Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Box of 1995 Select: 20 Years Later

Got a nice throwback box for you today. I received a box exactly like this as a birthday gift when I was 14 which makes this one of the few boxes I busted as a kid that I'm getting to bust again. Now that I'm a little older and (arguably) wiser, there's a lot I can see now that I couldn't when I was a hairless, squeaky-voiced, pimply-faced, random-boner-having teen,

I love the all-horizontal design from this set. Even 20 years ago when I first busted this box I was a big fan. The cards are modern, but still colorful and candy-like. It's classy, but also a little fun. Fresh, but rebellious. There had never been a base set like this.

I still see that great, modern name/position font out in the world sometimes and associate it immediately with this set.

The photography is pretty solid, too. Every card has two large photos, usually an action shot and a portrait, but that is not necessarily the rule. Check out that Tony Fernandez above: we have both a bunt and a swing-away shot, and they're both on the card front. How many sets did that? Not many.

And yet one of my favorite aspects here is the card back.

These are Studio-quality, guys, and they're on the back. If you ever come across a stack of '95 Select in a dime box, flip through it, then turn the stack over and flip again. That's just how this set operates: multi-surface.

'95 Select also has one of my favorite checklists ever. Not that these guys are the greatest that ever played the game, but they are all the stars and minor stars from my collecting and baseball-watching heyday. Busting this box, I felt like every single pack was a great pack, filled with memorable names and images that made me all gooey with feelings.

So in addition to three photos per card, we got several subsets and design tweaks within the base set.

1995 Select Traded subset

Like these blue-sky backed portraits for the traded guys,

1995 Select Showtime

the attractive Showtime subset for the star rookies,

1995 Select Rookies

Select Rookies for those guys not quite ready for Showtime,

1995 Select Checklists

and about the greatest collection of checklists of the 90's, and possibly ever. That last one sporting four different all-stars was so popular that Pinnacle adopted the concept for their base set checklists the very next year. Theirs was a bunch of cropped portraits as opposed to this "photoshopped" fantasy group photo.

1995 Select Can't Miss

Select was also no stranger to cool inserts, most of which were pretty tough pulls. A personal favorite of mine is this Can't Miss rookie insert. The box I busted contained that Shawn Green (a card which will soon find its way to the land of crepes, croissants, and wine-guzzling children), but that Chipper on the right is the very one I pulled from my birthday box 20 years ago.

The bet pull you can get is the one-per-box Artist's Proof parallel. There are estimated to be only 500 of each card, a small run for this time period. The good news is that if you pull one of a star, you've pretty much paid for your box. This is the one I pulled from this box. The box I busted a s a kid contained the Midre Cummings Showtime subset which I somehow ended up pulling two of. The odds of that happening must be astronomical.

Now, the reason we're here, Los Griffeys:

1995 Select #89

A very rare shot of Griffey laying down a bunt. The guy was spectacularly multi-tool, so I'm willing to bet it was a good one.

I'm against exclamation points in blurbs (just the facts, please), but the Select Stat on every card makes up for it. They gave us only each player's most recent year and a line of totals to make space for the massive black and white portrait, but I believe this is space well-used. A great base card, front and back.

1995 Select #243 Checklist

One of the greatest Griffey checklist cards ever produced, this one is an anti-Tatooine photo (which I've been calling Endor shots). The photo here is not new nor Pinnacle-exclusive. I know this because here is the back of Junior's 1993 Upper Deck base card:

I ain't mad atcha, though, Select. It's a great photo that deserved another look.

1995 Select #250 Checklist (w/ Bagwell, Thomas, & Piazza)

These caused quite a stir among my friends and me. Four of the biggest stars of our day on one card, looking like they're all just hanging out together like normal dudes, shootin' the breeze and having a laugh. Somebody should photoshop some cold brewskis in there somewhere, possibly in Bagwell's and Griffey's visible hands. Maybe Piazza could be holding an N64 controller or something. Like they're having a Smash Brothers tournament. And Bagwell's pissed because Frank picks Link EVERY TIME. Learn another character, man.

1995 Select Big Sticks #BS2

The Big Sticks insert is weird. It's got a refractive surface with a layer of strange texturing that looks like it's not sure whether it wants to be wood grain or camouflage. The focal point apart from Junior's massive home run pull is the team logo stretched vertically which just does not look right (although the Mariners logo probably looks less weird like this than most). And to bring all the weirdness together, those two aspects seem to have nothing to do with the theme of the insert, Big Sticks, which in itself is a little...I'll just say weird again. I think someone at Select knew all this, too, hence the all-too-appropriate card number prefix. The cards look cool, but as rare as they are, I'd like to have seen a little more effort here both thematically and creatively.

So about the box, it gave a whopping 94% (235/250) of the checklist. In fact, the collation was so good that I pulled only three duplicates from the entire 250-card set. Here they are:

There are worse dupes to pull.

I now need only 15 cards to complete the set. To be honest I originally bought the box in the hopes of pulling an AP one of the three Griffeys (a 1-in-84 shot per box) because I need them for my 1996 Beckett Tribute Checklist project and they're expensive when they're even available, but when I saw how close to the base set I was, I decided to just go ahead and do it. That slippery slope that turns a player collector into a set builder is in full effect.

Here are the Griffeys I still need from 1995 Select (spoiler alert: they're all AP's):

1995 Select #89 Artist's Proof
1995 Select #243 Checklist #2 of 9 Artist's Proof
1995 Select #250 Checklist #9 of 9 (w/ Bagwell, Thomas, & Piazza) Artist's Proof


  1. Select always seemed to get the short end of the stick, but I've always enjoyed the brand. This is exactly the type of cheap box love to bust one day.

  2. I love the checklist shot, just Griffey being Griffey.

  3. I think you have to be a child of the '90s to appreciate this set. I never liked the base cards. The only things that are cool to me are the checklist cards and the Can't Miss inserts.

    Now '93 Select on the other hand ...

  4. The Big Stick insert is great. So 90's!

  5. Sweet Rickey! I somehow missed this base set entirely... although I have seen some of the inserts enter my collection over the years.

  6. Don't have the Griffeys for my PC. Very cool!

    Gotta appreciate the well done base card design. Man, I really miss the 90's!

  7. I found a box of this not too long ago, and I was very impressed with the collation. I only ended up a dozen or so cards short.