Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1990 Fleer Baseball Stickers

Fleer once again included Baseball team logo stickers as inserts in their various Baseball products in 1990.

The fronts featured the team logo along with an "action" scene, hence the title at the top of the sticker: "Fleer Action Series".

The design is reminiscent of the look of the Fleer Baseball Big Signs from 1973:

The backs feature a quiz with 4 questions related to the team on the front of the sticker:

Here is a look at the entire 1990 Fleer Baseball sticker set:

Just as we saw with the 1989 set, the 1990 set had a second design featuring 4 smaller logo stickers surrounding either the MLB, AL, or NL logo. Here are the "4 on 1" stickers:

The stickers were inserts in packs:

as well as the factory set:

and the update set:

One interesting thing about Fleer's 1990 Baseball release is that Fleer issued a parallel set in Canada (similar to what Topps used to do in conjunction with O-Pee-Chee), which can be found with "PTD in Canada" on the backs as seen on back of this Cal Ripken card:

This wrapper also indicates the cards were manufactured in Canada:

According to this wrapper, the Canadian packs only contained 10 cards while the US packs contained 15 cards. There is also no mention of collecting "Fleer Limited Edition Sets" like we see on the US wrapper.

Although the Canadian cards indicate they were printed in Canada, it does not appear that the logo stickers were printed in Canada, since no stickers have been found with the designation "PTD in Canada".

The number of "exclusive" Fleer Box Sets for various retailers continued to dwindle in 1990 down to only 4 (although a few of these Box Sets also have Canadian versions!) after 6 in 1989 and 9 in 1988.

1990 was the last year that Fleer would issue these "Limited Edition" 44 card sets. As we'll see in the next installment, the team logo stickers would suffer a similar fate the following year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1989 Fleer Baseball Stickers

After 2 years of sticker designs featuring team logos on baseball trophies in 1987 and 1988, the 1989 Fleer stickers had the logos in front of a set of crisscrossed bats with red, white and blue flag bunting on the top of the sticker:

The sticker backs had Team History information. Fortunately, the histories on the backs of these stickers match the team on the front. Here is a look at the sticker fronts along with the corresponding backs (the backs are in reverse order as they are scans of the back of the 9 pocket sheet):

In addition to the 26 logo stickers, there was a second design with featured 4 smaller logo stickers around either the MLB, the AL, or the NL logo. These "4 on 1" stickers have the same back designs as the single logo stickers, and for the most part have only 1 Team History back. The stickers that appear twice can be found with 2 different Team History backs.

Of course, no review of the 1989 Fleer Baseball set would be complete without mentioning this card:

The hobby went absolutely nuts back in 1989 looking for the obscene version of the Bill Ripken card. For a great look at all the various versions that Fleer put out to try to correct this card, check out Billripken.com.

As usual, the stickers were inserts in packs (as we can see a Mets sticker peeking out from this pack):

Stickers were also included in the Factory set:

as well as the Glossy Tin set:

The Fleer Update set also contained stickers:

As a sign that the high end glossy parallel set idea had run its course, Fleer did not issue a Glossy Update Tin set as it had done the previous two years.

Another change for Fleer in 1989 was the lack of a Star Sticker set for the first time since 1982. After trying a number of different sticker formats (sticker strips in 1983, album stickers in 1984 - 1985, and standard card sized stickers in 1986-1988), Fleer retired the Star Sticker set.

The box sets were being scaled back as well from a high of 9 different sets in both 1987 and 1988 to only 6 in 1989:

I think the fact that we can see Fleer scaling back a bit with fewer releases in 1989 shows that they were starting to realize that there was an upper limit on just how many different baseball items collectors could handle, especially with Score having entered the market in 1988 and Upper Deck launching their landmark set in 1989.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baltimore's Memorial Stadium Documentary

As a follow up to my recent post on the upcoming Astrodome documentary, I wanted to mention another stadium documentary that I thoroughly enjoyed - The Last Season: The Life and Demolition of Memorial Stadium.

The documentary was originally released in 2002 and celebrates the memories of the great Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Colts teams as well as the fans who cheered for them from the "World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum" as Baltimore's Memorial Stadium was affectionately called.

The documentary grew out of an idea by Charles Cohen and Joseph Mathew to shoot some video as fans were attending the final sell-off at Memorial Stadium where items like seats were being sold to the public.
By the late 1990's Memorial Stadium had lost its last tenant, and was being shut down. The Colts had moved out after the 1983 season, the Orioles left after the 1991 season for Camden Yards,

and after a few seasons of CFL football with the Baltimore Stallions, the Ravens played in Memorial Stadium until their new stadium was ready after the 1997 season.

The filmmakers initially started off interviewing fans at the sale about their memories of Memorial Stadium, but the project eventually grew to include interviews with a number of Orioles and Colts legends like Brooks Robinson and Johnny Unitas.

As the question of what to do with the Stadium became a heated political issue, the filmmakers turned their attention to the battles that waged on between the groups that wanted to preserve the Stadium (or at least the memorial on the front of the stadium honoring those who served in World Wars I & II that gave the stadium its name)

and the other groups that wanted to tear it down to use the land for redevelopment.

At one point it looked like a compromise would be reached where the front of the stadium with the memorial would be saved (as these demolition pictures show)

but in the end, the entire stadium came down as it was decided that it wasn't feasible to retain the wall by itself.

The last sentence on the memorial which read "Time Will Not Dim the Glory of Their Deeds" on front of the stadium was moved to a new memorial that is beside Camden Yards:

The documentary shows the eventual demolition of the Stadium over a roughly one and a half year period as the city tries to decide whether to try to preserve a portion of the building or take the entire structure down completely.

Here is the trailer for "The Last Season":

and here is a link to the documentary's website with more information on the documentary as well as information on how to order the DVD.

As an Orioles and Colts fan who has such strong memories of attending games at Memorial Stadium as a kid, watching this documentary is a bittersweet experience. Seeing the players and hearing the stories from fans sharing their memories is very enjoyable, but watching the slow and agonizing demolition of the stadium leaves more than a few tears in my eyes.

As great a park as Camden Yards is, it will never compare to Memorial Stadium in my mind because of all the great memories I have from that ball park as I was growing up as well as the history that took place on 33rd Street when the Colts still played in Baltimore

and the Orioles were the "Best Damn Team In Baseball".