Upper Deck ponders "what if" in series 2 baseball

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Upper Deck‘s 2009 Series 2 baseball set has been out for about a week or so now and some collectors have found one of four 1989-styled baseball cards inside their mylar wrappers. They were something announced with the previous product breakdowns, but not explained.

Upper Deck explained these cards Friday in a news release, saying that they are merely adding a “What if?” postscript to its popular landmark first release.

The cards aren’t easy pulls, but are numbered 801-804  and answer the following questions:

— No. 801: What if Ken Griffey Jr.’s Rookie Card would have been an action shot instead of a head-and-shoulder portrait?

— No. 802 What if Randy Johnson‘s Rookie Card showed sporting a Seattle Mariners uniform instead of the Montreal Expos?

— Nos. 803-804. What if Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush appeared on baseball cards back then?

My answers? The Griffey wouldn’t be as cool, the Johnson would have been less cool and the last two? Well, I just don’t know …

Here’s what Upper Deck’s Gabriel Garcia said in the news release:

“These cards are now stirring interest from collectors as they’re discovering them stealth-like in packs since we didn’t formerly announce that they would be included in our 2009 Upper Deck Series 2 baseball product,” Garcia said. “It’s a fun way to look back on that 1989 set and get people talking about it again.

“While many purists may not go crazy for some of the ‘pop culture’ cards, there’s no denying their impact and the value they add to today’s trading card sets.”

I do agree there — they add some variety to a product — but I’m unsure if they would have worked in 1989. The 1991 Bowman set included Colin Powell — a card I and many others now own autographed — but it never really was a hit card among collectors value-wise. Perhaps that says something to how the baseball card industry has changed in the last 20 years?

I have a “What if” … What if Upper Deck had used the 1989 design for its 2009 set?

Sure, it’s been done — see 2002 UD Authentics — but I dug it.

Was I the only one?

Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com.

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