Insert Card Craze: The Dufex of 1993 Select Baseball
In the days before serial numbers, relic cards, certified autographs and countless parallels, simple base insert cards ruled the hobby.
The first insert cards arrived on the market in the late 1980s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the insert card craze truly swept the hobby, aided in part by rising young superstars Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas.
In the coming weeks, we will be taking a look back at some of the more memorable insert sets from that era and their progression over the years.
My focus this week is on 1993 Select Baseball, which was marketed as a mid-level product from Pinnacle Brands meant to live somewhere between the base Score set and the premium Pinnacle.
The 1993 Select release was hyped with a marketing campaign that included TV commercials, and it holds a special place in hobby history as the first time that Pinnacle’s Dufex printing technology was utilized across the product’s four insert sets. The Dufex finish would be used throughout 1990s Pinnacle products, most notably in the flagship set’s Museum Collection parallels, and they hold up as some of the most attractive cards of the decade.
Let’s take a closer look at where it all started.
Hall of Famers: 5
A tough pull found in 1:28 jumbo packs, the “Aces” inserts highlighted 24 of the best starting pitchers in the game entering the 1993 season.
Roger Clemens ($8) and Greg Maddux ($6) carry the highest book value in the set, and they are joined by Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mike Mussina and Jack Morris as the biggest names in the set.
It’s one of the few insert cards of Maddux during his initial run with the Chicago Cubs, and one of the only inserts of Morris period from his playing days as he retired following the 1994 season just as the insert card craze was taking off.
Greg Swindell (Reds), Bruce Hurst (Padres), Melido Perez (Yankees), Cal Eldred (Brewers), John Smiley (Twins), Mike Morgan (Cubs) and Dave Fleming (Mariners) are among the more obscure names on the 24-card checklist.
Hall of Famers: 0
The “Rookies” inserts were found in 1:18 hobby packs and highlighted the top rookies from the 1992 season, including AL Rookie of the Year winner Pat Listach and NL Rookie of the Year winner Eric Karros.
There are no Hall of Famers on the checklist as Mike Piazza didn’t make the cut despite his 21-game audition in 1992, but there are some solid names on the checklist and the cards still hold decent book value.
Tim Wakefield ($10) and Tim Salmon ($8) are the two most valuable cards in the set, while Moises Alou ($5), Kenny Lofton ($5), Reggie Sanders ($5), Jeff Conine ($5), Bret Boone ($5) and Karros ($5) all check in above the common card price line as well.
Dave Fleming (33 GS, 17-10, 3.39 ERA, third in AL ROY voting) and Cal Eldred (14 GS, 11-2, 1.79 ERA, fourth in AL ROY voting) both showed up in this set as well after appearing on the “Aces” checklist.
Hall of Famers: 14
While the “Rookies” inserts were found in 1:18 hobby packs, the “Stars” inserts were their counterpart in retail packs at the same 1:18 pull rate and with a similar design save for the background color.
The checklist is loaded with 90s stars, with Ken Griffey Jr. ($20), Cal Ripken Jr. ($20), Barry Bonds ($20), Roger Clemens ($12), Ryne Sandberg ($10), Greg Maddux ($10) and Ozzie Smith ($10) leading the way in terms of book value.
Other Hall of Famers in the set include Roberto Alomar, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Glavine, Tony Gwynn, Edgar Martinez, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Ivan Rodriguez and Lee Smith.
And wouldn’t you know it, Seattle Mariners left-hander Dave Fleming was included once again. The 1992 rookie standout was the only player to be included in all three of the insert sets featuring active players.
Triple Crown Winners
Hall of Famers: 3
The fourth insert set in the 1993 Select product line is a bit different, as it was one of the first insert sets to feature retired players.
The three-card “Triple Crown” checklist highlights the last three players who hit for the Triple Crown at the time-–Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle (1956), Orioles right fielder Frank Robinson (1966) and Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski (1967).
Not surprisingly, the Mantle card carries the highest book value at $40, while the Robinson and Yastrzemski both check in at $10.
They were found in 1:18 hobby packs just like the “Rookies” inserts, and stand out as a nice change of pace to round out the insert card offerings from an extremely underrated 1993 Select product.