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OSGB: 2002 SP Authentic Packs 7-12

Pack 7:
Lance Berkman
Alex Rodriguez
Gary Sheffield
Mike Lowell
Chipper Jones

Pack 8:
Adam Dunn
Randy Johnson
Ichiro
Troy Glaus
FOR THE ATHLETICS (Ted): a Future USA Watch Landon Powell (1771/1999)

FOR THE WHITE SOX (Adam): a Future Watch Kyle Kane (0767/1999)

Powell is currently in the Oakland Athletics’ farm system so that card will go to Ted. Adam picks up another card with this Kyle Kane Future Watch card.

Pack 9:
Edgar Martinez
Pat Burrell
Mo Vaughn
Gary Sheffield
Manny Ramirez

Pack 10:
J.D. Drew
Bobby Higginson
Barry Zito
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Mark Prior

Pack 11:
Greg Maddux
Pedro Martinez
Jeromy Burnitz
Tim Hudson
Mike Hampton

Pack 12:
Hideo Nomo
Derek Jeter
Joe Mays
Carlos Delgado
FOR THE INDIANS (MMosley): a Future USA Watch Michael Aubrey (0957/1999)
aubrey
Aubrey is currently in the Cleveland organization so this card goes to MMosley. We’re currently halfway through this box. There’s still a game-used and an autograph somewhere here. Good luck everyone!

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OSGB: 2002 SP Authentic Packs 1-6

Here is box 2 of our Old School Group Break, 2002 SP Authentic. Hopefully, this box will spread the hits out a little more than Leaf Certified did. Let’s get started.

Pack 1:
C.C. Sabathia
Mike Piazza
Corey Koskie
Eric Chavez
Phil Nevin

Pack 2:
Ben Sheets
Carlos Beltran
Sean Burroughs
Albert Pujols
FOR THE PIRATES (Brad): a Future Watch Mike Gonzalez (0556/1999)
mikegonzalezsp
Yes, the same Mike Gonzalez who saved 14 games for the Braves last season.

Pack 3:
Richie Sexson
Randall Simon
Troy Glaus
Todd Helton
FOR THE TWINS (Slette): a Future Watch Kevin Frederick autograph (884/999)
frederickauto
Pack 4:
Mike Sweeney
Preston Wilson
Jeff Bagwell
Curt Schilling
Magglio Ordonez

Pack 5:
Ivan Rodriguez
Rich Aurilia
Jim Thome
Sean Casey
Luis Gonzalez

Pack 6:
Roy Oswalt
Juan Gonzalez
Jeff Kent
Mark Buehrle
Ben Grieve

One hit down, two to go, plus the Team USA cards. Hopefully, we can keep spreading the hits around.

2002 SP Authentic Baseball Review

In 2002, Upper Deck made major waves in the hobby by including autographs and game-used memorabilia cards of Mark McGwire throughout various products, and SP Authentic was no exception. McGwire’s autograph could be found in five different insert sets in 2002 SP Authentic (six if you count one set’s parallel). Here’s a quick rundown of those:

1. Chirography: Everyone’s probably familiar with this set. It’s been the staple set for SP Authentic autographs since day one. McGwire signed 50 cards for this set.

2. Chirography Gold. This parallel mirrors all but two cards from the Chirography set. The print run for each card was based off the player’s uniform number. In McGwire’s case, it would be 25.

3. Signed Big Mac. This 10-card set featured various photos of McGwire, though only one of these cards featured him as a member of the Athletics. Speaking of various, the print runs on these cards range anywhere between 1 and 70, with six of them being numbered to 7 or lower.

4. Big Mac Missing Link. Remember what UD did with 2008 Upper Deck and the “retro” jersey cards with the designs of 1997, 1999, and 2000 Upper Deck? (NOTE: They call the 1999 and 2000 designs 1998 and 1999 respectively, guess they didn’t want to use the real 1998 Upper Deck A Piece of the Action design). Well, in this set, McGwire signed five different cards, each of which mimicked a past Chirography design from 1998-2002 (yes, even 2002!). Each card was numbered to 25.

5. Authentic Excellence. Alright so this wasn’t technically a set, but rather a single card. But what a single card it was! This card featured several UD spokespeople and featued signatures of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ichiro, Cal Ripken, Jr., Ken Griffey, Jr., and Jason Giambi (hey, he was hot stuff back then!). This card was presented as a fold-out. Take that Triple Threads!

6. Signs of Greatness. Finally, the last set is once again a single card. You may recall hearing about it in the past. It’s the 6-player autographed card of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa. Naturally, this card was a 1/1. I wonder where that card is now.

Anyways, now that I’m finally done discussing the McGwire sets, let’s see what I actually pulled from my box! This box contained 24 packs of 5 cards each and cost about $60. Was it worth it? Let’s see…

Base cards: In typical Authentic-like fashion, there is a short set which is followed by a ton of subsets. In this product, cards 1-90 make up the short set. I fell just ONE card short of completing the short set while receiving 21 duplicates. The one card I need is number 77 if anyone out there has it.

Future Watch (numbered to 1,999): Cards 91-135 make up the Future Watch subset. I pulled two of these: Kevin Gryboski (Braves) and Brian Mallette (Brewers). One for dayf and one for Thorzul, no?

Autographed Future Watch (numbered to 999): Cards 136-170 are autographed “Future Watch” cards. Most of them are numbered to 999, but there a few select shortprints which are limited to 249 (Kazuhisa Ishii for example). Overall, these autographed cards fall one per box on average. I pulled a card of the late Steve Bechler. Bechler died in 2003 of multi-organ failure which was preceded by heat stroke. It was discovered that the drug Ephedra played a significant part in his death. He was just 23.

Future Watch USA (numbered to 1,999): The final “Future Watch” set is a standalone insert set with 22 cards. They are also numbered to 1,999 and once again, I pulled two from this box. The first was Grant Johnson, who was drafted by the Cubs in 2004. The second was Carlos Quentin, who was having a breakthrough year before suffering a wrist injury the day before I pulled this card! Other players in this set include Rickie Weeks, Dustin Pedroia, Conor Jackson, Huston Street, and Chad Cordero.

Limited Gold (numbered to 50): There are two parallels in this product that mirror the entire set (subsets, autographs, and all). The first is the Limited parallel which is characterized by a blue-foil over the card’s font. These cards are numbered to 125. The second parallel is a little rarer and is entitled Limited Gold. These cards can be distinguished by a golden foil over the font and are numbered to just 50. I pulled a “Limited Gold Future Watch” of Gustavo Chacin.

Prospects Signatures (1:36 packs): If the signed “Future Watch” cards weren’t enough, there’s a 12-card prospect signature set. They fall 1 in every 36 packs on average and have a rather lackluster checklist. Aside from Bill Hall and Xavier Nady, nobody really stands out. I pulled an Alex Graman, who has a career ERA of 18.47 in five appearances (two starts) over parts of two seasons with the Yankees. He currently plays in Japan with the Saitama Seibu Lions, where he is teammates with Kaz Ishii.

Game Jersey (1:24 packs): My final “hit” was a game-used jersey card of Jason Giambi. I’m not a fan of the design of this card at all. I’m not really a fan of full-body shots of the players scrunched up into a corner of the card, among everything else that looks ridiculous on this card. There is Gold parallel to this set in which print runs are based on the player’s jersey number.

Final Thoughts: I’ve always been a fan of SP Authentic. Well, I was before they introduced (what I believe is) one of the stupidest concepts ever, Lettermen. The 2002 edition was a very solid product. The base set was nice. “Hits” were guaranteed. Aside from the Prospect Signatures set, the autographs are attractive and hard signed. The autograph checklist is very strong and includes: Mark McGwire, Ichiro, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa, Tom Glavine, and Tony Gwynn among others. And don’t forget about all those McGwire-themed sets I mentioned above! This box in particular wasn’t the strongest, but wasn’t too bad considering I didn’t pull a Chirography card. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing another box soon, but I would recommend giving it a shot.

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

2000 SP Authentic Baseball Review

Well, I suppose it was about time I had an Upper Deck product represented here so for no real reason, I went with a box of 2000 SP Authentic. 2000 marked the third year of existence for Authentic, and back then, you actually got some lively inserts to go with a one-per-box autograph, making for a more interesting break (in my opinion anyway). I’m sorry, but while opening a box, I find it very unsatisfying to find nothing but base in 21 of 24 packs (minus the filler insert cards in every pack of ’07) and then have one of my “hits” consist of some mediocre at best player’s autograph on a damn MANUFACTURED patch. To top that off, sometimes the autograph is barely visible! But I’ll save that rant for another day. 😉 Getting back on track, 2000 SP Authentic delievered some nice inserts, at least 1 autograph per box with a chance of obtaining “buyback” cards, and game-used jersey cards of the legendary Joe DiMaggio. Boxes contain 24 packs of 5 cards each. I paid $80 for this one, which wasn’t a steal, but wasn’t the worst price I found. Here’s what I pulled:

Base set: The set consists of 90 basic cards, 15 Superstars, and 30 Future Watch Prospects. The base cards feature a giant white border encompassing the action shot, with a different color scheme for each team. I was able to complete the basic set 1-90 with 17 duplicates on the side. I pulled one Future Watch card numbered to 2500 of Ramon Ortiz. The Superstars subset is also limited to 2500, but I did not receive any in this box.

United Nations (1:4 packs): This is the most common insert this product has to offer. There are only 10 cards seeded 1 in 4 packs so this set should be rather easy to complete. They are horizontal and feature the flag of each player’s country of origin in the background. My players were: Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and Ken Griffey, Jr (USA! USA!).

Midsummer Classic (1:12 packs): As one would expect, this insert pays tribute to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. In 2000, it was held in Atlanta. The back of the card featured the career ASG statistics of the player depicted on the front. I pulled cards of Jose Canseco and Tony Gwynn.

Premier Performers (1:12 packs): This is a typical SP Authentic insert, at least for the 2000 version. The card has a refractor-like finish with a faint image of the player in the background. The cards look nice, but perhaps this feature was a little overused as the Cornerstones and Supremacy inserts also follow this pattern. I pulled Sammy Sosa and Ivan Rodriguez.

Cornerstones (1:23 packs): Like the other inserts mentioned, these look great. The card features the player’s image inside a diamond on the center of the card, with the player’s image inside a colored column (color scheme based on team – i.e. a Red Sox card would be red) right behind it. My card was of Nomar Garciaparra.

Supremacy (1:23 packs): Here’s the last of the basic inserts. This is also found 1 per box. This one is featured in the scan above. I don’t think they look quite as cool as the Cornerstones inserts, but I like the player I got here, a lot better (Tony Gwynn). Something interesting I just noticed is the fact that the inserts with the same odds have the same exact number of players per set. The Midsummer Classic and Premier Performers (both 1:12 packs) have 10 cards per. The Cornerstones and Supremacy (both 1:23 packs) have 7 cards per. I wonder why they chose the number 7…

Chirography (1:23 packs): And now the reason you probably clicked on this thread, the autographs. Chirography was the premier insert set of SP Authentic long before it was made into a high-end football product. These fall 1 per box and come with a gold parallel, which was limited to the player’s jersey number. While busting this box, I noticed this insert in the 3rd or 4th pack I opened. I slid the card to see the name “Guerrero” and the word “Expos.” Could it be? Yes, it was none other than……………WILTON Guerrero!! Son of a #$%@! I forgot he existed until I saw this card, actually. For those wondering, his career line: .282, 11/127 with 42 steals in 8 seasons. The card design itself looks alright, with both an action and portrait shot of him. The actual autograph looks like crap, looks like he drew a sideways, bent golf club on the card. For the record, younger brother Vladimir is also in the set.

Buyback (1:95 packs): In every 4th box on average, a signed buyback card can be found. The cards used in this set are SP cards from 1993-99 and vary in print run. Anywhere from 1-539 of each card can be found. If you’re lucky enough to pull one of these, you’ll find the card already in a soft sleeve in the pack, with a separate authentication card as well. I was able to find a 1994 SP foil autographed card of Preston Wilson, who was then with the Mets. It is hand numbered 008/249. Not the greatest, but it was nice to pull something other than that Guerrero.

Final Thoughts: This certainly wasn’t the best box I’ve opened and it didn’t come cheap, but it was still fun. A complete short set can be had in a single box, along with a ton of attractive inserts. Altogether, 15 of my 24 packs had some sort of insert, subset, or autograph. The Chirography cards are found 1 per box and contain some very elusive autographs, including Barry Bonds and Sandy Koufax! The buyback cards contain a VERY impressive checklist and some are extremely shortprinted so a single pull could make your box and then some! One warning though, some of the buyback autographs were available only through an exchange card, which obviously expired long ago (stupid UD redemptions!). Lastly, there is the chance of pulling a Joe DiMaggio game-used jersey card. There are 500 jersey cards plus a gold parallel limited to 56. Like I said before, this box isn’t exactly the easiest to find, and may not come cheap, but it certainly makes for an enjoyable break (with some INCREDIBLE potential). I definitely think it’s worth a shot so if you decide to break one, make sure you pull a better autograph(s) than me!

As always, I appreciate the read and good luck with your boxes!
-John