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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations: A TCIC Feature Post

Twenty years ago, this was the hottest set in town.

Were you collecting in 1992? It was a breakout year for me, where I dove headfirst into baseball cards. There wasn't much else to do on the edge of suburbia. Though the batting range was about half a mile away, getting there involved walking on a two-lane highway with no real shoulder. The nearest stores were at least two miles away, and hanging out at K-Mart really didn't seem like fun. So I spent most of my time with little pieces of cardboard.

What makes 1992 special is the development of the chase insert card. Inserts had been done before, of course, and 1991 saw the beginnings of the chase, but 1992 is where it really happened.

There were five manufacturers and twelve major sets released that year, and competition was tough (compare that to 2005, which saw over 80 major set releases). Manufacturers knew Upper Deck had done something great with their limited Heroes of Baseball sets, and in 1992, most sets had something worth chasing.

Topps played it simple, going with the gold parallel set, found about one per box. Bowman had the gold foil subset cards, and Stadium Club had a simple First Draft Picks set.

Donruss had their Elite Series continued from the prior year, but their big sensation was the Diamond Kings set, which was pulled from the base set and made a limited insert. Too bad they weren't smart enough to take a base card out of the packs, and the Diamond Kings were easily found in series one. They would go with a similar insert in their kid-targeted Triple Play, and parallels (black gold) and inserts (Gold Rookies) in Leaf. The Heritage inserts would be popular in Studio.

Upper Deck continued their Heroes sets and inserted a few more sets for good measure.

Score kept quiet in its flagship brand, sticking with the large number of subset cards as in prior releases. Pinnacle hit it big with the Team Pinnacle cards and a few other limited inserts. For the second half of the year, the Team Pinnacle cards were the ones to pull.

Fleer, however, grabbed collectors attentions early in the season, with a series of insert sets including the sharp-looking Rookie Sensations.
The card isn't OC. I just scanned it poorly.
These days, the cards aren't worth that much - commons "book" for $1.50 while stars are around $5. But 20 years later, the set still looks great. The simple, classy design of blue borders and gold foil is quite attractive, and hopes that one of these players would hit it big made the set enticing to prospectors.

Back in 1992, one card from this set could be sold for about $100.


The set was inserted one in four jumbo packs, thus pulling a specific player meant 1:80 odds. Of course, if you didn't pull Frank Thomas (card #1), you still had other stars, like Jeff Bagwell and Chuck Knoblauch going for about $20 each. All summer long, these cards dominated want lists and card show tables. It was the hottest chase card set of the year, and redefined what an insert could be.

At the GT Sports show, I managed to pick up 19 of the 20 cards in the set. Who am I missing? Mr. $100, Frank Thomas. He's the $5 card in the set, and I plan on finishing this sucker by the end of the month if possible. All 19 cards were in snap cases, and they're in pristine condition. It really is a beautiful card set.

I'm going to feature the cards of the set in a future post.

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