I’m a Pinnacle Brands fanboy. There’s just no way to hide it. For me, those few years Pinnacle was around making baseball cards were the best years of my life. For those who are religious, the story goes that God, created the universe in 7 days. Pinnacle’s existence lasted only 7 years but my, oh my, they didn’t waste a single one. Yes, Wax Heaven is officially committing blasphemy by comparing “God” to a baseball card company that shut its doors twenty years ago.
Although I wasn’t a huge fan of their debut offering, I did see a little of their greatness in 1992 as a 12-year old collector. It just so happens that the year belonged to Topps’ magnificent flagship and Bowman, which finally broke out and took over the rookie card market. Upper Deck had a strong showing as well, but came in a distant third compared to the previous brands mentioned. Pinnacle came hard out of the gate but just wasn’t able to truly complete in ’92.
Pinnacle Brands’ parent company, Score, set out to enter the “premium” baseball card market which was one year away from Topps’ Earth-shattering debut of Chrome and the introduction of the Refractor. While Pinnacle was tinkering around with Dufex technology (see the card above), it simply didn’t stick around long enough to perfect and properly compete with Topps’ Refractor parallels.
In their sophomore year, Pinnacle’s flagship hit just a little harder but it was a lesser-known product with a Hall of Famer’s autograph that really began to show collector’s what Pinnacle had in store over the next few years. Although pack-inserted packs had been around for three years, none made them so accessible to collectors. You either had to buy multiple cases or be extremely lucky to find one before 1993.
With Pinnacle’s 1993 Joe DiMaggio set, you had 9,000, on-card autographs inserted randomly into 200,000 sets. Unlike early Topps, Score, and Upper Deck autographs, odds were in your favor of finding one of the 5-different Joey D autographs in these sets. Also, speaking of early pack-inserted autographs, these Pinnacle cards have everyone beat in the design department.
I wish more than anything to know how much Score / Pinnacle paid the curmudgeon Joe DiMaggio to sign 9,000 cards but considering how cheap card show signings were in the 80s and early-90s, it could not have been much. Thankfully for baseball fans, Joe was still able to sign legibly (unlike Aaron and Musial) and did so on one of the most beautiful cards to ever see the light of day.
As you can imagine, a 9,000 card print run isn’t rare but it still was a pretty low number during the final stages of the “Junk Wax” era in 1993. Today, you can find these cards by the plenty on eBay with many selling between $200-$250 and the cheapest for just $125 dollars which is a hell of a deal. All you have to do is be patient and smart and you can get yourself a true baseball card legend for a decent price.
As for how many still remain, I would imagine several have ended up in landfills by parents of collectors or collectors themselves who walked away and discarded their collection. One thing is certain, there are at least several hundreds of these cards that were butchered, murdered, and destroyed by the folks who now call themselves Panini America way back in 2008.
Companies destroying old baseball cards and/or postcards is nothing new and although I absolutely hate it, I guess to some blind collectors they see it as a welcome addition to their box break. Sure, that 1/1 is really a card that has thousands of copies floating around but hey, whatever justifies you spending your money is your business. I just can’t forgive anyone for destroying Pinnacle baseball cards.
I can never forgive #BaseballCardMurder.