Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nostalgic Box Break: 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice (Part 1)

My gosh, how I love the 1990's. Especially in terms of cardboard. I think that some of the most unique card sets came out during the 90's. I've already broken enough Stadium Club boxes to reaffirm that point, but I feel like I should draw attention to some other products, especially non-Stadium Club.

1995 Collector's Choice, or the Collector's Choice brand on the whole, is a prime example of how awesome 90's products were. Keep in mind, this brand was partially geared towards kids, which is an area Topps had a lot of problems, and still does have problems, relating to. The reason CC succeeds, is that not only does this set work as a kid-centric, but it works as a collectable, fun, rippable set. I enjoyed ripping this box, and I enjoyed the degree of photography. Plus, since it's Upper Deck, there are awesome photos on the front AND back.

Unlike the last few breaks, I'm not going to post every card from every pack. I'll be focusing on inserts, star cards, cards that would have been important in 1995, and really awesome photography.

So what are we waiting for? Let's begin.

Pack 1- Okay, just so you all know what to expect here, every pack has 12 cards, and starts out with three inserts. The first insert is printed with a silver/gold signature. The rookies also pop up in the first three cards, as well as the Best of the 90's ones, featuring Cecil Fielder, who would not be the best of the late 90's.

Also included in the first three cards are a full-bleed Award-Winner card, celebrating All Stars, MVP, ROY, Cy Young, etc. Frank Thomas is the one we pulled here, fresh off his 1994 MVP win.

The other nine cards are base cards, with a very sleek, and very 90's design. Our highlights include a card of Jim Abbott, who would be traded to the White Sox soon after this, an awesome photo of Marquis Grissom sliding, Brian Jordan gutting a hug, Tony Fernandez on a cool slide card, and an awesome-looking Mo Vaughn.

Pack 2- Our silver sig is of a very casual looking Brian Williams, who you can see on NBC Nightly News every monday-thursday. Meanwhile, reaffirming the hidden fact that this is a Padres hot-pack, Raul Casanova is our Future Foundation insert, which is a very cool design with a sharper photo.

Meanwhile, this is something pretty damn close to a Ray Durham rookie, which is nice, because he would end up being a decent enough player.

Here are the best photos of the pack. They include a shot of Darren Oliver, a full 1/16th of the way through his career, a nice sideways shot of Steve Avery, the dreaded fourth man in the Atlanta rotation, and a cool congratulatory shot of Tim Salmon.

To give you an idea of what the backs look like, this is Tim Wallach's card. Yes, the card backs vary by length of career. So Bob Hamelin's back photo is larger than, say, Ozzie Smith's, because Smith has been playing longer, and needs more room for stats. I wish more sets would do that, giving full stats.

I feel like they knew that Pedro Martinez was going to be a star, because this is a great card of him. Also, he was coming off a really nice 1994 season, which, if there wasn't a strike, may have ended in a Cy Young bid for Pedro. This shot is really nice, but on the back...

You have a shot of him batting, which is a rarity on a pitcher's card. Really cool.

However, I heard, before I ripped this box, that there was one particular card that I should be looking for. A card so cool, so pricey, and so monumental that I would know it when I'd see it.

...what's this?


('I believe I can fly' starts playing in the background')

My gosh. A card so...epic, so grand, that it totally erases the fact that Michael Jordan was a sucky baseball player. Jeez, that may be one of the greatest shots I've seen in a while, especially out of Collector's Choice. I mean...WOW.

I mean, can this box get any better?

"...only one way to find out..."

Pack 3- Our two underwhelming inserts- Yorkis Perez and Dave Stevens.

Four really, really nice shots. Joe Girardi's is a shot of a Cubs player caught in a rundown. Stottlemeyer's is a cool pitcher shot. Pat Mahomes looks really cool in full 90's BP mode. And Jeffrey Hammonds' has a nice swing shot.

Our two highlights. Sammy Sosa's is a really nice shot, even as he hadn't become a huge, mega-star yet. Biggio's is a really nice shot of the impact. I still think Craig Biggio is a Hall of Famer.

Pack 4- Three odd inserts. Juan Acevedo never really made it, but the card is so cool that he should have. Bagwell's silver sig is on a checklist, which is odd, because you wouldn't think of a checklist having a signature on it. Juan Gonzalez just looks like a badass here, in his Rangers graphic tee, Freddie Mercury mustache, and bat in the shot.

Two really nice shots. One is of Greg Vaughn, one of the oddest ever inclusions in any Backyard Baseball installment, adjusting his eye-black, which is nice. Meanwhile, Luis Polonia, on his second stint with the Yankees, and his first stint to not infuriate Yankees fans, has a cool post-slide shot.

Greg Vaughn's card-back has a nice shot too, of Vaughn in full on Catcher's gear, warming up a pitcher, which is pretty nice.

Thankfully, this pack has a hall of famed in it, and a really cool shot of one at that. Barry Larkin is seen here impressively sliding home, which is cool. I like how wide they zoomed this one out. Today, Topps would zoom this in too much, and it wouldn't be as cool.

Pack 5- With the exception of Jeff Blauser, this pack's inserts are pretty awesome. First of all, they made a card to commemorate the Hall of Fame induction of Mike Schmidt, one of my all-time favorite Phillies. Also, they made it a point to give Jeff Bagwell a nice casual shot for his MVP card.

Our lone photographical highlights. Jeff Brantley is sitting down in the dugout, looking cool. Very poignant shot, maybe even emotional. Additionally, we have a shot of Frank Viola, a few seasons gone from his awesome years, pitching for the Red Sox.

Pack 6- Some pretty sucky inserts. Thankfully, I've heard of Armando Benitez, and at least think that's an okay hit.

This is a cool shot of Alex Fernandez, congratulating people upon want I presume is a win, though you never know, as it looks like they're giving some Yankees.

A couple cards where the back photo is better than the front one. Delino DeShields is high-fiving some fans, and signing autographs, probably in Spring Training. Meanwhile, Kenny Rogers is pitching in a wider, cooler shot.

This was my favorite card-back photo, though. Not only is because he's Andres Galarraga, but it's because he's got a huge-lensed camera, and looks like he's having a lot of fun with it. That's what I love about Collector's Choice- a lot of shots of players having fun.

Pack 7- FOUR HALL OF FAMERS, TWO CARDS! The first one has Cal Ripken, showing a consecutive games record that would likely be topped by the end of the season. Any sideways Cal shot is a good one, because he's awesome. Right below him as Yount, Brett and Winfield in a little inset. Plus, that card has Yount's and Brett's silver sig.

Two people in opposite directions. Carl Everett is just getting good, while Jack McDowell is done being an elite pitcher. Thankfully, both these shots are pretty good. I forgot McDowell was a Yankee.

I love this shot, because it's a really, really nice throwback, and also it's a simple posed shot. And this may be the first time I've enjoyed a Reggie Sanders card.

This is an interesting concept. You see, in the offseason David Cone had been traded to Toronto, which UD knew about. So they took a Royals photo of him, and teased their Update set, saying 'hey, if you want to see this guy in a Blue Jays or Yankees jersey, send this card in, and collect the other three and send them in too.' Interesting idea, not sure if it paid off or not.

Pack 8- Slightly better inserts, including a Garrett Anderson rookie, and a nice shot of Pete Harnisch signing something.

A smattering of different shots, including a reminder that Luis Gonzalez was not only thin once, but with the Astros. Alex Cole is being interviewed. Wonder if the interviewer wants to know how bad the Twins are sucking. Robby Thompson is trying his hardest to prevent a Phillies player from advancing.

This was Dave Stewart's last season, and he'd spend it back in Oakland, though not as hot as he was in the late 80's. Still, you always had this awesome shot of him to remember him by. Dave Stewart- professional badass.

Pack 9- STEROID BREAK! That is all.

A couple of nice shots, featuring Rick Helling and Chuck Finley in some sweet throwbacks, the manager of the White Sox, and Tony Tarasco...doing something at the dugout.

This shot of Mike Kingery is probably the coolest in the pack.

FINALLY! Nine Packs in and we FINALLY get a You Crash the Game insert. And it's of should-be Hall of Famer Fred McGriff. If you don't know how this works, they give you a date on the card (in this case, August 25th 1995), and show McGriff. Now, if McGriff hit a home run on August 25th, 1995, then people would send this card in and get some sort of prize or something. According to Baseball, McGriff did not hit a homer that day, though the Braves won.

I will continue the break throughout the week, as this is such a fun set.

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