So how would I follow up a review of 1997 Donruss Elite? Why, with 1998 Elite of course! For those of you who can’t get enough of Elite, I present you with a double dose of it. I actually picked up this box from the same place I got the 1997 product, and for almost the same price. Despite the cost, the rest of the similarities between 1997 and 1998 Donruss Elite are minimal, but they’re both still very nice products! Let’s examine, shall we?
Base cards: The base set is comprised of 150 cards, just like it was in the premier edition. This set, however, also includes a 33-card subset called Generations. Once again, the basic set features a color photo of the player inside a silver-foiled border. The Generations cards contain a background which is a combination of an actual photo and a nighttime sky. Overall, I received 85 cards to the set with no duplicates.
Aspirations (limited to 750): There are 2 parallels to be found in this product, with Aspirations being the more easily attainable one. These cards feature a red border and a unique die-cut. The back of these cards state a print run of 750, but there is no individual numbering. For the record, the numbering with Aspirations and Status based on the players’ jersey numbers did not start until 2001. I pulled one of these parallels of Kevin Brown.
Status (limited to 100): The second parallel is far more rare and is known as Status. These cards are also die-cut, in a similar fashion to the Aspirations cards, but with some wave-like cuts running down the sides. The also have the look of a gold refractor, and are serially numbered to 100 on the back. I was fortunate enough to pull a David Justice in my box, numbered 097/100. These cards are BEAUTIFUL.
Craftsmen (limited to 3500): Numbered to 3500, Craftsmen is the most plentiful of the inserts found in ’98 Elite. These cards have the look of a blueprint, with blue bars running across the top and bottom of the card. The background reminds me a little of a Ryne Sandberg card once featured on Things Done to Cards. There are 30 players in this set and I happened to pull 2 of them: Roger Clemens and Ken Griffey, Jr. The first 100 serially numbered cards of each player make up a parallel called Master Craftsmen. That’s 2 boxes in a row with a nice Griffey insert. Nice.
What WASN’T Pulled: In 1997, Donruss Elite offered a STACKED insert/autographed set called Passing the Torch. In 1998, Elite came back even harder with a set called Back to the Future and included several legends alongisde the veterans and young stars. There were 8 cards in the set, all limited to 1500. However, unlike Passing the Torch, this set featured a combination of players on EACH card. The checklist was as follows:
1. Cal Ripken, Jr./Paul Konerko
2. Jeff Bagwell/Todd Helton
3. Eddie Mathews/Chipper Jones
4. Juan Gonzalez/Ben Grieve
5. Hank Aaron/Jose Cruz, Jr.
6. Frank Thomas/David Ortiz
7. Nolan Ryan/Greg Maddux
8. Alex Rodriguez/Nomar Garciaparra
Once again, Donruss delivers an unbelievable checklist. Of course, there were autographs as well. The first 100 serially numbered copies delivered a sweet dual autograph. There are 2 exceptions though. For one thing, a Frank Thomas/David Ortiz dual autograph was never made. Second, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Paul Konerko’s autographs can only be found separately and not on a dual card. To see what these these great cards look like, check out this old post on Wax Heaven.
The other insert I did not receive any of was the Prime Numbers inserts. This set may seem confusing but hear me out. Here is a Prime Numbers insert of Tony Gwynn. The idea behind this set was that they took a triple-digit number relevant to the player in some way. In this case, the number was ‘372’ due to the fact that he hit .372 in 1997. Each player has 3 different cards with a different digit from their significant number on each. The print run for each particular card was determined by placing a zero in place of the depicted number’s place in the significant number. For example, for Tony Gwynn’s “372,” the print runs would be as follows:
“3” – numbered to 072, or 72
“7” – numbered to 302
“2” – numbered to 370
There’s also a die-cut parallel to this set. There are 2 die-cut cards for each player. In each case, the print run is determined by multiplying the first digit in the significant number by 100 and the second digit by 10. So, in Gwynn’s case the card with the “3” would be limited to 300 and the card with the “7” would be limited to 70.
Final Thoughts: Well, just like in the 1997 version, the box states that inserts can be found 1 in every 5 packs on average. Once again, I pulled 4 inserts (though none were as great as the Leather and Lumber Griffey). Just like I said with the other box, this box is a bit of a gamble given the number of inserts you will receive. However, I think I if I had to choose between the 2 boxes, I may lean towards this one just slightly, only because I’m a sucker for attractive parallels.
As always, thanks for the read and good luck with your own breaks!