When 1991 rolled around, we were smack dab in the middle of the over production hey day that started in the 80's. The number of sets was exploding. Every manufacturer was in every product or coming very soon. Upper Deck had a smash hit on their hands with the autographed Reggie Jackson cards that were inserted into their high number packs and the chase was on. I believe these might be the first machine stamped serial numbered cards inserted into packs. I don't recall others and the UD Heroes autos were hand numbered.
At the time I was hunting cards like a hungry dog. I called all the convenience stores in the phone book to see "what baseball cards they carried" on a weekly basis. I knew their delivery schedules etc. I was looking for leaf, Upper Deck, Stadium Club because all of the other could be found at the precursor to Costco. I think it was called Home Club or Home Base or something to that effect.
I opened what seemed like boxes of Topps, those awful yellow fleer and the Blue and Green Series 1 and 2 Donruss cards. I learned about the possibility of pulling Elite series cards very early on that season. Finding out they were serial numbered to 10000 just boggled y mind. So rare at the time, yet I opened packs like Charlie looking for the Golden Ticket. I never did pull one. I never pulled anything super rare until it became a certainty with releases starting in 2007.
The guy that had the card shop up the street had a little brother and they also hunted the Costcoesque store. He pulled a Barry Bonds which was huge at the time. Rumors flew everywhere about how to find them and why no one could ever pull them. First, dealers were using metal detectors on their boxes and cases. The cards are pretty thick in comparison to the crappy stock that Donruss used on their release and the borders were made of metal foil.
Second, and I have seen a picture of one, some of the boxes had a big sticker on the front that announced that the box had an Elite series card in it. I don't think all of the boxes were marked this way, but as I said I did see a box with said sticker. If you have a photo or scan, please send it to me. There were no stated odds on the packs but given the number of cases produced it would not shock me to learn that these were 1 in 5-10 cases. Donruss made truckloads of this stuff and although I can't prove this, I think you could heat your house for the entire winter by burning this release in your fireplace. Even if you live in Canadia.
These cards were truly Elite, truly beautiful and when you pulled one, you knew you had something special. The checklist is quite good and the cards still have decent value. You will never hear anyone say these were an easy pull. I didn't find or read the linked post until I was almost finished with this one. I found them as I was looking for a scan or pic of the elite boxes.
Here is the checklist and some pics for your viewing pleasure.
SS: Ryne Sandberg - /5,000
Legend: Nolan Ryan - /7,500
/10000 -- That's right 10,000
1 Barry Bonds
2 George Brett
3 Jose Canseco
4 Andre Dawson
5 Doug Drabek
6 Cecil Fielder
7 Rickey Henderson
8 Matt Williams