Today, in the world of sports card collecting, few things generate as much excitement as the chase for rare cards from packs. Upper Deck, one of the industry’s most influential and innovative companies, knew this better than anyone. In 1990, they launched the “Find The Reggie” promotion, which featured an autographed card of baseball legend Reggie Jackson as the “grand prize.” This promotion proved to be a game-changer, cementing Upper Deck’s position as a major player in the industry and inspiring them to push the envelope even further. Upper Deck continued its Heroes series with autograph chase cards across all four major sports: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at these 1991 Upper Deck Heroes’ autograph chase cards.
1991 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes
Upper Deck released a pair of autographed heroes chase cards in their 1991 baseball product. Nolan Ryan signed and numbered 2500 cards that Upper Deck inserted in low-number packs. The base cards continued their numbering from the 1990 Reggie Jackson set. The Reggie base cards are numbered 1-9, and Ryans are numbered 10-18.
Hank Aaron signed and numbered 2500 cards that Upper Deck inserted in high-number foil and jumbo packs. Aaron’s base cards were numbered 19-27.
You can see that Upper Deck highlighted the ‘Find the Nolan’ and ‘Find the Hank’ promotions on each series box.
In 1991, Upper Deck also had a series called “Heroes of Baseball,” a four-card set featuring Harmon Killebrew, Gaylord Perry, and Ferguson Jenkins. Each player autographed and numbered 3000 of their cards. But Upper Deck distributed them in specially-marked low series boxes (like the example on the right above) at special Heroes of Baseball events, so I don’t think they fit really fit in this series (they don’t follow the numbering of the base chase cards), but they are fantastic, so I’ll probably highlight them in a future newsletter.
1991 Upper Deck Basketball Heroes
Upper Deck inserted 2500 autographed Jerry West Heroes cards in packs of their inaugural high-series boxes. The base cards are numbered 1-9. The box highlighted the ‘FIND THE WEST’ chase.
1991 Upper Deck Football Heroes
Upper Deck randomly inserted Joe Montana’s Upper Deck Heroes cards in 1991 Series 1 football packs. Montana signed and numbered 2500 chase cards. The base cards are numbered 1-9.
Upper Deck included Joe Namath case cards in their Series 2 packs; he also signed 2500 cards and signed every 100th “Broadway Joe.” The base cards are numbered 10-18.
Like their 1991 baseball cards, Upper Deck highlighted ‘Find the Montana’ and ‘Find the Namath’ on each series’ box.
1991 Upper Deck Hockey Heroes
Hockey wasn’t left out of the Heroes chase series, as Upper Deck included 2500 signed and numbered Brett Hull cards randomly inserted in English and French packs. The base cards are numbered 1-9.
It’s a little tough to decipher the PSA and PSA/DNA Pop Reports, but it appears there are a couple hundred of each card encapsulated for each card across all the grading services.
The 1991 Upper Deck Heroes autograph chase cards represent a pivotal moment in the history of sports trading cards. Upper Deck’s innovative approach to the chase card phenomenon paved the way for future generations of collectors and enthusiasts. Having all six of these iconic cards would make for an impressive little collection, and while they were printed during the “junk wax” era, the thrill of the hunt remains just as exciting today. So if you’re feeling lucky, go ahead and roll the dice – you never know, you might be the next collector to pull one of these coveted cards from a pack! Happy collecting, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Post War Cards Newsletter.
PS, I highly recommend Sports Collectors Digest’s Premium Insert Sports Cards guide if you’re into insert and chase cards.