Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Blast From The Past

Most of you are familiar with my origin story. If you aren't, I blogged about it in detail here.

Long story short, I officially started in 2011. However, it's not like prior to 2011 I never had any baseball cards. I did. I got a handful of NPB cards from my uncle who took me to Dragons games when I was younger. As for my MLB cards I'm not sure how I acquired them (probably as part of random gifts from birthday presents or something), but I did remember having some as a kid. The ones I remember the most are from the following four sets.

One was 2005 Topps Hot Button Baseball. Back in the mid-2000's card companies were still trying to market cards towards kids so there was this set of cards that allowed you to play a video game on some crappy piece of plastic. The first card I pulled from my only pack? Alex Rodriguez.

Another one was 2006 Upper Deck Baseball. Simply because this was the only baseball card commercial I ever saw as a kid. Also because a little Zippy Zappy pulled both a Hideki Matsui base card and Ichiro Suzuki base card from the same pack once. You bet I was excited as heck!

The third was 2005 Topps Series Two. I actually remember how I got this, one of my parents picked up a loose pack for me at CVS and I pulled three Yankees in the pack. The only player of note was Jorge Posada. This one must've been special to me because I think that's the moment where I decided to be an official Yankees fan. Good grief, imagine if I had pulled three Mets (shudders!).

And finally is the brand/product that was very likely the VERY FIRST pack of baseball cards I ever opened, 2004 Upper Deck Power Up. Another mid-2000's set geared towards kids that had a very distinct feature.

The players all had enlarged heads.

I'm still not sure what the reasoning behind this is (bobblehead motif?), but it's an interesting design choice nonetheless. It's the kind that just leaves an impression on you for being so weird. The Posada base above did not come from the few packs of this I remember opening. I'm not sure who I pulled (they've all disappeared) but I think one of them was a Red Sox era Pedro Martinez. Blarg.

In addition to the green base card above there were four parallels. Orange (rare), purple (ultra rare), red (super rare) and blue (mega rare), none of these parallels were numbered.

The backs looked like this. As a set geared towards kids they kept the stats simple (and VERY minimal) while focusing more on the fun facts and the disembodied head.

This is one of the Shining Through inserts. It's very glossy and it's a pink-ish purple-ish color. I remember calling it the medicine color because the hue reminded me of some gross tasting cold medicine I had to drink as a kid. Cherry flavor my ass. This insert was not the one I pulled, at the time I pulled a Scott Rolen and a very young Miguel Cabrera.

The back looked like this, this time with more stats, some actual personal info, and a little blurb on the player. All written in a font that wouldn't look out of place on the Rugrats. The portrait picture there is where the disembodied came head from.

This was my favorite insert though, these stickers. You had the Power Up! logo, a nameplate, a team logo (which was huge for young me for some reason), the disembodied head and the bobblehead. I pulled one of these back in the day of Ichiro Suzuki. Young me was thrilled! Also young me was stupid and immediately put the stickers on the little tupperware box he was using to store baseball cards at the time (all 30 of them lol). Older me wonders where it went.

The back of the sticker insert looked like this and now I can address the big elephant in the room that I've been avoiding. What's with those points?

Apparently all of these cards have an allotted amount of points. The base cards are worth 10 points each, the orange parallels are worth 100 points, the purple parallels are worth 250 points, the red parallels are worth 500 points, and the blue parallels are worth 1,000 points. The Shining Through inserts were worth 50 points. Chances are some of you have seem them on the cards themselves.

You may have also noticed the nine digit code on the right hand side of the cards (below the Upper Deck logo). You apparently went to a part of the Upper Deck website where you were able to input those codes and create a team. You can partially see what the page for Power Up! looked like on WayBack Machine here. The team with the most points in a given period of time were able to win prizes (I'm guessing it was either a free song on iTunes or a Ken Griffey Jr. autograph).

Basically all you really needed to do to win was to have nine of those blue parallels. Good luck with that though, Baseballcardpedia put their odds of being pulled at 1:240 packs, which in turn means that the blues were only inserted in one out of every 10 boxes (each box had 24 packs each). Damn. They're still rare as shit now because there are only like two or three of them up on eBay. Mostly going for way more than any sane person would offer.

In doing research for this post I discovered two interesting things about Power Up! That they made a Power Up! set for football, and that there was a "kit" released where you got a special binder to store the cards that came with one pack and two sticker cards. Don't get excited though, the binder doesn't look like your typical three ring-nine pocket binder, it looks like something specially made just for this in which you can only see one card in full and the rest are hidden in pockets. I am seriously debating whether to pick one up for myself TBH.

I never did the online challenge (I was just a bit too young to start wasting my time online back then), but if I had I imagine that I'd have a lot of fun and be really disappointed everytime my team lost because some rich kid (or a grown adult?) had their parents buy them entire boxes of this stuff.

Huh, funny how a lot of the products that meant something to me have been game oriented. Power Up!, Hot Button Baseball, Konami Powerful, Topps Attax, and of course...

Anyway, thanks for joining me on this post where I was actually able to dive back into my childhood for once. I thought that was just reserved for people who were actually collectors as kids but I guess not.

As always thanks for stopping by :).

Take care.


  1. Good research and background to the very under rated Power Up set, that was a nice read.

    1. Thanks TAIO, it was fun to look back on a long forgotten set.

  2. I enjoy the Power UP set. I think the fat-head bobble head design is supposed to relate to "powering up" or it could just be that in '04 that sort of big head look was all the rage in digital photo manipulation and advertising.

    1. In the more modern context it's very easy to make jokes about the Barry Bonds card.

  3. This post reminds me a lot of my childhood love for MLB Showdown. I didn't even know about Hot Button at the time (I've since acquired a couple cards from the set), and I did open quite a few packs of Power Up! around 2004-05 but never played the online game, either. Still not sure why UD chose to go with the enlarged head design, but, hey, they certainly stand out in a binder.

    1. I think their way of thinking was to find something that would make it stand out to kids. And, well, they were right.

  4. Like Nick...I didn't really pay attention to these when they came out. It wasn't until a few years back when I stumbled across some on eBay that I took notice. Thanks for the detailed write up!

    1. It's pretty fun to look back on sets from the mid 2000's, a time when most of the collectors we know now were either MIA or focusing on other things at the time.

  5. Was out of the hobby during the time Power Up was issued. For some reason, I always thought that these Power Up cards were inserts. Thanks for the breakdown.

    1. Doing a post on these mid 2000's sets can be kind of fun since no one was around back then (or almost no one).