Archive for Elite Series

Elite Status: Iconic 1991-1996 Donruss insert sets complete with autos

Posted in Completed Sets with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by Cardboard Icons

EliteLogo 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 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


A completed run of 1991, 1992, 1993 Elite Series insert cards w/ autographs

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

It dawned on me the other day that I mentioned in a Beckett column that I completed my run of 1991 through 1993 Donruss Elite Series
Insert cards but had not showed them off on this blog. So, here it goes:









Icon-O-Clasm: 1993 Elite Signature Series Will Clark autograph

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm, Instagram Portraits with tags , , , on February 14, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

It’s here! It’s finally here! Twenty years after its release, the 1993 Donruss Elite Signature Series Will Clark has come to the ‘Icon’s collection!

If you’re not familiar with this card, it was the last of the three Signed cards that Donruss inserted into packs from 1991 to 1993. The first was Ryne Sandberg, the second was Cal Ripken Jr, and the third is Clark.

All cards are serial numbered to 5,000; all were damn near impossible to pull from packs, and all still draw a premium on the market.

Here’s the funny thing though: Of the three cards, Clark seems to be the hardest to find on the secondary market is good condition. For some reason the signatures on Clark’s card faded like crazy over the years.

They usually approach and sometimes top triple figures when the ink is clear and readable. Obviously they go for considerably less when the blue ink has turned gray or even disappeared.

I nabbed mine in eBay from a reputable dealer virtually sight unseen. It was a bit of a gamble, but I’m thrilled with what arrived in the mail today.


Project Prism: The Quest For `The Elite Series’ Set

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

(UPDATED 9/11/12)

Ever since I was a youngster, I’ve been fascinated with the flashiest insert set known to mankind:  The Elite Series.

When I was 13, I was fortunate enough to pull one of these seemingly impossible hits from a pack of Donruss at my local Target.

I remember picking three packs and handing them to my mother. After the cashier rang them up, I grabbed them back from her and started  ripping into them as my mother completed her transaction.

Seconds later, the neon lights struck the prismatic foil border of an Eddie Murray Elite card and the greatest sensation of a 13-year-old card collector came over me.  I yelled an expletive, one that caused multiple people to look at me.  I didn’t care. I was on top of the collecting world.

It may not be the best looking card in the set — actually, it might be the ugliest — but it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen to this point that didn’t have long hair, two legs and two … well, you get the point.

The Murray stayed with me for about a month or so.  I was offered $75 for it at a card show a week later but the deal never came to fruition.  I think the prospective buyer was reluctant to give me the cash.  I later traded it for a bunch of other nonsense.  Worst decision ever.

In recent years, I have my it my collecting goal — as if I really needed another — to acquire the 1992 and 1993 Elite Series sets.  I may chase the other years later.

If you’ve yet to see the most recent Beckett Sports Card Monthly (Pages 22-24 — that’s me!), you’ll notice that I listed this insert set as my favorite from the ’90s.  And while it goes against common knowledge to hype a set (which could drive up interest and prices) that I am still working on, it’d be a great disservice to everyone to forget the greatness of The Elite Series.

It is here that I will document my progress.  I’ve already acquired about two dozen from this legendary set.  And here they are. Remember, these rare inserts were limited to 10,000 copies of each. Way over-produced by today’s standards; super rare by those standards of the early 1990s.


1991 Donruss Elite Series Rickey Henderson #7

1991 Donruss Elite Series George Brett #2

1991 Donruss Elite Legends Series L1


1992 Donruss Elite Series Ken Griffey Jr.

1992 Donruss Elite Series Frank Thomas

1992 Donruss Elite Series Kirby Puckett

1992 Donruss Elite Series Tony Gwynn

1992 Donruss Elite Series Will Clark

1992 Donruss Elite Series Dwight Gooden

1992 Donruss Elite Series Howard Johnson


1993 Donruss Elite Series Ryne Sandberg #20

1993 Donruss Elite Series Eddie Murray #21

1993 Donruss Elite Series Paul Molitor #22

1993 Donruss Elite Series Barry Larkin #23

1993 Donruss Elite Series Don Mattingly #24

1993 Donruss Elite Series Dennis Eckersley #25

1993 Donruss Elite Series Roberto Alomar #26

1993 Donruss Elite Series Edgar Martinez #27

1993 Donruss Elite Series Darren Daulton #29

1993 Donruss Elite Series Larry Walker #30

1993 Elite Series Barry Bonds #31

1993 Donruss Elite Series Mark McGwire #33

1993 Donruss Elite Series Cecil Fielder #34

1993 Donruss Elite Series Dave Winfield #35

1993 Donruss Elite Series Juan Gonzalez #36

1993 Donruss Elite Series Legends Robin Yount L3