My beef with Pacific Trading Cards

In a way, I always felt guilty about not being a fan of Pacific. Here was a company founded in Washington in the late-60’s that by the early-90’s decided to pander to Hispanic collectors. The problem I had with Pacific was that anytime I would buy one of their products I always felt like I could do so much better.

Surely by now everyone has busted a pack or two of 1993 Pacific. The cards had zero personality or pizazz and clearly they knew this as by the late-90’s they were putting out the most insane cards I have ever seen. From crowns and weird triangle things to Christmas ornaments/baseball cards nothing they did ever worked for me. Anytime I busted their product it was usually because there was just nothing better available.

Using the Internet Wayback Machine I have been able to take a trip back into the past of 2004 to see what their website and on-line presence was like before they ultimately folded like so many companies in the Hobby. They clearly had a wonderful, interactive website the likes of which was not very common back in those days. They didn’t even go out of their way to hide their contact information, either.

I guess I will always be torn on my feelings about Pacific. Sure their cards were often a tacky mess but they were pretty much the only card company to pay attention to Jose Canseco long after the M.V.P shine wore off in the early-90’s and for that I am forever in debt to them.

What is your opinion on Pacific Trading Cards?


  1. Besides the obvious crotch fetish the “amigos” (or “hermanos”) seem to have, I SEE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS CARD!

    …and by absolutely nothing, I mean OPPOSITE. 😀

  2. Are you kidding me? Pacific was cutting edge, not unlike your beloved Pinnacle. Pacific was one of the first brands to put gold foil insert cards into packs (see 1991 Pacific football All Pros) and the company made some solid effort with the baseball inserts in the 1990s. The ornaments were a bit odd, I agree, but I actually like them because of the innovative design and use of holographic prism foil. But I can understand the dislike. Because of the string attached to the cards (they actually were meant to be ornaments) , it is impossible to find any mint ones. They all have surface flaws because the cards were pressed against the string.

    My all-time favorite has been the 1996 Prism Flame Throwers set. I actually pulled one from a pack (Randy Johnson) and ended up selling it for like $40 (IN 1997!).

    The Cramer’s Choice (the epitome of Pacific before game used) cards also were very intriguing. Beautiful, simple and effective. They were extremely hard to get (1 in 720 packs — 20 boxes — I think) and commanded big bucks.

    I actually passed by the Pacific company in Lynwood, Wash., in 2003 when I spent a summer working in Seattle. I was surprised at how small the place was.

    I think that you’re love for Pinnacle is probably how I feel about Pacific. I always felt like the value for your buck was there with Pacific.

  3. That card hurts my eyes…..

    Like you, I’m torn on Pacific. They were extremely innovative and their high end inserts are some of the absolute craziest and best of the ’90s. The problem is their base cards were awful. Boring, ugly, stupid, awful. I still like some of those inserts a lot but I really don’t miss Pacific that much.

  4. At least they were sort of original. I remember when they were just a card shop with a few random sets they produced. I finally made it to Edmonds and low and behold they had a 1976 Topps rack pack with The Eck on the front. First, I never saw that card anywhere. Second, I had never seen a rack pack from the 70’s. Third, it was the most awesome shop I had ever been in. Too bad they drank the kool-aid circa 91 and the rest is Chapter 11 History.

  5. I wasn’t familiar with Pacific until I came back to the hobby in 2003. They were long gone by then. But looking at what they did up until their demise, I think they could have been great, but didn’t quite reach their potential. Some of the 2000 and 2001 stuff is pretty cool looking. The older stuff is relatively lame, but so is a lot of early Donruss and Fleer. An evolved Vanguard or Private Stock could be competitive today, if not better than what’s out there now. We can only speculate about how good they could have become.

  6. I didn’t really like them. I appreciate them for giving baseball cards to some obscure Latino players, and some of their wacky inserts were pretty neat.

    They, like everyone else in the 1990s, put out too many cards with too many pointless gimmicks.

  7. Pacific started out making minor league cards as Cramer and then was able to get a major league license by using the fact that they would make cards for the Mexican market, hence the Spanish. Then they somehow expanded from there. I think they got too big too fast.

  8. i bought a lot of pacific in 2000 and 2001. i thought they had some pretty cool inserts/subsets at the time.

  9. Some Pacific cards look great, others look horrible. I’ve read that they lost their license after they produced a Manny Ramirez game-used bat card that had cork in it, and then it was discovered that they had purchased the bat from some unverifiable third party. I’ve also read that Donruss-Playoff owns the Pacific brand name now – it might be nice to see some Pacific retro set with some Prisms and Crown die-cut cards…

  10. Didn’t Pacific put out some early-90s football cards that had math problems on them? I remember my parents buying me a couple packs of them… those cards sucked balls.

  11. hey gentlemen………

    I came across a 1991 nolan ryan pacific trading card. # 156……..Just wondering if it was worth anything….or if there was more to know about it…im not a collector, just found it in a air duct….


  12. I’m not a collector either, and i’ve found several different nolan ryan cards from 91. If u ever found out anything, please let me know. Thanx.

  13. I actually enjoyed the Pacific brand. I remember the 1st set of theirs that I ever bought a pack of, being 1987 Pacific Legends baseball. They also produced a set for the “Eight Men out” movie if I’m not mistaken. Yes, it is true that Pacific was gobbled up by the Donruss/Leaf/Playoff/Pinnacle conglomerate that was recently purchased by Panini. Pactfic Picks the Pros football inserts were innovative, along the same lines of Upper Deck and even(let’s see who remembers this one) Wild Card Stat Smashers. Pacific put out complete sets devoted to both Nolan Ryan AND Tom Seaver, with Prismatic insert cards in packs of both.

  14. Folks posting here seem to have a great deal of info on the Pacific card brand and I have a question. I just found a retail box set of 100 packs of Pacific cards from 1992. the box outer box is in good condition and I have reason to believe anything inside is mint. The retail shelf box is still in the shipping plastic.

  15. Um….Rick? You didn’t actually ask anything.

    I guess my biggest gripe with Pacific’s stuff in the late 90s was just how much there was and how there was no real cohesion to many of their sets. The designs were almost always bizarre (sort of like when Skybox entered the baseball arena with Metal) and, even now, hugely over-priced. The designs almost never had any sort of baseball motif, and they tended to skimp on the backs, usually going with a single line of stats and nothing interesting in the limited bios.

    I did like that they went after the Latino market, but really wish they would have done more in that vein and maybe even issued a Mexican League set or two.

  16. I actually worked in the art department at Pacific for about a year, and I can tell you EXACTLY why their cards were bizarre. Every design had to be approved personally by Mike Cramer (owner), who had absolutely NO art or design sense whatsoever. He liked particular styles, and wanted more of the same. Over and over and over. It was the strangest art department I’ve ever worked in. Absolute silence was demanded of all employees. Nothing but the whir of fans and clack of keyboards were heard. Headphones were allowed to listen to music, but talking among designers and production people was not allowed. STRANGE place, but I managed to enjoy most of my time there.

  17. Compared to this expensive garbage on market today, I would take Pacific back from the mid to late 1990s any day. Pacific had some of the coolest parallel sets and the cards were deserving of the symbol they used which was a crown. In my view from 1994 to 2001 Pacific was the king of awesome looking neat cards. I will agree from 1993 and backwards and whatever they attempted to do from 2002 onward sucked but those years from 94-01 were some of the most beautiful looking glimmered awesome cards of all time. I still seek out cards from those years and good luck trying to find some of the unopened boxes. the people in this blog that wine and say they never liked pacific have no appreciation of card collecting and frankly don’t know something when it was good if it was staring them right in the face. Pacific was what other companies even topps wish they could have been in those years.

  18. My problem with Pacific was more than any other card in my collection they stick together. I have several sets that essentially bricks. All cards stored in the same conditions and Pacific are by far the worst. Anyone else have this problem and is there a solution?

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