In terms of time, the 1990′s concluded only 14 years ago; however, in terms of hobby years the 1990′s could well have been a century ago. We have spent much of the past two years in the popular Rich’s Ramblings columns describing what the hobby past was and where the hobby has gone since then. I was checking an old Dallas Morning News story about the hobby a while back and we discovered the story was in section 17 of the paper. Today, other than Sunday, the Dallas Morning News has only four major sections and one to two extra sections. This is just one example of how our world has changed from print to digital.
Baseball cards have gone through a similar transformation as the hobby has gone from a print based media to the electronic format. Even my cable system has added a ton of stations from when I first moved to Dallas. In 1990, I had approximately 50 stations of which four were movie stations and thanks to a special deal was paying all of $49.99 per month for that deal. Today, the cable networks have become so fragmented that there are networks devoted exclusively to four sports including hockey. And who would have thought back in 1990 in Dallas, where the only places to watch hockey were in sports bars or on occasional games on television that less than 25 years later we would be able to watch hockey information on a 24/7 basis. Bizarrely, our “home team” in 1990 was the New Jersey Devils as John McMullen owned both the New Jersey Devils and the Houston Astros and our local cable sports network at the time featured a lot of Houston Astros games to go with the Rangers games we saw.
With that background, hockey attempted to grow nationally in the 1990′s when the NHL started expanding to warm-weather climates such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1993. Thus the 1990′s were an important sea change in terms of where the sport was played. Another major change was the continuing labor issues culminating in the 1994 lock-out which in my opinion permanently affected how fans thought about hockey. This lockout was during the 1994 baseball strike and in my opinion the owners did not realize what a great opportunity the sport had to really gain a major foothold. Let’s see, baseball had a strike, football is really only played once a week on the pro level, and Michael Jordan was not playing basketball. That all left a void during which the NHL had a chance to take over the spotlight and failed. However, with all that, the 1990′s were still a great decade for hockey in terms of iconic players. Guys like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were winding down their careers while players such as Jarome Iginla and Martin Brodeur were just starting out.
Recently In The Game, which explored the 1980s with a hockey card release earlier this year, advanced the series with the launch of its Decades: The 90′s set.
Each box has 14 cards of which six are base cards. The base cards have the player photo in the center with a notation on the top and the player’s name on the bottom. If the card features a player’s career, the card has biographical information, career statistics and an informational blurb. If the card features the player as a first round draft pick then information about the player’s early career is included. My local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) does not usually carry ITG products but leading online retailers are currently between $95-100.
We ripped a box of Decades The 90′s and here’s what was inside:
Base Cards: Six cards: Decades: Al Iafrate, Mark Messier, Jeremy Roenick. Bob Sweeney. First Round: Eric LIndros, Joe Thornton
Rookies Insert: Sergei Fedorov
Trophy Winners Jersey: Mark Messier
Autographs: Phil Housley, Andy Moog, Damian Rhodes
As we have come to expect from ITG, each box produces a significant number of hits for the price point and many of the greats of the past 20 years are featured in this release. With six hits per box plus the extra inserts a collector’s value is almost guaranteed. To see Decade 1990′s cards on eBay, click here.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]