This past Sunday, I had a minor Twitter card meltdown over the absence of Upper Deck in the baseball card market. I made a suggestion that caught on somewhat when I suggested Upper Deck try out a full hologram baseball release like they did so long ago with SPx and in inserts before that. Surely by now, hologram technology has improved and it would be neat to see Upper Deck rise from the grave they have one foot stuck in to bounce back into a hobby that still craves nostalgia.
During a Google Images search for Upper Deck holograms I ran into the card below, which was an insert from 1993 Upper Deck. It features an old photograph of a player in front of a hologram background and current photo/gram of said player. The 18-card set is absolutely brilliant and features players from that era along with retired greats like Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, and the man you see below. There’s just something about the card that really makes it special and probably not in a good way.
The young picture of Mantle is the image all baseball fans will forever remember; a good-looking, all-American boy with a God-given gift to hit a baseball. The more recent photo of Mantle, with a huge gut and wrinkles, just three years from an early death is the one hopefully no one recalls when telling their kids about Mantle. Come to think of it, it’s 2015 and there will soon come a time when no one who watched Mantle play will be around. This card is a scary look at our mortality. Nothing lasts forever.
Even our heroes get old and die.
As for the long-forgotten, 18-card insert set, ‘Then & Now’, I would highly recommend it to any fan of baseball and/or baseball cards. It features a great who’s who of the Hall of Fame checklist and features technology that was new and innovative at the time, much like the company who produced the card, Upper Deck. They may never get back what they lost, but no one can deny the impact they left in our hobby. Here’s hoping Upper Deck, much like Mickey Mantle during his playing days, can swing for the fences just one more time.