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OSGB2: Box 4: 2003 Donruss Elite

Travis Chapman Rookie 1662/1750 (Tigers – Night Owl)
Aspirations Miguel Tejada 39/96 (Athletics – Beardy)
Passing the Torch Stan Musial/Jim Edmonds 200/500 (Cardinals – Dan)
All-Time Career Best Andre Dawson (Cubs – Shoebox Legends)
All-Time Career Best Stan Musial (Cardinals – Dan)

Career Bests Roy Oswalt jersey 442/500 (Astros – darkship)
Throwback Threads Randy Johnson hat 072/250 (Mariners – Bud)

This marks the halfway point in our break. The last 4 boxes are loaded with stuff and some teams that haven’t hit much yet (if at all) are about to blow up. Trust me. More results coming Sunday night…

OSGB 2: Box 3: 2002 Donruss Elite

Craig Biggio SP (Astros – darkship)
Jorge Posada SP (Yankees – Chuck)
Jason Romano Rookie 0952/1500 (Rangers – Play at the Plate)
Recollection Collection 2001 Luis Garcia Rookie Auto 05/25 (Red Sox – Shoebox Legends)
Status Vladimir Guerrero 37/73 (Expos – oldschoolbreaks)
All-Star Salutes Pedro Martinez 0870/1999 (Red Sox – Shoebox Legends)

Hmm, I thought these boxes delivered a little more than this. The box states that inserts are found 1 in every 7 packs! For those wondering, the Biggio and Posada are part of a 50-card chunk of the base set which are shortprinted and seeded only 2 per box. I’m a sucker for Status/Aspirations parallels so I’m cool with the Vlad…

1998 Donruss Elite Baseball Review

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!

1997 Donruss Elite Baseball Review

Ever since the recent release of 2008 Donruss Elite Football, I’ve been wanting to bust some Elite Baseball for this blog. And what better way to do that than to open a box from the very first series, released in 1997. To the best of my knowledge, Donruss Elite was the first of many sets that originally started as an insert set. Others that fall into this category include: Co-Signers, Diamond Kings, Heritage, Chirography, Leather and Lumber, Throwback Threads, and so on. 1997 Donruss Elite had beautiful base cards and legendary chase cards, making it a rather difficult box to find. I was about to track one down for about $50 recently, and pulled the following (NOTE: The box states that an insert can be found in every 5 packs on average. For the insert sets below, they give the print runs, but there are no specific odds on any of them)…

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 150 cards, the last 3 of which are checklists featuring the men who hurled no-hitters in 1996: Hideo Nomo, Dwight Gooden, and Al Leiter. The cards are silver-foiled and have a granite-like border around the player’s picture. Below the picture is a shade of color (which differs from team to team), the player’s name, team, and a row of 5 small stars across the bottom. There is a final colored star at the top of the card describing the player’s position. In this box, I pulled 138 of the 150 base cards, with only 1 duplicate, Ryne Sandberg.

Elite Gold Stars (random inserts): The lone parallel to the base set, these cards are colored totally in gold (aside from the player’s picture), with the words “Elite Stars” written at the top. The backs of the cards are colored the same way. Like most Donruss Elite cards, these look great and don’t scan very well. I found a pair of these parallels in my box. The first was James Baldwin and the second was the Dwight Gooden checklist.

Turn of the Century (numbered to 3,500): Before it turned into an eventual subset or a crappy parallel /750, Turn of the Century started as an insert set with a similar concept to Flair’s Wave of the Future. These guys were the future of the MLB. It’s always fun looking back to see which of these players actually made an impact, isn’t it? There were 20 cards in this set, all numbered to 3500. I pulled a card of Todd Greene, a young catcher for Anaheim. The card is serially numbered 2717/3500. There is a parallel to this insert as well. The first 500 serially numbered copies are die-cut. If it weren’t for looking at this set’s checklist, I would’ve totally forgot Ernie Young or Trey Beamon ever existed.

Leather and Lumber (numbered to 500): Back in the day, I always thought this was one of the coolest inserts ever. This card is a part-wood/part-leather mutant, but it’s a beauty! The wood side, which is shown above, has an extreme close-up of a baseball bat (well, its knob more specifically!). Naturally, the player is shown hitting on this side of the card. Now, if we flip it over, we’ll see a fielding pose of the player, with another extreme close-up background: a glove holding a baseball. On this side, we also see the serial numbering at the top: 374/500 in the case of my Ken Griffey, Jr. Man, this would’ve been a MONSTER pull back then! I’m guessing this was about a $100 card back then, or close to it! There are 10 total players to the set, with Chuck Knoblauch being the only non-superstar.

What WASN’T Pulled: When I first thought about this product, only one insert set came to mind: PASSING THE TORCH. For those unaware, this was a 12-card insert set in which each card featured either a veteran, young rising star, or combination of both. Every card was limited to 1,500, but if you pulled one of the first 150 serially numbered copies, yours was autographed! Look at this checklist for a second:

1. Cal Ripken, Jr.
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Cal Ripken, Jr./Alex Rodriguez
4. Kirby Puckett
5. Andruw Jones
6. Kirby Puckett/Andruw Jones
7. Cecil Fielder
8. Frank Thomas
9. Cecil Fielder/Frank Thomas
10. Ozzie Smith
11. Derek Jeter
12. Ozzie Smith/Derek Jeter

Yeah, those are some sick combos, eh? The Fielder/Thomas combo always confused me though. At the time, Thomas wasn’t a “young star.” He was already a Most Valuable Player twice! Anyways, it’s still a very strong checklist and a heck of a set! Aside from this, the TOTC die-cut was the only insert I didn’t pull any of.

Final Thoughts: Each box contains 18 packs and with the insert ratio stated earlier, you can expect 3-4 per box. It is a bit of a gamble when you consider that at least one of those will probably be the Elite Stars gold parallel that could be only a $4 card if you pull a common. With that said, this product is probably more of a hit-or-miss than most, and the lack of a nice Leather/Lumber or Torch card/autograph might hurt a bit. Still, there’s not a bad-looking card to be found here and it’s still a fun rip. It’s your call.

As always, thanks for reading and good luck with your own breaks!