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1999 Flair Showcase Baseball Review

As promised, here’s a box break/review of 1999 Flair Showcase! In case you didn’t already know, pre-2000 Flair are some of my favorite sets ever. Just look at the scans below. They are beauties! For past Flair box breaks (’98), click here and here. Anyway, let’s see what my first box of ’99 brought me…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, $45
From: Baseball Card Exchange

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Base set: 1999 marked the last time that the Flair Showcase set was fractured. In this case, 144 players each had three cards each, Rows 1, 2, and 3. The scan above depicts cards from Row 3, the most common of the bunch. In this box, I pulled 71 Row 3 cards without duplicates.

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Row 2: The Row 2 cards came at a rate better than one per pack. In 1999, the look for these cards was tweaked a bit from those of previous years as the players no longer had their distant background images but rather a small action shot placed under a giant model of their uniform number. The number concept might seem a bit tacky, but the cards are beautiful regardless. I pulled 40 different Row 2 cards in this box. Some of the notables included Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken, Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Mike Mussina.

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Row 1: Much like the Row 0 cards were all serially numbered in 1998, the Row 1 cards are all serially numbered according to where they fell in the set. Here’s the breakdown:

Cards 1-48 (numbered to 1,500)
Cards 49-96 (numbered to 3,000)
Cards 97-144 (numbered to 6,000)

Altogether, I pulled 9 Row 1 cards:

#9 Tony Gwynn (0110/1500)
#16 Darin Erstad (1241/1500)
#69 Gary Sheffield (0914/3000)
#73 Bartolo Colon (0966/3000)
#83 Livan Hernandez 0674/3000)
#108 Mike Mussina (4431/6000)
#134 Reggie Sanders (4316/6000)
#136 Charles Johnson (4194/6000)
#139 Matt Williams (3038/6000)

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Legacy Collection (/99): The low-numbered, blue-foiled Flair parallel known as the Legacy Collection returned in 1999 and mirrored all three Rows with a print run of 99 each. I was unable to pull a Legacy card in two boxes of 1998 Flair but I was able to hit one here in Andres Galarraga (63/99).

Wave of the Future (/1000): A staple of the Flair Showcase line, this year’s Wave of the Future inserts returned with a special technology later used in Fleer’s E-Xceptional inserts. I pulled an insert of Troy Glaus (0979/1000). Ben Grieve, Travis Lee, Todd Helton, Eric Chavez, and Ricky Ledee are among the others featured in this set.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: A
This box didn’t contain a single duplicate and I actually got two more cards than I was supposed to (122).

Condition: C
While the base cards were relatively unharmed, the inserts had some serious issues. Some Row 1 cards suffered from serious peeling around the edges on the back. Also, check out the faded foil on the Legacy logo on the Galarraga card. This was a bit disappointing.

Pulls: B
The pulls earn a solid ‘B’ thanks in part to the Legacy card. From past experiences, I know that these aren’t guaranteed pulls. Overall, the star power in this box was above average.

Value: B
The asking price of these boxes are regularly in the $55-60+ range. At $45 (again for those that will ask, I don’t include the shipping in the prices I list because I often buy boxes in bunches and don’t calculate how much I spent on each), the box is worth it for the slick look of the cards alone. Throw in some awesome inserts and hard to find parallels (including possible 1/1’s) and this box is a winner, assuming several of your inserts don’t get damaged.

Overall Grade: B

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1999 Bowman’s Best Baseball Review

Typically, I don’t open very many Bowman products but when I saw a box of 1999 Bowman’s Best out there for under $40, it was hard to resist. The rookie class of ’99 included the likes of Burrell, Sabathia, Holliday, Soriano, Burnett, and many more, all of whom could be found in this product. While they are long shots to pull, there are randomly inserted game-used cards and autographed cards featuring Mike Schmidt, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Pat Burrell, Troy Glaus, and others. Hey, I’ve beaten the odds before…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 6 cards per pack, $37

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Base set: The base set is comprised of 200 cards: 85 veterans (gold background), 15 Best Performers (bronze background), 50 prospects (silver background), and 50 rookies (blue background). The last 50 rookies are shortprinted and seeded at a rate of one per pack. Altogether, I pulled 136/200 basic cards (68%) with just a single duplicate (Barry Bonds)! My notable rookies included Pat Burrell, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Pena, Matt Holliday, A.J. Burnett, Mark Mulder, and Nick Johnson.

Refractors (1:15 packs, /400): Seeded at approximately two per box, the refractors mirror the entire set and are serially numbered to 400. My two refractors were Tony Gwynn (071/400)(PunkRockPaint?) and Doug Mientkiewicz (RC – 015/400). Atomic refractors also exist in this product are numbered to just 100, but I did not pull any.

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Mirror Image (10 cards, 1:24 packs): The dual-sided Mirror Image insert cards returned in 1999 and they were very…..well….blue. Like always, these cards featured the pairing of a Major League star with a promising prospect from the same team or of the same position or in some cases, both, such as the case of my Greg Maddux/Bruce Chen card. These inserts are mirrored by Refractor (1:96 packs) and Atomic Refractor (1:192 packs) parallels.

Franchise Favorites (6 cards, 1:40 packs): There are six total cards in this set: Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Scott Rolen, Mike Schmidt, and combinations of the two Yankees and two Phillies respectively. I pulled Don Mattingly. Each of the six cards has a very rare autographed variation as well. Each of the four single autographed cards have a seeding rate of 1 in 1,550 packs while the duals have a seeding rate of 1 in 6,174 packs.

Future Foundations (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): This insert set features 10 of the game’s best prospects on a die-cut card featuring a brick background. The regular version of these cards is known as Mach I and is limited to just 3,000 copies. There are two parallels to this set:

Mach II (refractor): 1:124 packs, numbered to 1,000
Mach III (atomic refractor): 1:248 packs, numbered to 500

My pull was a Mach I of former Rockies prospect Derrick Gibson (1796/3000).

Franchise Best (10 cards, 1:41 packs, /3,000): The Franchise Best inserts are virtually identical to the Future Foundations inserts in that the set size, insertion ratios, and even the parallels are exactly the same. The only difference, of course, is that this set features veterans and not prospects. Once again, the regular version is referred to as Mach I and is accompanied by refractor (Mach II) and atomic refractor (Mach III) parallels. In this box, I pulled both a Mach I (1938/3000) and a Mach II (0528/1000) of Alex Rodriguez.

Final Thoughts/Grades:
Collation: A+

One duplicate. That was all. I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of great collation again. This grade goes without saying.

Condition: B

Some dirty surfaces and scratches on the glossy backs bring the box’s grade down a little. Most of the cards came out of the packs fine but a few were downright terrible.

Pulls: A

There was no autograph or game-used card, but this box was still very strong: Maddux insert, Mattingly insert, two A-Rod inserts, a Gwynn refractor, and several good rookies. I now also have a nice starter set with minimal extras.

Value: A

I’ve seen this box listed in several places for about $50 or so but if you look, you could get it for as cheap as I did. For $37, you’ll be able to pull a nice array of attractive inserts, a couple refractors, and you’re sure to improve your rookie collection. Some cards may have condition issues but they’ll likely be far in the minority. This box is still a winner.

Final Grade: A

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