For those of you sitting at home bored as an Amish electrician, welcome. The Junior Junkie is here for all your reading-about-baseball cards needs. Community involvement and social responsibility are at the forefront of everything we do here at TJJ, so here's a list of the steps we are taking during this national crisis:
1. Writing about baseball cards
2. Posting what we wrote
3. Reading our own posts
4. Laughing at our own jokes
5. Re-watching all 12 hours of The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions
6. Falling asleep right before the Battle of Helm's Deep
7. Waking up and rewinding the Battle of Helm's Deep
8. Crying in the bathroom
Okay, that's it. Wash your hands, I guess.
I hate to give you fine folks an ultimatum, but here it is: if you don’t love Stadium Club, we can’t be friends. It’s awesome every year they decide to make it, and I am ecstatic not only that it seems to be back for good, but that it is just as good as it ever was.
That said, the ’01 design is hardly my favorite. It’s one of their more heavy-handed designs with that big, honking (by Stadium Club standards, at least) nameplate weighing down the bottom of the card. At least they stuck with that aesthetic across the set with lots of color and bold, simple designs. And the photography was stellar this year pretty much across the base set.
|Come on, that's awesome.|
Where this set really shines, though, is in the inserts. It's got everything: dirt, pearl, film cels, die-cutting, serial-numbered insert parallels, exchange cards, and plenty of respectable scarcity. They're even kind of all over the place which I love.
Base card first, tho:
|2001 Stadium Club #125|
Griffey’s base card sports a fielding shot this year which Stadium Club (and Ultra) did more than most brands. This particular shot is especially fun in that we get a clean, unbroken field of green behind the Kid broken up only by his shadow (probably early in a noon game) and a peek at the ball a split second before it enters the basket. Junior is trotting forward, so I’m thinking either this catch ended the inning or he was preparing for a long put-out throw to third after securing the ball. Either way, Junior is fielding his ass off.
A rare (the only??) Stadium Club card back without a baseball field theme, but they stuck with the non-traditional stat box with a detailed breakdown of his previous year’s batting performance. To all you right-handed pitchers on turf during a day game, be afraid, fellas. Homie’s got ANALYSKILLZZZZ.
By the way, ANALYSKILLS? I don’t know if your mind lives in the gutter as much as mine, but take away one letter and….um, nevermind.
|2001 Stadium Club Diamond Pearls #DP1|
Stadium Club usually gives us at least one “techy” insert, but this year they gave us a couple. This first one is characterized by some lovely pearlescent printing over holofoil combined with the same color as my grandma’s guest bathroom (that’s not me being snarky – I love this color and my grandma).
While this insert is attractive and unique, there were some problems. First, they were pretty common. Even I pulled one from a pack, and I did not bust many packs. A slightly higher scarcity would have added to the fun here.
Second, these were incredibly prone to damage the most common of which came from the tacky (meaning sticky, not ugly) card surface leaving bits of card surface stuck to the card in front of it in the pack. As I write this there are three Griffey Diamond Pearls on COMC, ALL of which have that characteristic surface damage. These enjoy a slight premium for good condition, but nothing major, again, because they were not terribly scarce.
When I first came across these I wondered why we hadn’t seen this pearlescent effect on more cardboard, but I think that damage issue is probably why. If you have one of these with a complete surface, please keep it in at least a penny sleeve.
Oh, and it bears mentioning that Griffey is not just A Diamond Pearl – he’s THE Diamond Pearl Number 1. And since they never made this insert again, that shit is forever. Smile, #1 Diamond Pearl forever – you’ve earned it.
By the way, you know those Japanese T-shirts that have American words on them that make no sense but sound amazing together? "Number One Diamond Pearl Forever" would be the best one of those I've ever seen.
Okay, second best.
|2001 Stadium Club Beam Team #BT9 #/500|
The other techy insert is the heavily die-cut Beam Team. They still make this one (though it’s not as cool as it was in 2001), but it actually began as a basketball insert back in 1992 and has also made appearances in Upper Deck’s football and hockey sets over the years. This was the first baseball Beam Team insert, and it’s a real knockout with some super-detailed die-cutting and plenty of fun holofoil. I love the helix in the "beam" along the left edge. It's downright Ghostbustersian.
(Fun fact: whichever way you pronounce "Ghostbustersian" in your internal monologue, it's wrong.)
The back is pretty scant, but the internal die-cut lines prevented anything of substance appearing on the back, anyway. Pretty front, though.
|2001 Stadium Club Capture the Action! #CA9|
Capture the Action is a real straightforward insert depicting action shots. I think the idea was to capture a moment as depicted on the front in the always-excellent Stadium Club photography and describe it on the back. It’s a good idea, but more context in the blurb might have driven the theme home a bit better. The banners here appear to be a throwback to the 2000 base card design whether that was intentional or not.
|2001 Stadium Club Capture the Action Game View #CAGV9 #/100|
The toughest pack-pulled Griffey of 2001 Stadium Club was this insert parallel with a bit of translucent film dressed up like a photo slide and embedded right in the card. It wasn’t a new technology – Upper Deck had done it before in 1997 SPx Game Film – but it goes great with a set that focuses on their photography.
Again I still think some detailed photo context would help this thing out a lot, but maybe Topps didn’t want to admit photo context was a good idea when Upper Deck used it in their base set a full four years before.
|2001 Stadium Club Play at the Plate Game-Used Batter's Box Dirt Relic #PP4|
Everybody loves these things. I remember seeing a commercial for real stadium dirt from Ripken’s 2,131st game and kind of wanting it. Well, here’s that on a baseball card.
The blurb gets real specific about one of the great moments in Griffey’s career, but stops just short of saying this dirt is from that game. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it is NOT from that game, but man that would be something, right?
Anyhoo, these were not all that uncommon if you could find the Home Team Advantage packs they were in. Most could be pack-pulled, but some, including the Griffey, were packed out via exchange cards. I'm guessing DIRT was had to come by in a timely manner. Oh, and bummer alert – the exchange cards say the cards were autographed, but none of them actually were. Oops.
|1996 Ultra Cal Ripken, Jr. Diamond Dust Dirt Relic #/2131 (w/ COA)|
This is the earliest card with dirt in it that I have. Not 2001 nor Stadium Club, but certainly worth a mention.
|2001 Stadium Club Superteam Exchange |
Prize Card #STP24
Now if you were really lucky, there was a chance you could pull a “Superteam” exchange card out of your pack of 2001 Stadium Club. And if you were even luckier, the team on your exchange card would go on its respective League Championship Series. If both of those happened, and you pulled the card before the exchange deadline, and paid enough attention to baseball to know your team won, and you remembered you had it in the first place, and mailed your winning card in to Topps, they would send you a complete set of enhanced 2001 Stadium Club Superteam cards that included the Griffey you see above.
With so many conditions to meet, it should be no surprise that these are some seriously scarce cards.
Superteam in general is just a cool parallel of the base set with plenty of gold, foil, and a shiny not-quite-chromium effect. The backs are similar save for a blurb in lieu of ANALYSKILLS (good riddance) and the addition of a full-team stats breakdown from the previous season (a 2001 breakdown would have been something, but these were probably printed around the same time as the base set). I don’t have any of the exchange cards (yet), but I am hopeful for a Reds one someday…
So there is not enough information for us to figure out exactly how many of these there are, but there are hints to their scarcity all over the place. First, the insertion ratio of the exchange cards was 1:874 in Hobby and Retail boxes and 1:339 in HTA (Home Team Advantage) boxes. Since only four teams go to a League Championship Series, only four of the thirty cards were winners. That changes the insertion ratio for WINNING Super Teams cards to 1:6555 and 1:2542, respectively.
The highest possible mathematically-defensible number of packs produced is based on the stated odds of Beam Team cards and their insertion ratio in Hobby packs. 30 cards in the checklist x 500 of each card at 1:175 = 2,625,000 packs. At 1:874, that means 3003 Superteam Exchange cards or roughly 100 per team or 400 winning cards. That’s not an unreasonable number. BUT, that is not the only estimate we have. There are, unfortunately for those of us who like nice, clean numbers, SEVERAL estimates.
Also this doesn’t even take into account the fact that Retail boxes ALSO had Superteam cards in them as well as Beam Team cards and allegedly Capture the Action Game Views as well. Hence, all these numbers are wrong wrong wrong and why did I even try to figure this out?
Suffice it to say that there were somewhere between 1 and 1,032 WINNING exchange cards. My laughably educated guess based on what I’ve seen in the market is that, oh, maybe a few dozen were actually exchanged. That would also mean that there may be a box in a Topps warehouse somewhere that contains hundreds of unexchanged Superteam Griffeys in need of a forever home.
|This is how I picture it, but honestly it's probably not this nice. Also it's probably in Jersey.|
If you are a night watchman at a certain aforementioned warehouse, my e-mail address is near the top of the screen. Hit me up.
Here are the Griffeys I still need from 2001 Stadium Club:
Superteam Exchange Card #ST8 Cincinnati Reds
As that’s not actually a Griffey, for player collecting purposes, my 2001 Stadium Club checklist is complete. This does not happen a lot for prolific post-2000 sets. Halle-frickin-lujah.
Thanks for reading, smooth troopers.