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Iconic Inserts: Flair Hot Gloves

Welcome back to another edition of Iconic Inserts, where we take a look back at some of the most iconic insert sets in the hobby.  This month we're taking a look at a set that laid the foundation for one of the biggest trends in the hobby (to this day), die-cut designs. I'm talking of course about the short lived Hot Gloves insert set from Flair Baseball.

The Hot Gloves line, first debuting in 1994 Flair Series 2, was an instant hit with even the biggest collectors, and was considered "a revolutionary design...and is the foundational inspiration for all die-cut cards in the hobby today" states BaseballCardPedia. The premium line was printed on thicker stock than usual, and the printing was much more vivid, enhancing the vibrance of the set as well as aiding in preserving condition.

The toughest pull in '94 Flair at 1:24 packs, Hot Gloves features a massive baseball glove die-cut background with bright orange/red hues, paired with a crisp action shot of some of the top defenders in the game. The rest of the card is simple, with a Hot Gloves Stamp featuring Player and Team name in a circle paired with the elegant Flair logo. It looks and feels high end, a rarity for 1994, and is a card that will immediately catch your eye.

Hot Gloves continued in 95, ditching the die-cut design for a gold foil background with embossed glove, giving the background a look incredibly similar to the MLB's Gold Glove Award. While the cards were still one of the toughest pulls, a subpar checklist (Griffey Jr & Ripken Jr being the only true stars) and lack of die-cut design made these forgettable compared to their stand-out counterparts. 

The die-cut design returned for the '96 and '97 iterations, bringing the unique die-cut glove back to the hobby. The '96 design closely resembles the original, but 1997 takes the line in a different direction, shrinking the glove and adding fire to the die-cut background.The cards were also printed with a heat-sensitive ink that would change from bright orange/red to light orange/white when the card was exposed to heat. You've got to love the 90's.

 The '97 line was inserted into the newly rebranded Flair Showcase Baseball. At 1:90 packs, Hot Gloves remained the toughest pull of the set and one of the chase cards of the product. A strong checklist feat. Jeter, Chipper, Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez and tons more (10 total HOF'ers), and a return to its die-cut roots ensured the Hot Gloves name maintained its Iconic status. The Hot Gloves line also began to appear in Flair Hockey, although never catching on quite like the originals. 

Although it was still a massive hit to collectors, 1997 Flair Showcase was the curtain call for the original Hot Gloves insert line. The insert would return in 2001 Fleer Legacy, this time including a game used ball patch with the die-cut glove design. After a year off in '02, Hot Gloves again returned for 2003 and 2004 Fleer Showcase, as well as 2006 Flair Showcase. By then, however, die-cut designs had become the norm, and unfortunately Hot Gloves fell by the wayside. But not before leaving a lasting impression on the hobby. 

If you’re wanting some of the Hot Gloves for your collection, you’re in luck! Some of the top stars can still be had in a PSA 10 copy for under $800 (minus ‘97 Chipper PSA 10’s, selling for $1500+), and you can find many raw (and some slabbed) copies of Hot Gloves for under $30. 

We may not be getting any new HG releases any time soon, but the Hot Gloves we were blessed with hold up just as well 25+ years later. Flair and the Hot Gloves insert line changed the hobby forever with their innovative die-cut designs, leaving us with an iconic insert to chase for decades to come. 

What insert set should we feature next on Iconic Inserts? Let us know in the comments below! 


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