1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars baseball cards present an excellent run to chase. The set was released at the tail end of 1998. Given the late release date, this set features a variety of rookie cards of players not included into the flagship 1998 Leaf release. The set features 339 cards with cards 301-339 being short prints. Card #317, Ryan Minor is believed to have been shorter printed than any other card in the set. Popular rookie cards include J.D. Drew and Troy Glaus. Each card in the set is available in four different parallels, which includes the following:
- Base: These are the standard cards in the set and feature silver foil text on the front.
- True Blue: These have a stated print run of 500 copies and feature flat blue foil text on the front.
- Longevity: These have a stated print run of 50 (49) copies and feature foil fronts with flat gold foil text and team logos in the background.
- Longevity Holographic: These have a stated print run of just 1 copy. The first serial numbered card in the print run of 50 for the Longevity parallel is the Holographic parallel. So for example, serial numbered 01/50 is the Longevity Holographic, while serial numbers 02-50/50 are the standard Longevity parallels. The key difference beyond the serial number is that the fronts have a holo-foil finish and don't feature team logos in the background.
This set came out right around the time I checked out of the hobby so I missed this product entirely and wouldn't become aware of it until I would return in the summer of 2003. By that time, several cards in the set, which included many of the key rookie cards, had already become popular in the hobby. I was only ever really after the Frank Thomas cards so I didn't really become familiar with the big names until I got more curious with the 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars set over the years. This is a peculiar set in that it comes with a high number series that's shorter printed compared to other cards in the set. This is reminiscent of vintage sets from the 1950s-1960s. I thought that was an interesting spin. What's even more intriguing is that this wasn't intentional; it just happened that way organically.
As with many, if not most mainstream products from the 1990s, the 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars set comes with a variety of excellent inserts. Sealed boxes are becoming harder to find. If you wanna get your hands on some excellent wax from a time when the hobby experienced a healthy blend of scarcity and variety, grab a box of 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars baseball cards.