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Monday, December 21, 2009

Tough Pulls: 1991 Donruss Elite

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


grant said...

This was back when my mom actually was still collecting we pulled one of the Signature series Ryne Sandbergs /5000. I will never forget that moment we were both screaming and freaking out! To this day that card is probably my favorite card in my collection just because of how exciting the pull was. I'll post a scan of it when I can dig it out on my blog. Grant

darkship said...

I'm STILL trying to find a nice Brett, haven't been looking real hard for awhile but a couple I have seen went pretty hig for being as old as they are

Captain Canuck said...

When I had my own shop back in the day, I pulled a Doug Drabek out of a pack. No sticker on the box though.
I then passed it along so others might feel the thrill...


Thorzul said...

It took me until a couple of years later, but I did finally pull an Elite. There was a Big Lots by my house that had cheap boxes of 1993 Donruss (I'm guessing this was in '94 or '95 by then) and I got a Dennis Eckersley Elite. Now THAT is a card I need to dig out of the basement and do a proper post about.

RoofGod said...

I had a similar experience as Thorzul. I pulled a Lenny Dykstra Elite out of a pack of 93 Donruss last summer. The funny thing is that I puled the card out a pack that I got in a repack box.

Matt Henson said...

I have a Mint Nolan Ryan that I pulled from a single wax pack from a KB toy store. I was being a brat and my parents bribed me with the cards. I almost traded it for a G. Brett rookie card the next morning. Anyone have any idea what the price might be?

jtlee321 said...

This brings back so many memories. I remember looking at an Elite card at a card shop and noticing that the card stock was bright white and thicker than the base cards. I figured out that you could search packs without opening them by pressing against the white baseball on the wax pack and looking for the bright white edge. I was 15 and my brother was 14 at the time. We wound up taking the bus all over the city going store to store searching the packs. We wound up finding 5 Elite cards and the Nolan Ryan Legends card. We had a great time. We got some strange looks from the store employees, but they did not mind since we were not opening the packs and we were putting everything back. By the way every Elite Card/Living Legends Card was inserted between the puzzle piece and the stack of base cards.

Darlys said...

I pulled a Kirby Puckett Elite Series when I was 6 years old. Still have it, mint condition. Anyone know its value?

Marley said...

WOW! I'll say it again, WOW! I'm 36 years old and I stopped collecting many years ago. Every once in a while I get the itch to rip open some packs so this was a PERFECT Opportunity to do so. I had a really bad day last Friday and instead of pouring a drink, I had 50 Packs of Cards to open! If you are stuck in the ice age of Collecting Baseball Cards then you will remember one of the HARDEST Cards to pull back in the early 90's was the Donruss Elite. I'm not sure of the odds but I want to say it was somewhere around 1: 50,000 Packs , I may be way off, but the odds were definitely stacked against you. I can't tell you how many packs I ripped open of those boring Red and Blue Donruss 90's Cards. I never pulled an Elite. and it became even harder to do so because most Card Shops were taking Metal Detectors to the Hobby Boxes/Packs and finding the Elite Cards. Back then, there weren't as many Refractors and Shiny Cards so when you saw one you KNEW you had something special and unique. WELL, last Friday was finally my time to pull one! There were 2 packs of 1992 Donruss and as I yawned, I opened the first pack. Toward the last card I saw the Shiny Gold and I knew I had an Elite. I mean what are the odds of pulling one, especially after ALL of these years. Not only was it an Elite, but it was the ELITE of ELITES, it was the Cal Ripken Jr. Auto!!!!!! I sat there for at least an hour with a whirl wind of emotions. It was a moment in time. - MARLEY

Marley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AthleticGigantes said...

This is the first I've read about the desire to pull one of these cards. Although as a general rule I avoided this product it appears I lucked out by pulling the 93 Ryan. Still have it. In mint, of course, along with the worthless Donruss product it came with 22 years ago.

Mike Blarney said...

I must have bought 50 boxes and i nvr pulled one.i gave up.maybe the sticker on the box was true.i have no clue.i just know these are truly elite cards. I mean i know hobby shops that pulled cases and cases and nvr pulled an elite card.

Mike Blarney said...

I must have bought 50 boxes and i nvr pulled one.i gave up.maybe the sticker on the box was true.i have no clue.i just know these are truly elite cards. I mean i know hobby shops that pulled cases and cases and nvr pulled an elite card.