Retro Review – Coming of Age

Around the time you hit 15 years old, you really start to learn a lot about life and how the world works around you. For some people it’s earlier and for some it can be later in life, depending on your exposure level and the surroundings in which you grow up. But generally speaking, 15 is a big age for development and growth. At this stage of life, you are getting ready to start driving, you are likely hitting the dating scene pretty hard, working your first job and your parents probably trust you to do more things on your own. You are really becoming your own person to a large degree.

I turned 15 in 1992 and while we always harken back to the good ole days when times were different, believe it or not, we still had some of the same social issues we have today. I was just too young to really put a lot of thought into it. I still try to keep social issues out of my blog because you aren’t reading this to find out which political party I’m in or what I think about the war on terror. But interestingly enough, I found some similarities from a social standpoint in 1992 that make me think times may not be as silly as they seem in 2017. They are pretty crazy now, don’t get me wrong; but “how crazy” can be debatable. Look at some of the events from 1992 and see how they correlate to what is going on today. Disclaimer: I am not about to start debating these items and they are simply for time comparison purposes. Save the political banter for the CNN and FoxNews message board. I WILL say that we all need to try to be better at this human being thing.

• In the UK, there was a public outcry over royal spending and the Queen of England started paying income tax and the number of royals receiving tax payer money started to decrease. The rich getting richer is not a new problem, even if this was in another country.
• Rioting broke out in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King. Racial discord has been around for ages and I don’t know why we can’t seem to get it right. This topic is much too deep for this light hearted blog but it feels like we haven’t advanced much since 1992. If anything, we might be regressing and that is very unfortunate.
• Abortion rights activists march and hold demonstrations in Washington, DC. I know what you are thinking; Is this 1992 or 2018?
• Mike Tyson was convicted in the rape of Miss Rhode Island, Desiree Washington. The #MeToo movement has been the headline of 2018 so far and has uncovered many men in power (sports, entertainment, politics) who have potentially engaged in the same type of activity.
• Violence erupted in Germany against Immigrants. Germany was blaming the Immigrants for economic problems. Again, different country but it sounds familiar.
• Finally, on a non-social note, the Georgia Superdome in Atlanta was completed. The Mercedes Benz Stadium just said, “Hold My Beer.”

It wasn’t all bad in 1992. In fact, it was a pretty good year in my memory. Except for that part where I failed my learners test the first time around, I was loving life. The age of 15 is really the last bastion of childhood. When you turn 16, you start to see the responsibilities that life will throw at you. You would typically start thinking about what you want to do as an adult, you are allowed to operate some type of motor vehicle and you are old enough to hold down a job. In my family, if you wanted the car, you better be working for it and the gas.

I made my money mowing lawns of a local insurance company and church in Camilla. I ALWAYS had my headphones on! The music in 1992 was about as good as I remember. That was the year that Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was at the height of popularity and I was blown away by “Black”, “Jeremy”, “Even Flow” and “Alive”. While Pearl Jam was #1 on the tuner, there were some others that were pretty hot back in the day. I enjoyed Toad the Wet Sprocket, Nirvana, Cypress Hill, Boyz II Men, The Cure and House of Pain. I wore out the House of Pain CD with “Jump Around” and it finally became useless due to scratches and damage.

Aside from music, I was also watching every movie that released in preparation of my future as a video store clerk. And there were some classic movies released that year. At 15, you learn a lot from movies and I was taken to school in 1992.

  • Reservoir Dogs – I learned that it is actually possible to form the perfect cast for a movie. I have been a Steve Buscemi fan since that movie. But I also have always enjoyed Michael Madsen, Tarantino and Harvey Keitel. This was such a great film!
  • Basic Instinct – I learned that rewinding and pausing a movie on the same scene over and over will eventually do enough damage that tracking can’t even fix the picture. Oh, Sharon Stone, you minx!
  • Unforgiven – This remains my favorite western of all time. I learned that you just don’t mess with Clint Eastwood, even if your name is Gene Hackman. Hackman may have been the boss in “Hoosier’s” but Eastwood was the shooter in this film! Is that play on words lousy or what?
  • A Few Good Men – This is where we learned that despite Tom Cruise’s ability to fly a plane inverted and take out Jester below the hard deck, he wasn’t quite prepared to handle the truth from Jack Nicholson.
  • League of Their Own – Perhaps the greatest lesson for a young sports fan; “There’s no crying in baseball!”
  • Wayne’s World – I learned that if a woman became President, someone would undoubtedly call her Baberham Lincoln. Also, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that people liked; they left that to the BeeGees.
  • My Cousin Vinny – This one taught me quite a bit about “good ole boy” politics but I can’t seem to ever get past Marisa Tomei.
  • Mighty Ducks – I’m telling you, the Flying V would never work in real life! I learned about true fiction in this film.
  • Dead Alive – What is there to say about this one other than I learned that there was a movie out there that could even make ME sick to my stomach.
  • White Men Can’t Jump – Finally, I already knew this one so didn’t really learn anything new. I had been playing basketball for several years and you would have had trouble sliding a piece of notebook paper between my foot and floor when I jumped.

Do you know what else I learned that awesome year? I learned that even though Fleer had created quite possibly the worst baseball card design ever in 1991, they could actually redeem themselves! We have certainly discussed the mustard yellow Fleer of 1991 here and the plain border of 1990 is one you either love or hate. You have to go back to 1988 to find a really good Fleer design so I had really lost faith in the company giving me something I really wanted to collect. Of course, that is with the exception of Pro-Vision. That is the ONLY reason I ever bought 1991 Fleer and the ONLY reason a box today is even worth the $4.95 I spend on it at the LCS occasionally.

But in 1992, they did a complete 180! They released high quality card stock with glossy photos and a border design that was much easier on the eyes. They brought back Pro-Vision and also introduced a new All-Star insert set that was reminiscent of other premium brands of the early 90’s. Finally, the checklist was really, really good and is very reflective of a wonderful time in baseball. They moved away from the wax packs and went to more of a cello type wrapper but it was pretty thick and easy to tell if tampered with. I found this box at my LCS for $8.95. The box has 36 packs with 16 cards each.

This year had a pretty good mix of young and old catchers. One of these guys wouldn’t be a catcher for long and one of these guys was a catcher for 100 years.

One of the deepest power positions in the set, First Base featured some true sluggers. Three of these hitters topped 500 home runs and one fell just three short.

The middle infielders didn’t have as much pop but they certainly got on base a ton! And I don’t know that you’ll find a slicker fielding trio than Larkin, Vizquel and Ozzie.

The hot corner was pretty hot in ’92 as well. You had a little bit of everything here with Caminiti’s arm, Williams’ bat and Sheffield’s all around skill.

I could barely fit all the outfielders in one picture. These are 20 legitimate stars from the early 90’s! Sosa, Belle and Justice represented the young guys while Murphy, Strawberry, Henderson and Hawk provided veteran leadership.

There were quite a few Hall of Fame pitchers in 1992. The following year, Maddux would join Glavine and Smoltz to form one of the deadliest rotations in MLB history.

You can bet your bottom dollar that these guys are going to make an appearance in the “Dated Rookie” Project!

Historically, Fleer has been known to swing and miss on the prospects in their sets. They do hit on one or two each year and I suppose Kenny Lofton would be that ONE in 1992.

How about some “Super Stars”? Who are Boggs and Baines looking at?

Another insert set was the “Record Setters”. Joe Carter got a three-photo card for his 100 RBI seasons.

“League Leaders” was a staple in Fleer over the years. Most of the time the insert set featured both AL and NL players on the same card but this year was a bit different.

Here is the nice glossy All-Star insert along with the Roger Clemens Career Highlights Card. These were very nice looking Cards and had a ’92 Fleer Ultra feel.

Here is what I came for! I pulled the 5 best Pro-Vision Cards as far as I’m concerned. The one thing about ’91 that is superior to ’92 is the black border but damn I love these Pro-Vision cards!

Bernie Williams was one of the three big rookies I pulled from this box. Bernie is a fan favorite in the Bronx and a welcome addition to my collection.

The next big rookie I pulled was one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Thome. He was a very classy ball player and one of the best power hitters of the 90’s that didn’t get linked to steroids. Thome was a beast!

The last big rookie I pulled was Pudge Rodriguez, another recent inductee into the Hall. Pudge was one of the best catchers I’ve ever seen play and was a stud on the field and in the Hobby.

This particular set break is the exact reason I do what I do with junk wax sets. I really had forgotten just how good 1992 Fleer was. The cards are in better condition than most boxes I open from the era, the checklist is loaded, the inserts are very retro and you simply can’t beat Pro-Vision Cards. It’s easy for some to label ’92 Fleer as one of those sets that was smack dab in the middle of the Junk era but the set really stands out when you take the time to look at the design and players found in the packs. In a complete rebound from 1991, I’m giving ’92 Fleer a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. I can’t find a real problem with this set. It truly holds up 25 years later and deserves to be remembered in a much better light than we currently hold it. Give ’92 Fleer a shot and I know you’ll feel the same!

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?

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