Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Junk Wax Cards Before Their Time - 1991 Line Drive & Classic Best

Ever since the introduction of baseball players being on card board there have been minor league baseball cards.  In the early days of baseball cards there was such a power struggle in baseball leagues that at one time in any one league there could be a big name star or up and comer.  Such as many early tobacco cards sporting teams on leagues that today are considered very low levels such as the South Atlantic League (Low-A).  For the next half a century most minor league cards came usually in a local or team level.  In the early 1980s during the baseball card boom we seen a larger number of team cards released.  Every team no matter the level seemed to have a issued set each year.  This created such a headache for collectors to try to get their hands on certain players who could easily have been on a half a dozen different teams before appearing on their first Major League Baseball card.

1909-11 T206 Minneapolis - Minor League
In 1991 Line Drive and Classic Best introduced some of the most important sets during the junk wax era that were game changers.  They took the idea of having thousands of minor league players and put together two sets of up coming stars from AA/AAA for Line Drive and another full minor league selection of players with Classic Best.  This was the first time collectors all over the country could get their hands on packs of cards from players who have not put on a major league uniform yet.  The previous few years Bowman had the most minor league players in their set, but they were mostly seen wearing their MLB uniforms.  

After 1991 we seen an explosion of popularity of collectors wanting cards of players as they are coming up the ranks. (Pre-Rookies are what we called them)  Yes it is always great to get a true rookie card of a player wearing their MLB uniform, but there is something about getting players in their minor league gear.  As a collector it helps you paint a picture on where a player has been and came from.  Did he bounce around the minors for years before getting his big break?  In 1992 we had Classic take over the minor league set business, then quickly Upper Deck with several minor league issues in the 90s.  In the mid 90s card companies did one better by adding autographs of just about every player.  Card companies such as Best, Just Minors, and Tri-Star emerged as key minor league card makers. In 2010 Topps won the right to make all MiLB cards, and today we have our modern day minor league sets.

It all started from those 1991 Line Drive AA/AAA and Classic Best issues that ushered in a new way of collecting players and cards.  Again these sets were game changers, they all are very inexpensive sets full of pre-rookie cards of dozens of star players.  These sets are a must that any true rookie card collector should have in their collection!

Today we think of Jim Thome as a 600+ big home run hitter, but this card above shows us a better image of Thome's minor league years, and his struggles in the early 90s getting playing time with the Indians.

Where we are today!  What I love about the minor leagues are, a player can still be a huge star in the minor leagues and have little success in the Majors.  These cards show us the struggles and successes of the minors!

2012 Topps Pro Debut

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No negative comments please, this blog is for fun and not intended as a business...just a collector giving some views.