The 2000 Skybox E-X E-Xceptional insert set is one of the most popular insert sets from the insert-crazed era of the late 1990s. Judging by their availability on eBay, or the lack thereof, the E-X E-Xceptional cards are also among the most coveted and hoarded of all inserts, despite the fact that they were not nearly as short-printed as other popular inserts from the period. The set is comprised of 15 cards, including Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., Chipper Jones, and Frank Thomas, among others, and they are available in three different tiers, or parallels, of varying print runs. An example from the base Red set could be pulled one in every 14 packs and was produced to a print run of 1,999 serial-numbered sets, the Green to a print run of 999, and the Blue to just 250, the latter of which could be pulled at a rate of one in every 288 packs. Based on these numbers, some quick math proves that there exist precisely 29,985 of the Red cards, 14,985 of the Green, and 3,750 of the Blue. And yet, a quick search on eBay reveals just thirty available examples—yeah, just thirty—which begs the question: where the heck have they all gone?
Produced by Skybox, a brand of Fleer/Skybox International, the E-X E-Xceptional cards are remarkably similar to the mega popular Skybox E-X Jambalaya basketball insert cards of the late 90s, arguably the most popular insert cards ever produced, with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant examples from 1997 and 1998 generating sales in excess of $10,000. John at oldschoolbreaks.wordpress.com writes that the E-X E-Xceptional is his personal favorite insert set, and he notes that the cards “feature the same technology used in the Jambalaya inserts in basketball.” That is to say, the cards are die-cut in an oval shape, and they feature an almost cloth-like front surface that creates a 3-D appearance similar to the old-school Sportflix cards of the 1980s. The cards are exceptionally attractive in person, no pun intended, but their die-cut perimeters and black backs often show excessive chipping on the reverse, creating a challenge for high-grade collectors seeking PSA 10 Gem Mint or BGS 10 Pristine perfection.
The 2000 E-X E-Xceptional baseball insert cards are rare but not impossible, and there are just enough still kicking around to make collecting the set a challenge, in any condition, but especially in top grades. The cards are intensely appealing in person, and they share an affinity with one of the most popular basketball insert sets ever produced. In short, the E-Xceptional cards are exactly that, exceptional, on every level, Red, Green, and Blue.
* Please note that the Green and Blue PSA 10 examples above are available in the Small Traditions web store, and the Red PSA 10 is currently up for auction in our Monthly Masterpieces Plus #9 auction, ending tomorrow night, Saturday 6/1.