1997 Upper Deck Amazing Greats
In 1997 the Golden Age of Inserts was coming to a close. The insert escalation wars would soon usher in Relic cards that would dominate and ultimately kill off the creative insert market. While the end was near, there were still many beautiful and ingenious inserts floating around in '97. Upper Deck's Amazing Greats was one of the nicer and weirder inserts around.
"Material" cards were beginning to be all the rage. Companies were trying to mimic real wood, canvas, leather, cloth, metal and all sorts of strange materials on cards. Once the faux material market had become saturated the only place to go was with real materials. Upper Deck went there with this 1:138 pack insert featuring a really really thin slice of actual wood fused with a plastic back. UD then printed the front image directly on the wood and topped it off with a holographic logo in the top corner. I'm not entirely sure what kind of wood is used, but it is real wood and you can feel the grain. The printing is surprisingly crisp considering it is on a very porous material. There is a die cut diamond in the middle of the wood for the portrait, which is printed on the plastic backing.
As cool as the front is, the back is also designed very well. A reverse of the front portrait is seen inside a similar baseball diamond that is surrounded by a colorful mottled background. On the right side is a dark panel with the Amazing Greats logo, the team logo and a short highlight paragraph. The whole thing looks fantastic. As crazy as this set looks, it was only the third craziest insert in base Upper Deck that year, after the die-cut, serial numbered to 500 Blue Chips and the inaugural Game Jersey cards. But I don't have either of those, and unless it was the Blue Chip Chipper (why the heck was Chipper Jones in a prospect set in 1997 anyway?) I wouldn't like it as much as this one.
This is one of those cards I remember exactly where I was when I pulled it. I was home from college and I took my grandmother to Kroger to pick up some groceries. They had a box of Upper Deck at the checkout aisle and I snuck a pack or two into the cart. Hey, I was in school and could still get away with it. She paid and I cracked open a pack right there in the store and saw woodsy Frank smiling back at me. I managed to avoid making a scene but was floating the rest of the day. The sucker curled up pretty quickly after pulling it out of the pack, I was freaking out that I'd accidentally crack it trying to get it flat and put it right back in the pack in between the rest of the cards until I could find something sturdy to protect it. Putting it in a toploader helps, but as soon as you take it out it tries to curl a bit.
I had to choose a card of Big Hurt tonight. Looking through the blogs I've seen a lot of posts about the BCS Title Game tonight. Most proclaim that they are rooting for the Ducks. As a proud fan of the Only Real Football Conference™ I feel obligated to support the SEC representative at the Fiesta Bowl with one of their greatest alums. Go Auburn! War Eagle! Or Tigers! Whichever one it is this week!