1997 Leaf Baseball was split into two series, each with a 200-card base checklist. Series 1 also features five different insert sets, all of which are serial numbered. They are not easy pulls. Many boxes will feature just a single insert card.
1997 also marked the debut of the Fractal Matrix parallels. There is a lot going on with these, but I will try to make it simple. There are three different foil colors: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Bronze is the most common, then Silver, with Gold being the most rare. There are also three different die cut designs, X-axis, Y-axis & Z-axis. Again, they get more rare as you move down the line. So there are a total of nine different designs. However, each player has just two possible parallels. For instance, Wade Boggs, card number 1, is available only in Gold and Gold Y-Axis Die Cut. That’s it. You won’t find Bronze or Silver parallels of this card. Each card is found in only one foil color and one die cut shape. Does that make sense? I hope so.
1997 Leaf Series 1 Baseball Box Break
Cards per pack: 8
Packs per box: 24
Price paid: $35
Shop for 1997 Leaf Series 1 Baseball boxes on eBay.
Pack 1 highlights:
Mariano Rivera, Rafael Palmeiro & Chuck Knoblauch LEG
Legacy (LEG) cards were the only subset featured in Series 1.
Mark Grace & Bret Boone Fractal Matrix Bronze (reported print run of just 1,600 copies)
Roberto Alomar, Bob Abreu & Raul Mondesi
Greg Maddux & Trevor Hoffman
Kenny Lofton, Hideo Nomo, Edgar Renteria, Paul Molitor, Dwight Gooden & Alex Rodriguez
Lofton ranks 15th all-time with 622 stolen bases.
Cecil Fielder, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte & Mike Mussina
Andruw Jones, Joe Carter, Ellis Burks, Nomar Garciaparra & Barry Bonds
Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, Randy Johnson, Eddie Murray, Dante Bichette & Vladimir Guerrero
Though Vlad’s card does say “ROOKIE” in the silver foil, his Rookie Cards came out in 1995.
Chipper Jones LEG, Ken Griffey, Jr. LEG & Will Clark
Tim Salmon, Ivan Rodriguez LEG & Mark McGwire
Bernie Williams, Shawn Green, Tony Gwynn & Albert Belle LEG
Belle’s card back mentions his monster 1995 & 1996 seasons. During those two years he hit .314 with 98 home runs and 274 RBI.
John Smoltz, Jose Canseco LEG, Derek Jeter & Jason Giambi
I love this shot of an injured Smoltz throwing a bullpen session.
Bobby Abreu & Roberto Alomar
Greg Maddux, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte & Trevor Hoffman
Hideo Nomo, Edgar Renteria, Kenny Lofton, Alex Rodriguez & Paul Molitor
Mike Mussina & Scott Rolen
Rolen’s base card also is labeled as ROOKIE. Though he did make his debut in 1996, his Rookie Cards are in 1995 releases.
Sammy Sosa, Andruw Jones & Ivan Rodriguez Dress For Success (0291/3500)
Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, Omar Vizquel, Barry Larkin & Dante Bichette Fractal Matrix Bronze (reported print run of 1,600 copies)
Jeff Bagwell, Ozzie Smith & Wade Boggs
As a Red Sox fan, I have never loved Boggs cards showing him as a Yankee.
Mo Vaughn & Cal Ripken, Jr. LEG
Brian Jordan, Ken Caminiti & Ryne Sandberg LEG
Billy Wagner, Jim Thome LEG & Keith Lockhart Fractal Matrix X-Axis Die Cut Bronze (reported print run of just 400 copies)
Lockhart played 10 seasons in the majors, amassing 591 career hits.
Manny Ramirez & Darin Erstad
Pedro Martinez, Frank Thomas, Vinny Castilla, Tom Glavine & Mike Piazza LEG
Lastly, the Will Clark card back, featuring a great throwback jersey.
Just one insert in this one. But, that is what should be expected in these boxes. While I do wish they were more plentiful, the limited print runs do make for some exciting pulls. I did find three Fractal Matrix cards in this box as well. All three were the most plentiful color, Bronze.
The inserts and Fractal Matrix parallels are fun enough that I would certainly grab another box of this one.
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Want more installments of Shane Salmonson’s Cheap Wax Wednesday? Check out his other breaks in the archives.