Upper Deck didn’t have any luck buying Topps, so the company has turned its attention toward competing with its opposite coast rival again. As pitchers and catchers prepare to report, UD is offering the first series of its core set.
In response to requests from dealers to have a viable early season baseball product in the market, Upper Deck moved up the release date of its 2008 Series One issue several weeks from last year. Cards are now hitting store shelves with a base set of 400 cards.
Upper Deck incorporated throwback designs on many of the game-used jersey cards going back to some of the first game-used cards ever made from the company’s 1997, 1998 and 1999 releases. Unlike their predecessors, these cards will include a game-used patch version. Additionally, the “Piece of History 500 Home Run Club” bat cards have returned this year and will include the two newest members of this elite fraternity: Frank Thomas and Jim Thome.
“Starquest,” will again highlight the top players in the game today. Starquest cards will play on the heritage of the set made popular in the late ‘90s with five different levels of rarity, but the cards will also include an interactive on-line component. Kids can register the codes found on these cards to win points and prizes through udkids.com.
The “Yankee Stadium Legacy” cards debut in 2008 Upper Deck Series One as well. This will be the first opportunity for collectors to begin putting together a set that chronicles every single game to ever take place at the famous “House that Ruth Built.” Along with the base cards, collectors will also have the opportunity to find rare game-used memorabilia versions. Upper Deck has also bought back over a thousand rare game-used and autograph cards of Yankee greats from former releases and inserted them into 2008 Upper Deck Series One.
The O-Pee-Chee brand returns with the 1969 format attached to 50 of today’s top players. Upper Deck also purchased several thousand original O-Pee-Chee Baseball cards and inserted them randomly into 2008 Upper Deck Series One.
One card in the set features a classic photo of Boston’s Manny Ramirez belting a memorable homer that was picked out personally by ESPN’s own Sports Guy, Bill Simmons.
Like Topps, Upper Deck is getting involved in the Presidential race with some special cards. The “Presidential Predictor” card set includes parodies tying several of the top candidates from this year’s race with a pivotal moment or personality from baseball’s rich history.
Notable names in the “Presidential Predictor” set include, from the Democratic side, Barack Obama and John Edwards; and from the Republicans: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. A few other surprise candidates and political personalities are also showcased in the collection including Al Gore being tagged out by reigning U.S. President George W. Bush in a funny portrayal of Yankee second baseman Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag of Boston’s Jose Offerman during the ’99 American League Championship Series.
Other parodies include John McCain and Ted Williams, a pair of decorated war veterans who served their country proudly; John Edwards’ portrayal of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, both healthcare advocates, the latter who appeared as a right fielder in a single MLB game for the New York Giants (June 29, 1905); Fred Thompson blending with Babe Ruth, two larger-than-life characters who have appeared on the silver screen; and Rudy Giuliani as overzealous Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier whose infamous eighth-inning catch of Derek Jeter’s long fly ball in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS tied the score, 4-4, before the Yankees went on to win the pennant and their first World Series title since 1978.
Collectors who pull any of the Presidential Predictor cards from packs will have the opportunity to win a trip for two to throw out the “presidential” first pitch at an official Major League Baseball game during the 2009 season.
“We pulled out all the stops with 2008 Upper Deck Series One Baseball to ensure it met and hopefully will exceed the needs of every type of collector,” said Jason Masherah, Baseball Brand manager for Upper Deck. “We incorporated history while also including some interactive on-line elements to the set. There is just so much content to be found and enjoyed, most collectors agree the product is just a lot of fun to open.”
Hobby packs of 2008 Upper Deck Series One Baseball carry a suggested retail price of $4.99 per twenty card pack. The company says collectors can expet two memorabilia cards and one autograph card in each hobby box on average.