrimental at times because I will spend too much time focused on one game and miss something else that comes out.  I’ve been playing Borderlands 2 since Christmas 2016 and am painfully close to finishing it.  I got 3 games for Christmas and haven’t even cracked the wrapper on the other 2.  Granted, I don’t have as much time to play video games anymore but I still enjoy getting lost in the pixelated world of make believe.As I played through SQ2, I found myself stumped at various intervals.  You controlled your player, Roger Wilco, with the arrow buttons but you had to type what you wanted him to do, i.e. pick berries.  The berry picking came during the maze screen which had a living plant with roots stretched out over the screen.  You had to navigate the roots to get to the berries.  I remember being on this screen for about a week!  I would wander aimlessly from screen to screen and just command Roger to do certain things until it worked.  I was totally flying by the seat of my pants.  I would learn that the berries were to be smashed and rubbed all over Roger so he would be able to walk through a swamp where a creature was waiting to eat him.  The berries would cause a bad aftertaste and allow him to survive.  That protective action of smashing the berries took about 3 weeks to figure out.I played this game for 9 solid weeks.  I played this game every day for over 2 months and didn’t finish it.  I made it through the jungle planet, found my way to the escape ship and flew back to Vohaul’s Asteroid.  Once on the asteroid, I even made it to Vohaul’s chamber and was shrunken down and placed in a glass globe.  It was here that I realized that I missed something along the way.  I missed the item that would free me from the glass globe.  My mission and semester ended with me completely unfulfilled and wondering what finishing the game was like.  Not until today did I go to YouTube and watch the last few minutes of the walkthrough and realized that I was mere moments from completing the game.  A glass cutter on Level 3 in the janitorial closet cost me success.  One small oversight!Sometimes we take for granted what little decisions we make or don’t make can ultimately cost us.  Because I had grown weary of the minutia of aimlessly wandering Vohaul’s Asteroid, I lost sight of the goal. I just wanted to be done.  Enter another quest that started in 1991that I have yet to complete.  I had a golden opportunity to complete it very early on but a small decision that I made cost me.  When ’91 Donruss hit the market, they introduced a new “chase card” in the hobby that has driven me crazy for the last 26 years; The Elite Series.  I have one in my safe, a ’92 graded Ken Griffey Jr, but I bought it off of eBay because just like in SQ2, I had grown weary of the minutia of aimlessly searching packs for that golden ticket.I would buy small pack lots online or I would pick up loose packs when I would find them at the LCS or a junk store.  I’ve opened what feels like 1,000,000 packs of 1991 Donruss but I’ve never pulled an Elite Series card.  I did pull a Robin Yount Legend Series from 1992 but I am still looking for that beautiful marbled design of ’91 Elite.  Like throwing the switch on Vohaul’s Life Support System, the satisfaction of pulling this card has eluded me.  Unlike SQ2, I don’t have to have an old school computer and floppy disks to finally realize that dream.  In the case of this particular box, it cost me a solid .99 and $5.00 shipping.  That’s not a bad price to chase a dream!Before we get to this box and as I mentioned above, I had my chance in 1991.  My friend David and I used to stay over at each others house on the weekend and we were always begging for packs of cards at Wal-Mart so we could open and trade.  We would usually buy different products so we could spread out the different designs and pulls amongst each other.  I remember liking football cards more than David at the time but I still collected all sports.  I believe I bought several packs of Pro Line Football while he got the Donruss baseball packs on this fateful trip.  I was looking for the Pro Line autograph insert at the time.  I never pulled that either but David did uncover an Andre Dawson Elite Series in one of those Donruss packs and I will forever remember the day that I passed on Donruss to go after an autograph of Santa Claus!So here I am back at the well again and going to take a stab at a box of ’91 Donruss.  The cards themselves are a much improved version from 1990, which was the deep ketchup red.  The new design includes a blue border that is much easier on the eyes.  The name and position is at the bottom of the card and is no longer in the cursive font from the previous year.  There is a definite ‘90’s flair with the neon tire tread marks and random hot colored lines on the blue border but that is part of the retro allure for me when I go back to ’91 Donruss.  The set was broken up into two series’ with 386 cards in Series 1 and 384 in Series 2 for a total of 770 cards.  This was a massive set to say the least.  The box held 36 packs with 15 cards and a puzzle piece in each.  The puzzle for 1991 was Willie Stargell.Diamond Kings returned as a Donruss staple.  I collected most of the DK set with this box break missing only Ramon Martinez, Edgar Martinez, Dave Righetti, Pedro Guerrero and the Checklist.  There are some big 90’s names here with Clemens, Larkin, Bonds and Sandberg.  The best name is obviously the Ron Gant!The Rated Rookie Class was actually pretty solid at the time this set was released.  Bernard Gilkey, Derek Bell, Moises Alou, Tino Martinez and Ray Lankford were all desirable names.  The biggest name was Phil Plantier.  He was highly sought after in 1991.Series 1 included the American League All Stars and I pulled; Steve Sax, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Sandy Alomar Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Rickey Henderson, Bob Welch and Wade Boggs.  The A’s were well represented.I also pulled several players that were pretty high on my prospect board in 1991.  They were high on most everyone’s board as a matter of fact.  These players included Alex Fernandez, Jerome Walton, Jerald Clark, Jim Abbott, Gregg Jefferies and Eric Anthony.The ’91 set was loaded with stars from the 80’s and 90’s.  I can’t list them all but look at this spread!  Jr., Ryan, Clemens, McGwire, Glavine, Big Unit, Boggs, Brett, Wizard, Cal, Gwynn and Doc are just a handful of the names available here.Finally, it wouldn’t be 1991 without a terribly miscut card.  Here is a Craig Biggio DK for your viewing pleasure.  I wonder how this would grade out!Alas, no Elite Series found within this box.  I did find the hero and the goat from Braves Playoff lore.  It was a box that was still sealed in the Donruss packaging so should be pretty clean for the most part.  I have seen odds ranging from 1 in 4-5 cases.  Think about that for a minute.  There were 8 Elite Cards numbered to 10,000.  There were 2 other Elite cards that included a Ryne Sandberg Auto (#’d to 5,000) and Nolan Ryan Legend (#’d to 7,500).  That is 92,500 cards spread out over approximately 4 cases per.  That is 370,000 cases with 20 boxes per case.  Using my trusty calculator, that is at least 7,400,000 boxes for a total of 266,400,000 packs!!  Now, break that down into the card total of 3,996,000,000!  So the pull rate for 92,500 Elite Cards spread out over 4 Billion??  That means that 1 in every 43,000 cards was potentially that sweet Elite insert!  My head is spinning right now!As for the set itself, the design is good and the checklist is loaded with former stars.  The rookie class in Series 1 didn’t really pan out with the exception of Moises Alou and Tino Martinez.  Diamond Kings were run of the mill but would get an overhaul in the very near future.  I can only give this set a Dub Score of 3.  If the Elite Cards weren’t quite so elusive, maybe it would get a 4 but I need odds better than one in every 80 boxes to feel like I have a good shot.  It’s not a bad set but it’s nothing that I go crazy over when I see it sitting on a shelf.  If it’s under $10, I’ll probably buy just for the chance of the Elite Card.  Maybe one day I’ll pull one and I’ll bump the score up.  But until then, this is an improvement from ’90 and a better effort than ’91 Score and Fleer.  Nothing more, nothing less.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Saturday Morning Cardtoons

When I was a kid, I lived for waking up on Saturday mornings and camping out in front of the TV for cartoons.  Cartoons didn’t mess around in the 80’s.  Today, they probably wouldn’t seem kid friendly and we’re sometimes even kinda violent but I loved them.  Seriously, watch an old Tom and Jerry cartoon today.  Jerry will chase after Tom with a 2 foot butcher knife while Tom tries to split Jerry in half with an ax!  All the while Spike is trying to eat Tom and protect Jerry.  Maybe you don’t have kids and aren’t experiencing today’s cartoons but trust me, the stuff we used to watch would never pass the ratings test today.  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse teaches how to count and spell while the Mickey Mouse I watched as a kid chased Pluto around and called him a stupid mutt.Looney Tunes wasn’t a whole lot better.  Remember Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny?  How many times did Daffy or Bugs make the barrel of the shotgun bend around and shoot Elmer?  Would you let your kids watch cartoons with shotguns today?  I watch anything and everything on TV but I am careful about what my kids watch.  Well, except for one cartoon exception I’ll get to in a minute.  What about Wiley Coyote and Road Runner?  They tried their best to murder each other for entire episodes.  There was poisoned food, anvils and rockets all being used to end the life of the opposing cartoon character.  Many times so one could eat the other.  Let that sink in the next time you think something your kid is watching may be too violent.

Then there were actual fighting cartoons like Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Mask and GI Joe.  The entire cast of characters were weaponized and had special fighting skills.  Transformers was my personal favorite but He-Man was pretty big for a while too.  I remember having the Castle of Grayskull toy with He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor, Man at Arms and Panthor.  My favorite toy though was Man E Faces because you could rotate his head inside his helmet and he could change into a monster.  I spent many hours battling for the supremacy of Eternia.  Man, I miss He-Man!As I got older, The Simpsons were introduced and I lived on that for quite a while.  I was never as big of a Simpson’s guy as my cousin Adam but I watched it on the regular.  Adam had the Nintendo games and collector cards for Simpsons.  He could also quote all the lines from the Itchy and Scratchy Show.  We then moved to Ren and Stimpy and I can still sit down and watch an episode if I catch it on late at night.  My favorite episode was when they played the board game, “Don’t Whiz On The Electric Fence.”  As you can see, the cartoons got more R rated as I got older.The one that I still watch today, and will let my daughter watch on occasion, when I know it’s a reasonable episode, is King of the Hill.  I actually have my DVR set to record it every night and I will go on a binge from time to time and rip off 5 or 6 episodes in a sitting.  I have seen them all multiple times but they never get old.  Hank Hill is a man’s man and he lives life the right way.  I can quote most of the episodes and even try to do a “Damnit Bobby” impression from time to time.  I only imagine that Nathan Gunderson is living a life like Hank because that’s the way it is in Texas.What does this have to do with baseball cards?  Well in 1993, the two combined to produce a unique baseball card product called Cardtoons.  This was a 95 card parody set that included MLB player cartoons on the front and crazy highlights on the back.  And while they are dated ’93, they weren’t actually released until later in ’94.  I remember finding them childish when they came out because I was trying to find Tony Gwynn autographs and $100 Elite inserts.  My opinion has changed a little since then.  I now see them as pretty interesting and a humorous look back at players from the 80’s and 90’s.  They aren’t very valuable but they are pretty fun.  There’s also a pretty interesting lawsuit you can read about in which MLB sued Cardtoons because they didn’t have an MLB license.  The courts found that a parody card didn’t fall into the category of a reproduction and Cardtoons eventually won the case.The box I have for this post includes 36 packs with 8 cards per pack.  The checklist was pretty solid for early 90’s and they even had 5 insert sets.  The most sought after of the inserts were the Grand Slam Foil cards.  They were tough to pull back when I couldn’t buy a full box.  Not that I ever wanted a full box of Cardtoons back when I was 16, but the foil cards were really cool.  In fact, I like the art on the cards and I think the cards would probably be more sought after if they were inserts as opposed to parodies.  So let’s check out the box break.

Rambo Canseco
Mark McBash

Ryne Sandbox

Ozzie Myth

Tony Twynn

Reggie October

Cal Ripkenwinkle

Will Clock

Franken Thomas

Ken Spiffy Jr.

Just Air Jordan

I was able to pull something from all 5 Insert sets and they were actually more fun than I remember.  The Field of Greed 9 card insert set formed a larger photo which was a pretty bold shot at the previous work stoppages and the current state of the game with the ’94 Strike.  My favorites though are the Foil inserts.  The photos really don’t do them justice as they are very colorful and striking.

The Politics
Field Of Greed

The Replacements

Big Bang Bucks

Grand Slam Foil

And lastly….My Atlanta Braves

This set was not welcomed by the MLBPA and Cardtoons was pretty blunt about what they thought of the strike.  You have to remember that this was a very difficult time for baseball.  The fans were very upset with what was going and many of us were turning away from baseball and card collecting because of it.  The strike was a big reason for me entering my Dark Period.  It’s all water under the bridge 23 years later and the cards can be taken as just a part of the culture at that time.  I enjoyed ripping this box and was very pleased with my Foil pickups.  I put the whole set together, including the Field of Greed and Politics insert sets.  The box only cost $13 and the cards were all in good shape and held up well over time.If you’re in a silly mood and want to go back and enjoy some art cards, this is a box to try.  The names are a little bit of a reach at times but the art saves most of the corny comedy.  I am probably leaning towards a 4 on the Dub-O-Meter because it’s a cheap box, the art is good and the Foil cards are excellent.  Don’t expect a lot of “bang” outside of the Foil but the backs of the cards do have some funny tidbits.  So while it’s not the King of the Hill when it comes to sportscards, it’s definitely better than Thundarr the Barbarian.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

1986 Topps Traded – Heeeerrrrrreeee’s Jose!

1986 was a pretty eventful year for both the country and for your humble sports blogger. Some events were awesome, some were frightening and some were just downright tragic! I was 9 and certain things freeze in your mind at that age that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Not every memory sticks but the ones that do are pretty important and meaningful, whether good or bad. 1986 was loaded with them and really stands as a pivotal year in my youth.

The year started with a horrible tragedy witnessed by most of the world on national television. In January, one of America’s most memorable disasters happened when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded about a minute after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was actually 8 when this happened with my birthday being in February and I, like many other school children at the time, watched this unfold on live television. This was an important launch because a teacher, Christa McAuliffe was chosen among 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher In Space program. She was going to teach a few lessons from space on the ship and I remember it being a really big deal.

I can still see the image of those astronauts walking through a galley and smiling and waving at a crowd of people. It’s one of those moments that I’ll carry with me forever. We all have those certain moments and this is definitely one of mine. I remember just staring at the TV trying to figure out what happened. The adults didn’t know what to say. The kids didn’t really even know what we were actually seeing. It was a horrible tragedy that took the lives of all 7 astronauts and captivated the nation. The compartment that held the crew was eventually found on the ocean floor with all crew members still inside. Such a haunting moment in our history.On a much more upbeat note but still frightening for me personally, I saw The Shining for the first time that year as well. You may be asking how a 9 year old would wind up seeing The Shining. Well, I don’t really remember how it happened. I just know that I was at the summer babysitter’s house and she had an older son who had the movie on the tube. I remember the first time I saw those creepy twins in the hallway. I had one of those big wheel tricycles and I was horrified at the thought of riding it around that haunted hotel. That movie could’ve broken me at that early age but thankfully, I’ve stuck with horror movies as my favorite genre into adulthood. I still watch that movie on a somewhat regular basis and I think about how paralyzing some parts were to me but I couldn’t look away. When he burst into the bathroom with an axe and said, “Heeerrreee’s Johnny!”, I almost threw in the towel.Another movie I watched that year was actually a new flick. Top Gun hit the big screen and it was more my speed at 9. I do remember being pretty broken up about Goose dying (spoiler alert) though. The best/worst memory from that movie was when Ice Man said he was “dangerous” and made a horrible clenching of his teeth that even gave us kids douche chills. I was not a fan of Ice. It was the first movie that made me hate Michael Ironside too. He knew Maverick got him whether he was below the hard deck or not – sore loser. And even in 1986, the volleyball scene seemed so out of place and unnecessary. All in all though, it was a classic movie and still very watchable to this day. There is even a rumor of a new Top Gun Reboot coming out in 2019 that will star Maverick himself, Tom Cruise. The jury is still out on that idea.

So as you can see, I’m not lying about how packed the year was with events and memorable moments. But the year was packed with something else that hits closer to home with this blog. 1986 was a tremendous year for Rookies in MLB. Specifically, the ’86 Topps Traded set was loaded. Everybody clamored for the ’86 Donruss Canseco Rated Rookie, and rightfully so. But the ’86 Topps Traded set included a few players that wouldn’t be included in other sets until 1987 so it was really a sneak peek at the ’87 hotness that was coming.The ’86 Topps Design has always seemed like one of those “you either love or hate” sets. But I have personally always loved the design. It was a total change from the previous few years with the heavy black border at the top so as to include the team name. Unfortunately, the black top border has caused nightmares with grading over the years and a “10” is quite elusive. The backs of the cards were a pinkish red that I really liked, which may come as a surprise to those who know I dislike the deep ketchup red of ’90 Donruss. But this red was more subtle and soothing to the retina. They differ slightly from the base set as the red is deeper there. The Traded Set came with 132 cards, including a checklist that included later season rookies and players that had been on the move during the season.The set can be found for $10-$15 and represents a very affordable buy if you are in the market for some big name 80’s rookies. Here are a few that are included.

Barry Bonds – The future “home run king” had very memorable ’87 Donruss and Topps cards but this ’86 Traded was ahead of the curve.

Bobby Bonilla – Here with the White Sox but would soon become a teammate of Bonds in Pitt. He had no clue at this point that he would be a millionaire way into his retirement thanks to a terrible contract on behalf of the Mets.

Jose Canseco – The famous “what am I doing here” face was Jose’s first Topps card. I wish people would give Canseco cards the respect they deserve!

Will Clark – Ultimately underrated in the collecting word today, Will Clark was a superstar in San Francisco. And his middle name was Nuschler

Andres Galarraga – The Big Cat would star in other markets but got his start north of the border in Montreal. He was beloved in Atlanta.

Bo Jackson – The greatest athlete of my generation – Vincent Edward Jackson. Side note for those who didn’t know. He got the name “Bo” from his brothers who called him a Bo “Boar” Hog when he was a kid.

Wally Joyner – Another 1B that is underrated by today’s collectors but was very good in his playing days.

John Kruk – Honestly, I can’t get past the filthy hat and Padres brown shirt. His body type eventually led to a move to 1B, much like mine in softball today.

Kevin Mitchell – If you watched baseball in the late 80’s, you know Kevin Mitchell. He was an absolute terror in the batters box and even caught an Ozzie Smith flyball barehanded in the outfield once That you have to see to believe!. Just a monster!

Danny Tartabull – Tartabull was another beast at the plate during his career. He also helped George Costanza avoid a road rage incident on Seinfeld once.

Managers – There are even a couple of big name rookie managers in this set too!

Airbrush – I couldn’t complete a post on ’86 Topps Traded without a couple of examples of the horrendous airbrush jobs. This Seaver and Claudell are really bad but there are others. The Griffey Sr. above is weak as well.

Did I mention there were a ton of rookies in this set? 1986 Topps Traded is a very affordable set and is a great one to own because of some of the big names included. I love this Traded Set and these players are part of the MLB I grew up with. To me, this would have been a great time to start collecting if I hadn’t been abusing my own psyche by watching movies like The Shining. I do remember collecting some Star Wars stuff around this time but it didn’t stick and baseball cards eventually took center stage. Fortunately, I can go back and buy these sets now and they are cheaper than some shiny variation of a middle reliever in 2017 Bowman Platinum. This set is a perfect example of what I like to sort through when I sit down and go card rummaging. Star power and affordability make this a 5 for me. It could get a knock by some for the design and lack of mint condition in most cases but I like the design and I’m not getting these graded anytime soon.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards. Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did! It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking! What are you waiting on?

1989 Pro Set Hits The “Prime Time”

I remember certain times in my life when I was the new kid.  I was the outsider trying to enter into a world which I had not previously been a part of and trying to fit in.  We’ve all been there at some point in our lives.  Maybe it was the first day at a new school or the first day at camp.  It may have been a new summer baseball team or a new neighborhood.  Whatever situation it may have been, I’m sure you can think of at least once where you have felt like the newbie who had to prove yourself or show that you belonged.  I most recently felt that way when I joined the sports card twitter community.I have been on some form of social media since AOL dial up back in 1998.  I remember the awe that I felt when I could “instant message” someone in another state just by looking up profiles and seeing if they were online.  It felt like something from Back to the Future with the video phones and digital billboards.  It was a little scary at the same time because you never really knew if you were talking to the person who claimed to be on the other end.  I first started out communicating with my personal friends but eventually I branched out into the cyber world.Then MySpace came along and revolutionized social media to the point of where you could add photos to your homepage, link your favorite music and even design the background to your preference.  Everybody’s first friend was Tom on MySpace and I think he’s still there.  That was where people were starting to promote their brands and you could learn more than you ever wanted to know about them.  MySpace was top of the line at one point in time.  FaceBook would eventually take over and it still remains the most popular social media site among most people (totally a guess).When Twitter first caught my eye, I was skeptical.  I created an account in August of 2009.  Wow, I didn’t know that it had been so long until I just checked my settings.  Eight years later, I’m sitting on 255 followers and they are mostly friends, family and a few sports fans.  I never put a lot of focus on Twitter because FaceBook and my blog seemed to be the best form of communication.  Plus, there is a very negative side to Twitter as well because anybody and everybody can @ mention you when they want to bust your balls.  But I eventually found the sports card community through Bean’s Ballcard Blog (@beansbcargblog).  I don’t really even remember how it happened other than one of my card related blog posts got a retweet and my traffic exploded.I’ve always enjoyed writing (especially about cards), whether just in a notebook or for public consumption via the blog.  I’ve just never been able to find a broad enough audience that could relate and share their experiences.  A lot of my friends from high school stopped collecting a long time ago.  And while they appreciate the occasional blog post about baseball cards, they don’t really sit on the edge of their seat waiting on my review of 2017 Panini Classics.  In fact, I don’t know if anyone even does that now if I’m being honest.  But I noticed a connection with people almost immediately upon Kin sharing that blog post.I had spent the previous couple of years just writing about whatever was on my mind and occasionally hopping on Twitter to see what was trending.  I have a 24/7 brain and it keeps me up most nights because it will never turn off.  I discovered that writing could help me unclutter my head from time to time and after some prodding from my family, the blog was born in 2015.  Even after I started the blog, I just aimlessly chose a topic and started writing.  It was ‘t until my post got shared with like minded card collectors that it all seemed to click.  I knew the subject that I really wanted to write about all along and I finally found more than a handful of people who were interesting in reading it.I have collected for 28+ years and have been writing privately for almost as long.  And with the help of a kind stranger, I was able to find an audience as well.  So with that, my alter-ego Twitter page, Dub Mentality, was born.  Dub has been a nickname for several years because my middle initial is W.  It’s J-Dub, Dub, Dubya, you name it.  So I began writing more about cards and I started adding followers that seemed to like the same thing I did.  Again, I never knew the Twitter Card World existed and I missed out on it for far too long.  But once I found it, I embraced it like I was 12 and opening my first pack again.Here’s where the new kid part comes in.  As is my own nature, the Twitter Community was originally skeptical of me I’m sure.  I would pick up a follower or two here and there.  I kept writing and kept reaching out to important people in the hobby like Eric Norton and Ryan Cracknell to try and navigate this new world.  I picked up the occasional MLB player as a follower, including my favorite player Ron Gant (thanks to somewhat of a Twitter movement started by NRUSSweTRUST).  But all the while, I’ve kept blogging and trying to share my experiences with other people.  And that’s what’s so cool about this whole community.  I haven’t had to be anyone I’m not in order to fit in.  I am being J-Dub, who likes sports cards, 90’s references, old cheesy movies and Deftones and I have found other people who actually like those same things!I have experienced in the last few months what we should all experience in a perfect world.  Coming together with people who share similar interests and talking, sharing and being there for each other.  If somebody on my timeline catches me talking about something I’ve been looking for, it all of a sudden shows up at my door.  I try to do the same thing.  When I see people really like something I share that I don’t PC, it’s likely going to them in the next mail run.  I think that is the way the hobby should work.  It is a hobby after all.  And at some point, we all lost ourselves in the business aspect of card collecting and it became less enjoyable.  I’m not there anymore and that’s thanks in large part to the new community that welcomed me in like one of their own.  I didn’t feel like a new kid for too long.I know it’s a bit of a reach but I am going to bring this full circle and talk about another new kid on the block in 1989.  No, I’m not talking about Jordan Knight.  If you get that joke, you earn the respect of Dub.  If you don’t, you are probably too young to know what I’m talking about.  In 1989, Ludwell Denny, an oil as described on the back of his football card, obtained a football card license from the NFL and began printing Pro Set football cards.  Topps had been the only game in town until 1989, with the exception of Bowman in the 50’s.  There may have been some brands here and there but by and large, Topps was the player.  In ’89 that changed with the introduction of Pro Set and Score.  They opened the door for Fleer, Pro Line, Action Packed and countless others to begin producing football cards.I have established here on the blog before that 1989 was my rookie year of collecting.  I happened to join the fray when a lot of others were jumping in.  Don’t forget Upper Deck and Bowman’s return in baseball.  Basketball saw Hoops start printing cardboard and Skybox would be one year later.  But in football, Pro Set was a new, colorful design that was very popular in my collection.  Score turned out to be the cash cow but hindsight is 20/20 right?  Anyhow, Pro Set was readily available at Wal Mart, Piggly Wiggly and Big B in my home town and when I wanted football that was the pack I bought.  Dubbed as “The Official NFL Card”, Pro Set was also the Official NFL Card of Dub.The set was broken up into two series’ and included only a few inserts.  Those inserts were a 30 card Announcers set and a 23 card Super Bowl Logo set.  It is known for its strong rookie class of Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.  There was also a new insert with Santa Claus on it.  I don’t really know how Santa made it into the set but I know that collectors still like to pull that card when ripping Pro Set.  The set was made up of 561 cards and a wax box came with 36 packs of 14 cards, 1 Extra Point Game Piece and 1 Super Bowl Collectible.The design of the card is pretty memorable as Pro Set used a base color for different teams that included purple, green, orange, red and blue.  There were small white lines on either side of the card slightly reminiscent of ’86 Donruss.  The players name was in the center at the top with the NFL and Conference Logo on either side.  The bottom of the card had the Pro Set slogan, “Pro Set – The Official NFL Card.”  The backs of the cards had a small inset photo of the player, which was a deviation from the years of Topps with no photo on the back.  The back also included statistical information, highlights from their career and the usual vital stats that included birth and draft information.The set has a nice mixture of 80’s and 90’s stars as pictured above.  These were some of the best players in NFL history and any card with them is worthy of a spot in my PC.There were also several Tecmo Super Bowl stars that I would use to dominate the competition on NES.  While they may not have been household names worthy of mention with Montana and Rice, they were definite studs in the gaming world.The coaches were depicted on cards just as managers in baseball.  There are several notable names here including Bill Parcells, Sam Wyche, Chuck Noll and Mike Shanahan with the Raiders.These were the Super Bowl Cards that were included 1 per pack.  I ripped through 20 packs and pulled these 4 over and over.  At this rate, it would take a full case to build the Super Bowl Logo set.  This set should be worth a mint!While I opened a Series 1 box, which I picked up at the LCS for $9.95, I do own the big rookies so I thought I would share them here as well.Even though I didn’t win a trip to the Pro Bowl, I consider the box a success.  For under $10, you are really just looking for nostalgic value and this box had a ton.  If you are trying to score the big rookies, you have to go with a Series 2 box but if you just want to take an inexpensive trip down memory lane, you could do a lot worse than 1989 Pro Set.  The cards were in good condition in the “baggy” packaging and there was no UV coating or Gum getting in the way.  I loaded up with duplicates of Kelly, Montana, Bo and Elway.  It’s really a nice value for late 80’s football.  In fact, it is a fraction of what a box of Score costs.  I’d rip another box without any problem and just add more Falcons and legends to my PC.  It’s not a set that will knock you dead but it still holds up in my opinion.  The cost, rookies available and checklist of superstars makes this a solid 4 on the Dub-O-Meter.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?



Member’s Only – A Prestigious Club

When I was a wee lad, I remember having a “clubhouse”.  This clubhouse was a shed in my backyard that my dad used to store tools and I would sometimes go out to it and read books or play with my transformers.  It was a pretty exclusive club with me being the charter member and only my little brother occasionally attending functions.  It may have been in that clubhouse that I first developed an affinity for reading and being alone with my thoughts.  I remember having these two specific books; one about a kid learning to brush his teeth and another with the same kid learning his manners.  I can see those books in my mind’s eye right now but I can’t think of the titles.  I would love to google those and see if there are copies floating around the interwebs.Anyhow, I remember this clubhouse because it was where I could be “grown up” and pretend that I was on my own and taking care of myself.  My memory always associates that clubhouse with those tiny Dixie paper cups that used to stick on the wall in a container by the sink.  They were really there for me to rinse when I brushed my teeth, which is what I was learning from that children’s book.  But I would grab a few of those and fill them up with Hawaiian Punch and haul them out the clubhouse to keep me sustained for the hour or so I’d be “living on my own”.  It probably would’ve been easier to take a regular sized cup but I wanted to decorate “my place” with kids stuff.  The snack of choice for me back in those days was BBQ “Tato Skins”.  I think these are still around in the T.G.I. Friday’s variety but they aren’t the same as I remember them.I remember that time as being liberating for me as a 10 year old.  I also treated the shed with reverence though too because it was in fact, a club.  I have been in other clubs since like Sertoma and Rotary.  I even had an Al Bundy “No Ma’am” T Shirt one time so I consider myself a member of that club as well.  But nothing is as cool or gratifying as being in a club as a kid.  We could make up our own rules, set our own qualifications for admittance and also establish our own rewards for being members.  Sometimes you weren’t allowed in the clubhouse during a meeting if you weren’t a member.  Or maybe you didn’t get one of the cool Dixie cups to drink your Hawaiian Punch out of.  Clubs were cool and every kid deserved to be in at least one.At 14, there was a new kind of club that I desperately wanted to be in.  This club had some major perks but was quite expensive to join.  It would have taken $29.95 to be a member of this club and in 1991, I didn’t make that kind of cheddar; nor did I have the negotiation skills to talk my parents into sponsoring me.  I was fortunate enough that they were buying ’91 Fleer and Donruss baseball cards.  I couldn’t talk them into dropping a 30 spot to get me in the 1991 Stadium Club.  I could’ve reduced that entry price to $19.95 with 10 wrappers from Stadium Club but hell, those packs were at least $5 apiece and upwards of $8 in some stores.  That doesn’t seem like much of a discount on the club dues when you can spend $50 to save $10 on membership.  But I wanted in the club just the same.I’ve written about 1991 Stadium Club HERE BEFORE so we won’t rehash that whole piece.  But the “Club Membership” was a different level of card collecting in those days.  The club membership was an interesting concept that was created to provide a little extra prestige to an already premium product.  When ’89 Upper Deck hit the scene, the other card companies were sent scrambling to the marketing boardroom to try and come up with innovative ways to keep the market share they had enjoyed over the previous 10 years.  Donruss came up with the Leaf premium set, Fleer began working on Ultra and Topps’ response was teaming up with Kodak for Topps Stadium Club.  And what better spin on Stadium Club than the creation of a membership requirement for special perks?The first time I saw that Membership Insert Card was both exciting but depressing at the same time.  I knew that my membership would be blocked by the steep joining fee.  I also knew that at least a couple of my friends would become members and taunt me with those special membership perks.  What were those perks, you ask?  First, you got a 1 year subscription to Topps Magazine, which was released quarterly.  You also received Charter Member cards with 1990 highlights featuring players like Ken Griffey Jr. and Kevin Maas.  To commemorate your membership, you were given an Id Card and your very own membership number.  The most sought after perk of membership for me though was the 50 Card “Member’s Only” Set that you would receive in 3 installments through the end of the year.The first installment included cards 1-10, which were all baseball and featured a highlight from the season for the pictured player.  The second installment was cards 11-30 with more baseball player highlights and end of season awards.  The final installment was cards 31-50 and included NFL and NHL players.  The only thing missing was the sweet keychain you got for being a “Charter Member”.  Being a multi sport collector, I would love to have had the full 50 card set but I would have taken any installment at the time.  I remember some of my friends trading me an occasional single from the Member’s Only set but I never got my hands on a full set or even full installment.  That is until this past Friday when I visited Middle Georgia Sports Cards.The shop always has a generous selection of junk wax era cards and I usually spend my time sifting through boxes and displays of those cards.  I like to add a couple of new products but I spend 95% of the shopping trip looking at old wax.  As I was looking through the “Wax Packs for .15 cents” box, this little black box off to the side caught my eye.  I immediately recognized the gold embossing on the box and knew it was Stadium Club.  I had luckily stumbled on the second installment lurking on a shelf for $4.95 so I had to grab it up.  Seeing the box itself immediately took me back to the good ole days when I desperately wanted to be a member of the prestigious club.  It only took me 26 years but I can finally say that I am at least an honorary member!So it’s time to see what all that anticipation and longing was about so many moons ago.  The set looks just like the base TSC set from ’91 except it has “Member’s Only” foil stamped across the bottom of the card.  The back is also a headline and story from the Stadium Club Herald about the player on the front.  Since it’s only 20 players, I can run through the full checklist below with a small blurb about the reason for inclusion.  I’ll keep it brief as I’ve probably already bored you with all the Dixie cup talk.

  • Jeff Bagwell – NL ROY
  • Roger Clemens – AL Cy Young
  • David Cone – Struck out the side needing only 9 pitches vs Reds
  • Carlton Fisk – Oldest player with All-Star Hit
  • Julio Franco – Majors Batting Champ
  • Tom Glavine – NL Cy Young
  • Pete Harnisch – Perfect Game
  • Rickey Henderson – AL SB Leader
  • Howard Johnson – NL HR Leader
  • Chuck Knoblauch – AL ROY
  • Ray Lankford – Hits For Cycle
  • Jack Morris – Babe Ruth Award
  • Terry Pendleton – NL Batting Champ
  • Terry Pendleton – NL MVP
  • Jeff Reardon – 20+ Saves 10 Straight Years
  • Cal Ripken Jr. – AL MVP
  • Nolan Ryan – 22 Straight 100 K Seasons
  • Bret Saberhagen – No Hitter
  • Canseco/Fielder – AL HR Leaders
  • Mercker/Wohlers/Pena – No Hitter

So even though I’m 40 years old now, I still have plenty of excitement about adding this little box of ’91 wax to my collection.  I know that you can buy any and everything online now and this isn’t necessarily the scarcest product out there.  But this set was pretty important to me in 1991 and I always enjoy finding cards and sets in an actual card shop or vintage store.  Anybody can go online and click “buy” on a web page but there is still something to experience by uncovering the old school sets in an old school way.  Maybe I’m just a cheeseball but that’s the way I prefer it.  For 1991, TSC was top of the line in my book.While I gave the base set a score of 4 on the Dub-O-Meter, the things that brought the set down were the UV coating causing damage to most of the cards and the heavy toxic smell that’s associated with said coating that’s been sealed for a quarter century.  However, these cards weren’t stuck together and they also didn’t have much of an odor.  That may be thanks to them being in a small quantity and stored in a box that could get some air.  Either way, the score is bumped up to a 5 with the absence of the issues present in the box I picked through a couple of weeks ago and the importance of adding the set to my PC.  It also didn’t hurt that the set was way better than the other “Member’s Only” I remember from the early 90’s.  I’ll be keeping my eyes open for Installment’s 1 and 3 so I can compete the set and be a full fledged member of 1991 TSC, minus the ID Card and Member #.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?