Cheap Wax Wednesday Box Breaks: 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball


Upper Deck unveiled Prospect Premieres in 2001. Their plan for the brand was to compete with Bowman and its prospect-heavy checklist. The brand had a three-year run from 2001 to 2003. No active MLB players at the time were featured in any of the sets.

2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball is made up of 109 cards: 72 base, 25 were jersey cards and 12 autographs.

The release features just one insert set, Heroes of Baseball, which land one per pack.

Looking back at the checklist for the 2002 set, it isn’t exactly star-studded. Joe Mauer is the only star included in the jersey relic checklist, while the autograph checklist features Zack Greinke and Prince Fielder. 

2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball Box Break

Cards per pack: 4
Packs per box: 18
Price paid: $39

Shop for 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball boxes on eBay.

Box topper quad card:

Justin Maureau, Joe DiMaggio, Chris Snyder & Mark McGwire (335/600)

Pack 1 highlights:

Bob Malek, Zach Hammes, James Holcomb & Joe Morgan Heroes of Baseball (one per pack)

Snyder is the only one of the three prospects to make the major leagues. Over parts of ten major league seasons, Snyder hit .224.

Pack 2:

Ozzie Smith Heroes of Baseball & Jeff Francis Autograph (1:18 packs)

Jeff Francis was that left-handed pitcher that just seemed to hang around without good numbers. He pitched in over 250 major league games, posting a 4.97 career ERA. 

Pack 3:

Jon Lester, Joe DiMaggio, Tony Gwynn Heroes of Baseball & Jared Doyle Jersey Relic

Jon Lester is now pitching for the Nationals, his fourth team. The five-time all-star has started over 400 games, winning 193 (so far) and holds a 3.62 ERA. More impressive, though, are Lester’s World Series numbers: 4-1 & 1.77 ERA. He has won the Series three times. 

Pack 4:

Charlie “Ground Chuck” Morton & Mark McGwire Heroes of Baseball

Morton was a Braves third round draft pick in 2002. He would pitch just one season in Atlanta before being traded to the Pirates as part of a three-player package for Nate McLouth. Morton signed back with the Braves as a free agent before this season. 

Pack 5:

Francisco Liriano, Mark McGwire & Tony Gwynn Heroes of Baseball

Liriano appeared in 419 games over a 14-year career. He was an All-Star in 2006, his first full season in the majors. He finished that season with a 12-3 record and 2.16 ERA.

Pack 6:

Cal Ripken, Jr. Heroes of Baseball

Ripken was an AL All-Star selection for 19 straight seasons. He didn’t fare all that well in those games. In 49 All-Star Game at bats, Ripken collected 13 hits, two home runs and eight RBI. He was the 1991 All-Star MVP, though.

Pack 7:

Rich Hill & Ozzie Smith Heroes of Baseball

Rich Hill seems to get better with age. After posting unimpressive numbers over the first part of his career, Hill has reinvented himself. Since 2015, Hill has a 2.96 ERA over 105 starts. 

Pack 8:

Josh Johnson & Willie Stargell Heroes of Baseball

Josh Johnson looked like he was going to be a frontline starting pitcher for a long time. Through his first eight seasons he held a 3.15 ERA. Injuries derailed his career after that and he was out of the league by the age of 29. 

Pack 9:

Joe DiMaggio & Tony Gwynn Heroes of Baseball

Tony Gwynn had a real shot at hitting .400 during the 1994 season. He was hitting .394 when the strike began on August 12. 

Pack 10:

Tony Gwynn Heroes of Baseball

You know how batters strike out a lot these days? Gwynn never struck out more than 40 times in a single season. 

Pack 11:

Joe Morgan Heroes of Baseball

Joe Morgan is an underrated Hall of Famer. He ranks 20th all-time among position players with 100.4 career WAR. 

Pack 12:

Joe DiMaggio & Mark McGwire Heroes of Baseball

Those 46 second-year home runs would be his career-high. Joe finished his career with 361 round trippers. 

Pack 13:

Jonathan Broxton, Mark McGwire & Cal Ripken, Jr. Heroes of Baseball

Broxton was a second round draft pick in 2002. He proved to be worth the selection, pitching in nearly 700 career major league games and posting a 3.41 career ERA.

Pack 14:

Joe Morgan Heroes of Baseball

Morgan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990, appearing on 81.8% of ballots. 

Pack 15:

Another Joe Morgan Heroes of Baseball

Joe was an All-Star all eight seasons he played for Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine”. During those eight seasons he also won five Gold Gloves and two NL MVP Awards. 

Pack 16:

Matt Pender, Mark McGwire & McGwire Heroes of Baseball

That is not a picture of Matt Pender. Curtis Granderson is pictured on Pender’s card here. Upper Deck offered an exchange program where collectors could send in the error card in exchange for a corrected version. 

Pack 17:

Cal Ripken, Jr. & Mark McGwire Heroes of Baseball

I still remember as a 12-year-old being glued to the TV, watching McGwire break Maris’ single-season home run record in 1998. 

Pack 18:

Rich Hill, Brandon Weeden & Cal Ripken, Jr. Heroes of Baseball

Yes, that Brandon Weeden. After five minor league seasons, Weeden decided to go back to school and play football. He ended up being a Cleveland Browns first round draft pick in 2012 at the age of 28. Weeden spent seven seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup, and threw 31 touchdown passes. 

Lastly, the Lester card back. It is safe to say the scouting report here was accurate. Lester has put together a very solid career, and is still throwing.

Unfortunately, I think I overpaid for this one. The checklist is pretty weak without many base card highlights. Luckily for me, I still enjoy pulling early cards of notable players. There were a few in here for me and, of course, I wanted to pull the Lester XRC.

It was odd that I didn’t pull any Heroes of Baseball inserts of Mickey Mantle or Tom Seaver. Just nine players are on the 90-card Heroes of Baseball checklist and I missed out on two of them entirely.

Shop for 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres 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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