Card of the Day: 2002 Fleer Tradition Alex Hernandez

If you are a regular here in the Card of the Day series, you know I love newer cards that use throwback designs. Many of them are just Topps going back to one of their old designs, but once in a while, those throwbacks go deeper into the past.

It has been almost a full year since we looked at the 2002 Fleer Tradition set. It’s a throwback set to long before Fleer was releasing cards. They used the design from the 1934 Goudey set, which is still a very popular set now with the vintage collectors due to the players included in the set.

Today’s featured player is Alex Hernandez, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school in Puerto Rico. He played for the 2000-01 Pirates, which was his entire big league career. Unknowingly at the time, his big league career was already over before people were getting these cards in packs. Today is his 46th birthday, so what better time for his first appearance in our Card of the Day series. Here’s a look at card #101 in the 2002 Fleer Tradition set.

Here’s the front of the card:

While the 1934 Goudey cards were more square-shaped, the 2002 Fleer Tradition cards are your standard card size you’re used to seeing  today. The design still has many similarities. Both sets have white borders, with a cartoon/drawing baseball scene background behind a picture of the player. That background looks like it’s right off of a Goudey card. The players on the 1934 cards were done in artwork, while the newer set used photos.  The way the player’s name is presented at the top is exactly the same between both years.

The bottom section here uses the same colors/design as the original, but they are quite different. Goudey used the fame of Lou Gehrig to help sell cards, so there was a blue and white drawing of him where you see the Pirates logo. Next to that were the words “Lou Gehrig says…”. Those dots were actually there, and they were encouraging you to turn over the card, where you would get a scouting report on the players that was supposedly from Lou Gehrig.

The American flag here on the card wasn’t on the originals from 1934. My best guess was that they added it because these cards were coming out shortly after 9/11 occurred. At one time I thought they represented the country of the players, until I realize all of the cards have American flags.

Here’s the back of the card:

I collected these cards new as a kid, but I never noticed that the shadow on the back was the same exact pose as the front. It wasn’t until a saw scans of the same card side-by-side that I noticed that little gem. Obviously when you have the card in hand, you’re not seeing both sides at the same time to notice something like that.

I mentioned that the originals had scouting reports on the back, while the newer cards have just stats. That’s a bit odd because they clearly had room to add some kind of facts on the player. There is a lot of empty space here. Another oddity is that Hernandez debuted in 1995, so they just left out his first four seasons. Once again, there was clearly room for it.

While these backs are not a throwback to the 1934 Goudey set in any way, they do have a bit of a throwback feel, so it works. I like the use of a baseball glove as a place for the card number.

If you’re interested in this card, you do have some options. You can just buy a regular copy for $2 delivered from multiple sellers. There is one autographed copy going for $13 delivered. There’s also a glossy version that was limited to 200 copies. There are two on Ebay right now for $4 and $6.50.