The Best of 1997 – #9

If you missed #10, click here.

Everything old is new again. Perhaps that is what Pinnacle Brands had in mind when they introduced ‘New Pinnacle’ to the world of baseball cards. In case you weren’t around back then, New Pinnacle’s debut did not exactly set the collecting world on fire. The base card design, while boasting great photography and an extra-glossy coating, was nothing out of this world and the inserts were severely lacking that special something Pinnacle had built their entire reputation on.

With all that said, there are two things ‘New Pinnacle’ did correctly in their debut. One of them changed the game in ways no one up until this point ever had, while the other simply won collectors over thanks to improved and now very colorful Dufex technology. The results of these two positives overshadowed any shortcomings and made New Pinnacle’s only year of existence a truly memorable and historic, one-hit wonder.

If you look below, you will see a base card, Museum Collection, and Artist Proof parallel from ’97 New Pinnacle. By complete accident, perhaps, Pinnacle inadvertently set down the tracks for what would eventually become the hobby rainbow. When all was said and done, Dufex and the company behind the technology, would land one final knockout blow to its competitors … but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. 

New Pinnacle base card
Museum Collection
Artist Proof

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world does Pinnacle indirectly creating the hobby rainbow land a forgotten and bomb of a product (in its time) into the Top 10 of 1997? No, no … Museum and Artist Proof Dufex parallels were beautiful but they aren’t the reason New Pinnacle became a legendary release that changed the entire world of sports cards. No. For that, we simply need to look at the chase card below.

1997 New Pinnacle “1 of 1” press plate

In 1997, beating out Flair Showcase by just weeks, Pinnacle introduced the first ever “one of one” with the pack-inserted, printing plate. As collectors, we were introduced to serial numbered baseball cards with Donruss Elite #’d to 10,000 and in just six short years, Pinnacle upped the ante with the “one of one”. It’s safe to say, baseball cards were never really the same again.

Today, the “1 of 1” is the undisputed king of trading cards thanks to the runaway success of Topps’ Superfractor, but this chase card in New Pinnacle is to our hobby, what man walking on the moon was to America. Is that enough hyperbole for you? Pinnacle, forever an underdog manufacturer and with time ticking away, once again beat out the big dogs of sports cards like Topps and Upper Deck.

To add to the already insane hype of these chase cards, Pinnacle Brands even released a $35,000 bounty to any collector lucky (or rich enough) to find all four plates of any single player. As you can imagine, no one was able to collect on the bounty as this was years before eBay and social media helped to connect collectors worldwide. Statistically, you had a better chance to win the lottery than to somehow come up with all four printing plates of ANY player in New Pinnacle.

A year later, on the same day Pinnacle Brands won Card Company of the Year by Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, the company shockingly ceased all operations and filed for bankruptcy. In the 20+ years since their demise, unreleased Pinnacle cards have surfaced and made the collectors who were smart enough to hold on to them, wealthy beyond their wildest expectations.

Even from the hobby grave, Pinnacle is still bringing magic to collectors.

3 comments

  1. This set has never been even the slightest blip on my radar… but after reading about it’s place in cardboard history… it’s pretty cool.

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