Monday, October 19, 2009

Forgotten Insert Sets: 2000 Ultra Swing Kings

Falling at a rate of 1 in every 24 packs of 2000 Fleer Ultra, the Swing Kings inserts were fairly easy to obtain for collectors and without a doubt these cards were my favorite insert set of the year. I remember pulling an Alex Rodriguez from a pack in 2000 and being genuinely impressed with the quality of the cards. I loved pulling the card so much that I put it in a screwdown holder; no binder for this card, I wanted to look at it all the time! Not only was the card Mariner, but it was a great looking "plastic" type cardstock that was clear except for the player, player's name, brand logo and insert set name. They are very similar to a Studio Stars insert set that came out a few years later, but the Swing Kings have a much cleaner design that really makes the player "pop" out of the card. There is a short writeup of the player's achievements on the back of the card, kind of like the one's found on the back of old Circa products. The text from the Griffey reads: "Don't know why they even call 'em tape measure for you, Junior. One swing of the bat and you need a map to find what's left of the ball." Sounds like a certain scene from The Natural.

After winning the Junior pictured above on eBay I remembered how hard companies used to work on insert sets, using cutting edge technology and great photography to create cards that collectors loved to pull regardless of serial-numbers or game-used swatches. I hope that Topps doesn't become complacent as the lone baseball card manufacturer next year, and maybe they will even draw some inspiration from the past. 2000 Fleer Ultra Swing Kings is a good place to start.

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