Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 22: 1989 Upper Deck #145 Nolan Ryan
1989 Upper Deck changed the hobby forever.
It's up to you decide whether it was for the better or worse.
Top-notch photography, great color separation, and a glossy-like card stock that collectors had never previously seen the likes of. The holograms on the back of each card prevented counterfeiting, a problem that had run rampant in the years leading up to Upper Deck's first release.
Not to mention that it was pretty much the first set to be considered "high-end". In card shops, the 49-cent packs of Topps, Donruss, and Fleer looked primitive compared to the bourgeois 99-cent Upper Deck product.
It's easy to see why when I look at this Nolan Ryan card.
I wish Topps could give these double-image shots a revival. Upper Deck's not around anymore to do it, of course. They're kind of gimmicky, but I like them. It gives the collector a different look.
It must've seemed especially fascinating compared with the slightly drab issues from the other major card companies in '89.
By the time this card was released, Ryan's days as an Astro were over.
He signed with the Rangers in December of '88 after having a slightly down year (for him) in Houston, going 12-11 with a 3.52 ERA. He'd pitch the final two of his record seven no-hitters with the Rangers.
In terms of Nolan Ryan's career, this card marks the end of an era.
But as far as the hobby goes, it represents a new chapter.