Did Fleer steal from Donruss?

Go ahead and insult my taste if you must but damn it, I love Fleer’s bright, yellow, ’91 design. Tonight while brain storming on a post I made a truly shocking discovery regarding two of my favorite brands from the early-90’s. It really doesn’t matter now that Donruss Panini is out of baseball and Fleer is in retirement but it’s news to me.

Take a look at the 1990 Donruss (left) Jose Canseco card. Now, take a look at the 1991 Fleer Jose Canseco card and tell me if you notice any similarities. For starters, the size of the actual photograph is almost identical. Fine, just a coincidence, right? What about the oddly placed two black lines running through the top of the card on both cards? What the heck is that about?

Am I the last person on the planet to discover this? Considering that Topps sued Upper Deck a few months ago regarding Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee, one has to wonder if Donruss ever made any fuss about what is essentially ’90 Donruss 2.0 back in 1991. For the record, 1991 Donruss had a very unique and memorable design.

When was the last time you said that about a recent Donruss product?

(put your hand down, Tracy Hackler)

The Mysterious Aqueous Test

For as long as I have been collecting, I have heard stories about the 1990 Donruss Aqueous Test cards. It is believed that there only exist 2,000-2,500 total cards with just a small part of the ’90 checklist included. What that means is maybe your player has one, maybe not.

What is known is that these test cards are popular. Just how popular, you ask? The Ryne Sandberg version reeled in $41 dollars through eBay days ago. Not bad for a 1990 Donruss card that features no fancy technology. It’s perfectly possible that someone is sitting on a box of these somewhere and doesn’t even know what he has.

After doing some quick research, I found out just what Aqueous means:

An aqueous coating is a fast-drying, water-based, protective coating which is applied in-line on press to attain a selection of finishes more economical price than varnish.

This clear coating provides a high gloss surface which protects the surface from dirt, smudges, fingerprints and scratch. Aqueous coating improves postcards durability as they go through mail or inserted in pockets. It is also applied on brochures, catalog covers, flyers and other visual ads.

So that’s that. Now off to check my box of junk wax to see if I have a few of these!

Mourning a young collector

We all do dumb things when we’re young. Back when I was ten years old my life consisted of playing baseball after school and trading baseball cards on the weekends. We had a whole motley crew back then which included a younger kid named Ryan Pezos.

Ryan and I would spend every weekend in fierce negotiations over Jose Canseco and Bobby Bonilla trades. Ryan’s collection consisted of all the great stuff, including Leaf and Upper Deck while mine mostly featured Fleer sets sold in pharmacies and other unwanted oddball brands.

One day Ryan came out of his home with his shoebox of cards and pulled out a fresh, pack-pulled 1990 Donruss Jose Canseco. He knew I had nothing to offer for it so we just sat outside looking through his cards until he was interrupted by a phone call from his home.

The second he went inside I dug through his collection, found the ’90 Donruss Jose Canseco and shoved it in my pocket. When he came back outside he informed me that he had to go to a restaurant with his family but he’d talk to me later. He then grabbed his box and went inside and I ran home excited about my new acquisition.

I am not proud of what I did and will blame youth for it. Unfortunately for me, karma had intervened and the beautiful new card now had a horrific dent running through the middle, making the card completely undesirable. Also, Ryan moved away a couple of months later and I never got to speak to him again until my last year of Middle School, when he entered as a Freshman (6th grade).

By that time, Ryan was all grown up and somewhat of a ladies man. Each morning he’d arrive to school on bike and eat breakfast with a table full of young, Middle School girls. While we were no longer friends as many years had passed by, we’d always wave at each other when passing through the halls of Tequesta Trace Middle.

One day I arrived to school late from oversleeping and found pandemonium. There were kids crying, police cars, a firetruck and an ambulance. When everything calmed down we were sent to our first class of the day all anxiously waiting for the morning announcements. When they came on, I knew something terrible had happened because the school principal was reading instead of the students.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform the student body that 13-year old Ryan Pezos has passed away”. Counselors were brought on to deal with the kids who needed them, while some were even allowed to go home early. All I could think of however, was that 1990 Donruss card I shamefully stole from him as a child.

It’s all I have to remember him by today.