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2001 Fleer Genuine Baseball Review

Here’s the first of what I hope will be a lengthly string of breaks. Again, I apologize for the lack of new material recently. The box in this break differs from the rest I’ve broken so far in that this product guaranteed “hits.” I’m not the biggest fan of chasing after “hits,” but I thought it’d be fun to mix it up once in a while. Coincidentally, this is the most recent box-to-date here, and comes from the year of Ichiromania 2001.

Fleer Genuine was a product I never really understood. I mean, what was so Genuine about it? The fact that most of the time it was Genuine crap? Perhaps. In its latter years, it “evolved” into Genuine Insider and featured cards where the jersey swatch or autograph was tucked inside the card and had to be pulled out to be displayed. Of course, these cards were made when Fleer was just about a year away from dying so….draw your own conclusion. Despite some absurdities, there were 2 concepts used in Genuine that I had always been a fan of: the inclusion of past All-Star Game Programs as a boxtopper (this was used in 2002, the year of the worst ASG in history, THE IRONY!!!) and a legendary (IMO) game-used set entitled Names of the Game.

NOTG featured 34 cards, each of which featured a game-used piece (24 had a bat, the rest had a jersey) from a superstar, past star, or HOF/Legend. The lineup was staggering and looked something like this:

Yogi Berra, Orlando Cepeda, Rocky Colavito, Andre Dawson, Bucky Dent, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Ford, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Lazzeri, Don Mattingly, Willie McCovey, Johnny Mize, Pee Wee Reese, Cal Ripken, Jr., Phil Rizzuto, Ivan Rodriguez, Preacher Roe, Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bill Skowron, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider, Willie Stargell, Bill Terry, Ted Williams, Hack Wilson

Ladies and gentlemen: THAT is how you make a game-used set. Aside from Bucky Dent, the set is totally devoid of filler. Each card is limited to just 50 and 22 of them come with an autographed version, numbered to 100. They are all hand-numbered as well! Taking a shot at pulling one of these beauties may just well have been my motivation for opening this box of 2001 Fleer Genuine. There are 24 packs of 5 cards each, and “hits” come in every 8 packs so let’s see what was pulled….

Base set: There are 100 cards in the basic short set. Each card basically has a bunch of rectangles, one inside another, with a team-specific color theme making up a broken border on the outside. Each player’s name can be found scrolling upwards on the left side in a generic, silver font. Right above this is the team name, written in a thin point cursive style, that I suppose is intended to make the card look classy. Overall, my short set is 78% complete after this box, with 32 duplicates! Bleh.

Genuine Upside (numbered to 1500): Following the short set is a 30-card rookie subset entitled Genuine Upside, limited to 1500. Basically, if you didn’t hit the Ichiro or Travis Hafner, you got nobodies. I got a pair of Red Sox players: Sun-Woo Kim and Juan Diaz. Hmm, what are the odds of hitting 2 rookies on the same team?

High Interest (1:23 packs): All of the basic insert sets in this product have the same exact insertion ratio, 1:23. Also, they are all die-cut cards. This first insert is called High Interest and features a stock market theme to it and a predominantly green background. My pull was of Pedro Martinez, another Red Sox player!

At Large (1:23 packs): These cards have the same die-cut design as the Lasting Impressions cards from 1997 Pinnacle Certified. They feature the player seemingly standing over a stadium. Look out for that giant Giambi!

Pennant Aggression (1:23 packs): The final basic insert is entitled Pennant Agression. I’m pretty sure Fleer later used this in one of their Fall Classics sets or something of that nature. The card is shaped like a pennant and well…..um…..that’s basically it. Once again, I pulled Pedro Martinez. Seeing how Dave and Adam’s is located in NY, I’m starting to think they purposely sent me all the Red Sox cards. Ha!

Autographics (1:24 packs): You may remember this set from my Fleer E-X and Fleer Focus breaks earlier. Well, in 2001, Autographics returned in a big way. In 2000, the set was spread across 5 different products. In 2001, the list expanded to 8 and a couple of those (Platinum and Genuine) included 2002 products! The complete list is as follows: Fleer Focus, Fleer Genuine, Fleer Premium RETAIL, Fleer Showcase RETAIL, Fleer Triple Crown, Fleer Ultra, 2002 Fleer Platinum, and 2002 Fleer Genuine. Of course, the odds differed from product to product. I was pretty much guaranteed to hit one in my box, and I did, of Milton Bradley, who has been tearing it up the first half of this season. There are also a couple of parallels to this set: Silver (/250) and Gold (/50).

Genuine Coverage Plus (numbered to 150): These are a fairly tough pull, seeing as how they are limited to just 150 and there only 10 players in the set. These cards feature the team logo on a blue backdrop, and feature a little bigger swatch size than normal. My pull was Andruw Jones. It’s a pretty nice card for an underachiever (and by that I mean him, NOT me!).

Tip Of the Cap (numbered to 150): Finally, the last insert/hit of the box, the game-used hat card. Like the Genuine Coverage cards, these are also numbered to 150. You don’t see too many hat cards out there, so at least it stands out a little. This card features 2 pictures of Eric Chavez, a close-up and an action shot, on opposite sides of the dark green hat swatch. There are only 13 total players in this set, so I imagine this wasn’t too easy a pull either.

What WASN’T Pulled: Unfortunately, I didn’t hit any of the Names of the Game cards I spoke so highly of earlier. I also found it interesting that both of my game-used hits were of the uncommon variety and fairly low-numbered. Most boxes will yield a jersey card from the insert sets Final Cut and Material Issue, both of which are seeded 1:30 packs, but come with patch variations and have known shortprints. I also didn’t pull a redemption for a Jeter autographed sheet which expired ages ago.

Final Thoughts: Like I said earlier, Fleer Genuine has had its share of terrible products and ridiculous ideas in the past, but I feel like the 2001 version (the premiere edition!) is not one of them. As far as the base set goes, the design is decent and there is one big rookie to shoot for (Albert Pujols was not in this set). The insert sets are designed well and there aren’t too many of them. 3 inserts, each seeded 1 per box, on top of your “hits” seems about right to me. I’m not crazy about seeing a meaningless 1:4 pack insert in every pack or seeing no inserts at all to go with the guaranteed “hits” when opening a box. With that said, you won’t see any late-1990’s Ultra or late-2000’s SP Authentic on here! Ok, well, I might give the Ultra a try someday. Anyway, the game-used cards also look very nice in this product for the most part and you’ll pull an autograph in every box, which is always nice. I don’t know if this product is notorious for bad collation, or if I just got unlucky when it came to attempting to finish the base set, but I don’t see any other downers to this product. For about $65, it’s worth a shot (unless you pull a ton of Red Sox like I did lol).

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own breaks!
-John

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2000 Fleer Focus Baseball Review

This next box brings back some very good memories. Shortly after its release, a pack of 2000 Fleer Focus yielded one of my biggest pulls of that time, a Feel the Game Alex Rodriguez jersey card. Game jersey cards were still rare then, and those cards were no exception, being seeded only 1 in 288 packs! That’s only 1 per 12 box case! Boxes of 2000 Fleer Focus contain 24 packs of 10 cards each. Seeing how I’ve been lucky with this product before, I thought it’d be a great box to review on my blog. I picked up this box for $30 and here’s what I got…

Base cards: There are 250 base cards in this set with 225 veterans and 25 prospects. On each veteran card, the player’s name and information is written in gold foil, next to a little picture of his team’s cap. Each prospect card has red foil on the front and is numbered to 3999. However, each prospect card has 2 variations. Of the 3999 of each prospect, the first 999 feature a different photgraph. The first 999 feature a close-up portrait shot, while the remainder feature longer-distance action shots. In this box, I received 216 of 225 basic cards with 17 duplicates. I pulled 1 regular prospect card (Chad Hermansen: 1684/3999) and 1 portrait prospect card (Mario Encarnacion: 0691/3999).

Masterpiece Mania: All 250 cards in the set have a parallel called Masterpiece Mania. Basically, these just feature green foil on the front and are numbered to just 300. I pulled a Brad Radke that sure as heck doesn’t look like it has green foil in the scan! There are also Masterpiece and Masterpiece Error parallels, of which I pulled none of either. The Masterpiece parallel has purple foil and is numbered 1/1. The Masterpiece Error versions have the same purple foil, but lack the numbering on the back. These cards were test issues that were never meant to be released. They don’t book for very much and I’m not sure how many found their way into packs, but I don’t think it was the whole set. Can you imagine finding a card in your pack with the purple foil and then finding out it was just a stupid error card?? That would be horrible!

Focal Points: The first inserts I pulled were the Focal Points inserts. These cards are seeded 1 in every 6 packs. These cards feature a solid color background, which also contains a second faint picture of the player. The players I pulled were Derek Jeter, Frank Thomas, Juan Gonzalez, and Jeff Bagwell. There is also a parallel to this set called “Striking,” but I did not receive any of those. They are limited to 50 copies.

Future Vision: Next is your obligatory prospect-filled insert set, called Future Vision. These vibrant inserts can be found 1 in every 8 packs. I pulled inserts of Ruben Mateo, Kip Wells, and Chad Hermansen. (Chad Hermansen hot box! LOL)

Focus Pocus: Here’s a clever play on words by Fleer. Despite a corny name, these are another attractive insert set. These cards are seeded 1 in every 14 packs. I received Tony Gwynn and Ken Griffey, Jr. in this set. Doesn’t it look like the player’s body is emitting some kind of crazy rays?

Club 3000: This was a major cross-brand insert set put out by Fleer in 2000. 14 different members of the 3000-hit club could be found in 5 different products. Besides Focus, the other products were basic Fleer, Mystique, Showcase, and Ultra. Despite what product you opened, you were pretty much guaranteed to hit 1 of these inserts per box. If you were real lucky, you could find one with 1, 2 or even 3 swatches of game-used material on it! All of the game-used cards had varied serial numbering on them. I pulled a plain basic insert of Stan “The Man” Musial, but it’s still a cool card! (Did you know that of Musial’s 3,630 career hits, exactly half of them came at home and half came on the road?)

Fresh Ink: Last but not least, came my hit of the box. The Fresh Ink inserts are found only 1 in 96 packs, but there is no shortage of stars in the set. Potential pulls include Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony Gwynn, Josh Beckett, Mike Mussina, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Edgar Martinez, and others. I saw the authentication on the back at first and thought, “please let me get a nice star autograph!!” I flipped it over and saw Andruw Jones! Despite the fact that he’s started to fall off a little in the past couple years, I was still very happy with this pull.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this box break. I nearly finished the basic set, falling only 9 short. I found some pretty cool inserts in this box and pulled a pretty nice autograph to boot. With that said, I think it’s a pretty enjoyable product overall. The set is a decent size for a set collector (shortprints included), the inserts look very nice, and there’s potential to get a pretty nice hit as well (mainly in the Fresh Ink or Masterpiece sets). The only downside I could see is perhaps getting duped with the Masterpiece Error set, like I mentioned before. 😉

As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own box breaks!
-John