In my rookie season at Wax Heaven I wrote a short, little piece about the best-designed set of the 90’s, in my opinion. Now, it’s not often art and baseball gets together (unless you are the immortal Dick Perez) but in this case this is exactly what happened. The year was 1997 and Fleer was looking to make some waves in the hobby. After all, one of their competitors had put out the first-ever “Autograph per pack”, in Donruss Signatures and Upper Deck was continuing to stun collectors and observers with their innovative SPx holograms.
Fleer’s response is a perfect example of “thinking outside the box”. It was essentially, tiny pieces of art in every single pack. Check out this Astros’ Jeff Bagwell selling on eBay for a mere $5. Even more shocking is this Cal Ripken Jr. with the overcast sky behind him with no bids and a starting price of one penny. Perhaps the storm clouds were an ominous sign that next time you pulled a Ripken Jr. baseball card the amazing consecutive games streak would have come to an end.
Unfortunately, lightning never strikes twice and next seasons’s E-X line was a complete mess. By 1999, it was clear they had completely lost their way. Still, you will always have the memory of busting packs of 1997 ‘E-X 2000’ for the very first time. It was without a doubt, the greatest five packs of baseball cards I have ever opened.
Unfortunately, with the death of Fleer baseball, we have probably seen the very last of a company who truly created a “Masterpiece” for every single collector. Goodbye Fleer. Thanks for all the memories.