Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nostalgic Box Break: 1996 Upper Deck SP (Part One)

Here's something you don't see everyday.

I figured enough of these have been Collector's Choice, or Stadium Club, that you guys deserved a new, spiffy box to break for a new year. 1996 SP is a pretty well-regarded set among bloggers, in that it's one of the few salvageable SP sets from that era, along with the initial 1993 issue. I've always liked this design, and this set was released when inserts were becoming bigger hits, and collectability was coming to its end.

30 packs, 8 cards per pack. I'll do 10 packs per post.

 Pack 1-
Former MLB managers: 1/8
Steroid Abusers (this will be a theme this break): 1/8
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Beloved Philadelphia Legends: 1/8

Buhner was in the midst of a decade of hammering in Seattle, and Weiss was in the midst of a decade's reign as one of the best defensive infielders in baseball.

The design is insanely classy- wood panel base, dual colors, a smaller headshot inset, and a foil based main photo. It's simple, but at the same time it's complex enough to stand out. Many of the mid-90's SP designs were either too minimalistic or too loud, and this was a perfect balance.

Carter was two years away from capping off a legendary career, and Clemens was essentially halfway through his career, though he'd find himself in Carter's city within a year.

Eddie Murray is capable of some of the most awesome looking cards, even in his last few seasons in the bigs. This is a pretty great card, even if Murray would be back in Baltimore by the end of the season.

The main-seeded insert was Premier Prospects, which consisted of rookie-ish characters. Bob Abreu is one of the better pulls here, as it's a reminder that there were days where people didn't know to call him Bobby.
Pack 2-
Inserts: 2/8
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Future Hall of Famers: 1/8
Steroid Abusers: 1/8
One of the more famous inserts in '96 SP is one of these, a Special FX, featuring the then-state-of-the-art hologram technology to create an inset of the player behind the main shot. This didn't shoot well, but Eric Karros' one looked pretty cool.

Chipper was well on the way to becoming one of the best all-around players in the game, while A-Rod, still available everywhere but on Topps cards, had a pretty cool BP shot to mark another huge season of his.

Frank Thomas wore St. Patrick's Day green in this sure-to-be Spring Training shot. Billy Wagner's our second-straight Astro Premier Prospect, and another pretty nice one at that.

Pack 3-
Hall of Famers: 3/8
Hall of Being Really Good in the 90's: 2/8

Cecil Fielder, in his last season before winding up n the Bronx, attempts playing the field. Also, that Garcia shot is so much better with the foil addition. Just makes it pop a ton more.

Greg Maddux is our Special FX insert for this pack, and a damn good one at that. Will Clark's shot is surprisingly great, with a dirt emphasis, and those blue Spring Training uniforms.

Two Hall of Famers- Gwynn was still a huge part of the San Diego offense, and Eck, in his first season as a Cardinal, was still the best closer in baseball, and would be until his retirement. This is a pretty great shot of him lounging on the sideline.

Pack 4-
Old-Timey Lettering on Uniforms: 2/8
Hall of Very Good: 2/8

Two more reasons why SP works as a photography set as well as a design-based set- Morandini's DP shot is pretty awesome, and Finley by the wall pops more here than it would have in UD proper. Definitely worth the premium hike.

Two 90's sluggers- Delgado should have gotten more HOF votes. what he deserved, I think.

Trammell was going on his last season in the bigs, and this is a pretty great shot of him. Also, Jermaine Dye got a rookie here, and it's a nice enough pull.

Pack 5-
Hall of Famers: 3/8
Guys Who Were Traded to San Diego together: 2/8

Again, another amazing DP shot with Bret Boone, and a decent enough Premier Prospects with Darin Erstad. PP can have diminishing returns if they go for a static photo instead of an action shot.

Serendipity, I think.
Griffey checklist, Piazza Special FX. Now they're both Hall of Famers.

Speaking of serendipity, both of these guys ended their careers in St. Louis, though Smoltz had the better full-on career, and Walker was arguably running out of steam by the time he arrived there.

Pack 6-
Hall of Famers: 2/8
Super Cool Inserts: 1/8
Albert Belle was still one of the best home run hitters of the 90's, but the latter half would try him a bit.

Ripken's another checklist, but Piazza is a MARQUEE MATCHUPS insert, which combines with a left-counterpart to create a full-on combo card. This is a fantastic idea, one that would be brought back, with diminishing returns, in the later SP Authentic releases.

Pack 7-
Hall of Famers: 1/8
1995 MLB phenomena: 2/8
HIDEO NOMO...BATTING. 1996 collectors must have been shitting themselves at that one.
Kirby Puckett was rounding his last season, and this is a pretty nice card to go out on, all things considered.

Pack 8-
Steroid Abusers: 2/8
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Incredibly Odd Uniforms on Moderate Legends: 2/8

Bobby Bonilla is best known as a Pirate, or a New York Met, so his Orioles years look a bit odd...but not as odd as Kevin Mitchell on the Red Sox. Mets, Giants, Reds even? Sure. But the Sox uni just looks weird on him.
The forces for good and evil in the 90's Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds.

Pack 9-
Angels: 4/8
Legitimate Pain: 1/8

David Justice is the closest thing to a star card in this entire pack, and this fact causes Tim Naehring to fall into excruciating pain.
And, like, the four non-Salmon stars of the team, too. Finley and Anderson are Angels icons, Davis was hitting home runs, and Jim Abbot, seen here BATTING, was making a season-long return to LA after years in New York and Chicago.

Pack 10-
Steroid Abusers: 3/8

Dante Bichette and a nicely-shot Greg Vaughn were my only highlights here, but...

Bichette's back, featuring an out-of-shape, surly-looking Bichette waving from the rafters on the Rockies' parade, is a lot livelier, to say the least.

I'll knock out the next ten in the next few nights, I think.

1 comment:

  1. An Angels Hot Pack! I love it! Thats a sweet box to break. We need to trade, drop me a line.