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1997 SP Baseball Review

Here is the box break/review that I hyped up a few days ago, 1997 SP! 1997 was the last year that the brand wasn’t dubbed ‘SP Authentic’ as it is today. Despite this, there are still quite a few authentic autographs and other great cards to be found. Let’s see what this box yielded…

Box Details: 30 packs box, 8 cards per pack, $88
From eBay

97sp
Base set: The base set is comprised of 184 cards, the first 15 of which are Great Futures young stars/prospects which fell one to a pack. Each base card has a specific color scheme based on the player’s team and a holographic area running down the sides and across the bottom of the card. Besides the fact that these cards are condition sensitive, the one thing that I don’t like about the base cards is that the players’ first name and even worse, the card number on the back, are difficult to read thanks to “bronze on bronze” foil. Anyway, I pulled 170 of the 184 cards (92%). There were 61 duplicates in this box!

insideinfoInside Info (1:box): Inside every box of 1997 SP is a box topper pack containing a special insert called Inside Info. This set contains 25 cards, each of which contains stats and a mini biography tucked within the card. This card tells me about Chipper Jones‘ excellent 1996 season and that he hit .448 as a HS senior.

marqueeMarquee Matchups (1:5 packs): There are 20 players in the Marquee Matchups set, each of whom has an image (or partial image) of an inter-league rival in the background of their card. Notice that if you put two of these die-cut cards together, they resemble the 1996 SPx design. I pulled cards of Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa, Cal Ripken, Jr., Chipper Jones, and Tim Salmon.

specialfxSpecial FX (1:9 packs): It’s inserts like these that made SP awesome. The Special FX cards are die-cut on all sides and feature three images of each player: a hologram image and two smaller regular images right below the hologram. Thanks to my scanner, these cards appear to be solid black in color in the non-holographic area but this area actually has a granite-like appearance, with a bit of a reddish-brown tint. The backs of these cards look just like the front except the positions of the colors are inverted and there are no holograms. There are a whopping 47 cards in this set! I pulled three in this box: Mike Mussina, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield.

griffeyheroesGriffey Heroes (numbered to 2000): Another insert randomly inserted is a special 10-card tribute set to Ken Griffey, Jr. The set is called Baseball Heroes and chronicles Griffey’s career up to that point. These cards highlight his first home run crown, his first postseason trip, All-Star Game MVP Award, and his breaking into the Majors at age 19. The cards are numbered 91-100 (as opposed to 1-10) and there are just 2000 of each. I pulled a copy of card 94 (1370/2000). Unfortunately, as you can see in the scan, this card came straight from the pack with some major damage along the top edge.

gamefilmGame Film (numbered to 500): If I wasn’t going to pull an autograph from this box, I would’ve wanted to at least pull one of these. Game Film is a 10-card die-cut set that is unique because it actually has film cells embedded into the card. I pulled a Barry Bonds (312/500) in which we see the follow-through of his sweet swing. Dating the film (like they did in hockey) would’ve been a nice touch but these cards are awesome nonetheless.

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: C

There were 240 cards in this box and I fell short of the 184 card set by 14 cards. 61 duplicates equates to two dupes per pack on average or a quarter of the box! Usually this would drive me nuts, but seeing how the number of cards per box is considerably greater than the number of cards in the base set, I’ll let it pass. Also, I probably should’ve pulled one more Marquee Matchups card based on the stated odds.

Condition: B-

Of all the cards, the Griffey Heroes insert suffered the worst damage by far. All of the other inserts and base came out relatively clean (with the exception of two dupes getting chipped badly). For the record, this grade only got the minus because of that Griffey.

Pulls: B

Overall, I thought the pulls were solid with two Griffeys, two Chippers, some Sosa, Ripken, and of course Baroid. My box wouldn’t be complete without him or Tony Gwynn! I was happy to see the Game Film card since there were no autographs or basic SPx Force inserts. On a side note, I seemed to have “jinxed” myself with Chippers when I made the ‘Anticipation’ post. 😉

Value: B+

This one is a bit harder to gauge. This was the first box of ’97 SP that I’ve seen available in YEARS. The $88 I paid was the final delivered price (shipping was listed as “free” in the auction but postage was $12). To be honest, I was a little surprised this box didn’t go into the triple digits. The quality of potential pulls (autos) is incredibly high and even if you don’t hit one, you can still walk away with a nice box. If base dupes don’t drive you to the brink of madness, I’d definitely suggest trying a box if you can find one.

Overall Grade: B

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Anticipation

I haven’t posted much in the past few days, partly because I haven’t had much to write about and partly because I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of one the most sought-after boxes on my personal wantlist, 1997 SP (image from chippercards.com). 1997 SP is an extremely difficult box to find and is chock full of inserts but the main attraction is, without question, the autographs.

There are SPx Force autographs which are single-player autographs on multi-player cards designed like 1997 SPx. To show how much of a demand there is for these cards, a Todd Hollandsworth sold for $35!

The other autographed attraction is the buyback “Vintage” autographed set. Select cards from the first four years of SP (1993-96) were signed, hand-numbered, and inserted into packs with a separate certificate of authenticity. The numbering on these cards ranges from 4-367 copies! There are 32 cards in this set including Alex Rodriguez, Tony Gwynn, Jeff Bagwell, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey, Jr.

Now do you see why I want this box to get here already?