Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nostalgic Box Break: 2003 Upper Deck Series 1 (Part 1)

A few years ago, I broke a box of 2002 Upper Deck, with a smiling, pinstriped Jason Giambi on the cover, and showed you the highlights of a product still skirting on cool photography and a slightly bulky design. They were Upper Deck still in their prime, still manufacturing cool when Topps had a monopoly on basic.

2003 Upper Deck is honestly very similar to the 2002 release, just with a more 'cool for the times' design. Still the same emphasis on collectability, and the same genuine nature of their inserts. The kind of release I could use about now.

This box had 24 packs, 8 cards per, so we'll do 12 today, and 12 another day. That simple.

 Pack 1-
Future Hall of Famers: 2/8
Old Mariners: 2/8
Guys Named Corky: 1/8
 EDGAR. Already we get a fun, very UD candid shot from pregame, for the DH extraordinaire, just a year away from retirement.


I do think it's pretty cool that I landed two of the greatest DHs of all time in the same pack. Plus, what's more, a rare Twin Papi.

 Pack 2-
Guys I collected for some reason: 2/8
Disappointing Hits: 1/8

 My base highlight was a standard pitching shot of Ben Sheets. Also, the base design for this product is very simple. It's getting the 'ESPN graphics' thing done better than 2017T would.

 So...THIS...is a monstrosity.

This is an All Star swatches game-used jersey card of Aaron Sele, and that is definitely an ANGELS swatch of the big man. However, and this is a big however, not only did Aaron Sele not make the All Star Game in 2002, he never even made one with the Angels. This is a warm-up jacket from the 2000 ASG, where he pitched for the Mariners.

Now that is all well and good, and it works as a Mariners release for Sele...but it would have worked better a year after the 2000 ASG, rather than...three. Play with what's current, UD, and do an Angels picture AND swatch- don't go for the classics. It's like if Topps came out with a card now of Jeff Samarzija's ASG uniform with the A's. It doesn't make sense.

And on top of ALL THAT...I don't particularly like the fact that I pulled a game-used card of Aaron Sele. I bet you thought I'd START with that, right.
 Pack 3-
Steroid Abusers: 2/8
HOFers: 1/8
 I love this card. Al Leiter and his secret weapon, the pitching machine. I bet he got fined for using that in a game.

 A very simple, very cool card of Reds hero Sean Casey.

 Two guys I love to collect- Astros icon and hitting legend Craig Biggio, and a guy who made sure Albert Pujols didn't have to hit all those home runs by himself, Jim Edmonds.

 Pack 4-
Eventual 2-time WS heroes: 1/8
HOFers: 1/8

 Rondell White was on the Yankees? ...alright, then.

 Plus, a sort-of rookie of Jake Peavy, pre-Cy Young award.

 A BIG LEAGUE BREAKDOWN, which is a pretty cool insert set, of Chipper Jones, the guy that got the most HOF votes this year, and deservingly so.

 Pack 5-
Team Heroes: 4/8
HOFers: 1/8
Borderline HOFers: 3/8
 Two guys that were still a big deal in 2003- Troy Glaus, who just helped his team win their first-ever World Series, and Mark Grace, a year from retirement after a fantastic career of killing the NL Central teams that weren't based in Illinois.

 Wells was just getting to the good stuff, while Mike Mussina was just powering through the end of the bulk of his best years.

 Torii Hunter was the Twins' standout star at the time, as they were just building the dynasty that'd get them back to stardom. Vladimir Guerrero, meanwhile, was a year away from joining the Angels and helping them get back to the playoffs.

 Pack 6-
Future HOFers: 1/8
 2003, a year where Luis Castillo could wind up on a checklist.

 Such a great card. Derek Jeter, in the height of Jetermania, in the dugout, basking in the good stuff. Very, very cool stuff, UD.

 Pack 7-
Weird Stuff on Cards: 2/8
 1. WHOA THOSE MARLINS UNIFORMS. Those are cool! It's odd seeing the Marlins wear orange before the rebranding. Were those from a tribute-day, like a 'let's celebrate hispanic or Cuban teams' day?
Also, Aaron Boone has a lot of bats. Just like in 2018. Awww yeah.

 Pack 8-
Multi-fingers pitchers: 1/8
Very 2003 Stars: 2/8

 NOMAAAAAH. A year before he'd land in Chicago as the Sox won it all.
Marco Scutaro rookie, before he'd help the Giants win it all.

 Annnnd speaking of the 2012 Giants, here's Barry Zito on the other side of the bay, throwing fire in one of the most impressive rotations in the game.

 Pack 9-
Magglios: 2/8
2003 WS winners: 1/8
 Derrek Lee, pre-Yankee killing.

 Magglio Ordonez was so big in 2003 that he got two cards in this pack, and yeah, judging by how hard he was hitting those days, it makes sense.

 Pack 10-
Borderline HOFers: 2/8
Guys Named After Informational Websites: 1/8
 A very cool catching shot of a guy named Wiki.

 Two guys who'd be playing for the Yankees in 2005. Sheff would be on a steroid-addled high, while Tino would round out his career with the bombers. Both were playing for NL squads in 2003 though.

 Pack 11-
Astros heroes: 2/8
2000s Big Bats: 4/8
 I miss the little stars next to the hat. Vicente is really, REALLY  pissed about something. Possibly playing for the Phillies.

 Sweeney was pretty big in this era, as in KC that year the only grounds for hero status were 'hit lots of home runs and smile a lot'.
Oswalt was throwing heat, but you knew that.

 Lance Berkman gets the BIG LEAGUE BREAKDOWN insert, and not a bad subject for it in 2003, either.

 Pack 12-
Steroid Abusers: 1/8
Guys I Love Collecting: 1/8
 This is THE CHASE FOR 755, plotting guys that could take Aaron's record. I swear to god if Barry Bonds wasn't in this friggin' set...

We end on Ultimate Evil (Roger Clemens) and A Force of Unbelievable Good (Juan Pierre). That's all I need.

A fun rip so far, which continues in the next 12 packs, where (GASP) an actual GOOD HIT is found???


  1. I have a hard time finding anything from the early-to-mid 2000s era of Upper Deck, so I can't even imagine how much fun it'd be to break a whole box of the stuff.

  2. Nice Peavy. Can't wait to see the good hit.