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1997 Donruss Baseball Review

1997 Donruss Series 1

A short while ago, I picked up a few older boxes online. I was ready to check out and then realized that I was just a little short of qualifying for some free shipping promotion. To put me over the hump, I decided to add a box of 1997 Donruss to my order. Why ’97 Donruss? I have no clue. But…what’s done is done so here are the results (can you tell I didn’t expect much from this box?):

Box Details: 18 packs per box, 10 cards per pack. Cost was a little over $20.

Base set: Altogether there are 450 cards in the base set. The first 270 are found in Series 1 (which I opened) while the last 180 are found in the Update Series. I received 139 of 270 base cards for just about 51.5%. There were 31 duplicates in this box and 2 triplicates. Like always, I have to point out a unique base card. Who’s Brett Butler talking to???

Rated Rookies (1:6 packs): Found in every 6th pack on average, the Rated Rookies inserts are the easiest ones to pull in this product. There were two in this box. The first card was of Trey Beamon, who was drafted by the Pirates in 1992 and established himself as a top prospect of the Pacific Coast League in 1995. He made his ML debut the following year and played with three separate teams in three years, last appearing with Detroit in 1998. The other card was of Jason Thompson, a draft pick of the Padres in 1993. In 1996, Thompson was called up for 13 games with San Diego and batted .224 with 2 homers and 6 RBI. He would never play in the Majors again.

Silver Press Proof (1:8 packs, 2000 produced): Found in every eighth pack on average are the Silver Press Proof parallels, which are numbered (though not individually) to 2,000 on the back. The difference between the Press Proof and regular base cards would be the giant foil “PP” logo in the background. There were two proofs in this box: one of Kevin Appier and one of my Eduardo Perez (one of my least favorite Baseball Tonight analysts EVER).

Gold Press Proof (1:32 packs, 500 produced): The second parallel to the set, the Gold Press Proof, is much rarer and is die-cut at the top and bottom, not to mention all the gold text on the card. Like the Silver Proofs, they are also numbered on the back, only to 500. I pulled a Shannon Stewart.

Armed and Dangerous (1:58 packs, 5000 produced): The best pull from this box was an Armed and Dangerous insert of Barry Bonds. On the front of this card, is a Giants logo hidden in some camouflage near the top. On the back, we have a picture of Bonds plastered on a faux military badge (link). The theme is interesting at least, even if it is Bonds.

What WASN’T Pulled: There were two inserts randomly found in Series 1 Hobby packs that I did not pull any of. The first is of course, Diamond Kings (link). I don’t think I have to explain what these are. They were numbered to 10,000 that year and the first 500 numbered copies were printed on canvas. As a special bonus, if you happened to pull a Diamond King that was serially numbered 1982/10,000, you won that particular card’s original art! However, you had to be quick as the offer expired in March of ’97. The second insert I missed out on was the Elite Series (link). They were limited to 2,500 and looked awesome as always. I’ll let that scan do the talking. Have those cards ever not looked awesome?

Final Thoughts: I didn’t expect much from this box so I couldn’t really complain. I don’t plan on opening any more basic Donruss boxes, but I just might if I find some of any particularly interesting years. Expect some more exciting boxes soon…

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

1996 Studio Baseball Review

studio96In its heyday, Donruss Studio was known for an all portrait-style base set and some incredible inserts (Heritage and Masterstrokes being some of my all-time favorites). Each studio set had its own unique design and background. Some background examples included a city skyline, the player’s locker, an actual studio backdrop, and Old Glory itself. Oh yeah, there was also this ridiculous idea. I recently broke a box of the 1996 edition of Studio. The background for this set? Extreme close-ups of the players! This box contained 24 packs of 7 cards each. I paid $24 for this box. According to the wrapper, inserts are found 1 in every 9 packs. Here’s the good stuff…

Base cards: There are 150 cards in this set including a couple checklists. I completed the base set with 14 duplicates left over. Doesn’t the Big Unit look weird without a scowl on his face?

Bronze Press Proofs (2,000 made): There are 3 parallels which mirror the entire set: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The print runs for these are 2000, 100, and 500 respectively. It sounds odd that the Silvers would be rarer than the Golds, doesn’t it? The Silver Proofs were a retail exclusive. I didn’t find any Gold Proofs in this box but there were 2 Bronzes: Jeffrey Hammonds and Latroy Hawkins. :yawn:

Stained Glass Stars (1:24 packs): The Stained Glass Stars inserts fall at a rate of 1 per box. This was a very creative 12-card “see through” insert by Donruss/Leaf which depicted the player in front of a stained glass window with his team’s name on it. I pulled a Hideo Nomo. Leave it to Topps to take this idea and expand on it with the Gallery of Heroes insert the following year. Yeah, that’s Gallery of Heroes, not “Beam Team” like in the brand new “Stadium Club” joke of a product.

Hit Parade (5,000 made): Hit Parade is another example of 1990’s creativity. Limited to 5,000 (and falling roughly in every other box), this 10-card set has the design of a vinyl record coming out of its sleeve. Very cool! I pulled an Albert Belle. The back of the card shows his stats from 1995 and features an in-depth analysis of his .317 batting average that year. This card lets me know his specific average when facing a lefty, facing a righty, at home, on the road, during a day game, during a night game, when swinging at the first pitch, when facing a two-strike count, with runners in scoring position, and after successfully clobbering Fernando Vina.

What WASN’T Pulled: Like I mentioned earlier, I did not receive a Gold Proof card. I also did not receive a Masterstrokes card (link in opening paragraph). Masterstrokes is an 8-card set printed on canvas. They are limited to 5000 copies. Beautiful stuff.

Final Thoughts: I love this set. This box just reminded me of how awesome Studio was at one time. I finished the base set and got some sharp, unique inserts. I probably won’t be busting any more ’96 Studio, but I’d sure love to get my hands on some boxes from other years!

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