After going retail in 1996 and 1997, I went back to buying hobby boxes to work on my 1998 collection. I don’t think the difference in price between hobby boxes and retail was very much, and I in fact couldn’t really find retail boxes except on eBay for more than I’d want to pay. Both of my 1998 hobby boxes came from Dave and Adam’s Card World and were around 30 bucks, give or take. The insert set differences didn’t seem too significant – there’s one insert in each series that is hobby or retail exclusive. I’m trying to collect them all, so I went hobby in this instance. I’ll probably purchase hobby (or HTA jumbo) more often than not throughout the rest of this project.
The box collation was decent – I got all but 5 cards in the series. You get just under 400 cards from the box, so missing 5 cards while getting 100 doubles isn’t great but isn’t awful, either. I didn’t get the Clemente tribute card from the base set, which kind of stinks. There were a few damaged cards, though none of it had to do with stickiness of the cards as you might expect. The upper left group of packs all had some damage to the top left corner, which you can tell had to do with packaging. I moved from New Jersey to Chicago with this box in tow, so it’s very possible that I did this in the move. After damaged cards, I was missing 17 cards from the set.
On to the inserts…
Mystery Finest cards are back after (non-mystery?) Interleague Finest was inserted the year before. These cards come 1 per box and actually have an Interleague theme as well, with one of four players on the back as your option. Based on lines in the black “mystery cover”, I could actually tell it was going to be Sammy Sosa by comparing it to his picture on the back. So the only mystery in peeling it was if it was a refractor or not (it wasn’t). I must say, I like the design of these cards!
Roberto Clemente followed Mantle (’96) and Mays (’97) as the “throwback” inserts this year. Both series 1 and 2 and include reprints and Finest reprints – with odd numbers in series 1 and even numbers in series 2. I got 2 regular reprints – 1957 and 1967 – a decade apart.
My Finest card (1 per box) was a refractor. That’s good, as they came every 8th box, but I’m collecting the regulars not the refractors!
There were also 3 of the 5 cards in the Clemente Tribute set that Topps did – I got cards 3, 4 and 5.
My 1997 series 1 box was a “”Griffey” box, but this one was a “Bonds” box. I got two 1-per-box inserts that featured the slugger the year before he started juicing it up! The first was the Hall Bound insert set, which is kind of funny in hindsight as he may have some difficulty getting there. For what it’s worth, I’d vote for him.
I also got the Bonds Etch-A-Sketch insert. These are kind of neat, but different from what Topps had done for inserts in the flagship set.
Topps had parallel inserts for the first time in 2 years – cards stamped with a Baseball Hall of Fame logo. The Edmonds card is pretty nice.
Finally, I got a “Wild Card” from Memorabilia Madness. 14 years ago, I could have sent this bad boy in for a chance at something good.
As always, the stats below don’t factor out the “damaged” cards, as I think they’d have been fine if I had bought this box when it came out in 1998. I got 12 damaged singles (none of the inserts were damaged) and about 15 or 20 damaged doubles.
Stats for the box:
36 packs per box * 11 cards per pack = 396 cards
277 of the 282 card series. (91% set completion)
5 “Minted in Cooperstown” parallels
3 Clemente Tribute
2 Clemente Reprints
1 Clemente Finest Refractor
1 Interleague Mystery Finest
1 Hall Bound
1 Wild Card for Memorabilia Madness