Perhaps collectors will look back someday on the 1999 SkyBox WNBA Hoops set and hold the same reverence for a big name rookie as they do for the 1986-87 Fleer basketball set.
The latter set is, of course, famous for the Michael Jordan rookie.
The '99 SkyBox WNBA rookie card of Chamique Holdsclaw does not yet hold the same allure for collectors.
But in 10 years, who knows?
In its third season of existence, the WNBA is becoming more popular with sports fans. As more fans are drawn to the young league, more will be drawn to its cards.
Fleer/SkyBox has taken over production of WNBA cards since Pinnacle Brands filed for bankruptcy. The company's first effort, SkyBox WNBA Hoops, was released at the end of June. The 110-card set features 10-card packs that retail for $1.29.
In addition to Holdsclaw, the set will mark the debut cards of such stars as Jennifer Azzi, Kristin Folkl, Nykesha Sales, Katie Smith, Dawn Staley and Natalie Williams. The set also includes a variety of subsets and insert sets. And all the cards were finished with a signable UV-coating to make it easier for players to autograph them.
The SkyBox WNBA Hoops also includes 13 different SkyBox Autographics, which are inserted one in every 144 packs. Among the stars featured are Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. "We conducted research with WNBA trading card collectors and the research clearly indicated that WNBA collectors wanted a collectible product that offers all of the industry's popular elements such as inserts, rookie cards and autographed cards," Gretchen Millspaugh, director of marketing for Fleer/SkyBox, said in a statement.
According to the research done by Fleer/SkyBox, there was a strong market for WNBA cards. However, the company said, the SkyBox WNBA Hoops have done even better than expected.
Fleer/SkyBox will release a second WNBA set, Fleer Ultra WNBA, on Aug. 18. The set will have 10-card packs that retail for $2.69. The 125-card set is expected to feature many rookies, including Holdsclaw, which will be short-printed.
If the Pinnacle WNBA cards are any indication, collectors won't have to worry about whether the cards will hold any value. The 1997 Pinnacle Inside WNBA set is listed at $40 in the June Beckett Basketball Card Monthly. Many of the cards from the '97 Pinnacle Inside WNBA Executive Collection are listed at more than $100. The Cynthia Cooper card from that set books for $250 while the Sheryl Swoopes is listed at $200.
In other words, it might be a good idea to hold on to that Holdsclaw rookie.
Eric Breier is a staff writer for the North County Times in Escondido, Calif. He covers a variety of topics, including a monthly sports collectibles feature.