Card of the Day: 1996 Upper Deck Mike Kingery

Today’s Card of the Day is our first look at the 1996 Upper Deck set. I blame you the readers for letting me go this long without covering this interesting offering from Upper Deck. I have covered one of their 1996 sets already 2-3 times, including this Mike Kingery card from the 1996 Collector’s Choice set.

March 29th is a somewhat busy day for Pittsburgh Pirates history, but the players born on this date don’t offer many card choices. Kingery had an unspectacular one season Pittsburgh, which was his last year in the majors. The Pirates released him prior to the 1997 season, despite signing him (before 1996) for a two-year contract. He was brought in for his defense in center field, then proceeded to put up a -1.9 dWAR that season.

Today is Kingery’s 62nd birthday, so let’s put his one bad season aside, and celebrate the man who played exactly ten more years in the majors than I did. We do that by checking out his 1996 Upper Deck card, which is card #437 in the set.

Here’s the front of the card:

I have mentioned multiple times how popular the “no border” look was during this time period. One set did it with success (Topps Stadium Club), then everyone had to try it out. It’s funny that adding a cool looking design at the bottom made me not notice the no border look right away. The bottom strip took away my concentration from the 85% of the card that had no border. I like it a lot though, with that color giving you either an infield dirt of fielding glove feel to it. Then you have two shadow baseball players in the design, along with a nice looking nameplate.

These cards had high quality photos for the time, something that Score sort of started in 1988, but Upper Deck really got everyone into once they released their product in 1989. This is a nice action shot of Kingery. That’s something you can also find on his Collector’s Choice card linked above, as well as the back of this card…

Here’s the back:

The picture on the back of this card nearly rivals the front for both quality and size. I like the second photo look on cards, but sometimes the front photo and back one look like they were taken seconds apart. Not only do you get batting/fielding contrast here, you also get a different uniform.

It was nice of Upper Deck to include that great Pirates logo on the back. Would be nice if it was a little bigger, but that’s just me being greedy. I like that little batter logo next to the fun fact about his hitting in 1995. Notice that part about hitting worse on grass and realize that he played in Colorado, so that’s really an insane stat. He played 119 games that year, and only 24 were on astroturf, though those games were spread among five ballparks, including Three Rivers Stadium.

One really interesting thing in his limited stats shown here is that they have his batting records from the 1995 National League Division Series. That’s not only odd to see in stats on a card, it’s also odd that it’s at the top of his stats, and his 1995 regular season stats are at the bottom. That had to be confusing to many in the pre-Baseball-Reference days.

This is a common card that you shouldn’t pay more than $2 delivered for on Ebay. Some people have it for more due to shipping charges, but in reality you’re buying a ten cent card because you like it, and $2 won’t break your bank.