The mid to late 90’s were kind of the glory years for weird, ugly and downright confusing baseball cards. Interest in card collecting was falling coming out of the 1994 baseball strike, yet you still had plenty of card companies producing multiple products trying to find something that would click with fans. Sometimes, card companies got a little too…creative.
Enter the 1995 Studio series.
I can’t even begin to imagine the discussion that led to Donruss’ creation of a 200 card set made to resemble credit cards. Clearly some time and thought went into their development as there are plenty of little design elements going on, from the use of the previous year’s stat line as the card number, to the inclusion of MLB start date and birth date in the expiry section and even little “Donruss” anti-fraud style logos in the signature box. They even produced “Platinum” and “Gold” parallel cards for select players with more features to resemble a credit card. This card is a “Gold Card” parallel that features many of the same features as the regular card, like raised lettering and a team hologram, but features rounded corners and is actually made out of plastic!
The Studio series has a long line of unintentionally hilarious cards. Most years leading up to the 1995 series featured almost glamour-shot like portraits and little to no stat information on the back, instead attempting to offer us some insight into the player as a person. Take this 1991 Studio Tom Candiotti Blue Jays card with fake motion blur on the ball and such interesting player info on the back as “likes light rock with less talk.” Or to bring it back to good old Joe Carter, his 1992 Studio card which gave us all valuable insight into his love of Vanessa Williams and the classic 1978 Diana Ross/Michael Jackson musical film The Wiz. Don’t you feel more closely connected to these players now?
I also can’t help but take the opportunity to remind everyone of the 1991 Studio Steve Lake “Parrot” card, one of the legends of bizarre baseball cards.
I keep coming back to the question, “who would this appeal to?” It turns out the answer was nobody and 1995 Studio remains one of the more hilarious flops in baseball card history. They abandoned the credit card design the following year, but did bring a version back as an insert in 2002 Studio, because…well…I have no idea.
Matt Ross wastes a lot of time collecting and thinking about baseball cards. Find him on twitter @TheMattRoss and at retrojayscards.tumblr.com