Saturday, January 7, 2017

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

Previously on '96 SP...probably one of the most polished base sets of the 90's, some pretty cool rookies, and this general sense of fun and freshness despite a few doubles. This is one of those incredibly fun to rip sets.

We're covering the middle ten packs, including Pack #11, which SOMEHOW has NINE cards instead of eight...

 Pack 11-
Marquee Men Inserts: 1.85/9
Hall of Famers: 1/9
Guys Who COULD get into the Hall of Fame This Month: 2/9
Guys Who SHOULD get into the Hall of Fame this Month: 1/9

 In honor of a nice little snowfall we just got in Jersey, here's a card of Mo Vaughn bundling up in early April.
 Plus, our one Hall of Famer is an ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING card of Roberto Alomar's first leap in the Orioles' Spring Training stadium. This is an amazing card, made even better by the foil and raised image.
 I got two Marquee Men inserts this pack. One of them was Jeff Bagwell, someone I genuinely enjoy, and someone who I'd rather like to see in the Hall of Fame. The other is a die-cut of Roger Clemens. Oh well.

 Here is Bagwell's matched up with Mike Piazza's MM card, to show that these are insanely puzzle-esque cards, and are kind of therapeutic in a way.
Pack 12-
Products of Nomo-Mania: 2/8
1987 Rookies: 2/8
Hall of Famers: 1/8
 Jose Canseco was still a semi-relevant player in 1996, one of his last few seasons in Boston. John Smiley's card is pretty damn cool, even in SP format.

 Two amazing pitching stories from 1995, both ends of the age spectrum. Nomo was a rookie, and absolutely killing it in LA. Dennis Martinez was well into his 40's, and still one of the most impressive pitchers in the AL.

 Ken Griffey's base card picked a pretty cool photo there. That's a nice touch.  Also, another Hideo Nomo, this one a Marquee Matchups insert.

 Pack 13-
Dupes: 6/8
Big Cats: 1/8
 Not a ton going on this pack, but a Rey Ordonez rookie that picked a great shot, and a Big Cat base card, so at least they're something to report.

 Pack 14-
Hall of Famers: 1/7
1996 World Series Heroes: 1/7
1997 World Series Heroes: 1/7

 I think it's a cool little detail that they threw both Benes Brothers onto one card, especially since they were both playing for St. Louis at the time. Also, this counts as a quasi-rookie card for Pettitte, who was just starting out.
 Piazza's base card is...pretty standard to be honest, Renteria's Premier Prospects is a nice enough pull, even if he won't get a ton of votes this month.

 Pack 15-
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Future Hall of Famers: 1/8
Reds: 2/8

A few signs of the times- Chan Ho Park was the Dodgers' first East Asian pitching reclamation project until Hideo Nomo came along- consider him the Hyun-Jin Ryu to Nomo's Kenta Maeda. Meanwhile, Reggie Sanders was a great asset for Cincinnati for a while until the rest of the league played hot potato with him until 2006.

Two legends. Jim Thome should get into the Hall of Fame next year. I sincerely hope this happens. Meanwhile, Barry Larkin is using some difficult little running apparatus here, and he looks like he's acing it.

Jeff Fassero's 1995-era camera is probably one of the best shots in the set. Meanwhile, even after having a rookie card in 1993 Topps, Jason Kendall was still considered a rookie in 1996.

Pack 16-
Dupes: 6/8
Awesome Inserts of HOFers: 1/8

Vinny Castilla's card is just a garnish, but the Special FX insert of Tony Gwynn is a pretty nice pull.

Pack 17-
Hall of Famers: 2/8
NL West Heroes Who'd be out of the league by 2004: 2/8
Our Hall of Famers for this pack- Ozzie Smith was just rounding his last season, and looks pretty humble here on this semi-posed card, one that works well with SP. Meanwhile, Pedro's is pretty 90's, right down to the backwards cap in the inset.

Eric Karros was still a pretty big asset in LA back in 1996. Matt Williams, subject of this pack's Special FX insert, was rounding his last year in San Francisco before hitting big in Cleveland in 1997.

Pack 18-
Steroid Abusers: 2/8
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Present/Future A's: 3/8
Traded for Each Other: 2/8
Shawn Green was still kind of quiet in Toronto, pre-trade, while Mark McGwire was trying to gain steam before the trade to St. Louis.

Frank Thomas is our Special FX for the pack, and a pretty nice on at that. Raul Mondesi has a towel, and he seems pretty happy about that.

Pack 19-
Dupes: 7/8
Only card of note is this bizarre card of Jack McDowell on the Indians (!!!!) batting (!!!!!!) Weird.

 Pack 20-
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Guys Who Joined the Cubs for Playoff Runs: 2/8
 Moises Alou, looking COOOOOL, with his shades and Expos jacket. Cooool 90's.

Cal Ripken Jr. was JUUUST claiming his GOAT status after the 1995 season, and was just coasting from here on out. Jim Edmonds was just beginning to get good.

I'll have the last 10 packs up soon, but this box is hella fun to rip.

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