2003 Leaf Certified Materials retrospective

Going through some old cards at my mom’s house, I found the remnants of the very first full box I ever purchased. No, it wasn’t a 1989 Fleer box looking for that elusive Billy Ripken (those packs were $1 each retail… I absolutely cannot believe my 8 year old self paid that for them). No, I couldn’t save up enough lawnmowing money back then to buy whole boxes AND go see Ace Ventura with my friends. So my first box waited until I was the ripe old age of 22.

After some soul searching (aka: asking people on the old- awesome- Beckett boards), I decided on a recently-released box of Leaf Certified Materials. At the time, I was gripped in relic fever. “You mean I can pull a piece of a jersey that Rickey Henderson actually wore?!” Yes, Andy, you could. You could also get a poorly-designed card of a soon-to-be-failed prospect with a sweet sticker auto haphazardly placed somewhere on its visage. “For only $130?! Sign me up!” I said giddily.

That's a lot of stars! Too bad the scanner can't pick up their names!

Well, I opened it. And you’re looking at what’s left. Some foilboard monstrosities with random lines dashing about. These cards are ugly. They always were. But boy did I want those relics.


I didn’t pull this from the box. Instead I think I got a Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling Mirror SomeColor relic. I sold it. But what I really wanted were the Fabric of the Games, so I bought some on eBay for a couple bucks (even in 2003 these weren’t worth much). For a time, I thought I might actually try and collect the whole Fabric of the Game set. I actually *like* this design! The problem is (and this goes for the rest of Leaf’s products from this era), each card has like 18 effing versions. There are some numbered to 100, some numbered to the player’s jersey number or some random stat number… it’s useless to tally all the variations of these that are out there. Same goes for the base/relic/auto parallel sets- the “Mirror” series of parallels offered Green, Red, Purple, Black, Mauve, Taupe… you get the idea. Almost as bad as Masterpieces in terms of stupid parallels. I sold all mine (along with my Brandon Claussen or whoever auto) on eBay immediately. I held on to the base cards thinking I could trade them. This was back when I thought people actually collected sets like this.

2 of the 3 Ryans that were inexplicably included in this set (the other was a Ranger I think). There were only like 2 other classic players. I love that Pujols is listed as an OF. Good luck there, buddy! How's that elbow?!

Yeah, this set was terrible and I lost like $80 on the box I bought. It was a good lesson. One I didn’t learn from, apparently, as I bought a box of 2003 Diamond Kings not too much later- the base card remnants of that box sit somewhere in the same closet in my mom’s house (thought I fared much better, pulling a then-hot Xavier Nady RC Auto #/15 and a Yount auto to boot!). But it sure is fun going through these now 7 years later. Someone has to remember that, once, Jason Kendall was The Catcher of the Future in Pittburgh. That Brian Lawrence was once a serviceable starter for the Padres. And that Nomar Garciaparra was once the model of consistently good hitting. Yes, those were the days. I sure don’t miss all the crap design, overdone parallels and over-emphasis on guys who haven’t even played in the majors yet. Glad we’re past all that!

This set actually had some good RCs in it. None of those were named Nic Jackson. Can you guess the other two in this picture?!

I’ve thought (albeit briefly) about tracking down a box of this and opening it with my modern eyes. When I opened this box in 2003, I was not disappointed. I had asked for a box that guaranteed an auto and some relics and I got that. Funny how times and expectations change. A quick search with the usual suspects yields 0 results for sealed boxes of this stuff… why on earth would this be hard to find?! If you need any base cards from this set, drop me a line and we’ll work something out. Or if you have any more information about the popularity of it, hit us up with a comment below. I’m very curious as to why this is so hard to find…

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>