I am glad that I wasn’t collecting during the demise of companies like Fleer and Pinnacle Brands. Back when I jumped ship in the late-90’s, these were two of the premier companies producing baseball cards. Going into 2010, only one company, Topps, will be producing licensed baseball cards.
To me, Fleer was always a step behind in quality in the 80’s & early-90’s. By the time the mid-90’s rolled around, they were kicking ass and taking names. From low-end products like Ultra to the top of the line E-X from Skybox, a Fleer company, it’s hard to find anyone on their level during that period.
In 2002, Fleer was nearing the end but managed to produce a perfect release with ’02 Showcase. From first glance at the base cards you might not see anything special but it’s when you hold one in your hand that you find true Cardboard Gold. Clearly, a lot of hard work went into this product and it paid off.
The cards feature a mix of art & photography which is embedded into the card. It’s doesn’t feature borders, it lies within a border like you might see in someone’s home. On the back, Fleer treated us to a bonus portrait photo, career stats, and lots and lots of gloss.
Perhaps ’02 Showcase’s only flaw is the “hits”. The relics, titled ‘Baseball’s Best’, features an elegant design but the tiny swatch feels somewhat out-of-place. The Sweet Sigs autograph chase cards look great and have three different levels (Leather, Lumber, Wall) but unfortunately fall flat thanks to a lousy checklist.
If you love autographs, Showcase might not be your best choice. The two biggest (and only) names in the autograph checklist is Derek Jeter and Barry Bonds. Thankfully, brilliant designs and no sticker autographs anywhere makes 2002 Fleer Showcase an extremely memorable and fun product.
You can find a box of 2002 Fleer Showcase on eBay for just under $100 dollars. For that price you’re guaranteed 120 wonderfully designed cards and relics and autographs that fall 1:8 packs. You should, however, be able to find unopened boxes for much cheaper at card shows.
(thumbnails lead to full-size scans)
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