Thursday, April 1, 2021

'80s Hit Chasing

Inserts gone wild. 
It seems like insert cards are something that came from the more recent era of trying to strike it big with a simple pack of cards, but they've been around for seemingly forever. Non-base cards have been a part of many baseball card sets going back to the '60s at least. When I personally started collecting in the '80s, I'm not quite sure I appreciated the "special" cards that you could find in packs, but I know that they were sometimes sought after. I know there especially was a decent market for the Fleer All-Star Team inserts that debuted in 1986, which even came with stated odds on the packs.

The Topps All-Star Glossy set was a bit unique in that it was only included in rack packs, and it used the now ubiquitous glossy UV coating, which really wasn't widely used until the '90s were well underway aside from a few specialty sets (e.g. Tiffany, Fleer Glossy.) These were one per pack inserts that were always on top of the pack at the grocery store, making it easy for a "flipper" to seek out certain players in the pack to sell for a premium. 

Yes, there were flippers in the '80s. Fortunately, though, there wasn't an eBay in the '80s. While opportunists have always existed in this hobby (why wouldn't they?), the whole thing has gotten out of control lately. There's a big leap from someone going down to the local market to buy a 99 cent rack pack with... I don't know... Dwight Gooden showing on the front of it... to what is happening these days with people stalking vendors and operating massive bot armies to buy up anything and everything. Even Pokemon cards. Even. Pokemon. Cards.

If you jump back in the time machine with me back to 1984, though, it couldn't have been an easy task to put together the 22 card glossy All-Star set. Of course, that's the real fun of collecting. Virtually no one who has "flipped" a case of blasters has ever known the pain of missing five cards from a twenty-two card set, even if you could buy the whole thing for five or ten bucks.

It's officially Opening Day, folks. Ozzie Smith is here for it.


  1. Things have certainly escalated quickly over the past year or so in regards to flippers. I like the big hit just as much as the next person, but I miss the simpler days of collecting.

  2. I remember someone cracked the collation code on a few late 80's Topps sets, and was able to figure out what cards were in a pack based on what the back card showed. I couldn't imagine today's flippers having that kind of power!

  3. I've always wanted to know what the first "inserts" with insertion "odds" listed on packs were. That's pretty cool that they were on the 1986 packs. I wonder if there was anything earlier.

  4. I like eBay, or at least I used to, but I still think we would've been better off had it never existed.


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