Upper Deck SPX used to be the gamble of a lifetime

spxjordanWhen I was a teenager, I spent lots of money at card shops. I used to purposely eat less food during lunch so that I had more money to spend on cardboard to feed my hobby hunger. Back then I used to collect three sports, and every once in a while dabble in hockey and NASCAR, so I was technically a five-sport guy.

In 1995, Upper Deck introduced us to SPX, the uber-premium card set that features one holographic card per pack. These packs usually cost about $4 each, which nowadays is the equivalent of paying $10 for a pack that contained a single card — and for the most part there were no hits to be had. (Note: some SPX sets later had autographs) The chase was for the super stars: Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Jeff Gordon, Joe Montana, etc. For a teenage kid, SPX was the gamble of a lifetime because one card per pack means you’re either going to love your pull, or feel like you just had you lunch money stolen. Nonetheless, one thing was clear before you even opened the pack, whatever came out of the wrapper was not for trade.

Well, for me, the packs were a little bit of heaven and hell. The very first SPX pack I opened was of football and it contained this Rick Mirer card. spxmirer2

Even back in 1995, it was clear that Mirer was a bust and this card was not going to be worth squat. Nonetheless, the card was mine and not for trade. A few days — and a couple less lunches later — I managed to pull one of the Joe Montana Tribute inserts from the football brand, which at the time were some of the hottest cards on the market, particularly in the region of the country I am from. (I eventually moved the my insert purging years)

Later that year, when the basketball SPX line hit the market, I tried my hand again, praying for a Michael Jordan card. Well, in the very first pack guess what I pulled? That’s right, Michael F’n Jordan. I was the envy of my little circle of card collecting friends.

Over the years I stopped collecting all of those sports except for baseball, which saw its first SPX release in 1996 — I purchased none. But while I have bartered and sold damn near every basketball, football, hockey and NASCAR card I’ve owned, there have been two cards from those sports that have remained with me: the Mirer and Jordan, which you see pictured here.

One Response to “Upper Deck SPX used to be the gamble of a lifetime”

  1. Very cool story. I can’t even imagine your excitement of pulling that Jordan card. I’ve been dabbling in the Football Chrome for this same reason, hoping to pull something I really like.

    I have a friend who recounts buying a single pack of 1984ish Topps Hockey while at a flea market and pulling the only card worth anything in the set (Pat LaFontaine RC).

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