Upper Deck's SP baseball sets had some pretty sweet designs in the mid-90's, but with the exception of Derek Jeter in 1993 and Alex Rodriguez in 1994, they were a little light on memorable rookie cards. 2007 SP Rookie Edition Baseball hopes to rectify that situation by serving up plenty of cards of this year's rookies on three previous SP designs.
Hobby boxes of 2007 SP Rookie Edition Baseball contain 14 eight-card packs. Each box should contain two autographed cards of 2007 rookies and over 50 cards with the official MLB Rookie Card logo.
Even though SP Rookie Edition has a clear focus on 2007 rookies, the base set leads off with 100 veterans. The card design features a horizontal photo which is borderless on three sides. Player, position and team info are contained in a thin black stripe on the right-hand side, with a thicker gold stripe that uses the SP logo as sort of a wallpaper effect.
The next 42 cards feature players who made their big league debuts in 2007, with similar design elements laid out vertically. The official MLB Rookie Card logo is also displayed prominently, even though some players (like Daisuke Matsuzaka) are appearing on their true rookie cards while others (like Ryan Braun) are not.
My review box produced 54 of the 100 veterans, plus 19 of the 42 rookies with two duplicates.
1993, 1995 and 1996 SP Rookie Designs
The cards that showcase previous SP designs are numbered as part of the base set, but they're such a big part of the product that they deserve their own section. First up is the 1995 SP Rookie Design, notable for its large foil triangle on the left-hand side. The same 42 rookies from the base design also appear on the 1995 design cards.
Foil is king on the 1993 SP Rookie Design cards, and longtime collectors will recall that the shiny originals were prone to chipping and made finding top condition Jeter rookies relatively difficult. Again, this subset features the same 42 rookies.
Finishing up the set is the 1995 SP Rookie Design subset, and while the wood-panel borders make for my least favorite of the three retro looks, there are eight extra rookies here that don't appear on any of the other designs. They were also the easiest to pull in my sample box, appearing much more frequently than the other two retro subsets.
The About.com review box lived up to the lofty promise of more than 50 cards with the MLB Rookie Card logo thanks to 35 total retro cards: seven 1995, seven 1993 and 21 with the 1996 design.
All of the autographs available in SP Rookie Edition are parallels made by simply adding a signed sticker to the various rookie designs. While this doesn't necessarily make for the most attractive autographed cards, it is cool to see signatures along with the old designs.
With the exception of Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima, all of the rookies signed some cards for the set. Some of the bigger names, like Dice-K, Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum and Phil Hughes, are short prints in one or more of the designs.
True to the suggested odds, my sample box contained two autographs: Michael Bourn on the standard design and Brian Borden on the 1995 design.
The Last Word
Foregoing the usual mix of inserts and memorabilia cards, SP Rookie Edition Baseball puts its faith in its rookie content and the nostalgia provided by the 90's designs. Younger or newer collectors may not appreciate the walk down memory lane as much, but all baseball collectors should enjoy the autographs of top 2007 rookies.
SP Rookie Edition Baseball may not end up on any award lists at the end of the year, but it's a fun product with a tight focus. By the pack or box, it looks like a good buy.