Monday, February 13, 2017

Nostalgic Box Break: 1996 Collector's Choice Series Two (Part One)

Oh, Collector's Choice. It has been quite a while. But, never too long.

A while ago I broke a box of '96 Collector's Choice Series One...but that was child's play. To fully appreciate the '96 set, arguably one of the better releases in the canon, I had to break both boxes. I had to go all the way. All the way to Series 2.

The 'You Crash the Game' inserts continue into S2, as well as the stellar photography and cool design. I remind myself that CC was sort-of designed for younger collectors, along the same vein as Stadium Club. I'm 21 and I still love this set. Then again, I also just saw the LEGO Batman movie twice, so...maybe I haven't grown up entirely but, that's besides the point.

36 Packs, 12 Cards Per Pack (I want to go back there). I'll do 9 packs per post. And I'll try to get these out quickly, as there's another CC box I've been waiting a WHILE to post...not for the greatest reasons, though.

 Pack 1-
Hall of Famers: 2/12
Steroid Abusers: 3/12
Rangers Pals: 2/12
 Base Cards: Just simple enough. Phil Nevin was still a Tiger, Todd Jones was still a credible closer.

 Horizontals in this set were always pretty fantastic. Rusty Greer's is probably the better one here, for nearly looking like a Cincinnati Reds card thanks to that uniform.

 Star cards get the full-bleed and bordered treatment, and in this case, Paul Molitor was still a huge star, even after moving to the Twins during the offseason. This is static, but...they didn't have much of a choice.

 This card, however, is a lot cooler. The angle, the sunglasses, the sunlight. Has to be a Spring Training shot, but it's still a great one, even if it is Jose Canseco.
 Juan-Gone was still a huge star in 1995. Discuss.

 '96 SC also had a 5-card subset paying tribute to the First HOF Class. Honus Wagner's card here is a pretty nice one, and UD tried to stick to more obscure images, which worked...while Topps just seems to use the same 5.

 Pack 2-
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Cards Set Near/Around Batting Cages: 3/12

 Excellent photography all around, even though Bret Boone looks unsure of the whole thing.

 John Burkett relaxes near the gate. Greg Vaughn...wearing a batter's helmet backwards because he can apparently do that, stretches out lazily for warmups.

 The 'Rookie Class' cards get a rather American design, featuring standouts such as Mike Sweeney and Jeff Suppan in their MLB infancy.

 Jamie Moyer pitched for the Red Sox. Huh.
Ozzie Smith makes up this well-photographed checklist card.

 Pack 3-
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Hall of Quite Good-ers: 1/12

 Steve Scarsone looks generally put-off by the cameraman, while Pat Hentgen cruises to a Cy Young victory.

 Scott Sanderson and Doug Drabek in 1996...were quite old but still pitching. Good for them.

 The two-full bleeds in this pack are Mo Vaughn, who, in 1996, definitely deserved it, and...and Wally Joyner....who was a semi-star at the time but sure, UD, go ahead.

 Omar Vizquel, still smarting from a loss in 1995, still soldiered on. Ty Cobb even looks like a smug prick in that photo. Classy.

 For ARIZONA LEAGUE standouts...which surprisingly isn't a thing in current releases, we got special ultra-rookie cards of players, like LaTroy Hawkins, set in a pretty cool AZ background.

 Pack 4-
Hall of Famers: 2/12
Hall of Very Good: 2/12
Philadelphia Legends: 2/12

 Luis Ortiz swiftly hangs onto a ball, while John Olerud signs a bunch. Man, does he ever take that helmet off? Like, on the ball field, I get it, concussion-prevention, but...does he wear it at home when he's watching the news? Does he wear it to bed?

 Gregg Jefferies threw in some nice Philly moments towards the end of his career.

 Ryan Klesko has a World Series ring...somehow. Also, Barry Larkin's full-bleed Spring Training uni photo is a pretty nice one.

 'BOB' Abreu Rookie Class subset, which is nice, and generally odd as he's not a Phillie. Barry Larkin's Award Winner card lauds his 1995 MVP win...which was well-deserved.

Pack 5-
Steroid Abusers: 3/12
Future Hall of Famers (I Hope): 1/12
Insanely Trendy Inserts: 1/12
Mariners: 2/12
Matt Franco was an attempt at throwing more power into the Cubs lineup. It did not work.
Shawn Green took so many steroids that there's two of him in this photo.

On this edition of SO INSANELY 90'S: A surprisingly pedestrian shot of Ron Karkovice, and Bob Hamelin, post-filling out, pre-career-tanking.

HIDEO NOMO was so amazing in 1995 that UD gave him his own insert set for 96CC, the Hideo Nomo scrapbook...which is way cooler than the Mark McGwire card.

On the left, he's on the move, preferably after a home run, and on the right he's being cradled by a grateful Jay Buhner. Good stuff.

There wasn't a group shot for Pack 6, so HERE IT IS.
John Patterson's nearly getting rammed by Tony Gwynn, while Curt Leskanic is probably drunk right now, being throttled by Vinny Castilla.

John Vander Wal was the checklist, as a pinch-hitting standout in 1995....weird.
Barry Bonds is the Giants' team checklist, which means he gets a completely full-bleed shot. Fun.

Walt Weiss. Mike Greenwell. Mark McGwire. Not all was rosy in 1995, apparently.

Joe Girardi is currently doing a beautiful job as Yankee manager. Tim Wakefield didn't have the greatest showing on his first year on the HOF ballot. Still, terrific knuckleball.

Christy Mathewson is our latest First Class insert, and oh what a cool photo they chose. Again, these must have been designed by the '94 All Time Heroes division, as they're pretty impressive. A shame there was only 5.

Pack 7-
People on the HOF ballot this year: 2/12
Hall of Famers: 1/12
Pat Kelly frantically wonders where his starting gig went by the start of the 1996 season. Aaron Sele's just happy they're giving the starting gig to him once Clemens leaves.

Mike Cameron and Gary Sheffield, both pre-2016-HOF-class-involving trades.

Ron Gant was the 1995 Comeback Player of the Year. Pretty nice, I guess. Walter Johnson's our latest First Class one, leaving only the Bambino for me to pull.

Pack 8-
Angels: 2/12
Hall of Famers: 1/12

Two pretty nice horizontals. Morgan's gets the edge.

Randy Velarde's body is mostly cut off. Huh.
Tim Wallach was playing for the Angels in 1996 evidently. Learn something new everyday.

Tony Gwynn (I assume) was the Padres' checklist. Mo Vaughn was the 1995 MVP. All downhill from there.

Pack 9-
Reds: 2/12
Mariners: 3/12
Rockies: 3/12

Gary DiSarcina wanders through the post-game wreckage with only a glove to his name. Charles Nagy studies him from afar.

I dig the throwback on Hernandez, and the weird smile on Greg Reboulet.

...I love this shot. You can't make me NOT love this shot. This is insane.

And we'll end the packs on this ultra-cool design-overlapping card of Larry Walker as a Colorado Rockie. Nicely done.

So, so far we've got a nice little set to rip. Expect the next part to go up in the next few days. 


  1. Wallach actually only played with the Angels to start the '96 season. His series one card in this set shows him with the Dodgers as that's where he played in '95.

    1. Ach. This is what I get for over-assuming. I'll edit the post. Thank you.

  2. John Vander Wal was an amazing pinch hitter. It was something to behold.