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UPDATE!

To the readers of the blog,

I just wanted to update everyone on why there hasn’t been a post in the last few weeks.  As a future Elementary Educator, trying to find a job here in Alaska is tedious and take a lot of time.  I have had to step away from the blog and take care of those priorities.  However, I will be reviewing a box that I haven’t seen on a blog or reviewed anywhere.  When I was building my large Rodriguez collection 2 years ago, I came accross an insert called 1998 Team Pinnacle.  These cards are extremely hard to come by and 1998 Pinnacle Plus wasn’t overly produced.

I was fortunate enough to find a box on the bay and purchased it this morning to break for the blog.  It is my hope to come across a rare gold parallel of the Team Pinnacle inserts.  Here is an example of the inserts that Ken Griffey Jr. collector Magigpapa called, “One of the best looking inserts I’ve seen.”  This means a lot coming from one of the biggest 90’s collectors out there!

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The odds are we won’t find one but I’ve always wanted the chance to open the last Pinnacle Baseball product produced.  Stay tuned later this week for the review and an update on my Rodriguez collection.  Have a great weekend!

-Matthew

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

1998 Pinnacle Baseball Review

Good ol' Pinnacle with their Dufex...

Good ol' Pinnacle and their Dufex...

Keeping the theme from the last post, I busted a box of 1998 Pinnacle, the last basic Pinnacle set ever. Sad, I know. This box contained 20 packs of 10 cards each and cost me about $22. Was it a memorable way to go out? Let’s examine.

Base cards: The base cards are sharp with crisp photos, full-bleed design, and the player’s name and position running up the right side in a holo-foil treated font. There are 200 cards in the set, including a couple of subsets and checklists. The subsets are Field of Vision (6 cards) and Goin’ Jake (10 cards), which pays tribute to the participants of the 1997 Home Run Derby. The collation in this box was simply awful. I only pulled 120 different base cards out of 200, for exactly 60%. I had 62 doubles and 11 triples!

Museum Collection (1:9 packs):There are 2 partial parallels in this product, Museum Collection being the easier one to attain. The reason I say “partial parallel” is because these cards don’t mirror the entire base set. In fact, they only mirror exactly half of them so the numbers in this set will not always match the numbers in the base set. As a random example, Scott Rolen is basic card number 39, but Museum number 37. Basically, only stars, semistars, and better prospects are included in the parallels so you won’t be seeing players like Butch Huskey in this. I pulled 3 Museums in this box: Jose Cruz, Jr., Mike Piazza, and an Alex Rodriguez Field of Vision.

Hit it Here (1:17 packs):Hit it Here is a 10-card dufex-loaded (well, actually all the insert sets here except one are) insert set that falls roughly 1 per box. I pulled 2 in this box: Frank Thomas and Mark McGwire. These cards have serial numbers on the back as well, 10370 and 10107 respectively. There was something significant about these numbers, some sort of contest, but I can’t remember what exactly.

Epix (1:21 packs): Epix was a big cross-brand, multifractured insert set produced by Pinnacle in 1998. These were randomly inserted into packs of Pinnacle, Score, and Zenith. There were 24 players in this set and each had 12 different Epix cards to chase after! There are 4 tiers in this set. They are (in no particular order): Play, Game, Season, and Moment. Each of these tiers is also available in 3 different colors: Orange (common), Purple (rare), Emerald (very rare). There are no stated odds on any specific tier/color combinations with the exception of the Emerald Moments, which have a print run of just 30.

In 2005, Donruss brought this set back and added a few extra colors: blue, red, and black. In my opinion, they weren’t quite as cool as the “oldschool” version, but at least Donruss numbered those so you had some sort of idea as to what you were holding. If this all sounds like a giant headache, that’s because it is. Oh yeah, the card I pulled was an Orange Play of Paul Molitor.

Artist’s Proof (1:39 packs): The second (and much rarer) parallel found in this product is the Artist’s Proof. These are found in every other box on average and feature a swirling dufex pattern on a gold background. Like the Museum cards, this is also a partial parallel. In fact, the 2 parallels, share the same checklist. I pulled a Rafael Palmeiro. Anybody seen him lately?

What WASN’T Pulled: Aside from 1/1 printing plates (1:1250 packs), the one insert I didn’t pull any of was called Spellbound. Spellbound is a 50-card set with 9 featured subjects. Each card features a letter from the player’s first, last, or nickname with the idea being to spell out your player’s name. Here’s a list of who is in this set. What you could spell out is in BOLD.

Mark MCGWIRE
Roger “ROCKET” Clemens
Frank “BIG HURT” Thomas
Scott ROLEN
Ken GRIFFEY, Jr.
Larry WALKER
NOMAR Garciaparra
CAL Ripken, Jr.
TONY Gwynn

Here’s what a Larry Walker looks like. Personally, I thought these looked better in 1997 New Pinnacle. Spellbound cards usually fall at a rate of 1 per box. By the way, this is the only insert set with big, stupid letters on them (screw you, manufactured letters) that I approve of.

Final Thoughts: This was a pretty loaded box! Despite the fact that I got WAY more duplicates than any one person should be allowed, I was very happy overall. The inserts and parallels all looked great and certainly weren’t short on the star power! I can’t say for sure if I’ll be busting more Pinnacle products in the future, but don’t be surprised if you see another “Grudge Match” in the near future!

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

Grudge Match: Pinnacle Certified

Ok, so it’s not really a grudge match (I can’t hate him!), but Mario at Wax Heaven just busted a box of 1997 Pinnacle Certified. For those of you who are new to this blog, I busted a box of the same product last summer and wrote a review of it (several months later) in one of my earliest posts here. My question is simple: Who had a better break? Let’s look at the Tale of the Tape:

Certified Red (1:5 packs):
Mario: Manny Ramirez, Al Leiter, Rondell White, Ray Montgomery
John: Will Clark, Jorge Posada, Bobby Bonilla, Matt Williams

Lasting Impressions (1:19 packs):
Mario: Alex Rodriguez
John: None

Certified Team (1:19 packs):
Mario: Alex Rodriguez
John: None

Mirror Red (1:99 packs):
Mario: None
John: Tony Gwynn Certified Stars Subset

Mario had the edge on me in the inserts department and I don’t think he had quite as many as 30 dupes in his box. Meanwhile, I had my snazzy mirror card. Vote away!

1997 Pinnacle Certified Baseball Review

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Shortly after the aforementioned NJ trip from my last post, I decided to crack a box of 1997 Pinnacle Duplified er….Certified (you can see where this is going). The set includes 150 cards, and then 1 extra card, number 151 was available only through an exchange. Didn’t I just write about a set with a similar trait? That extra card belonged to Jose Cruz, Jr. If you don’t know who he is, you obviously weren’t following baseball in 1997. Anyways, back to the product. There were 135 regular base cards, followed by a 15-card subset known as “Certified Stars” that featured some of the game’s best. Some of the names in this subset included Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Greg Maddux, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Hideo Nomo (I know it sounds funny saying this today). This box contained 20 packs of 6 cards each. In these packs, one could find some nice inserts and some REALLY nice parallels. Let’s examine:

Base cards: Out of 150 (I didn’t not receive a Cruz exchange card) base cards, I only received 85 to the set. I received THIRTY duplicates. I don’t know if this product is notorious for bad collation, but this was horrible. I didn’t think I’d be that far away from putting together the set after 1 box!

Certified Red: Following in the footsteps of 1996 Select Certified, this product comes with a Certified Red parallel. They are seeded 1 in every 5 packs. I received these parallel cards of Will Clark, Jorge Posada, Bobby Bonilla, and Matt Williams. Unlike its predecessor though, this is the only NON-mirror parallel to the set. Some of you may remember that 1996 Select Certified had (in addition to the Mirror Red, Blue, and Gold variations) Artist’s Proof, Certified Red, and Certified Blue parallels.

Mirror Red: I was lucky enough to pull a Mirror Red card in this box, and it was a Hall of Famer to boot! It was of the Certified Stars subset of Tony Gwynn. Mirror Red cards can be found 1 in every 99 packs on average. That’s 5 boxes worth right there! I would’ve been happy with just about any mirror given the rarity of them so this was nice. For the record, Mirror Blue cards are seeded 1 in every 199 packs and Mirror Gold cards are seeded 1 in every 299 packs! In 1996 Select Certified, these mirrors had basically the same odds and print runs for those were stated as follows: Red (90 of each), Blue (45 of each), Gold (30 of each). No such print runs were given for 1997’s parallels, but one could assume that they’re most likely pretty similar.

There is also a supposed Mirror Black parallel, but the details are still sketchy to this day. What do these look like? Picture that Hideo Nomo base card above with a mirror finish but still with the black nameplate area. It is unknown if all the cards in the set have this parallel. Whenever these cards appeared, they were thought to be 1/1 cards, but a blurb in Beckett long ago claimed that at least TWO copies of Jay Buhner and the Juan Gonzalez Certified Stars subset had been pulled so we may never know the truth about this phantom parallel.

One strange thing about this box was (I am aware of that “ON AVERAGE” mumbo jumbo, mind you) that I did not get any inserts from the Certified Team or Lasting Impressions sets. Both have stated odds of 1:19 packs, roughly 1 per box. It was a little disappointing not receiving anything from either set. No, I don’t think I got a crooked box. I got this from a pretty reputable seller (Dave and Adam’s!). So I got shorted a couple inserts, but hit a 1 in 5 box parallel. I guess those somewhat even out. Then again, out of the 85 cards I needed to build the set, 35% of those came with an extra copy, which sucks. Overall, I’d say it was about an average break, not real great, but not the worst either.

Thanks for the read!
-John