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1997 SP Baseball Review

Here is the box break/review that I hyped up a few days ago, 1997 SP! 1997 was the last year that the brand wasn’t dubbed ‘SP Authentic’ as it is today. Despite this, there are still quite a few authentic autographs and other great cards to be found. Let’s see what this box yielded…

Box Details: 30 packs box, 8 cards per pack, $88
From eBay

Base set: The base set is comprised of 184 cards, the first 15 of which are Great Futures young stars/prospects which fell one to a pack. Each base card has a specific color scheme based on the player’s team and a holographic area running down the sides and across the bottom of the card. Besides the fact that these cards are condition sensitive, the one thing that I don’t like about the base cards is that the players’ first name and even worse, the card number on the back, are difficult to read thanks to “bronze on bronze” foil. Anyway, I pulled 170 of the 184 cards (92%). There were 61 duplicates in this box!

insideinfoInside Info (1:box): Inside every box of 1997 SP is a box topper pack containing a special insert called Inside Info. This set contains 25 cards, each of which contains stats and a mini biography tucked within the card. This card tells me about Chipper Jones‘ excellent 1996 season and that he hit .448 as a HS senior.

marqueeMarquee Matchups (1:5 packs): There are 20 players in the Marquee Matchups set, each of whom has an image (or partial image) of an inter-league rival in the background of their card. Notice that if you put two of these die-cut cards together, they resemble the 1996 SPx design. I pulled cards of Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa, Cal Ripken, Jr., Chipper Jones, and Tim Salmon.

specialfxSpecial FX (1:9 packs): It’s inserts like these that made SP awesome. The Special FX cards are die-cut on all sides and feature three images of each player: a hologram image and two smaller regular images right below the hologram. Thanks to my scanner, these cards appear to be solid black in color in the non-holographic area but this area actually has a granite-like appearance, with a bit of a reddish-brown tint. The backs of these cards look just like the front except the positions of the colors are inverted and there are no holograms. There are a whopping 47 cards in this set! I pulled three in this box: Mike Mussina, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield.

griffeyheroesGriffey Heroes (numbered to 2000): Another insert randomly inserted is a special 10-card tribute set to Ken Griffey, Jr. The set is called Baseball Heroes and chronicles Griffey’s career up to that point. These cards highlight his first home run crown, his first postseason trip, All-Star Game MVP Award, and his breaking into the Majors at age 19. The cards are numbered 91-100 (as opposed to 1-10) and there are just 2000 of each. I pulled a copy of card 94 (1370/2000). Unfortunately, as you can see in the scan, this card came straight from the pack with some major damage along the top edge.

gamefilmGame Film (numbered to 500): If I wasn’t going to pull an autograph from this box, I would’ve wanted to at least pull one of these. Game Film is a 10-card die-cut set that is unique because it actually has film cells embedded into the card. I pulled a Barry Bonds (312/500) in which we see the follow-through of his sweet swing. Dating the film (like they did in hockey) would’ve been a nice touch but these cards are awesome nonetheless.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: C

There were 240 cards in this box and I fell short of the 184 card set by 14 cards. 61 duplicates equates to two dupes per pack on average or a quarter of the box! Usually this would drive me nuts, but seeing how the number of cards per box is considerably greater than the number of cards in the base set, I’ll let it pass. Also, I probably should’ve pulled one more Marquee Matchups card based on the stated odds.

Condition: B-

Of all the cards, the Griffey Heroes insert suffered the worst damage by far. All of the other inserts and base came out relatively clean (with the exception of two dupes getting chipped badly). For the record, this grade only got the minus because of that Griffey.

Pulls: B

Overall, I thought the pulls were solid with two Griffeys, two Chippers, some Sosa, Ripken, and of course Baroid. My box wouldn’t be complete without him or Tony Gwynn! I was happy to see the Game Film card since there were no autographs or basic SPx Force inserts. On a side note, I seemed to have “jinxed” myself with Chippers when I made the ‘Anticipation’ post. 😉

Value: B+

This one is a bit harder to gauge. This was the first box of ’97 SP that I’ve seen available in YEARS. The $88 I paid was the final delivered price (shipping was listed as “free” in the auction but postage was $12). To be honest, I was a little surprised this box didn’t go into the triple digits. The quality of potential pulls (autos) is incredibly high and even if you don’t hit one, you can still walk away with a nice box. If base dupes don’t drive you to the brink of madness, I’d definitely suggest trying a box if you can find one.

Overall Grade: B


I haven’t posted much in the past few days, partly because I haven’t had much to write about and partly because I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of one the most sought-after boxes on my personal wantlist, 1997 SP (image from 1997 SP is an extremely difficult box to find and is chock full of inserts but the main attraction is, without question, the autographs.

There are SPx Force autographs which are single-player autographs on multi-player cards designed like 1997 SPx. To show how much of a demand there is for these cards, a Todd Hollandsworth sold for $35!

The other autographed attraction is the buyback “Vintage” autographed set. Select cards from the first four years of SP (1993-96) were signed, hand-numbered, and inserted into packs with a separate certificate of authenticity. The numbering on these cards ranges from 4-367 copies! There are 32 cards in this set including Alex Rodriguez, Tony Gwynn, Jeff Bagwell, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey, Jr.

Now do you see why I want this box to get here already?

1997 Stadium Club Series 1 JUMBO Baseball Review

I know I just broke some old Stadium Club a couple of boxes ago, but…….here’s more! This time I broke some from 1997, the debut year of the Co-Signers inserts. Maybe I’ll find one?

Box Details: 12 packs per box, 15 cards per pack, $18

Base set: The base set is comprised of 180 basic cards followed by 15 “TSC 2000” shortprinted youngstar cards, which are seeded one per jumbo pack. I pulled 115 basic cards (63.8% completion) with 46 doubles and 3 triples. I also pulled 12 different TSC 2000 shortprints including Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, and Nomar Garciaparra.

Matrix (1:6 packs): Found at a rate of two per box, Matrix is a partial parallel which mirrors only a third of the base set. The first 60 cards of each series (numbers 1-60 and 196-255) are the only ones that are mirrored and the checklist is pretty solid. I pulled cards number 12 and 13 which feature Pedro Martinez and Jeff Bagwell respectively. I’m not really sure how to describe the technology used on these cards so I’ll let the scan do the talking.

Millennium (1:12 packs): Most of the inserts found in 1997 Stadium Club can be found in both Series 1 AND Series 2. The Millennium insert set is one such example with 20 cards inserted into each series. The players in this set are all young stars/prospects whose images are embossed on an all-mirrorboard background. I pulled Justin Thompson, a former Tigers pitcher. Some other notables in the first series include Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Carlos Delgado, and Edgar Renteria. Just a warning, these cards seem to be easily damaged.

Instavision (1:12 packs):
Holograms! Who doesn’t love ’em? The Instavision inserts feature hologram images on a mock scoreboard that commemorate special moments from the 1996 season. My Barry Larkin card celebrates the fact that Barry became the first 30/30 shortstop in history that season. Some other moments celebrated in this set are the 20-strikeout game by Roger Clemens against Detroit and Derek Jeter’s infamous ALCS homer (a.k.a. The Jeffrey Maier home run), found in Series 2.

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: C. The 49 doubles/triples are a bit high but seeing how that’s been the norm with these Stadium Club boxes, I was a little lenient with the grading. It was quite surprising not to hit any duplicates with the shortprints though. Also, the inserts delivered as promised so I can’t complain.
Condition: B-. The condition was good overall, but there were a few issues with a couple base cards (luckily they were doubles) and the Millennium insert, which has a HORRENDOUS back.
Pulls: B. There were some pretty solid names in this box. I was happy pulling the Larkin also as half the guys in the Instavision set are Mitchell Report guys.
Value: B. Whether it’s a jumbo or regular hobby box, one should be able to find an unopened box of ’97 Stadium Club for about $20 or less. For that price, one could expect a healthy starter set with a dozen shortprints, a couple Matrix parallels, and at the very least two other inserts like the ones I pulled. Pure Gold (1 in 3 boxes) and Co-Signers (1 in 8 boxes) are also possible pulls. I basically got the minimum with this box but it was still an enjoyable break overall.

Final Grade: B

1997 Pinnacle Baseball (Retail) Review

As you can probably tell, I haven’t had much time to update this thing recently. Rather than bore you with details about that, let’s get right into the next box break, which happens to be of Pinnacle’s flagship brand of 1997. You know what that means….dufex!!

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack, $15

Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards: 185 regular cards, 12 Clout subset cards, and 3 checklists. I pulled a complete set in this box with 34 duplicates. Each base card features a gold foil nameplate which sits atop an area filled with names associated with the player’s home city. Take for example, Todd Hollandsworth (LA), whose card contains the names “Hollywood, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, The Lakers, Vin Scully, Chavez Ravine, La Brea Tar Pits” and so on.

Before I go on, I want to put the spotlight on a couple of particular base cards that for some reason made me think of the gals at Dinged Corners. They just seem like cards that would be featured in posts there. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, here they are:

The first is a classic bubblegum shot of Jeff Cirillo while the other is a very sweet card featuring Scott Brosius and his daughter. This card happens to be Mr. Brosius’ personal favorite.

Museum Collection (1:9 packs): Inserted at roughly three per box are the dufex-laden Museum Collection cards, which mirror the entire set. My pulls were of Brett Butler, Mark Thompson, and Frank Rodriguez. I didn’t exactly get any big stars here, but I suppose I could save the Butler for Mr. Owl.

Shades (10 cards, 1:23 packs): If you’ve ever wanted an extreme close-up of your favorite player’s facial hair, this insert is for you. Inserted at a rate of one per box, these cards are die-cut at the top and feature smaller pictures of the player in the lenses of the glasses. I pulled a Mike Piazza. I’ll be honest. I find these inserts to be downright weird.

Passport to the Majors (25 cards, 1:36 packs): The Passport to the Majors inserts are truly unique. These inserts fold out like a real passport and feature players from the USA, Japan, Korea, Dominican Republic, and Canada among other places. My pull was of Chipper Jones. Interestingly enough, this theme was later used by Topps as a game-used set in 2002 Stadium Club. Check out the inside of this insert!

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: A. I can’t complain with completing a base set with one box. The other inserts also delivered as promised.
Condition: D. Despite the fact that I did complete the base set, a number of cards had deteriorating foil on the front. For example, look at the nameplate of the Jeff Cirillo card above. In some cases, the damage was even worse!
Pulls: B. The Piazza and Chipper were cool, but it would’ve been nice to hit some better Museum cards. Plus, I had to take points away for the fact that I pulled Chipper in the first place. Just kidding….
Value: B. For $15, one could expect to complete a base set and pull about five or six inserts/parallels. I know the base set looks a bit crappy, but it was still a fun little box to open.

Final Grade: C. The condition factor dropped this box’s grade to a C overall. I could’ve possibly given the box a C+, but damaged cards (even if they’re just base) are a huge, HUGE peeve of mine. Just my opinion.

Grudge Match II? Not Quite…

Earlier tonight, I was excited to see a post for a 1997 Bowman Chrome Baseball box break from Houston Card Collector. I was going to prepare myself for the second-ever Old School Breaks Grudge Match when I started to watch his video. In the first Grudge Match, I compared box breaks of Pinnacle Certified with Mario of Wax Heaven. As for the Bowman Chrome, it really wasn’t going to be much of a contest. I figured that Houston Collector’s box destroyed mine about halfway (if even) into the video, which can be seen here. The video is a bit long, but it’s definitely worth checking out. And if you’re reading this Houston Collector, congrats! It’s always nice to pull something for the PC.

To see the results of the box I broke nearly two months ago, click here.