Not all early 90's stuff is worthless crap. Yeah it was almost universally overproduced, quality is dicey in most cases and that Stadium Club you once bought for hundreds is now worth tens. Still, if you discount the book value, a lot of interesting stuff can be found from that time period. Leaf, Bowman, SP and Finest were introduced and all changed the hobby. The first autographed inserts started appearing with Upper Deck' s Reggie Jackson Heroes set, and Donruss jumped in a year later with a Ryne Sandberg Elite auto. The 91 Topps Desert Shield set is a pretty fascinating bit of history. For sheer kitsch value, '91 Studio and Topps Kids are fun. Almost none of this stuff will ever put your kids through college, but that doesn't mean it's not worth collecting.
1991 is an interesting year for baseball cards. Upper Deck's 'premium card' concept was expanded upon by Donruss with their Leaf product in 1990 and Topps jacked things up to a whole new level with Stadium Club in '91. People went berserk over the full bleed, Kodak quality photos and packs were running 5 bucks and up in a time when you could still find a wax pack of regular Topps for 35 cents at your local supermarket. It was also the last time you'd see the traditional Topps cardboard stock on their cards, at least until they resurrected it for the Heritage lines. It was a great time for baseball, the World Series was one of the best ever, labor pains were still a few years away, steroids were for football players and wrestlers and the league was packed with stars. Vets Ryan, Clemens, Ripken, Brett, Boggs, Gwynn, Sandberg, Rickey, Ozzie, Puckett, Mattingly, Trammell, Molitor, Yount, Fisk, Murray and Winfield were all going strong. Young stars like Griffey Jr, Bonds, McGwire, Justice, Thomas, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Sheffield, Grace, Vaughn, Palmeiro, Galarraga and Grissom were coming into their own. The rookie card selection from that year is utterly fantastic. Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, Luis Gonzalez, Jason Giambi... Hell, even Michael Jordan's first baseball card is from 1991. Just check out the Studio checklist and tell me that's not worth having. Who cares if the set costs less than a single pack of 2007 SPX.
In contrast, the football releases for that year are terrible. Overproduced, uninspired and downright boring. Even the rookies from that year are lackluster. Russell Maryland went #1 overall and Herman Moore is arguably the best first rounder. Other rookies from the class include Ricky Watters, Ed McCaffrey and Bryan Cox. Oh, and some quarterback from Southern Miss the Falcons picked up in the second round. Brett Favre's rookie cards are by far the best football cards from that year. For the price of his Stadium Club rookie alone you can probably pick up the complete Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Score, ProSet and Pacific sets and if you're a smart shopper you might even have enough left over for a set of Action Packed. Other than Barry Sanders' '89 Score rookie or Emmitt Smith's '90 Score Supplemental cards (which aren't worth what they used to be) no other football card from that period books anywhere near the Favre Stadium Club rookie, save a few autograph issues. That is, until an eBay auction from last week blew everything else from that period completely out of the water.
1991 Wild Card was an oddball football set with a gimmick: base cards had parallels with a stripe on them with a denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000. If you pulled a card with a 5 stripe, you could trade it back to the company for 5 cards of that player. if you collected ten cards of a player, you could trade it to the company for a single card with a 10 stripe. These cards are nothing special, they are kind of gaudy and don't have a big following since the company didn't last that long. Favre had a rookie card in that '91 set, and had all the parallels just like every other player. An auction for his card with the 1000 stripe just sold for over two thousand dollars. That's right, TWO GRAND. For a football card from 1991!
There are a lot of reasons for such an insane sale price for this card. First, the card is legitimately scarce. No matter how long the presses were allowed to run, it's still not a good idea to have collectors sending in loads of redemptions for an entire longbox full of cards, if for no other reason than to control shipping costs. Favre is the franchise for one of the most popular NFL teams and has no shortage of people collecting his cards. He is also breaking records right and left, and not piddly records either. All time Win leader? All time Touchdown Passes leader? Those are just as special a feat in football as Barry's accomplishment this year. Plus the Packers are 3-0 and Favre looks like he might want to play forever. All this adds up to a perfect storm that sent the bidding in this auction to new heights for a card from that era. I don't even think a Frank Thomas no name error has sold for such a lofty price.
Brett's accomplishments on the field combined with his new found hobby renown as the King of the Early 90's demands that he be honored with the Card of the Week. Problem is, I don't have his Wild card rookie, stripe or no. I also don't have his Stadium Club rookie. For some reason this rabid Falcon fan decided in '91 that having a handful of Pro Set and Upper Deck rookies of this obscure backup QB were enough. Yep, I'm a moron. Not as dumb as the franchise that traded him off for a used tackling dummy and a case of Stickum, but still pretty stupid. The three I have are more common, but each have their own charm. His Ultra Rookie shows a good action shot of Brett in his Southern Mississippi uniform. Upper Deck's Star Rookie card shows Brett languishing on the sidelines, a good summarization of his Falcons career. My favorite is also the most dirt common of Favre's rookies, the Pro Set draft pick card. This one actually shows Brett in a Falcons uniform about to throw a pass! I like to think that this is a picture of Brett throwing his only NFL incomplete pass in a Falcon uniform. His other three passes for the Falcons resulted in a sack and two interceptions. I wonder if Brett will ask Jerry Glanville to introduce him at his Hall of Fame induction ceremonies? I can't choose between these three icons of card collecting, so I'll let the readers decide which of Brett's rookie cards deserves to be honored Card of the Week.