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1998 Metal Universe

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1998 Metal Universe was a 220-card single-series set produced by Fleer/Skybox and released in the summer of 1998. Unlike previous years where card backgrounds revolved around space and fantasy comic book designs, the 1998 set design shifted to focus primarily on environmental backgrounds from the state/city that the player represented; however, some players still had space-themed backgrounds. All cards are printed on etched foil and were highly susceptible to chipping along the edges and were marked as "condition sensitive" by Beckett, just like the 1996 and 1997 sets.

This year marked the introduction of the famous and popular "Precious Metal Gems" (PMG) parallel to the baseball brand, which was already wildly beloved in the basketball hobby.

Being the face of Fleer/Skybox, Alex Rodriguez once again was the featured frontman for this product, just as he was for other Fleer/Skybox products released that year (e.g., 1998 E-X 2001, 1998 Ultra).

There were no notable Rookie Cards in this set.


Although Hobby boxes were wrapped in plastic marked "Hobby Exclusive", Retail boxes were also distributed.

Hobby: 24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack.

Retail: 18 packs per box, 8 cards per pack.

Insertion Ratios

Cards Total Cards Numbered To Hobby Odds Retail Odds
Base 220 - ? ?
Precious Metal Gems 220 50 ? N/A
Universal Language 20 - 1:6 1:6
Diamond Heroes 6 - 1:18 1:18
Titanium 15 - 1:96 1:96
All-Galactic Team 18 - 1:192 1:192
Platinum Portraits 12 - 1:360 1:360



Alex-Rodriguez.jpg?id=8bd8e070-a965-4c10-96d1-702c7deb53a5&size=original&side=front&.jpg Alex-Rodriguez.jpg?id=8bd8e070-a965-4c10-96d1-702c7deb53a5&size=original&side=back&.jpg

Alex Rodriguez promo cards were distributed with all dealer order forms. The card is identical to Rodriguez's base card except for the text "PROMOTIONAL SAMPLE" written diagonally along the card back and the card being sequentially-numbered as "SAMPLE."

SAMPLE Alex Rodriguez

Base Set

Derek-Jeter.jpg?id=5eeafd8f-b68e-45b3-9f8d-dcfeda4712f2&size=original&side=front.jpg Derek-Jeter.jpg?id=5eeafd8f-b68e-45b3-9f8d-dcfeda4712f2&size=original&side=back&.jpg

1 Jose Cruz, Jr.

2 Jeff Abbott

3 Rafael Palmeiro

4 Ivan Rodriguez

5 Jaret Wright

6 Derek Bell

7 Chuck Finley

8 Travis Fryman

9 Randy Johnson

10 Derrek Lee

11 Bernie Williams

12 Carlos Baerga

13 Ricky Bottalico

14 Ellis Burks

15 Russ Davis

16 Nomar Garciaparra

17 Joey Hamilton

18 Jason Kendall

19 Darryl Kile

20 Edgardo Alfonzo

21 Moises Alou

22 Bobby Bonilla

23 Jim Edmonds

24 Jose Guillen

25 Chuck Knoblauch

26 Javy Lopez

27 Billy Wagner

28 Kevin Appier

29 Joe Carter

30 Todd Dunwoody

31 Gary Gaetti

32 Juan Gonzalez

33 Jeffrey Hammonds

34 Roberto Hernandez

35 Dave Nilsson

36 Manny Ramirez

37 Robin Ventura

38 Rondell White

39 Vinny Castilla

40 Will Clark

41 Scott Hatteberg

42 Russ Johnson

43 Ricky Ledee

44 Kenny Lofton

45 Paul Molitor

46 Justin Thompson

47 Craig Biggio

48 Damion Easley

49 Brad Radke

50 Ben Grieve

51 Mark Bellhorn

52 Henry Blanco

53 Mariano Rivera

54 Reggie Sanders

55 Paul Sorrento

56 Terry Steinbach

57 Mo Vaughn

58 Brady Anderson

59 Tom Glavine

60 Sammy Sosa

61 Larry Walker

62 Rod Beck

63 Jose Canseco

64 Steve Finley

65 Pedro Martinez

66 John Olerud

67 Scott Rolen

68 Ismael Valdes

69 Andrew Vessel

70 Mark Grudzielanek

71 Eric Karros

72 Jeff Shaw

73 Lou Collier

74 Edgar Martinez

75 Vladimir Guerrero

76 Paul Konerko

77 Kevin Orie

78 Kevin Polcovich

79 Brett Tomko

80 Jeff Bagwell

81 Barry Bonds

82 Dave Justice

83 Hideo Nomo

84 Ryne Sandberg

85 Shannon Stewart

86 Derek Wallace

87 Tony Womack

88 Jason Giambi

89 Mark Grace

90 Pat Hentgen

91 Raul Mondesi

92 Matt Morris

93 Matt Perisho

94 Tim Salmon

95 Jeremi Gonzalez

96 Shawn Green

97 Todd Greene

98 Ruben Rivera

99 Deion Sanders

100 Alex Rodriguez

101 Will Cunnane

102 Ray Lankford

103 Ryan McGuire

104 Charles Nagy

105 Rey Ordonez

106 Mike Piazza

107 Tony Saunders

108 Curt Schilling

109 Fernando Tatis

110 Mark McGwire

111 Dave Dellucci RC

112 Garret Anderson

113 Shane Bowers RC

114 David Cone

115 Jeff King

116 Matt Williams

117 Aaron Boone

118 Dennis Eckersley

119 Livan Hernandez

120 Richard Hidalgo

121 Bob Higginson

122 Tino Martinez

123 Tim Naehring

124 Jose Vidro

125 John Wetteland

126 Jay Bell

127 Albert Belle

128 Marty Cordova

129 Chili Davis

130 Jason Dickson

131 Rusty Greer

132 Hideki Irabu

133 Greg Maddux

134 Billy Taylor

135 Jim Thome

136 Gerald Williams

137 Jeff Cirillo

138 Delino DeShields

139 Andres Galarraga

140 Willie Greene

141 John Jaha

142 Charles Johnson

143 Ryan Klesko

144 Paul O'Neill

145 Robinson Checo

146 Roberto Alomar

147 Wilson Alvarez

148 Bobby Jones

149 Raul Casanova

150 Andruw Jones

151 Mike Lansing

152 Mickey Morandini

153 Neifi Perez

154 Pokey Reese

155 Edgar Renteria

156 Eric Young

157 Darin Erstad

158 Kelvim Escobar

159 Carl Everett

160 Tom Gordon

161 Ken Griffey, Jr.

162 Al Martin

163 Bubba Trammell

164 Carlos Delgado

165 Kevin Brown

166 Ken Caminiti

167 Roger Clemens

168 Ron Gant

169 Jeff Kent

170 Mike Mussina

171 Dean Palmer

172 Henry Rodriguez

173 Matt Stairs

174 Jay Buhner

175 Frank Thomas

176 Mike Cameron

177 Johnny Damon

178 Tony Gwynn

179 John Smoltz

180 B.J. Surhoff

181 Antone Williamson

182 Alan Benes

183 Jeromy Burnitz

184 Tony Clark

185 Shawn Estes

186 Todd Helton

187 Todd Hundley

188 Chipper Jones

189 Mark Kotsay

190 Barry Larkin

191 Mike Lieberthal

192 Andy Pettitte

193 Gary Sheffield

194 Jeff Suppan

195 Mark Wohlers

196 Dante Bichette

197 Trevor Hoffman

198 J.T. Snow

199 Derek Jeter

200 Cal Ripken, Jr.

201 Steve Woodard

202 Ray Durham

Hardball Galaxy

Larry-Walker.jpg?id=ebb401bf-559b-4705-8b3d-fc0d210e6b66&size=original&side=front.jpg Larry-Walker.jpg?id=ebb401bf-559b-4705-8b3d-fc0d210e6b66&size=original&side=back&.jpg

This 15-card subset (203-217) caricatured top players in the game as fictional superheroes based on their baseball talents. Each card was drawn and designed by Dan Lawlis, a TV storyboard artist that drew for Marvel Entertainment at the time.

203 Barry Bonds

204 Tony Clark

205 Roger Clemens

206 Ken Griffey, Jr.

207 Deion Sanders

208 Derek Jeter

209 Randy Johnson

210 Brady Anderson

211 Hideo Nomo

212 Mike Piazza

213 Cal Ripken, Jr.

214 Alex Rodriguez

215 Frank Thomas

216 Mo Vaughn

217 Larry Walker


Ken-Griffey-Jr.jpg?id=49a512ae-7658-4943-83d8-632c5ac89330&size=original&side=front.jpg Ken-Griffey-Jr.jpg?id=49a512ae-7658-4943-83d8-632c5ac89330&size=original&side=back&.jpg

218 Ken Griffey, Jr.

219 Alex Rodriguez

220 Frank Thomas


Precious Metal Gems

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Precious Metal Gems fully paralleled the 220-card base set (including the checklists) and were exclusive to Hobby packs. Each Precious Metal Gems card featured the same background as the base set but was finished with a holographic spiral and concentric circle design and serial-numbered to 50.

This parallel set is one of the most appreciated and sought after from this era due to the unique card background designs for each player, aesthetics of the holographic foil finish, rarity due to the low serial-numbering, and extensive player checklist.

Further, only the first 45 copies of each Precious Metal Gems parallel for each player (cards serial-numbered 1-45) were seeded into Hobby packs. The remaining Precious Metal Gems parallel for each player (cards serial-numbered 46-50) were originally only available through redemption: five "Ultimate Gems" redemption cards were randomly inserted into packs. Each Ultimate Gems card could be redeemed for the entire Precious Metal Gems set with matching serial numbers.


Universal Language

Hideo-Nomo.jpg?id=2160ec9c-5d42-43ac-921b-de52ad374f47&size=original&side=front&.jpg Hideo-Nomo.jpg?id=2160ec9c-5d42-43ac-921b-de52ad374f47&size=original&side=back&.jpg

This 20-card set highlighted players in the game that were proficient in "speaking" the universal language of baseball skill and talent. Each card was die-cut, printed on matte card stock, and featured a sepia-colored map background. The reverse side of each Universal Language card was written in each player's native language..

1 UL Ken Griffey, Jr.

2 UL Frank Thomas

3 UL Chipper Jones

4 UL Albert Belle

5 UL Juan Gonzalez

6 UL Jeff Bagwell

7 UL Andruw Jones

8 UL Cal Ripken, Jr.

9 UL Derek Jeter

10 UL Nomar Garciaparra

11 UL Darin Erstad

12 UL Greg Maddux

13 UL Alex Rodriguez

14 UL Mike Piazza

15 UL Vladimir Guerrero

16 UL Jose Cruz, Jr.

17 UL Hideo Nomo

18 UL Kenny Lofton

19 UL Tony Gwynn

20 UL Scott Rolen

Diamond Heroes

Ken-Griffey-Jr.jpg?id=8f56d59f-f87b-47d5-8f26-0dce13f0d302&size=original&side=front&.jpg Ken-Griffey-Jr.jpg?id=8f56d59f-f87b-47d5-8f26-0dce13f0d302&size=original&side=back&.jpg

This 6-card set highlighted some of the top players in the game and paid homage to the roots of the Metal Universe brand by featuring the fantasy comic book-themed backgrounds that "interacted" with player photos seen in the base set's design from previous years. Each card was printed on colored, etched foil.

1DH Ken Griffey, Jr.

2DH Frank Thomas

3DH Andruw Jones

4DH Alex Rodriguez

5DH Jose Cruz, Jr.

6DH Cal Ripken, Jr.


Derek-Jeter.jpg?id=910da84a-9db9-4629-81dd-c0cf580aa5bf&size=original&side=front&.jpg Derek-Jeter.jpg?id=910da84a-9db9-4629-81dd-c0cf580aa5bf&size=original&side=back&.jpg

This 15-card set highlighted some of the best players in the game on a die-cut and embossed card resembling a metal shield featuring colored finishes that accented the player's team.

NOTE: These cards are slightly wider than the standard 2.5 card width.

1 T Ken Griffey, Jr.

2 T Frank Thomas

3 T Chipper Jones

4 T Jose Cruz, Jr.

5 T Juan Gonzalez

6 T Scott Rolen

7 T Andruw Jones

8 T Cal Ripken, Jr.

9 T Derek Jeter

10 T Nomar Garciaparra

11 T Darin Erstad

12 T Greg Maddux

13 T Alex Rodriguez

14 T Mike Piazza

15 T Vladimir Guerrero

All-Galactic Team

Mike-Piazza.jpg?id=c0bd4d3f-1631-4baa-b7a6-37a1baf5d9cd&size=original&side=front&.jpg Mike-Piazza.jpg?id=c0bd4d3f-1631-4baa-b7a6-37a1baf5d9cd&size=original&side=back&.jpg

This 18-card set featured the supposed best players in the galaxy. Each card was printed on a holographic foiled, space and planets background.

1 AGT Ken Griffey, Jr.

2 AGT Frank Thomas

3 AGT Chipper Jones

4 AGT Albert Belle

5 AGT Juan Gonzalez

6 AGT Jeff Bagwell

7 AGT Andruw Jones

8 AGT Cal Ripken, Jr.

9 AGT Derek Jeter

10 AGT Nomar Garciaparra

11 AGT Darin Erstad

12 AGT Greg Maddux

13 AGT Alex Rodriguez

14 AGT Mike Piazza

15 AGT Vladimir Guerrero

16 AGT Jose Cruz, Jr.

17 AGT Mark McGwire

18 AGT Scott Rolen

Platinum Portraits

This 12-card set highlighted some of the best young and established talent in the game at the time, which differed from previous years that just featured young, emerging stars. Each "card" was made of two pieces: a die-cut, silver etched "frame" and a player portrait card that fit inside the frame.

Cal-Ripken-Jr.jpg?id=1b35a1b5-ee50-483a-a91c-7a9452ac9056&size=original&side=front&.jpg Cal-Ripken-Jr.jpg?id=1b35a1b5-ee50-483a-a91c-7a9452ac9056&size=original&side=back&.jpg

1 PP Ken Griffey, Jr.

2 PP Frank Thomas

3 PP Chipper Jones

4 PP Jose Cruz, Jr.

5 PP Andruw Jones

6 PP Cal Ripken, Jr.

7 PP Derek Jeter

8 PP Darin Erstad

9 PP Greg Maddux

10 PP Alex Rodriguez

11 PP Mike Piazza

12 PP Vladimir Guerrero