30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sweet Selection of Samples

When I worked at Fun Stuff Cards, Comics, and Collectibles back in the late 90's... one of the cool perks was having access to promo cards.  I'm not exactly sure how these were meant to be distributed, since I never actually handed any out to customers and I don't remember any of the owners or co-workers passing them out either.

I do remember a giant box filled with them in the back and whenever I saw a new one added to it, I'd grab a copy for myself.  About ten years ago, I discovered my stash of 90's promo cards and my interest in them was revived.  Since then, my collection has doubled... maybe even tripled in size... thanks to some non-sports promos I've purchased at flea markets over the years.

Two weeks ago, I received a package from Greg over at The Collective MindEarlier in the month, he went on a six state tour of card shops including a stop at the NSCC.  Along the way, he must have stumbled across a treasure trove of promo cards, because he sent me ten Tony Gwynn promo cards from the late 90's to the early 2000's.

Here's a look at them sorted in chronological order:

1997 Leaf Knothole Gang Sample #4

This is hands down my favorite card in the bunch and it's the lone Leaf promo card.  It's diecut... and features wood matting.  I know there are collectors who don't appreciate the Golden Age of Insert Cards, but I can't think of one reason a Tony Gwynn baseball card collector would turn their nose up to this card.

1998 Pacific Online Sample #Sample

This card is not aesthetically pleasing, but it documents a time when the internet and card collecting were learning to co-exist.

1999 Pacific Sample #Sample

I wasn't the biggest fan of Pacific trading cards back in the day, but over the years I've grown to appreciate the well-cropped action shots featured on their cards.

1999 Pacific Crown Collection Sample #Sample

The back of the card features that iconic Gwynn smile.  And who doesn't appreciate a bilingual trading card every now and then?

1999 Pacific Paramount Sample #Sample

1999 Pacific Prism Sample #Sample

Prisms were Pacific's version of 90's shine... whose legacy lives on through Panini these days.

2000 Pacific Sample #Sample

2000 Pacific Crown Collection Sample #Sample

2000 Pacific Paramount Sample #Sample

I've never given much thought to the Pacific card back designs, but after flipping through these samples... I just realized that Pacific used photographs on every one.  Gotta give them some props for that.

2000 Pacific Vanguard Sample #Sample

And rounding out the sweet selection of Tony Gwynn samples is this 2000 Pacific Vanguard.  This was the only year Pacific produced Vanguard baseball cards.  At the end of 2000, their MLB license expired.  At the time I didn't mind.  Pacific was my least favorite card manufacturer and I was getting ready to sell off my collection and focus on paying off debt and saving up for a place.

Fast forward nineteen years and I've grown to appreciate their cards.  Time (and generous care packages like this) have a funny way of doing that.

Thanks Greg for these ten promo cards!  It made me take a trip back in time when I was just starting to build my promo card collection while moonlighting at my local card shopGood times.  I'll get you added to the growing list of care packages that I owe fellow bloggers.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. Those are all super cool and I've always loved the Knothole Gang cards. Awesome stuff for your Gwynn collection from GCA!

  2. Back in the late '90s Pacific samples would arrive in the mail at the newspaper. I wasn't collecting then but I took them home. They were almost all Tony Gwynns, probably some of the ones you showed.

  3. Those are definitely interesting. I wish I was into collecting in the late 1990s. There were some cool sets and subsets that are overlooked during this time. Love the graphics back then. Glad Greg hooked you up!

  4. Yeah, I have a ton of those non sport promos, back then magazines and price guides came in sealed bags if you will, and almost always had promos in them. I used to highlight a them once a week a few years back. I still have a huge scan folder full of some I haven't shown yet.

  5. Cool selection there! I worked at a sports collectibles store for a year or so in the late-90s, and I remember our boss would hand promo cards out to us employees whenever he received them. One time he gave me a huge Pinnacle promo card featuring a John Vanbiesbrouck hockey mask (Florida Panthers). It must have been 2 feet by 3 feet. No idea where that is now.

  6. That Knothole gang is awesome!

  7. Pacific is so awesome - I know I've mentioned it many times. I wish I appreciated them more when I was a kid. They were so of a "last resort" when some other product wasn't at CVS. But looking back, they had some of the most beautiful cards of the time.

  8. I have a few sample cards in my collection. Most of them are from the dime bins, and I didn't even realize that they were samples till I got home.

    Seeing this post reminds me of just how great Tony Gwynn was. Easily one of the greatest hitters of all-time, yet I still consider him an under-appreciated player nowadays.

  9. dennis - yeah, those knothole inserts are nice looking cards.

    night owl - between all of the card shops and newspapers these were distributed at, i'm gonna assume that these aren't rare. but that doesn't affect the coolness factor (at least to this gwynn fan).

    sumomenkoman - 90's inserts were on another level. they truly don't make them anymore... like the good old days.

    johnnys trading spot - i remember buying non-sport update just for the promos. wizard magazine too.

    gregory - i vaguely remember those huge pinnacle cards. don't think i ever came across a promo card for them though. very cool.

    sport card collectors - heck yeah it is

    the lost collector - they were definitely a last resort brand to me as well. just way too much gold foil for my taste. but these days, i'm blown away by their ability to crop photos like no other company

    henry blanchette - can you imagine if he had played in new york or boston? he would have been much more popular. then again... i'm glad he was loyal to san diego.