The Very Large Oddball Sets: 1990’s O-Pee-Chee Baseball

Yesterday’s post featured this 1993 O-Pee-Chee B.J. Surhoff card I got last year:
1993 OPC BJ Surhoff

A comment from CommishBob of The Five Tool Collector reminded me that not everybody – or at least not everybody in the U.S. – is aware that O-Pee-Chee had designs that were not just duplicates or echoes of the Topps set from the same year. It wasn’t that long ago that I was right there with you on this.

I thought it would be fun and helpful to give a brief run-through of the unique designs used for 1990’s O-Pee-Chee baseball… but just to be clear, I ain’t no expert. If anybody catches me in a misstatement, please let me know.

I’ll admit, it’s probably not fair to refer to O-Pee-Chee sets as “Oddballs”, but for most of us ethnocentric Americans, that’s pretty much how they’re regarded. My apologies to our Canadian brethren.

In 1991, the O-Pee-Chee flagship set was the usual duplicate of the 1991 Topps set, but they also issued a 132-card “Premier” set that was likely meant as an effort to get in on the “upscale” card trend started by Upper Deck in 1989.
1991 OPC Premier Cal Ripken
I like how both Cal’s head and feet encroach on the border…

Here’s the back. Not much on information, but very easy on the eyes:
1991 OPC Premier Cal Ripken back

1991 Premier Baseball used the same design as 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier hockey, so this was more a matter of “Hey, we did this thing for hockey, let’s do it for baseball as well!”

While the 1992 flagship was again largely identical to Topps, O-Pee-Chee Premier came back in 1992 with a 198-card set.
1992 OPC Premier Doc Gooden

1992 OPC Premier Doc Gooden back

Again, this was a reuse of the 1991-92 Premier hockey design.

In 1993, O-Pee-Chee issued a 396-card set that was their first flagship baseball set that didn’t echo Topps.
1993 OPC Howard Johnson

1993 OPC Howard Johnson back

This set had a pair of insert sets commemorating the 1992 World Champion Blue Jays, but I won’t get into that here (mainly because I don’t have any of those).

Premier also came back for a third year, with a 396-card set issued in three series. There were also inserts sets of “Top Draft Picks” and “Star Performers”.
1993 OPC Premier Harold Baines

1993 OPC Premier Harold Baines back

As with the other Premier sets, it used the design from the 1992-93 Premier hockey.

While O-Pee-Chee created a Premier hockey set for the 1993-94 season, it was not back for baseball. Instead, O-Pee-Chee issued what I consider to be the best design of the bunch. It’s not clear in my scans, but these are full-bleed cards.
1994 OPC Mike Mussina

1994 OPC Mike Mussina back

This set also had some inserts that I won’t get into here…

These cards feature an O-Pee-Chee logo that seems to have been short-lived and forgotten in the mists of time.

According to Wikipedia, it was at this point that O-Pee-Chee got out of the trading card business after being hit hard by the 1994 baseball strike and the 1994-95 hockey lockout.

All of these O-Pee-Chee sets are very nice, although the designs are not particular favorites of mine. They generally did an awesome job on the backs, while the fronts were just OK.

That being said, while I was pulling out Mets & Orioles cards to scan for this post, I was thinking that I need to add these cards to my COMC Black Friday want list.


6 thoughts on “The Very Large Oddball Sets: 1990’s O-Pee-Chee Baseball

  1. Well, there ya go. Nice summary. I really wasn’t aware of these. I wasn’t doing baseball cards in the early 90s.

    btw…that Baines card is a good one. He looks a lot like my brother-in-law.

  2. I’m lukewarm about the 1991-93 designs, but 1994 OPC is fantastic. I don’t own nearly as many of those as I should.

    P. S. — Does UD’s 2009 OPC release count?

  3. I’ve gone back recently and tried to complete all the o pee chee Redsox sets from 65-94. Pretty daunting task. Getting close 9 cards to go. The 71 hi numbers are really tough

  4. I miss OPC. It was a sad day when they gave up the ghost. They didn’t just do sports – they did everything. Whatever you found that was a Topps set in the states was released by OPC up here. (Other than basketball, which I’ve never seen.)

    I’m trying to put together the whole run of baseball (finished hockey years ago) and the stretch from 1965-71 is going to take me eons.

  5. I had never seen O-Pee-Chee ’93 and up. I really like the 1993 design but I don’t understand, if they are paying to be able to use the logo, why not have that on the front of the card where the kinda weak METS is, up in the corner? If you make that switch that is one fantastic design.

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