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Pacificís Best Sets: The Baseball Years

by Paul Angilly
September 14, 2004

While Pacific Trading Cards first became widely known to card collectors as an NFL card manufacturer beginning in 1991, it didnít take long for the company to expand its presence.

The company produced Major League Baseball sets from 1993 through December of 2000, when it announced it would not renew its MLB license. Pacific had fought hard for a Major League Baseball card license, initially accepting a limited license to produce Spanish-language cards in 1993 and bilingual cards the next several years before being granted a full license for English-only cards in 1998. Pacific produced 11 different MLB sets in 2000, but released just two sets for the 2001 season before pulling the plug.

Hereís a quick look back at some of the best of those issues:

1993 Pacific -- Almost totally overlooked by collectors -- itís not even listed in the monthly Beckett Baseball magazine -- the first full MLB set from Pacific has a very attractive design, even though all the words are in Spanish only. If you happen to speak Spanish, thatís no problem; but even if you donít, this set is attractive, colorful and somewhat scarce, but still inexpensive.

1995 Pacific -- One of the companyís most attractive base issues, with full-bleed photos on the front along with a team logo over a baseball graphic, plus 1994 statistics and career highlights (in Spanish and English) on the back with a second photo over a picture of an infield in the background.

1998 Online -- Not very attractive cards and the concept was not as well executed as it could have been, but this set deserves a mention for being the largest single set (at 800 cards, numbered 1-780 with 20 extra photo variations) issued by the company, and also the largest baseball set of the year by any company.

1999 Crown Collection -- This set earns a mention because of its simple but attractive design for the base cards and a nice assortment of attractive inserts, including In the Cage Laser-Cuts (players pictured in front of precision die-cut netting) and Pacific Cup (players in front of a die-cut trophy design).

2001 Private Stock -- The companyís final baseball issue was a premium (about $15 per pack) product that included a game-used jersey card in every pack. The attractive base cards, inserts such as Artistís Canvas and mini PS-2001 cards added to the appeal.

Pacific became, for a time, a three-sport manufacturer when it began producing NHL hockey cards beginning with the 1997-98 season. Its 2004-05 Pacific hockey card set now appears like it will be the companyís last major-league card issue. Following is a look back at some of the companyís best hockey card sets:

1998-99 Wendyís Nashville Predators -- This is a strictly personal choice, but the Predators are my favorite team and Pacific, through a promotion with Wendyís restaurants in the Nashville area, issued a simply beautiful 25-card set picturing the players from the teamís inaugural season.

2000-01 Private Stock Titanium Draft Day -- This was a special edition mirroring the regular Titanium set issued earlier in the season. That set had 100 veterans and 50 rookies numbered to 99 (hobby packs) or 199 (retail) copies, but the Draft Day set expanded that checklist to include 100 veterans on game-used jersey cards, plus 75 rookies (the original 50 plus 25 more) on regular cards serial-numbered to 1,000. One rookie and one veteran jersey card were found in each pack, and all looked very nice.

2001-02 Adrenaline -- Simply a very attractive 225-card base set, including 24 serial-numbered rookies and an Ilya Kovalchuk autographed card. Sharp player photos stand out against a blurred background on the stylish fronts, while complete career stats and a brief bio over a ghosted picture of a goal net make the back design equally appealing.

2002-03 Complete -- A great idea, well executed. This multi-brand insert was issued 100 cards at a time over six different base brands, making a 600-card set that includes about 20 different players from each team. Itís likely that very few people, if any, have ever completed the entire series -- despite the fact that these inserts are no more expensive than typical base set cards. To top it off, the cards have what was among the most attractive designs of the year. A parallel version with red foil instead of the usual gold was issued in factory sets limited to 100 copies.

2003-04 Luxury Suite -- If youíre a regular reader of this column you know by now that Iím not a big fan of high-priced packs, but despite a suggested retail price of $40 for a two-card pack, this may be among the few such issues thatís worth the price. Each pack includes one rookie (either a regular card numbered out of 599 total copies made or a memorabilia/autographed card numbered out of 299) and one veteran dual game-used memorabilia card numbered to no more than 650 copies. Most importantly, a comparatively high percentage of the memorabilia cards feature attractive multi-color pieces -- and the beautiful design of all the cards, especially the autographed rookie memorabilia cards, makes this one of the most hotly-pursued sets of the year.

Be A Player Update: In an e-mail newsletter sent out last week to collectors, the In the Game company included the following note: "Given the circumstances surrounding the impending hockey lockout, and taking into account the recent closing of Pacific Trading Cards, many of you have been asking about our upcoming plans.

"First, and most important, is the fact we are currently working on upcoming projects. We remain committed to the hobby and will be making announcements about these projects in the near future once the fate of the upcoming season is determined.

"Meanwhile, we thank you for your patience and continued support during this difficult period."

About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The Bristol Press and several other daily newspapers in Connecticut.

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