I first started toying around the idea of a post related to 1996 Leaf Signature and 1997 Donruss Signature on Twitter last night. By the way, are you following @TheWaxHeaven yet? If not, you’re missing out on random, card-related posts and future Wax Heaven stories with ZERO talks of politics and contest retweets. That’s definitely worth the follow alone.

Anyway, most of my Signature talk was relating to a card lot I found on eBay which was mostly full of baseball players who were C-level guys or lower. Maybe a decent find here and there but mostly players with zero to no following among many collectors. Personally, I’ve loved stars like Jose Canseco as much as big misses like Alex Ochoa so I am not passing judgement on anyone.

So the overall feedback was somewhat cynical due to the players featured in the lot and how pricey packs of these two products were and that’s fair. If I spent $30 dollars in 1997, which according to the inflation calculator is almost $50 in 2017 … and I pulled a Jim Eisenreich, I would feel like I just got kicked in the nuts by the boys at Donruss/Leaf and paid a hefty some to have them do so.

However,  I have spent way more than $50 dollars and gotten much less in return both as a collector and as an investment on my money and so has pretty much anyone who has ever bought an entire box of any product from the 90s or today. Baseball cards are and always will be a gamble. That’s one of the reasons people love to collect. I’ve never been a gambler, which is why I stick to player collections.

That being said, not every pull in Signature Series yielded a Phillies pinch-hitter or an Orestes Destrada-type of player. Below are some of the on-card autographs from both of these absolutely amazing products from 1996 and 1997. One of the highlights are the on-card autographs of players who have passed on like the legendary Hit Machine, Tony Gwynn and tragic figure, Kirby Puckett.

1996 Leaf Signature Series
Mike Piazza, Juan Gonzalez, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Chipper Jones, Roger Clemens, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett and many, many more.

1997 Donruss Signature Series
Roberto Alomar, Wade Boggs, Tom Glavine, Vladimir Guererro, Edgar Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Ryne Sandberg, Matt Williams, Jeff Bagwell, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones, and much more.

The moral of the story is, if you’re going to spend the equivalent of $50 dollars for a pack of cards you’re not always going to pull the future Home Run King, you may end up with Geronimo Berroa. If you save up a week’s allowance for a pack of anything high-end you may be hoping for a Derek Jeter when the Card Gods really have Jeff Conine in mind.

That’s the risk you take when you collect baseball cards, especially high-end products like Signature Series. These two back to back releases are looked back at fondly for the high end stakes, amazing checklists, and because it was the true beginning of the super high-end market which was officially created by Donruss.

It’s not for everyone, but for you, there’s always 1997 Score, Series 2.

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