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Fernando Valenzuela birthday card: Always read the fine print

I have a handful of Fernando Valenzuela cards from his late-career stay in San Diego, but this his 1997 Pinnacle card is my favorite. It has a good shot of Fernando in his windup, with his mullet peeking out of his hat, but the real good stuff, as it often is, is in the details.

The mid-'90s was when the card industry turned into an arms race to see who could cram the most gimmicks on to one card. Pinnacle managed to remain fairly restrained for their '97 set, restricting all of their obtrusive graphics to the bottom quarter of the card. At first glance it looks like just an unnecessary wall of foil, but a closer look redeems it.

valenzuela fine print

That's a really nice touch. Various attractions and locations unique to San Diego are embossed into the foil. I have the Tony Gwynn and a couple other Padres cards from this set which feature the same print, but only one non-Padres card to compare them to.

cora fine print

The themes of the fine print on the Padres and Mariners cards are strikingly different. Valenzuela's card is loaded with landmarks and the like, while Cora's is nearly completely reliant on sports, even (nick)name-dropping two of his teammates.

Even though Joey Cora is my favorite player ever, I have to admit that Fernando Valenzuela got a cooler card in the 1997 Pinnacle set. Cora's card name-checks a terrible movie, overrated coffee, and one of the worst television shows of all time; Valenzuela's includes the word "Gaslamp".

Advantage: Fernando.