Sunday, April 15, 2012

One and done

In the vast history of baseball cards, a countless number of sets have been bestowed upon the collecting universe.

Some of them were mainstays for decades upon decades. Donruss debuted in 1981 and made quite an imprint on the hobby before bowing out in 2005. Fleer lasted even longer, producing its final baseball set in 2007 after breaking into the hobby with Donruss in '81. Upper Deck's time ran out in 2010 after setting the hobby world on fire in 1989.

Of course, the biggest of these "mainstays" has been the almighty Topps. Topps Heritage has been around since 2001, and doesn't look to be letting up anytime soon. Topps has a reign on the hobby today, for better or worse, having released a flagship set each and every year since the hallowed 1952 series. (Not counting those pesky '51 Red Backs.)

This post is about none of those.

More specifically, this post is about sets that lasted just a single year in the hobby.

I'm sure that one-year sets aren't all that uncommon. Let's face it, most of them probably weren't missed by many of us anyways.

However, there have been a few that I wish could've held on for more than just the one year. Maybe you've got a few as well.

One thing I should note: I'm excluding all one-year sets that featured only HOF and/or retired players (2002 Topps Super Teams, 2005 Upper Deck Classics, etc.) because I love any set that includes those types of guys. (Sadly, those have become a thing of the past, but that's another post for another time.)

1996 Pinnacle Aficionado (shown at the top of the post) is one of my personal favorite one-year sets. I can't really figure out why, though. I don't think we've seen anything like them since.

It's just a fun set.

Pinnacle released a ton of different issues throughout the latter part of the 1990's. Most of them were forgettable, but Aficionado isn't one of them, at least in my opinion.

I almost never see this set mentioned anywhere.

2003 Fleer Double Header probably flew by a lot of collectors upon its release. They've posed a difficult challenge as well, as I haven't been able to find a whole lot of them over the years. Not even in dime boxes.

They've got a nice 1950's Bowman retro feel to them, since all the cards are mini-sized. A clean, simple design also adds to the throwback look.

If there's one thing I'm a sucker for in this hobby, it's any set with a glimmer of "retro".

2006 Upper Deck Epic was a bit rich for my blood when it was initially released.

However, I've managed to pick up a few of the base cards (all of which are sequentially numbered) here and there at card shows.

Just because I'm a "dime box collector" doesn't mean I'm totally against high-end sets like UD Epic. In fact, a lot of them are quite nice, as I've found out.

That is, if I'm lucky enough to ever get my hands on any of them.

However, my favorite "one and done" set is one that I think a lot of us in the blogosphere can agree on.

2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee.

This one certainly didn't fly under anyone's radar, as I've seen it mentioned over and over again on many of the blogs I read.

And for good reason.

Not only is it my favorite one-year set, it's one of my favorites of the entire 21st century. While there are some cringe-worthy poses on a few of them, the fantastic action shots (like the one above) more than make up for that. The black bordered parallels are easily among my favorite parallel sets of all-time as well.

Plus, they were quite affordable. Two bucks netted you an extremely enjoyable pack of O-Pee-Chee fun.

Perhaps there was a follow-up 2010 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee set on the table down at UD headquarters. But we'll never know, as Upper Deck lost their baseball card license after just one release that year.

This "one-year" concept applies to a lot of my other enjoyments in real life as well. Sure, some of my favorite bands were (or still are) around for what seemed like forever. But then again, some of my favorite groups barely lasted more than a year or so. And some of my favorite TV shows were only on for one season. But that doesn't mean they weren't great. They were just under-appreciated.

It's the same thing with baseball cards.

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