While viewing the box break section I noticed a guy was busting a case of 1997 Finest Series I baseball. "Hey," I thought to myself, "I need a set of that to go with the one I have of Series II!" I'd opened up a box of the latter years and years and years ago (and had a very good time doing so) and eventually completed that set, then left it by its lonesome for a long time.
I should note that when I say "complete" I'm referring just to the "Bronze" or "Common" cards, numbers 176-275; the Silvers were 1:4 packs and the Golds went 1:24, and I didn't feel bad ignoring them and just treating the Bronze cards as the base to get.
So that's where I was when I asked the box breaker if he had a Series I set (#s 1-100) available. $15 and a few days later, one was in my mailbox:
"Masters" seems to focus on some of the biggest stars based on the bunch you see here. I do end up making the player selection look a bit better than it is, though!
"Hurlers" is centered around pitchers, naturally, though I had to reach for Percival as a third star from the Series I bunch. This design makes it much easier to identify a bronze card up front compared to the Masters, but pretty much every theme is a winner here.
You might think the "Power" theme focuses on power hitters, but that kind of felt like a stretch to me as I tried to grab three good players from the group. Delgado certainly qualifies, but the other two--a solid enough hitter and one of the better guys at the dish--weren't really sluggers. The lightning theme is pretty cool, though again these aren't obvious bronze cards.
"Warriors" is the final Series I group, and it kind of feels like a combination of the designs of Masters and Hurlers the more I look at it. This bunch seems to comprise grizzled veterans such as the three HOFers I grabbed here. Larkin is my only PC player out of the first series and I already had his card, but I certainly don't mind having another copy!Larkin socked a career-high 33 in '96 to go with 36 steals as the 30-30 club's first SS, as the back mentions.
I haven't ever done a summary of the Series II set since I finished it so long ago, so while I had everything out I added a few scans of those as well:
The Griffey and Ripken cards have long been in their PCs and are among my favorites. I grabbed a scan of Cal's card to show one of the themes unique to Series II, "Competitors", plus former Tigers speed demon Brian Hunter in the "Acquisitions" subset. As Griffey's card shows, Masters was a holdover, as were Blue Chips and Power.74 steals in '97, fulfilling Topps' promise here.
It's fun getting to show off the occasional complete set like this as I've largely gotten away from collecting them since I almost never bust boxes anymore. Sometimes you can't beat letting someone else put one together for you! Maybe this will spur me to go after a few other half-done products in my collection.