In its fourth season, Upper Deck resisted the temptation to put its migrating line in the final position to complete a square.
Instead, it ditched the line and gave the cards a different, more sophisticated look.
The card-front picture is offset by a shadow strip on two sides, creating a three-dimensional effect. Team logos are free-standing. The Upper Deck logo has a speeding baseball coming out of it and shares the top of the card with the player's name. For his position, you have to turn over the card.
Backs are similar to those of the past, but the player's name line is in a color block. The photo is slightly smaller, and the Major League Baseball and players' association logos are under the picture and flank a new Upper Deck '92 logo.
It's hardly a sea change, though, says Don Bodow, Upper Deck senior vice president.
"The demand wasn't there for us to change," Bodow says. "The collectors didn't see similarity [of cards from the three previous seasons]; they saw continuity."
The most stunning cards are the team checklists, which feature artwork by Vernon Wells, who places a star outside or inside his team's stadium. Of course, there are glitches when a set is produced before the season: Eddie Murray starring on the Los Angeles Dodgers checklist, Greg Swindell on the Cleveland Indians list and Danny Tartabull on the Kansas City Royals list. The Baltimore Orioles list shows Ben McDonald outside the new park.
Upper Deck had planned to issue cards of top draft pick Brien Taylor, Mike Kelly and Frankie Rodriguez. They have been replaced by Ted Wood, Jeff Plympton and Carlos Rodriguez. According to Bodow, Upper Deck has run into exclusivity contracts and players who choose not to appear on cards. Once a player signs a major-league contract, he is covered by the players' association's contracts with licensed card manufacturers.
Special cards and subsets to watch for are star rookies (including the Orioles' Arthur Rhodes), top prospects, multi-exposure cards (which first appeared in the 1991-92 NHL cards), and "Bloodlines" (including the Orioles' Cal and Bill Ripken). There also are cards noting Dave Winfield's 400th home run and Jim Abbott urging young fans to stay in school.
Hull in French: Upper Deck's nine-card Brett Hull bonus subset has been inserted randomly in French-edition packs. Eight of the cards are in French. Card No. 9, of which Hull autographed 2,500, is not translated. Upper Deck plans to issue a "Hockey Heroes" subset in each future low series.
Today, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.
Saturday, baseball card show to benefit Arundel High baseball team, Arundel High (1001 Annapolis Road, Gambrills), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 674-6500 x252.
Saturday, baseball card show to benefit Running Brook Elementary School PTA, Running Brook Elementary School (5215 Running Brook, Columbia), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 964-0870.
Sunday, baseball card show, Martin's Ballroom-Westminster (140 Village Shopping Center), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.
Feb. 15, baseball card show to benefit Anne Arundel Chapter of the Sunshine Foundation, Columbian Center (335 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 987-5919.
Feb. 15, baseball card show to benefit Overlea-Fullerton baseball program, Fullerton Elementary School, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 931-1516.
Feb. 15, baseball card show to benefit Johns Hopkins AIDS Research Center, Sacred Heart Church, Reisterstown (65 Sacred Heart Lane), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 833-5790 or (410) 833-6877.
Feb. 15, baseball card show to benefit Babe Ruth Museum, Hit and Run Club at Memorial Stadium, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 727-1539.
Feb. 16, baseball card show to benefit Loch Raven Recreation Council Baseball League, Loch Raven Optimist Bingo Hall (Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 931-4881.