I heard and saw a few posts on the old blogosphere about a product that sort of fits into the retro bucket. It’s a 1990 Leaf re-boot called 2012 Leaf Memories. 1990 might be a bit soon to call a product “retro”, but if there’s a set that deserves it, this is it. 1990 Leaf doesn’t quite have the hobby impact that Upper Deck did when it came out, but it is pretty notable and just had a cool design back in the day. While 1991 and 1992 Leaf would be fairly forgettable card sets, this 1990 set was the crown jewel with a great design and a particularly notable rookie card of Frank Thomas. Sammy Sosa would later become a notable card, but Thomas became the spokesman for Leaf in a similar way that Griffey Jr. was associated with Upper Deck.
The Leaf brand was purchased by the owner of Razor Entertainment a couple of years ago, and the company was basically re-branded as Leaf. I’m not sure of the exact background of the Leaf brand – I know it was purchased by Pinnacle Brands in the mid-late 90’s, and Pinnacle went out of business and was purchased by Playoff – which then was purchased by Panini a few years ago. Not sure how the brand got purchased by Razor – maybe Panini sold it off? Regardless, there is now a company called Leaf Trading cards that I primarily thought of as having released a couple of Pete Rose sets. I saw this and was fairly intrigued, just because I really liked the 1990 set back when I was a kid. My brother collected anything Leaf, so we kind of built those sets together.
The product is called 2012 Leaf Memories, and there was a very limited production – 155 10-box cases, with 12 cards per box. Each box has 2 autographs and 10 numbered cards. There are 4 kinds of cards you could get from the product:
1) A new 49-card set consisting half of prospects and half of retired players (with airbrushed photos) that is numbered to 99. These cards have the base 1990 design, and are numbered as if they continue the original set – 529 to 577. Not sure how I feel about that, I’d rather they just be considered something like Topps Heritage does.
2) Autographed versions of the 49-card base set.
3) Buyback cards of the original 1990 Leaf set numbered to either 1, 5 or 20.
4) Buyback cards of the original 1990 Leaf set autographed by the players featured.
I ended up trying to buy a few individual cards, then realized it was much cheaper to buy a full set. So I’ve got a few cards I’ll put back up on eBay after buying that set.
Today, I’ll show some of the prospects from the base set. Leaf signed many of the 2012 draft picks to a contract, including the first overall pick Carlos Correa. Correa, a shortstop from Puerto Rico drafted by the Astros, is the third Latin-born player to be drafted first overall.
The second and third picks is also included. Second pick Byron Buxton was a high school outfielder from Georgia considered by many to be the best talent in the draft. He sure looks like a pitcher in this photo!
Mike Zunino was the third overall pick, a catcher from University of Florida. Zunino was the reigning Golden Spikes and Dick Howser awards winner out of college, as the top amateur and college player, respectively. He also won the Johnny Bench award as the top catcher in college – Bench has a card in this set that I’ll scan tomorrow.
There are also two pretty prominent Cuban-born players who just defected and signed in the Majors. Jorge Soler, who signed a 9-year $30 million deal with the Cubs and Yasiel Puig, who signed a 7-year $42 million deal with the Dodgers.