Cheap Wax Wednesday Box Breaks: 1992 Fleer Ultra Series 1 Baseball
Following a fairly uninspired debut in 1991, Fleer completely overhauled the look of Ultra for its 1992 release. The base cards feature a marble accent along the bottom, as well as good foil stamping and gloss. The redesign was very popular with collectors and made 1992 Fleer Ultra Baseball one of the more successful releases of the year.
The product was split into two series, each containing 300 cards. Each series includes different insert sets. While Series 2 features All-Stars and All-Rookies, Series 1 contains Award Winners inserts and another highlighting Tony Gwynn. As an added chase for collectors, Gwynn autographed 2,000 cards. Today, these Gwynn autographs typically sell for over $50.
1992 Fleer Ultra Series 1 Baseball Box Break
Cards per pack: 15
Packs per box: 36
Price paid: $10
Pack 1 highlights:
Craig Biggio & Devon White
Pack 1 fun fact: Still listed as a catcher here, Craig Biggio played three games at second base in 1991 before making the full-time move to the keystone in 1992.
Don Mattingly, Paul Molitor, Cecil Fielder, Roger Clemens & Ozzie Smith Award Winners (1:6.5 packs)
Jim Thome, Kirby Puckett & Roger Clemens Award Winners (1:6.5 packs)
Pack 3 fun fact: Roger Clemens won his third AL Cy Young in 1991. He went 18-10 and led the AL in ERA (2.62), strikeouts (241) and innings pitched (271.1), cruising past Twins right-hander Scott Erickson in the balloting.
Rickey Henderson, Chuck Knoblauch & Tom Pagnozzi Award Winners (1:6.5 packs)
Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro & Tom Glavine
Pack 5 fun fact: Jose Canseco tied with Cecil Fielder for the AL lead with 44 home runs in 1991. No one else broke the 40-homer mark that season.
Dante Bichette, Dwight Evans & Tom Glavine Award Winners (1:6.5 packs)
Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark Grace, David Cone, Dale Murphy & Will Clark
Pack 7 fun fact: In his only full season with the Phillies in 1991, Dale Murphy posted a 103 OPS+ with 33 doubles, 18 home runs and 81 RBI in his age-35 campaign.
Roberto Alomar & Frank Thomas
David Justice, Darryl Strawberry, Lee Smith & Joe Carter
Pack 9 fun fact: The Dodgers signed Darryl Strawberry prior to the 1991 season. His five-year, $20.25 million contract made him the second-highest paid player in baseball at the time.
Lenny Dykstra, Tino Martinez, Ken Caminiti & Royce Clayton
Tim Raines, Travis Fryman & Jack McDowell
Pack 11 fun fact: Tim Raines had at least 30 steals in 12 straight seasons from 1981 to 1992, swiping 723 total bases during that stretch. His 808 career steals rank fifth on the all-time list.
Juan Gonzalez, John Olerud & Craig Biggio
Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, Paul Molitor, Cecil Fielder & Roger Clemens
Pack 13 fun fact: In his first four seasons with the Tigers after a brief stint in Japan, Cecil Fielder averaged 40 home runs and 126 RBI while posting a 135 OPS+. His peak was brief, but one of the most impressive of the 1990s.
Mo Vaughn, Jim Thome & Kirby Puckett
Ray Lankford & Cal Ripken, Jr.
Pack 15 fun fact: Ray Lankford finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1991, behind Jeff Bagwell and Orlando Merced. His 15 triples led the NL and he stole 44 bases in 64 attempts.
Mike Mussina, Jose Canseco, Ellis Burks, Carlos Baerga, Rafael Palmeiro, Tom Glavine & Jimmy Key
Dante Bichette, Devon White & Dwight Evans. As a Red Sox fan, it is very strange to see Evans in an Orioles uniform.
Pack 17 fun fact: After 19 years with the Red Sox, Dwight Evans played one final season in Baltimore. The 39-year-old hit .270 with a .393 on-base percentage and six home runs in 101 games.
Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark Grace & David Cone
Ozzie Guillen, Tony Pena & Mark McGwire
Pack 19 fun fact: Tony Pena won his fourth and final Gold Glove Award in 1991. Only seven catchers won the award more than four times in their career.
Sandy Alomar, Jr., Kevin Appier, Julio Franco, Steve Avery, Brett Butler, Harold Baines & Rick Aguilera
Mike “Gator” Greenwell & George Brett
Pack 21 fun fact: Mike Greenwell had the most RBI (83) of any player with fewer than 10 home runs during the 1991 season, going deep just nine times in 598 plate appearances.
Ron Gant, Randy Johnson, Dwight Gooden & Tim Raines
Albert Belle, John Olerud, Juan Gonzalez & Darren Daulton
Pack 23 fun fact: Albert Belle had a breakout season in 1991, posting a 134 OPS+ with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 123 games. He had played just 71 games in the majors the previous two years.
Edgar Martinez, Greg Maddux & Tony Gwynn
Ryne Sandberg, Jeff Bagwell, Nolan Ryan & Mo “Hit Dog” Vaughn
Pack 25 fun fact: At 44 years old, Nolan Ryan posted a 2.91 ERA with 203 strikeouts in 173 innings in 1991. He led the AL in WHIP (1.01), H/9 (5.3) and K/9 (10.6).
Cal Ripken, Jr., Tino Martinez, Tony Fernandez & Ken Caminiti
“Black Jack” McDowell, Mike Mussina & Andy Van Slyke Award Winners (1:6.5 packs)
Pack 27 fun fact: Andy Van Slyke won his fourth of five straight Gold Glove Awards in 1991. He lined up alongside Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla in the outfield for a 98-win Pirates team.
Gary Sheffield & Carlton Fisk
Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Ozzie Smith & Fred McGriff
Pack 29 fun fact: Curt Schilling spent his lone season with the Astros pitching in relief, posting a 3.81 ERA with eight saves and five holds in 56 appearances. He was traded to the Phillies for Jason Grimsley on April 2, 1992.
Mark McGwire, Tony Pena & Ozzie Guillen
Terry Pendleton, Robin Yount, Lou Whitaker & Harold Baines
Pack 31 fun fact: Terry Pendleton won the NL batting title (.319 BA) while also leading the league in hits (187) and total bases (303) to emerge as one of the most unexpected MVP winners in MLB history in 1991.
Mike Greenwell & George Brett
Randy Johnson, Dave Stewart & Dwight Gooden
Pack 33 fun fact: Randy Johnson walked a career-high 152 batters in 1991 for a 6.8 BB/9 walk rate. Despite that, he still managed to post a 13-10 record with a 3.98 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 201.1 innings.
John Smoltz, Albert Belle, Alan Trammell, Matt Williams & Greg Vaughn
Edgar Martinez & Greg Maddux
Pack 35 fun fact: Greg Maddux was on the cusp of breaking out in 1991, going 15-11 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in an NL-leading 263 innings. The following year he won his first of four straight NL Cy Young Awards.
Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg & Jeff Bagwell
Lastly, the Nolan Ryan card back. Just like their 1991 set, the backs featured multiple player photos. 1991 actually had three different photos on the backs.
Strange that I didn’t pull any of the Tony Gwynn insert cards. Based on odds, most boxes should have two or three of them. Still, this was a fun break that was loaded with big names. I actually do like the base card design and the Award Winners inserts are attractive with the added gold foil.
At just $10 a box, definitely not a bad buy.
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