Cheap Wax Wednesday Box Breaks: 1996 Collector’s Choice Series 2 Baseball

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Upper Deck debuted it’s Collector’s Choice Baseball brand in 1994. Released as a fairly inexpensive and fun product, the brand lasted just six years, ending with UD Choice in 1999. With packs priced at just $1.29 each, this box would’ve been eligible for “cheap wax””designation even back in 1996.

Mixed into 1996 Collector’s Choice Series 2‘s 365-card base set are several subsets including Arizona Fall League, Award Winners, Checklists, Team Checklists, Rookie Class and, my favorite, First Class, which highlight the five players in the inaugural Hall of Fame class: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner.

In addition to the base set, 1996 Collector’s Choice has two parallels, Silver Signature and Gold Signature cards, which feature a foil facsimile signature.

Insert sets include Nomo Scrapbook, highlighting Hideo Nomo’s rookie season, Ripken Collection, which was a cross brand insert set spread out over five separate releases, and You Crash the Game cards featuring both silver and gold versions. You Crash the Game cards were redeemable for “winner” cards if your player hit a home run during the three- to four-day span listed on the card fronts. This made it a little easier to win than in 1995, which had just one day.

Fun Facts are provided by Bleacher Report National MLB Columnist Joel Reuter. You can follow Joel on Twitter (@JoelReuterBR) and check out his work at Bleacher Report.

1996 Collector’s Choice Series 2 Baseball Box Break

Cards per pack: 14
Packs per box: 40
Price paid: $20

Shop for 1996 Collector’s Choice Series 2 boxes on eBay.

Pack 1 highlights:

Barry Larkin, Wally Joyner, Honus Wagner FC, Ray Lankford & Marty Cordova CL Silver Signature (one in each pack)

Pack 1 fun fact: Ray Lankford is the only player in St. Louis Cardinals history with multiple seasons of at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He did it five times.

Pack 2:

John Valentin, Mike Sweeney RC, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling & Walt Weiss Silver Signature

Pack 3:

Jermaine Dye RC, Honus Wagner FC, Sammy Sosa, Mark Loretta, Omar Vizquel Silver Signature & Jeff Bagwell You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). When I open these boxes, obviously many years later, I like to look back to see if the cards I pull would have been winners. This Bagwell card would not have been a winner, as Bagwell didn’t homer between August 16 and 18.

Pack 3 fun fact: After a promising rookie season in 1996, the Atlanta Braves traded Jermaine Dye to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Michael Tucker and Keith Lockhart. He went on to hit 313 home runs over the next 13 seasons.

Pack 4:

Jose Lima, Ryne Sandberg & Ricky Bones Gold Signature (1:36 packs)

Pack 5:

Dante Bichette TC (team checklist), Chuck Finley, John Wetteland & Gregg Jefferies Silver Signature

Pack 5 fun fact: John Wetteland led the AL with 43 saves in 1996 to help the New York Yankees win a World Series title. He departed in free agency that offseason and ninth-inning duties were turned over to a young right-hander named Mariano Rivera.

Pack 6:

Edgar Renteria RC & Luis Sojo Silver Signature

Pack 7:

Ozzie Smith TC, Greg Maddux AW, Jason Kendall RC, Robert Perez Silver Signature & Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken Collection (1:12 packs)

Pack 7 fun fact: Greg Maddux won his fourth straight NL Cy Young Award in 1995. That season is viewed by many as one of the best of the Modern Era. He went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 0.81 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a .197 batting average.

Pack 8:

Randy Johnson AW, Jeff Bagwell TC, Barry Bonds TC Silver Signature (the team checklist silver signature cards featured a foil team logo) & Gary Sheffield You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). Another non-winner.

Pack 9:

Christy Mathewson FC, Brady Anderson, Barry Larkin AW & Rafael Orellano Silver Signature

Pack 9 fun fact: Rafael Orellano went 11-7 with a 3.09 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 186.2 innings at Double-A in 1995. He would pitch just two more seasons in the Red Sox organization, never reaching the majors, before finishing out his career in Japan.

Pack 10:

Jose Canseco, Mo Vaughn AW, Walter Johnson FC & Mike Mordecai Silver Signature

Pack 11:

Ty Cobb FC, Barry Bonds TC, Jorge Posada, Alex Ochoa Silver Signature & Mickey Tettleton You Crash the Game Gold (1:50 packs) Tettleton homered on September 8th, making this card eligible to be redeemed for a Winner card. Anyone have a time machine?

Pack 11 fun fact: Jorge Posada was a 24th-round pick out of Calhoun Community College in the 1990 MLB draft. Two rounds earlier, the Yankees selected Andy Pettitte. Talk about draft steals.

Pack 12:

Frank Thomas CL, Roger Clemens TC, Ty Cobb FC, Greg Maddux AW, Orel Hershiser & Chris Stynes Silver Signature

Pack 13:

Gary Sheffield, Babe Ruth FC, Randy Johnson AW, Tony Clark, Andres Galarraga CL, Pat Kelly Silver Signature, Barry Bonds You Crash the Game (1:5 packs) & Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken Collection (1:12 packs). The Bonds wasn’t a winner.

Pack 13 fun fact: Tony Clark was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1990 MLB draft. The No. 1 pick that year? Chipper Jones.

Pack 14:

Mo Vaughn, Barry Larkin AW & Felix Rodriguez Silver Signature

Pack 15:

Ozzie Smith CL, Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn AW & Greg Maddux CL Silver Signature

Pack 15 fun fact: Roberto Alomar spent three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He was the starting second baseman for the AL All-Star team all three years, with teammate Cal Ripken Jr. also earning the starting nod at shortstop in each of those seasons.

Pack 16:

Edgar Renteria RC, Mike Sweeney RC, Raul Mondesi, Mike Cameron & Mo Vaughn Silver Signature

Pack 17:

Paul O’Neill, Mark McGwire TC, Jason Kendall RC, Jermaine Dye RC & Hideo Nomo AW Silver Signature

Pack 17 fun fact: Hideo Nomo narrowly edged out Chipper Jones for NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1995. Florida Marlins speedster Quilvio Veras swiped 56 bases to finish third in the balloting.

Pack 18:

Juan Gonzalez TC, Bill Swift Silver Signature & Ken Caminiti You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). Another winner! Caminiti homered once on the 16th and twice on the 18th.

Pack 19:

Juan Gonzalez, Lance Johnson Silver Signature & Hideo Nomo Scrapbook (1:12 packs)

Pack 19 fun fact: Lance Johnson led the league in triples five different times, including a career-high 21 three-baggers in 1996.

Pack 20:

Ken Griffey, Jr. TC, Jay Buhner, Bobby Bonilla & Mike Trombley Silver Signature

Pack 21:

Paul Molitor TC, Matt Williams, Edgar Martinez & Russ Davis Silver Signature

Pack 21 fun fact: Russ Davis quietly had three straight 20-homer seasons with the Seattle Mariners from 1997 to 1999. He’s perhaps best known as part of the return package in the deal that sent Tino Martinez to the New York Yankees.

Pack 22:

Ron Gant AW, Mike Mussina, Joe Carter TC Silver Signature & Mike Piazza You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). No HRs for Piazza in that span.

Pack 23:

Mark McGwire AW, Rafael Palmeiro, Joe Girardi & Rafael Orellano Silver Signature

Pack 23 fun fact: Mark McGwire won AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1995 after foot injuries limited him to just 74 total games the previous two seasons. He slugged 39 home runs in 104 games during the 1995 campaign.

Pack 24:

Tom Glavine, Gary DiSarcina Silver Signature & Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken Collection (1:12 packs)

Pack 25:

Greg Vaughn TC, Shawn Green, Bernie Williams, Andujar Cedeno (Remember when those flip up sunglasses were the big thing?), Omar Vizquel & Ruben Sierra Silver Signature

Pack 25 fun fact: Omar Vizquel won 11 Gold Glove Awards during his 24-year career. Only Ozzie Smith (13) has more among shortstops.

Pack 26:

Frank Thomas TC, Richard Hidalgo RC, Tim Wakefield, Aaron Sele & Jose Valentin Silver Signature

Pack 27:

Matt Williams, Mike Greenwell, Travis Fryman, Ellis Burks, Johnny Damon TC, Rusty Greer Silver Signature & Eric Karros You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). Karros homered on the 13th making this card another winner.

Pack 27 fun fact: Ellis Burks put together the best season of his 18-year career in 1996, hitting .344/.408/.639 with 40 home runs, 128 RBI, 32 steals and an NL-leading 142 runs scored.

Pack 28:

Kenny Lofton TC, Greg Vaughn, Chan Ho Park AFL, Richard Hidalgo RC, Robin Ventura & Damon Buford Silver Signature

Pack 29:

Tony Gwynn TC, Ron Gant AW, Juan Gonzalez & Barry Larkin Silver Signature

Pack 29 fun fact: Ron Gant missed the entire 1994 season after breaking his leg in an ATV accident. He returned in 1995 to hit .276/.386/.554 with 29 home runs and 23 steals.

Pack 30:

Mark McGwire AW, Johnny Damon AFL, Jay Buhner, Sergio Nunez Silver Signature & Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken Collection (1:12 packs)

Pack 31:

Jamie Moyer, Bernie Williams, Bobby Abreu RC, Greg Maddux CL, Gary Sheffield TC, Ozzie Smith CL & Tony Gwynn TC Silver Signature

Pack 31 fun fact: Don’t remember Jamie Moyer being on the Red Sox? He spent just half a season in Boston before he was traded to Seattle for outfielder Darren Bragg at the trade deadline. He went on to win 145 games in 11 seasons with the Mariners.

Pack 32:

Hideo Nomo AW, Moises Alou TC, Rockies Slugger CL, Marty Cordova AW, Bobby Bonilla, Trey Beamon Silver Signature & Jay Buhner You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). No long balls for Buhner July 25-28.

Pack 33:

Hideo Nomo AW, Larry Walker, Joe Girardi & Danny Tartabull Silver Signature

Pack 33 fun fact: Danny Tartabull had 27 home runs and 101 RBI in his only season with the Chicago White Sox in 1996. He played three games with the Phillies the following season before retiring.

Pack 34:

Bob Abreu RC, Mark McGwire & Greg McMichael Silver Signature

Pack 35:

Billy Wagner RC, Paul Molitor & Antonio Osuna Silver Signature

Pack 35 fun fact: Billy Wagner served as one of the primary setup relievers for veteran Todd Jones in 1996 before moving into the closer’s role the following year. He went on to save 422 games, good for sixth on the all-time list.

Pack 36:

Mike Greenwell, Albert Belle, Pat Hentgen Silver Signature & Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken Collection (1:12 packs)

Pack 37:

Joe Carter TC, Livan Hernandez RC, Latroy Hawkins AFL Silver Signature & Matt Williams You Crash the Game (1:5 packs). Due to injury, Matt Williams played his last game of the year on August 4th.

Pack 37 fun fact: Joe Carter turned in his final 30-homer season in 1996 at the age of 36. He retired two years later and ranks in the top 100 all-time in home runs (396, 61st) and RBI (1,445, 64th).

Pack 38:

Jeff Suppan RC, Raul Ibanez RC, Greg Vaughn, Cecil Fielder TC, Greg Maddux CL, Tony Pena, Bret Boone & Mike Piazza TC Silver Signature

Pack 39:

Christy Mathewson FC, Cal Ripken, Jr. TC, Rockies CL & Wilton Guerrero Silver Signature

Pack 39 fun fact: Wilton Guerrero is indeed the older brother of Vladimir Guerrero. While he too was a highly regarded prospect, he never found success at the MLB level with a lackluster 76 OPS+ in 1,791 career plate appearances.

Pack 40:

Tony Gwynn CL, Wade Boggs TC, Walter Johnson FC, Rey Ordonez RC, Pedro Martinez & B.J. Surhoff Silver Signature

This is what a You Crash the Game Winner card looks like:

I have always enjoyed Collector’s Choice, especially 1996. I love the inclusion of legends in modern sets, and the First Class subset looks great. The fact that they also have Silver and Gold Signature versions is even better.

The You Crash the Game inserts are also great looking cards. The Winner cards look even better but, unfortunately, I can’t go back and submit my two winners from this box.

Beating the odds and pulling five Ripken Collection cards certainly didn’t hurt this box.

For just $20, this one is a no-brainer that I would definitely buy again.

Shop for 1996 Collector’s Choice Baseball cards on:

Want more installments of Shane Salmonson’s Cheap Wax Wednesday? Check out his other breaks in the archives.

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