I was out totally for awhile. You couldn't pay me to watch a game. I'd rather tune in for a hockey game, a game of roundball or my favorite -- the NFL. To be honest, I even prefer NASCAR and Soccer these days. But, in 1999 I decided to attend a few minor league games. I watched this young kid named Lance Berkman just absolutely kill the ball in a couple of games in Las Vegas. I followed him as he eventually was brought up by the Astros. It wasn't until 2002-03 that I got lured back into watching MLB on a more regular basis. I saw the Mudcats play and this skinny kid named Miguel Cabrera was just eating Double A pitching for lunch. It wasn't long before he was brought up to the Florida Marlins and began beating down National League pitching too.
In what seemed like an instant, he became their cleanup hitter. In addition to being a phenomenal pure hitter, he smacked a significant amount of dingers helping the Marlins reach new heights and a World Series victory.
I had been a follower, and his skills made me a fan. I began searching out his rookie and autographed cards. Of the ones I have collected, this is by far my favorite. Fleer, in my opinion was producing the very best baseball cards at the time of their demise. They were trying new things and in some ways they were also playing catch-up with Upper Deck. The fact is, they also crafted some of the very best brands at the same time. Avant, Genuine, Patchworks, Greats of the Game and E-X produced some of the most exciting card designs of modern times. Say what you want about them, but you can never take that away from the team that worked there.
This Cabrera card comes from the 2004 Fleer Genuine Insider collection. The card and the concept is just simply cool. You have what appears to be a thick regular-sized 2.5 x 3.5 trading card. The magic is that the card slides out and inside is a beautiful autograph or in some cases a giant swatch of game-used material. Yeah, I said game-used, not a swatch that could be this, or might be that. You know the ones where the manufacturer won't even tell you what it is, or where it came from. It's not some swatch of junk with no description used just to make the card look nice.
Anyway, enough rambling, it's a cool card, and best of all Russ Cohen found it while dumpster diving at the Fleer offices during our broadcast that reported them closing their doors for good.
Ok, I totally made up that last part, I pulled it out of a pack myself. But wouldn't that have been funny? I know for a fact that people were indeed dumpster diving at the Fleer offices and always wondered what they found. I wish Fleer was still around. Not the Fleer that Upper Deck has, but the real deal. They were creative, innovative and with the exception of a ton of redemption cards, they did a fantasic job producing some of the better baseball cards of the early 2000s.
Update 9/2012: With one day left in the season, Miggy is looking at the first Triple Crown since Yaz did it in 1967! Cabrera is in my opinion the best player in the game today. I applaud the way he's dealt with his demons and is back on top of the game. This is a good story. Who doesn't love a good story?