This column details my thoughts on what I consider one of the most ugly and worthless sets of all time: 1991 Fleer Baseball.
Now, before you start calling me a hater, I tried – I really tried – to like this set.
In early 1992, these wax packs were in clearance bins at retail department stores and for the first – and only – time in my life, I became a cheater at card hunting.
Yes, while more savvy card collectors now “search” packs in hopes of finding autograph and game-used cards in them, I hunted for the “Pro Visions” subset, because if you looked carefully along the side of the wax packs, you could make out the black border sticking out from the sea of yellow.
Fleer did try to do some good things with its 1991 product.
I liked the clear card fronts and most of the photos. The player’s last name is in large, upper-case letters at the top of the card fronts, with the first name in a smaller-sized font above the last name. The team name and position anchor the bottom of the card front in small enough text so as not to make it appear garish. Horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the cards give them a more “boxy” feel, but also make miscut cards stand out like sore thumbs.
The card backs featured a close-up “mug” shot of the players in a circle, and many feature both major and minor league stats. Some, such as the Ken Griffey Jr. card, provide biographical information where space allows.
When I think about it, the 1991 Fleer Baseball set actually has many of the elements I like to see in a card design. So why does it drive me nuts?
One word: Yellow.
The garish yellow card stock – both back and front – make this set look as if somebody got sick on it.
I simply can’t escape it. When I begin rooting through boxes, looking for cards to take to the stadium for autographs, I invariably come across the bevy of 1991 Fleer Baseball sets, near-complete sets and extras. And they’re just too easy to spot, with the garish yellow cards instantly making me wince.
There are several rookie cards in the set, although, Jeff Conine is likely the only one that would draw any interest outside of the immediate families.
Star cards are not in abundance, and book around a buck apiece. Nolan Ryan and Ken Griffey Jr. are among the only real standouts.
There were a few error cards in the set, some of which were uncorrected. Among them, Mark McGwire’s card (#17) says he had 183 extra-base hits in 1987 (that would be a neat trick); and Steve Balboni’s (#656) birthdate is incorrected listed as Jan. 5, 1957 (it is Jan. 16). Variations, including the Griffey Jr. (#450) card, which has him batting .300, is the most valued mistake card.
If you don’t already have a 1991 Fleer Baseball set, you shouldn’t have trouble finding one. You likely have a friend – or three – who has an extra one they’ll give you, if only to clear space on the card shelf.
1991 Fleer Baseball
Complete Set: 720 cards.
High book: NM, $10.
Top Stars: #17 Mark McGwire error ($0.75); #33 Barry Bonds ($1); #90 Roger Clemens ($0.75); #302 Nolan Ryan ($1); #426 Greg Maddux ($0.50); #431 Ryne Sandberg ($0.50); #450 Ken Griffey Jr. error ($1); #490 Cal Ripken ($0.75); #552 George Brett ($0.75); #710 Ken Griffey Jr.-Barry Bonds ($1).
Top Rookies: #507 Luis Gonzalez ($0.50); #553 Jeff Conine ($0.50).