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Old School Hits: 2000 Fleer Mystique Fresh Ink

freshinkmaciasInserted at a rate of 1 in 40 packs, the Fresh Ink set from 2000 Fleer Mystique featured a bevy of star autographs which included the likes of Tony Gwynn, Andruw Jones, Will Clark, Mike Mussina, Lance Berkman, Carlos Delgado, Magglio Ordonez, and Cal Ripken, Jr. This set is significant as it included the first-ever certified autograph of Hideo Nomo, who was with the Detroit Tigers at the time. Needless to say, that card regularly sold for hundreds when it appeared online.

I pulled one of these autographs a while back but obviously, I pulled the wrong Tiger. Boxes of 2000 Fleer Mystique can be found online for approximately $40-45. In each box, collectors not only have a chance at pulling one of the 47 Fresh Ink autographs, not to mention Feel the Game and 3000 Club memorabilia cards as well.

2000 Fleer Focus Baseball Box 4

Here it is, my fourth box of 2000 Fleer Focus, the second box sent to me from Peter of Dropped Third Strike.

Base: Tons. Someday I’ll organize the base from these two boxes. If anyone would like a team set, I’ll gladly send one.

Prospects: Ben Petrick (3997/3999)

Masterpiece Mania (/300): Doug Glanville (036/300) and Robin Ventura (007/300)

Focal Points (1:6 packs): Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter

Future Vision (1:9 packs): Adam Kennedy, Octavio Dotel, Mario Encarnacion

Focus Pocus (1:14 packs): Tony Gwynn x2 (seriously)

Club 3000 (1:36 packs): Steve Carlton

Fresh Ink (1:96 packs): Erubiel Durazo

Final Thoughts: This box certainly wasn’t short on the inserts, which is good, but pulling the same inserts over and over again gets a bit annoying, especially when you get duplicates in the same box. Once again, I was haunted by Erubiel Durazo. While it wasn’t nearly as good as the autograph from Box 1, it’s still an autograph so no complaints here. Once again, I have to give a huge thank you to Peter for everything!

Final Grade: B

Old School Hits: 2000 Fleer Showcase Fresh Ink

durazo2Even though 2000 Fleer Showcase is filled with many colorful and oddly-cut inserts, the Fresh Ink inserts contain one of the more simpler (but not bad) designs you’ll ever see. The area surrounding Durazo is filled with silver foil and the card contains a hard-signed and very crisp signature. There are 38 cards altogether in the Fresh Ink set, with all but two being inserted directly into packs. These two cards were available only via a redemption card that had to be submitted before 7/1/01 and featured autographs of then-Marlins (and now Red Sox) pitchers Brad Penny and Josh Beckett. Boxes of 2000 Fleer Showcase can be found online for under $50 and each should yield one of these such autographs.

It’s back! 2000 Fleer Focus Baseball Box DEUX

A little over four months ago, I posted one of my most popular reviews to date. The review was for a box of 2000 Fleer Focus which was highlighted by an Andruw Jones autograph. Considering how much I enjoyed that box, I decided to give it another try. I recently picked up a second box for $27, a few dollars fewer than the cost of the first. Once again, each box contains 24 packs of 10 cards each. Here’s a quick rundown of the pulls (detailed descriptions in first box review):

Base cards: After falling 9 cards short of a base set in the first box, I was able to complete to complete the set with this box. As was the case with the first box, two prospect cards were pulled. This time, they were both of the action (as opposed to portrait) variety: Wily Mo Pena (2453/3999) and Adam Piatt (2486/3999). At this time, I have no intentions of putting a second set together or collecting the shortprints so if you need set fillers, let me know.

Masterpiece Mania (numbered to 300): While the prospects seem to unofficially fall at a rate of two per box, the Masterpiece Mania cards seem to fall at one per. These green-foiled parallels are limited to 300. I pulled an Ismael Valdes (026/300), who bounced between the Dodgers and Cubs in 1999-00.

Focal Points (1:6 packs): The most common inserts found in this product are the Focal Points inserts. Falling at four per box, there are fifteen cards in this set. Between the two boxes, I have yet to pull any doubles. In this box, I received Mike Piazza, Chipper Jones, Tony Gwynn, and Ken Griffey, Jr. These currently put me at 8/15 for the set.

Future Vision (1:9 packs): These holofoil inserts showcased the game’s top prospects at the time. Seeded at two or three per box, there are 15 cards in the set. I pulled cards of Mario Encarnacion and Adam Kennedy. Woohoo! Two boxes in a row with a Kennedy insert. Too bad my Kennedy card isn’t like the one that Mario at Wax Heaven pulled.

Focus Pocus (1:14 packs): Ah, the good ol’ trippy ’90s inserts. Seeded at roughly two per box, this insert set featured ten of the game’s greatest. My pulls were of Chipper Jones and Cal Ripken, Jr.

Club 3000 (1:36 packs): LIke I mentioned in the original review, Club 3000 was a cross-brand promotion in which fourteen members of the 3000-hit club were featured on inserts and game-used memorabilia cards throughout five different Fleer products. No more than three subjects could be found in each particular product. In Fleer Focus, the three subjects were Stan Musial, Steve Carlton, and Paul Molitor. I pulled a Steve Carlton insert in this box. Unfortunately, there were no game-used swatches.

Final Thoughts: Despite not have an autograph or game-used hit, I still wasn’t disappointed with this box. The inserts delivered as promised and I had no inserts repeating from the first box. Fleer Focus has always been a personal favorite of mine. It has some very good potential as far as hits go (Fresh Ink, Club 3000 Memorabilia, etc.) and an affordable price. For about $30, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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

2000 Fleer Ultra Baseball Review

Ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your monitors, this really is a new post. Today, I busted a box of one of my favorite brands, Fleer Ultra. Before it became bastardized by Upper Deck, Ultra was a very collectible set with crisp, full bleed photography. Unfortunately, it also had a very repetitive base design (at least in the later years) as shown in the 1999 and 2004 sets. Ultra also had its share of unique inserts and high-dollar parallels and in 2000, autographs and game-used memorabilia cards were thrown into the mix. So with all that to shoot for, what would I pull? Let’s see…

Base cards: The base set is comprised of 300 cards with the last 50 being shortprinted prospect cards, which fall in every 6 packs on average. From the short set, I received 170 cards with 29 duplicates and 3 triplicates. My prospect cards were of Chris Woodward, Buddy Carlyle, Jacque Jones, Eric Munson, Erubiel Durazo, and Tony Armas, Jr.

Gold Medallion Parallel (1 per pack): One can expect to find a Medallion parallel in each pack, each of which has been die cut to round off the top of the card. The Gold Medallions are the most common and were the only kind I pulled from this box. All in all, there were 24 Golds, 1 for every pack in the box. I pulled my share of stars including Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, Mariano Rivera, Larry Walker, Mike Mussina, and others. Naturally, I chose to scan the crappiest one of them all, Rey Ordonez. Gold Medallion prospect cards are seeded 1 in every 24 packs, but I did not pull one. If you’re lucky, there are 2 other parallels can you find in place of these Gold Medallions. The first are the Platinum Medallions. Instead of gold, these cards have a platinum finish to them and are numbered to just 50 (the prospects are numbered to 25). The second are the Masterpiece parallels. These cards look similar to the Platinum Medallions, but have purple foil over the front text and are limited to just 1 copy each. Here’s an example of a Platinum Medallion card from my personal collection.

Diamond Mine (1:6 packs): The most common insert in this product is called Diamond Mine. This silver-foiled insert set is comprised of 15 cards and features the game’s best. I pulled 3 in this box: Tony Gwynn, Juan Gonzalez, and Vladimir Guerrero. These cards don’t look nearly as cool as they do in the scan above.

World Premiere (1:12 packs): Of course, the product wouldn’t be complete without a prospect insert set. That’s where World Premiere (15 cards) comes in. These cards are hideous and look like a bunch of Metal Universe rejects. I pulled cards of Carlos Beltran, Ben Davis, and Adam Kennedy. Speaking of Metal Universe/Skybox, the back of the Kennedy card cracks me up. It reads:

“When you were growing up, Adam, did you ever imagine that you’d be playing so close to baseball history? While most players would kill to play second base for the Cardinals, you seem unfazed. Hey, maybe someday they’ll ask Mark McGwire what was it like to play next to the line drive-hitting, smooth fielding Adam Kennedy. You think?”

Alright, so that wasn’t as great as the “gangster backs” of the Skybox cards, but still………HA!!!

Swing Kings (1:24 packs): These are acetate cards, but are still relatively simple. Out of the 10 cards in this set, I pulled a Derek Jeter and a Mark McGwire. Let’s see if there are any asinine comments on the backs of these.

Jeter: “You don’t become the best-loved player in New York by just having a pretty face. It helps if you can go yard every time up. Which, of course, you can.”

Umm…..what? Jeter’s always been more of a singles/doubles hitter and has only reached the 20-homer mark 3 times in 14 seasons. Moving on…

What WASN’T Pulled: Oh boy, this is going to be long. First, there’s an insert called Crunch Time. These cards are seeded 1 in every 3 boxes and are reminiscent of the Leather and Lumber inserts from 1997 Donruss Elite. There’s a rare insert called Ultra Talented, which are numbered to just 100. At this time, I’m unable to find a picture of those (haven’t seen one in years). Feel the Game made its Ultra debut in this product. In every 7 boxes on average, one could pull a game-used jersey or batting glove swatch from 1 of 15 different players. Lastly, there was the Fresh Ink autograph set. This set had over 60 subjects in it and print runs ranged anywhere between 1000 (lower-end guys like Matt Lawton and Jeremy Giambi) and 95 (Jeter). A quick rundown of some of the names in this set: Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Curt Schilling, Wade Boggs, Greg Maddux, Alfonso Soriano, Randy Johnson, and much more. One such card is a triple autograph featuring Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Nolan Ryan. It is limited to 100. I also did not receive any Club 3000 cards.

Final Thoughts: This box certainly turned out to be a dud, but it in no way affects my opinion of the product. A box contains 24 packs of 10 cards of each and should run in the $30-35 range. There are plenty of nice hits to chase after for a fair price. My bud Andrew, aka “slugger82685” on Youtube broke a box of this very product a couple months ago and did very well for himself (TWO autographs AND a Platinum Medallion!). Check out the video here.

As always, thanks for the read and good luck on your breaks!