Sometimes I'll read about another collector's devotion to 1990 Donruss or '91 Fleer and my heart will go out to that individual.
"That poor collector," I'll say. "They have no idea what's good."
But those particular collectors can't help it. They know '91 Donruss is junk -- or at least they should -- but the pull of nostalgia is too strong. The meaning behind that set, what they were doing, who they were, the discoveries and intrigue when that set came out, is now sealed within every card in that set. It's all they can see. It's made them stupid ... for a set ... that, objectively, isn't anything all that great.
I know that because I've gotten stupid over too common, too pedestrian sets myself.
One of those is 1991-92 Pro Set hockey.
The cards from the set are everywhere. The design isn't all that great and, frankly, the set seems to have been put together rather haphazardly. It's also a victim of the expansion that was going on at the time in the NHL.
But I see those cards and my mind immediately goes back to that time, when I was first immersing myself into the game and collecting those cards so I could know more. The hobby was exciting at that time and hockey was exciting because it was a world new to me.
I've mentioned before that I would like to collect the cards from that set. It doesn't seem like anyone takes me seriously when I say that. After all, I could find a box of 91-92 Pro Set for almost nothing and be done with the thing. Logically, that's what I should do. And, someday probably, that's what I will do.
But for now, I'm being stupid. I'm collecting the cards, bit by bit, when the mood strikes. When nostalgia strikes.
And, finally, someone has aided my habit. He is an accomplice to my stupid nostalgic urges. Good ol' buckstorecards has sent me one of his annual packages of sports cards goodness.
I knew I could count on him.
That is 143 cards from the 615-card Pro Set ... uh ... set (once again, Pro Set name, I hate you). Actually, a little bit less as I'll show in a minute.
I love the '91-92 set because it recalls a time when I knew every star who skated on NHL ice. All of these guys are very familiar to me, and now that I pay little attention to the NHL, part of me believes they're still actually playing.
Look at all those guys we used to talk about every day. Don't you remember reading about them in the newspaper and catching them on Hockey Night in Canada? I do. And it was my first appreciation of what greatness on a sheet of ice meant.
Some superstars for ya.
This is how long ago this set came out. Guys were still out there acting like helmets were a bad idea.
Another "you're so old" reminder. Ric Nattress' son played for a team that my newspaper covers last year. And the son wasn't a young guy either. He was in "you're probably too old to be playing hockey" territory.
This is what will really take you back to the time period. Brand new San Jose Sharks!
Remember when the Sharks were the IT team and teal was the IT color? I had a Sharks hat during this time. It was atrocious. Just crime-worthy ugly. 1990s fashion was so brutal.
Pro Set has a lot of fun subsets, all-stars and history of the game stuff, and it's filled with crazy things like players having more than one card but with different teams. And then there's the above: two players with the same team with the same uniform on consecutively numbered cards but with different logos.
The reason the logos are different is because the card on the right is the French Canadian version, which had the updated Stars logo.
Oh, did I not mention that Doug sent both the American and French versions of the cards? That's why I didn't get 143 cards of one set. It's 143 cards of the American and French sets combined.
Honestly, how many things was Pro Set throwing at you at once?
Doug's not one to stop at just one kind of card thing in his mailings, so, of course, there were the usual random assemblage of Sabres hockey cards, too.
I honestly have little idea of what I have for Sabres cards as I sort through them maybe twice a year. I have even less of an idea of what all the sets are, which is probably why I sort through them twice a year. But they sure are fun to look at all together!
There are always Bills cards, too, as Doug and I are both Bills fans.
The top row is fancy.
I never quite know what to do with college cards of future Bills, I have so little use for college football. But it's nice to see where they came from, I guess.
The most exciting part of the package though -- aside from those Pro Set cards -- were a bunch of present-day Panini Chronicles Dodgers.
This is something that I never see -- especially now during the days of store shelf raiding.
All of the various sets within the set are an attempt, I'm convinced, to take your mind off the fact that there's not an MLB logo to be found, but it's still a lot of fun. The Magnitude cards are almost genius -- my goodness, Panini, what's come over you? -- and the Titanium cards show the '90s that you can actually make cards shiny and get them to scan properly.
Doug even threw in a couple of hits, one of the former Dodger and tattoo addict, Alex Verdugo.
This card is both impressive and bizarre.
First of all, it's an impressive send by Doug. Gavin Lux cards were super-hot at the start of the baseball season. They've dipped since then, but my first Lux autograph is quite appreciated.
The look of the card is rather odd. Not the greatest choice of photo and Lux, like all modern major leaguers, needs to work on his signature.
But that's why they make all kinds of collectors. Some get stupid for pervasive Pro Set hockey cards from 30 years ago and some get stupid over the latest nonlicensed cards.
One more card from Doug and then I'll depart.
It's one of those elusive Opening Day variation cards that I never see because I'm not buying cases of Opening Day.
The beauty of this hobby is there will always be a set or a card that you can get stupid over. Whether that's nostalgia or just the attraction to the new and shiny, cards never lose their appeal.
I'm just glad I've never found 1990 Donruss or 1991 Fleer appealing.