I started collecting baseball cards as an adult in 1985. 1991 is one of my favorite early years in collecting. Many of the designs were good and there were several exciting new releases. The hobby hadn't yet been taken over by insert-mania and parallel set excesses. Looking back, I can see that 1991 was probably the last year when a determined adult collector with some money to spent could acquire all the cards for is favorite team. Saying that, I still don't have all the 1991 Phillies cards, but I've got most of cards from the regular releases. I've been scanning Phillies cards recently so here is 1991 as represented by Phillie Mickey Morandini
Bowman #492Bowman is probably the weakest design of the major manufacturers in 1991. I'd say it is better than 1989 and 1990, but nothing to write home about. Bowman will hit it's stride with the 1992 set. I was actually still missing a few 1991 Bowman Phillies so I just bought the Phillies set on eBay.
Classic I #79
I won't argue that this was a major release but I think the cards were widely available. This is an update to the 1991 Classic Game set. There is a Morandini card in that set as well, but according to Beckett.com, Darren Daulton appears on the card. I'd like to get my hands on that.
This is the last of a series of Donruss card designs which appear to be the result of the designers imbibing mood-altering drugs. This is also the first post-1981 set to be released in 2 series, another plague on the hobby. The first series had this blue background while the second had a green background.
I know a lot of people don't like this set because it is so, well, it's so yellow. I'd always thought that Fleer cards up through 1990 were pretty boring. This set was not boring. Fleer, designs would get wilder as the 1990s went on.
This was the second year for leaf. It's a good design although not real exciting. As near as I can tell, this was the first set with a parallel set included as inserts, Leaf Black Gold. They weren't particularly hard to get at 1 per pack, but trying to assemble all the Phillies would have been hard. I only have one Phillies Leaf Black Gold.
The other 1991 Morandini card I don't have. For the first time ever, O-Pee-Chee produced their own cards, instead of just repackaging Topps cards for Canada. The cards were on white card stock and quite attractive. I'm sorry I only have this lousy scan from Beckett.com. There are only 3 Phillies in this set and I only have one of them.
I had really liked 1990 through 1992 Score but I think future designs are dull and by the late 1990s Score will be gone.
Score 1991 Rookie #33
This 40-card set was available only as a boxed set in hobby stores. If you were a fanatical Morandini collector you would have probably missed this one.
Stadium Club #535
Stadium Club was a new release in 1991 and it was pretty exciting. Photograde, glossy printing, full bleed fronts, and gold foil. All firsts for a major issue card. The backs, instead of being a list of statistics, presented unusual statistics and a picture of the player's Topps rookie card. This was another Phillies set I was missing a few cards but was able to just order on eBay.
This was the initial release of Studio and you can see it takes a different approach to card design. All of the photos are posed, there are no field or action shots. Studio was always a favorite of mine. Last year I bought the entire set on eBay mainly to get the Steve Lake card where he has a parrot on his shoulder.
For it's flagship set, Topps was still pretty traditional. But compared to the last several years, the design is fresh (especially after the psychedelic mess of 1990). And that 40th anniversary logo looks great.
Topps Debut '90
Another boxed rookie set only available through hobby shops. It was more extensive than the Score Rookies set. It also was easily overlooked. I believe it was several years after 1991 until I was even aware of the set. I bought the entire set in 2004 for about $10.
The third new major premium card issued in 1991. Like Stadium Club, these cards were much more expensive than regular cards like Donruss or Topps, making collecting your favorite team or favorite player that much harder. I liked the first 3-4 years of Ultra but later years didn't do much for me.
Upper Deck #18
By now, Upper Deck, in its third year was the veteran premium set. And, while I still like the design, it was starting to show its age when compared to Stadium Club or Ultra. The 1991 design is not much different than 1990 or 1989.