It’s been three decades since I opened my first pack of baseball cards. And less than five years into my hobby career, cards went from being just cards to being chase-worthy investments — at least that’s what we the collectors were being sold.
At the front of this movement was the almighty Elite Series insert set, which started in 1991 as one of the hobby’s most iconic chase sets to date.
Imagine if you will opening dozens, hundreds or even thousands of packs and see nothing but blue and green borders and then … bam, a bronze foil border card with a marble-like design embedded within and a serial number on back.
By today’s standards, Elite cards wouldn’t be much to gloat about, but in 1991, it was something most would only dream of.
My dream of pulling an Elite Series card actually came true in 1993 when I fished an Eddie Murray out of a pack at Target. As I’ve told people before, the story goes that I was opening a pack while my mom was paying for it and other stuff. When I saw the shiny foil, I dropped an f-bomb that made everyone from my mother to the people in line to the cashier stop what they were doing and look my way. Hey, I was 13.
Anyhow, i eventually made it a goal to complete the first three Elite Series (1991, 1992 and 1993) sets including the autographs — a feat that was accomplished a few years ago and documented in one of my Beckett Baseball columns.
I’ve since moved on to the next three years. And while the passion to finish it came and went over time, I got the itch recently to put those next three sets to rest and with a little help from Tanner at CansecoCollector.com I was able to get the elusive 1995 Elite Series Jose Canseco that I couldn’t find.
And so, here is a visual look at the first six years of Elite Series Insert cards. You’ll notice that the dynamic of the set has changed over time. It started as an 8-card set with one legend and one autograph. Then next two years the base Elite set grew and continued to include a legend and autograph. By 1994, the Elite Series set was scaled back to just 12 basic Elite cards — no more autographs or legends. Nonetheless, they were still special.
1991 Elite Series (base Elite’s /10,000; Legends Series /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)
1992 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends /7,500; Signature Series /5,000)
1993 Elite Series (Base Elites /10,000; Legends Series /10,000; Signature Series /5,000)
1994 Elite Series (all /10,000)
1995 Elite Series (all /10,000)
1996 Elite Series (all /10,000)
Now that those sets are done, I’ll get to working eventually on 1997 and 1998, but I’m also turning my eyes to a few other insert sets from my youth that always intrigued me:
1992 Pinnacle – Team Pinnacle
1994 Score Cycle
1994 SP Holoview
1994 Flair Hot Glove
1996 Pacific Flame Throwers