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1996 SPx Baseball Review (John is BACK!)

First off, I’d just like to thank anyone who has been reading this blog though the years. The fact that my reviews still are still gaining views and comments years after they’ve been posted online (especially after a long dormancy years ago), means a lot to me. I especially want to thank Matthew for his amazing work and keeping the blog alive with new content. Since he can’t have all the fun, I decided to bust a box of 1996 SPx baseball today. Old school SPx cards are some of my all-time favorites! Anyway, I may be a little rusty at this (after it’s been SIX years since I’ve done a review) but here goes nothing!

Box Details: 36 packs per box, 1 card per pack, $30


Base set: The base set is comprised of 60 cards. Each card features features a small action shot of the player as well as a close-up and second action shot using holoview technology. The perimeter of each card features a die-cut design and a special color corresponding to the player’s team. In this box I received 29 base cards, completing 48.3% of the set in the process. I did not receive a single duplicate.

old Parallel (60 cards, 1:7 packs): Derek Jeter, Wade Boggs, Ron Gant, Jason Kendall, Rey Ordoñez

It was somewhat strange pulling cards 42, 43, 44, 46, and 47 for my gold parallels but I was very stoked to find that Jeter!

ound for Glory (10 cards, 1:24 packs): Manny Ramirez

This set features some of the game’s best of the mid ’90s but it doesn’t differ very much from the base set.

Ken Griffey, Jr. Commemorative  Card #KG1 (1:75 packs)

Mike Piazza Commemorative Card #MP1 (1:95 packs)

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A+

Like I stated earlier, I received no duplicates in this box. Those that were paying close attention may have noticed that I actually received an extra card in this box. One pack had two base cards instead of one and brought my total to 37 instead of 36. 🙂

Condition: B

I was a little worried that between all the die-cut edges and foil that I could end up with several damaged cards but this box was actually relatively kind! Aside from some damage on the back edge of one of my base cards and a severe centering issue on another, the cards were in excellent shape.

Pulls: A-

I really can’t complain here. I received both Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza commemorative cards as well the one gold parallel I wanted more than any other in Jeter. I was also happy to get a second Yankee gold parallel in Boggs. A different Bound for Glory insert would’ve been nice but I still can’t complain. Realistically, I did about as well as I could without pulling one of the very rare autographed Commemorative cards, both of which are seeded 1:2000 packs.

Value: B+

This was a very fun break for the price of about $34 after shipping. Many other sellers online are asking for anywhere between $45-65 not including shipping. You will get a pretty decent starter set for a very attractive product as well as a few cool inserts and parallels. If you are really fortunate, you can pull a great early certified autograph of a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

For a complete checklist of this product, click here.

Overall Grade: A-

1997 Pinnacle Baseball (Retail) Review

As you can probably tell, I haven’t had much time to update this thing recently. Rather than bore you with details about that, let’s get right into the next box break, which happens to be of Pinnacle’s flagship brand of 1997. You know what that means….dufex!!

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack, $15

Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards: 185 regular cards, 12 Clout subset cards, and 3 checklists. I pulled a complete set in this box with 34 duplicates. Each base card features a gold foil nameplate which sits atop an area filled with names associated with the player’s home city. Take for example, Todd Hollandsworth (LA), whose card contains the names “Hollywood, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, The Lakers, Vin Scully, Chavez Ravine, La Brea Tar Pits” and so on.

Before I go on, I want to put the spotlight on a couple of particular base cards that for some reason made me think of the gals at Dinged Corners. They just seem like cards that would be featured in posts there. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, here they are:

The first is a classic bubblegum shot of Jeff Cirillo while the other is a very sweet card featuring Scott Brosius and his daughter. This card happens to be Mr. Brosius’ personal favorite.

Museum Collection (1:9 packs): Inserted at roughly three per box are the dufex-laden Museum Collection cards, which mirror the entire set. My pulls were of Brett Butler, Mark Thompson, and Frank Rodriguez. I didn’t exactly get any big stars here, but I suppose I could save the Butler for Mr. Owl.

Shades (10 cards, 1:23 packs): If you’ve ever wanted an extreme close-up of your favorite player’s facial hair, this insert is for you. Inserted at a rate of one per box, these cards are die-cut at the top and feature smaller pictures of the player in the lenses of the glasses. I pulled a Mike Piazza. I’ll be honest. I find these inserts to be downright weird.

Passport to the Majors (25 cards, 1:36 packs): The Passport to the Majors inserts are truly unique. These inserts fold out like a real passport and feature players from the USA, Japan, Korea, Dominican Republic, and Canada among other places. My pull was of Chipper Jones. Interestingly enough, this theme was later used by Topps as a game-used set in 2002 Stadium Club. Check out the inside of this insert!

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: A. I can’t complain with completing a base set with one box. The other inserts also delivered as promised.
Condition: D. Despite the fact that I did complete the base set, a number of cards had deteriorating foil on the front. For example, look at the nameplate of the Jeff Cirillo card above. In some cases, the damage was even worse!
Pulls: B. The Piazza and Chipper were cool, but it would’ve been nice to hit some better Museum cards. Plus, I had to take points away for the fact that I pulled Chipper in the first place. Just kidding….
Value: B. For $15, one could expect to complete a base set and pull about five or six inserts/parallels. I know the base set looks a bit crappy, but it was still a fun little box to open.

Final Grade: C. The condition factor dropped this box’s grade to a C overall. I could’ve possibly given the box a C+, but damaged cards (even if they’re just base) are a huge, HUGE peeve of mine. Just my opinion.

Do You Remember YOUR First…?

This was the best pull of my life once...

This was the best pull of my life once...

…game-used card? Sure, they’ve lost their luster now. But remember when pulling a card with a swatch of fabric or wood affixed to it actually meant something? I know I do. My first such pull came just days before Y2K. I was at my local card shop busting packs of the then-brand new 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond. I just HAD to spend some of my Christmas money there. The store owner, Carmine, an Italian man in his fifties who had retired from the corporate world, watched me rip away. I had opened five packs without pulling very much when I decided to “just try one more.”

In pack number six, one card stood out. One of the middle cards had a streak of white running down the side and I knew I had something. When I revealed the card, I stood there in shock. Actually, I stood there with my mouth open saying “holy crap!!” I had just pulled my first ever game-used card, a 2000 Upper Deck Black Diamond A Piece of History Mike Piazza bat card. These cards were seeded 1 in every 179 packs on average. That’s a rate of only 1 in every 6 boxes!

It was my best pull to date. So what would I do with it? Keep it? Sell it? Ultimately, I traded it to Carmine a couple weeks later. As excited as I was to possess that little chip from Mike Piazza’s bat, I knew he would enjoy the card a heck of a lot more than me. He was a lifelong Dodgers fan with a great fondness for Piazza, despite the fact that he was no longer with Los Angeles (must have been the Italian thing). In return, I received some Yankee inserts and various other star rookies for my collection (including a Clemens Donruss) and a small pile of packs. The packs, of course, were of 2000 Black Diamond. At this point, I was just concentrating on a base set and seeing what I could pull. But then….

This was not....but was still nice.

This was not....but was still nice.

Lightning struck twice!! Are you kidding? ANOTHER game bat card? Granted, the player’s not as nice as Piazza (literally). Still, I was happy to pull my second-ever bat card, but like the first one, this did not stay in my collection for very long. I traded it away shortly after pulling it.

I wouldn’t own a copy of either of these cards again until 2005. It was then that I started a little project. Influenced by some members of The Bench, I decided to complete an actual game-used set. Guess which one I chose. Almost immediately after deciding on the A Piece of History set, I found the first two pieces of the puzzle on the forum. I bought them from another member for about $2 each. The players? Raul Mondesi and Andruw Jones.

2000 Black Diamond Piece of History Set

2000 Black Diamond Piece of History Set

After about a year of searching through various forums and World’s Greatest Marketplaces, my set was finally complete. I owned a copy of all nineteen cards of the POH set. Here’s the checklist:

Albert Belle
Barry Bonds
Jose Canseco
Darin Erstad
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero
Tony Gwynn
Todd Helton
Derek Jeter
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Travis Lee
Raul Mondesi
Mike Piazza
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Alex Rodriguez
Ivan Rodriguez
Scott Rolen
Mo Vaughn

Well, there’s the story of my first game-used card. I got lucky, pulled a huge card, traded it, got some good value out of it, and bought it years later for dirt cheap in order to complete a set that doesn’t mean a thing to most people (I am not most people). What’s your story?