Fleer took its initial steps into the baseball card market in the late ’50s/early ’60s, producing a set dedicated to the career of Ted Williams, and a couple of “all-time greats” issues that focused on retired players.
Come 1963, they were suitably emboldened to attempt a run at the Topps monopoly on current-player cards. That year, Fleer introduced a rather no-frills series of 66 cards in wax packs, accompanied not by gum but rather by a cherry-flavored cookie.
Well, the lawyers for Topps clamped down quicker than you can say “series two” and Fleer stopped the presses.
Throughout the remainder of the ’60s and into the next decade, Fleer came out with a cavalcade of baseball-related sets that steered well clear of Topps waters.
Finally, in 1981, the monopoly was broken, and Fleer and Donruss entered the market with sets that competed directly with Topps.
The first few Fleer issues were fairly nondescript. The designs were lackluster, the paper stock and production values were poor, and the cards were prone to all manner of distracting errors.
The company hit its stride in 1984, and printed several attractive sets in the following years.
Fleer eventually succumbed to the insert mania of the late ’90s, producing a greater number of “limited” subsets than the market could possibly bear.
They took this to its logical extreme by issuing some of the first parallel cards serial numbered 1 of 1. This was the formal death knell for a certain kind of collecting, and the big bang for another entirely different type of collecting.
The company entered a steady, sad decline and finally collapsed in on itself in 2005– Upper Deck then bought the Fleer name for an out-of-key song, and kept the brand alive through 2007.
This Jose Reyes card is an emblem of that decline. It is from a 2003 set named Fleer Mystique, and it is a limited parallel version of the base card, serial numbered 001/075 on the back. According to the Standard Catalog, this set contained a gold parallel numbered to either 150 (veterans) or 50 (rookies), so I’m not even sure what the hell this card is.
But in the spirit of the holiday season, and in recognition of all Jose meant to the Mets over the years, I’m going to have a small contest to give the card away. Simply leave a haiku in the comments that expresses your feelings over the loss of Jose. Here’s mine:
Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-
se, Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-se
Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-
A winner will be selected based on the whims of Card of the Week, who is, it must be said, a right capricious bastard.
Employees of Mets360 and their families are indeed eligible. No purchase necessary.