1997 Fleer Baseball Series 2 Review

Okay, you’ve had time to let those other two boxes sink into your skull holes, and I’m sure they’re fully processed by now and you’re itching for more box busting excitement.  Well, then you’ve come to the right place!

One of the main reasons I wanted to grab a box of 1997 Fleer wasn’t because of the potential for a David Ortiz-Arias RC (although I did get one!).   I saw it as a chance to go back to a time when I was first starting to abandon card collecting.  I converted to basketball full-time around 1993 or so and stuck with it for several years.  Once I joined the work force, and was no longer relying on allowance, the reality of what money meant started to drive home.  This is because I had to literally drive home.  That car wasn’t going to pay for itself, which meant less money for cards and more thoughts of the future.

1997 was the beginning of the end, but I distinctly remember the feeling I got when I opened some 97-98 Fleer Basketball cards.  I always preferred Fleer, since it was so cheap, usually nicely designed (with a couple really off years) and they typically had an insert in every single pack.  The 97 set was something special, though.  It had the matte finish.  The cards just felt better.  You could connect with them more, because they had texture.  It felt like “something” in your hand, instead of something you slide across your hand to see the next one in the stack.  Always a sucker for nostalgia, it brought me back to 1986 and my first pack.

Will the baseball version withstand the test of time?

36 packs per box, 10 cards per pack (actually 11 if you count the Million Dollar Moment)

Take this gloss and shove it!

Main Set
Unlike the other boxes, I got plenty of Cubs.  I didn’t get many good ones, but what should I expect from 1997…series 2, no less.  That second care you see is actually the back of the Sandberg checklist.  Look at that opening day lineup!  Terry Mulholland as our ace.  Brant Brown, Kevin Orie, Scott Servais.  As they say in Spanish, “¡Uf!”  I did really well on the team set here, though.  I’m only missing Doug Glanville, Kevin Orie and the Sandberg Encore.  On the insert side, you’ll see that I got half of those too.
As far as the set itself goes, it looks exactly like the basketball version.  Nice, basic gold foil acts as the “design.”  I could understand why people might hate it, but to me it’s understated and somewhat elegant in its minimalistic approach.  Rookies have a simple extra gold bar above their name, which doesn’t detract, but is still easily identifiable.  The card backs give full stats, and some stats you don’t typically see.  I guess it’s tough to see on the Rojas back, but you have stuff like BB/9, SO/9, BR/9 and BAA.  How often do you see that?  Plus a decent blurb and a big (and different) picture on the back.  Great stuff.  Side note:  Mel Rojas played in Rockford in 1988 (yup, full minor stats, too).  I may have seen him play.  I don’t think I have a way to check that.
Not all of the photos are the best, and I only scanned the Cubs for the purposes of this review, but there some gems peppered in.  Look at the Dunston as an example.  That’s Shawon Dunston Jr. in the picture with him.  He’s set to graduate HS in 2011 and was on the Aflac All-American team this summer.  There’s also a great shot of Benito Santiago in what appears to be a yellow Lamborghini.  You can see it if you suffer through the box break, but I’m sure I’ll scan it in to show later.
The card stock is flimsy, and thus susceptible to some edge/corner damage sometimes if you’re not careful.  I think that would have to be my only real complaint.  Otherwise, I love the way these cards look and feel.  And it proves that you don’t need to color code your set with team colors to make something effective (listen up Upper Deck, you need something like this now).


Fleer basketball was notorious for having multiple godawful subsets in their series 2 packs.  This product lucks out with just team checklists (featuring a prominent player) and Encore.  As shown with the Sandberg checklist, it’s a great little resource not just for set or team collecting by showing off the inserts you would need, but also a team resource.  You don’t find many checklists that would give roster or opening day information like that.  It’s a really nice, welcome touch.  The Encore subset does nothing for me.  The card back is the same as a normal card, so the only thing making it special is the front which is inundated with that word.  I dunno.  I understand wanting to get popular players into series 2, but change up the backs to make it something interesting, will ya?
Those other two cards in the scan are inserts, so let’s transition seamlessly to that now.

Mission accomplished.  You didn’t even notice the change in sections, did you?  Anyway, here’s where it gets scan heavy.  I’ll show you the one per pack million dollar moments I got (minus the ones that went out to the Community Break participants.  The Million Dollar Moments cards were actually also contest cards.  The idea is that you were to collect all 50 and then send them in for a cool million bucks.  They did this in basketball,too.  I, being the naive kid I was, thought that they were evenly distributed and it would just take a lot of pack buying money to make it happen.

Well, of course, to make this a real contest, Fleer super short printed cards 46-50.  I don’t know exactly how many were produced, but you can assume that it’s just a handful.  Hell, it may have just been 1 of each.  You also had the option of turning in the first 45 for a full non-contest back version of all 50.  So, I guess I need that Maddux still.

Part 1

Notice the checklist.  So glad Maddux isn’t part of that 46-50 grouping!

Part 2

That Caminiti sentence is misleading.  I don’t think he drove in 8 runs 3 times in 4 games, but rather homered from both sides.  Still, that’s a pretty cool tidbit for a guy who will largely be forgotten (sorry, Ken, but it’s true).  But, also compare that to Bernie Williams’ card.  Bernie looks like a scrub in comparison now, doesn’t he?  Hardly fits into the set.  Stick with guitar playing, guy.

Part last

That’s a lot of moments.  I got very few doubles of these, which was fantastic to see considering I would get doubles of virtually every other insert to come out of these packs.

Care Bears Stare!

It’s a little tough to see the rainbows behind those young players.  I’ll guess and say that they are supposed to be the gold at the end of the rainbow.  Or that the rain has already fallen on their career and the rainbow signifies the end of it.  Actually, it’s not a bad crop in that checklist.  These fall 1:4 packs and I lucked out by only getting a double of the Irabu.  You can also see the one per box Decade of Excellence card, which just so happened to be Mr. AAA Mgr, complete with ‘stache.  Couldn’ta picked it better myself.

There's Goudy minis in this?

The Soaring Stars are 1:12 packs, so I got my expected 3.  I also got a fourth, but unfortunately, it was another Albert Belle.  Not cool in a 12 card set.  The Goudy minis surprised me, because A) there was nothing like it in the basketball version and B) I didn’t do any real research.  Not a bad player selection on those either.  I only have the Chipper and Jeter left after shipping to participants.

The Molitor is the Tiffany parallel (1:20).  Here’s the main difference between baseball and basketball.  Basketball had a one per pack glossy card, then they also had a one per box fancier parallel.  I expected the same here and was a little disappointed to find that wasn’t the case.  But, if I were to only get one in a box, I’m glad it’s a hall of famer (even if on a checklist).

Lastly you see the “Emerald” autograph redemption card.  These are long expired, which is too bad.  You have to collect all 10 to send in for your set.  I got 9 of them, only missing #7 of 10.  Had I bought this at the time, I would have bought more to nab this.  Instead, I’m sitting on nine pieces of junk that wasted space in my packs.

These are the worst headlines ever.

Where’s the alliteration?  Where are the puns?  Why are the headlines at the bottom of the card?  I expected more out of my headlines written by non-newspaper professionals.  They could have also made these look more like newspapers to go along with what seems to be their theme.  There are 20 cards in this set, and if I would have received no doubles, I’d be only 2 away from a set.  Instead I got nothing before card 11, and I have doubles of just about every single card you see here.  Please offer to take some off my hands.

The only shot I had at a hit was completing that 10 card redemption set 13 years ago.  Or, I could have been lucky enough to pull an Andruw Jones Auto.  I did not.

The two disappointments to me here was the lack of glossy in every pack (which will probably be the only time I’ll be upset about not getting parallels) and the abundance of doubles in the inserts.  Other than that, I loved this box and this product.  If series 1 was reasonably priced, I’d grab a box of that, too.  That’s really all I have to say about it.

Despite my enjoyment of these cards, they are largely up for trade.  Once again, most of the teams weren’t taken in the break, so if you’re interested in anything you see, or in stuff from a team, inquire within.  I can give you a list of a team’s cards if you’d like.

Design – *****
Set Collecting – ****
Inserts – **
Hits – N/A
Overall – **** (0ut of 5)

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