Pro Set trading cards
Number of employees
|200  (1991 )|
Pro Set was a Dallas-based trading card company founded by Ludwell Denny in 1988. Denny had gained a card license that year after making and selling other NFL memorabilia in previous years. His licensing agreement with NFL Properties allowed Denny to gain access to its extensive photo library and become the first card maker officially associated with a professional sports league. Across the bottom of most of his company's cards was its designation as "The Official NFL Card," a distinction it held through 1991.
The first year that Pro Set released a product was 1989. The year marked the beginning of the modern era for pro American Football Cards. Score (who had entered the market the year before with baseball) also released a football product. For several years, Pro Set flooded the market with its product. The company managed to produce football sets through 1993 and in 1994, but Pro Set folded, due to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, citing more than $800,000 in unpaid royalties to the NFL Players Association.
Pro Set made rookie cards of actual rookies (notably draft picks) and offered more color and action shots than Topps did. Pro Set claimed to have its own printing presses for its product, which could make and issue cards very quickly. For its first football card set in 1989, Pro Set released its cards in three series. The 1989 rookies were found primarily in the second series. Key rookies in the set included Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Jeff Lageman and Deion Sanders. The 100 card Series II set was sold in packs, but the packs averaged 11 Series I cards and 4 Series II cards per pack. These cards not only featured first round picks but featured later round picks. These cards were labelled as Pro Set Prospects.
At its peak, Pro Set had a 44,000-square-foot (4,100 m2) headquarters, where 225 employees designed various cards. In 1992, Pro Set forecasted sales of $165 million. A free magazine was published by Pro Set called the Pro Set Gazette. It was mailed to 1.2 million collectors twice a year. Beckett Publications noted that in 1991, sports cards grossed about $1.9 billion in sales in North America, so Pro Set had a dramatic impact, albeit briefly.
There were a number of inserts in 1989 Pro Set football, including a 30 card subset of broadcasters. There were also Super Bowl insert cards for each game that had been played. There was also a card for NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Pro Set introduced an insert card for Santa Claus that was labelled as a coach card. The first year it was released was in 1989 and it was a dealer premium. It was inserted in packs in 1990 and 1991. The Santa Claus cards included Pro Set founder Ludwell Denny somewhere in the card. On the back of each Santa card is a parody of the poem "The Night Before Christmas" that has sportscard subject matter. Pro Set included other insert cards in its 1990 offering, such as Payne Stewart, a comic book character called Super Pro, which was a superhero in a football uniform, a tribute to the late Joe Robbie, and the Lombardi Trophy Hologram card.
The 1990 Pro Set football card release has several errors and variations. Due to a contractual dispute, and his unwillingness to join the NFPLA, the Pro Bowl card of Eric Dickerson (No. 338) was withdrawn early creating a short print. Card #338 would be reissued with Ludwell Denny on the front and it was a promotional card not available in packs. Card #75 in the set was meant to be Browns Center Cody Risien, but the card was withdrawn early due to his retirement during training camp, also resulting in a short print. The most sought after variation from 1990 Pro Set is card #204 Fred Marion of the New England Patriots. This card is rather controversial because the card features San Francisco 49ers player John Taylor in the background and the belt from Taylor's pants came undone. The positioning of the belt gives the appearance that his private area is exposed, but it is just a shadow and the belt.
- Other error cards and variations in the 1990 Pro Set football set include:
|Barry Sanders||1a||No ROY trophy on back||1b||Shows picture of Barry holding the ROY trophy|
|Joe Montana||2a||back reads "Kelly-3,521 yards"||2b||back corrected to "Kelly: 3,130 yards"|
|Walter Stanley||15a||#8 on back||15b||#86 on back|
|Chris Doleman||18a||error back, wrong stats, "Townsent"||18b||back corrected to 104.5 sacks for Taylor; "Townsent" corrected to "Townsend"|
|Andre Ware||19a||no draft stripe on front||19b||draft stripe on front|
|Mo Elewonibi||20a||no draft stripe on front||20b||draft stripe on front|
|Percy Snow||21a||no draft stripe on front||21b||draft stripe on front|
|Anthony Thompson||22a||no draft stripe on front||22b||draft stripe on front|
|Franco Harris||25a||wrong birthdate||25b||corrected birthdate 3/7/50|
|Jack Lambert||27a||wrong birthdate||27b||corrected birthdate 7/8/52|
|Mike Ditka||59a||SMALL FONT for "Hall Of Fame" on front||59b||LARGE FONT for "Hall Of Fame" on front|
|Rickey Dixon||63a||no bio notes under photo||63b||bio notes under photo|
|Sam Wyche||68a||no bio notes under photo||68b||bio notes under photo|
|Ozzie Newsome||75a||wrong hometown||75b||corrected hometown: Muscle Shoals, AL|
|Johnny Holland||110a||no name, number on back||110b||corrected|
|Perry Kemp||111a||Ken Stills photo on back||111b||corrected|
|Sterling Sharpe||114a||says he was born in Glenville||114b||corrected birthplace: Chicago, IL|
|Andre Rison||134a||NO TRADE STRIPE||134b||WITH TRADE STRIPE|
|Mervyn Fernandez||152a||Draft status incorrect||152b||status corrected to "Drafted 10th round '83"|
|Art Shell||161a||Birthdate: 11/25/46 on back||161b||Birthdate: 11/26/46 on back, large HOF print in banner on front|
|Fred Marion||204a||49ers player with belt||204b||49ers players belt airbrushed out|
|Morten Andersen||210a||name in white on back||210b||corrected (name in black)|
|Eric Martin||216a||name in white on back||216b||corrected (name in black)|
|Jim Mora||221a||name in white on back||221b||corrected (name in black)|
|Charles Haley||289a||incorrect fumble recovery stats||289b||stats corrected to 5 total fumble recoveries|
|Ray Perkins||319a||no name or position on back||319b||corrected|
|Chris Hinton||343a||no stripe||343b||with traded stripe|
|Randall Cunningham||386a||Small Print On Front||386b||Large Print On Front|
|Dan Hampton||449a||DE on back||449b||DT on back|
|Kevin Glover||496a||C-G back||496b||G back|
|Wes Hopkins||607a||Stat Categories Fumbles and Interceptions in Black||607b||Stat Categories Fumbles and Interceptions in RED|
|Rod Woodson||626a||Red fumble interceptions header)||626b||Black fumble interceptions header|
|Rod Bernstine||627a||position listed as TE||627b||position corrected to RB|
|Anthony Miller||630a||position listed as WR on the back||630b||position listed as WR-KR on the back|
|Leslie O'Neal||632a||position listed as LB-DE on front||632b||position listed as LB on front|
|David Richards||633a||position listed as G-T on back||633b||position listed as G on back|
|Curt Jarvis||657a||no "Official NFL card" on front||657b||"Official NFL card" added to front|
|Terry Wooden||698a||back number 90||698b||back number 51|
|Pat Terrell||718a||back number 41||718b||back number 37|
|Oliver Barnett||723a||position listed as DT on front||723b||position listed as NT on front|
|Johnny Bailey||743a||Back says 46||743b||Back says 22|
|Eric Moore||744a||no prospect stripe||744b||prospect stripe added|
|Dexter Manley||772a||mentions substance abuse problems on the back of the card||772b||does not mention substance abuse on back|
|Commissioner at Berlin Wall||785a||back says "peered through the Berlin Wall"||785b||"posed at the Berlin Wall"|
Various cards in the 1990 offering have three variations. They are as follows:
- Card 15: Walter Stanley, the number on the back of the card is 87.
- Card 134: Andre Rison, traded stripe on front, message Are You Missing Something is on the back
- Card 161: Art Shell, the birthdate of 11/26/46 is on the back, small HOF print in banner on front
- There were multiple Team Draft Day varieties of Jeff George. He was featured in his Illinois Fightin’ Illini uniform. One version had the Patriots logo on the front of the card. Another version was randomly inserted in packs of Series 1 football, and featured the card, but with the Indianapolis Colts logo.
1990-91 Pro Set Hockey
|1||Ray Bourque||Misspelled name on card front, shows as Borque||Yes|
|6||Dave Christian||Stats incorrect: 28 games with Washington and 50 with Boston||No|
|7||Garry Galley||Text on back: "on the shelf" changed to "injured"||Yes|
|9||Rejean Lemelin||Wrong headings for goalie & 89-90 stats are for Andy Moog||No|
|10||Andy Moog||89-90 stats are for Rejean Lemelin, was 3rd in Vezina voting, card shows 2nd||No|
|13||Dave Poulin||Flyers stats missing from 89-90||No|
|17||Dave Andreychuk||Photo on back is Scott Arniel||Yes|
|18||Scott Arniel||Photo on back is Dave Andreychuk||Yes|
|21||Phil Housley||Trade to Winnipeg tag is missing||Yes|
|25||Clint Malarchuk||Back in action 11 days and not 2 as stated on card||No|
|27||Daren Puppa||number 27 on back of card and 31 on the front.||No|
|35||Al MacInnis||Misspelled Allan on card back||No|
|39||Brad McCrimmon||Number 39 on card front, instead of 4||Yes|
|42||Joe Nieuwendyk||Misspelled Niewendyk on card front||Yes|
|44||Paul Ranheim||LW on front and C on back||No|
|48||Rick Wamsley||Misspelled Rich in bio on card back||No|
|51||Dirk Graham||Word sparking misspelled on card back||No|
|53||Steve Larmer||Position and sweater number in white and should be black||Yes|
|54||Dave Manson||Both photos actually Steve Konroyd||Yes|
|57||Troy Murray||Position and sweater number in white and should be black||Yes|
|59||Denis Savard||No traded stripe, Played 70 games in 86-87||Yes|
|60||Al Secord||Alan on card back changed to Al||Yes|
|61||Duane Sutter||Wrong Position, missing Retired tag||Yes|
|63||Doug Wilson||Position and sweater number in white and should be black||Yes|
|70||Bernie Federko||Says only player from Foam Lake||No|
|83||Martin Gelinas||Back photo is Joe Murphy||No|
|84||Adam Graves||Stats missing 89-90 Detroit info||No|
|85||Charlie Huddy||French language card, no accent in 1st e in Defenseur||No|
|86||Petr Klima||Card back says born in Chomulov and should be Chomutov||No|
|96||Steve Smith||French language card, no accent in 1st e in Defenseur||No|
|99||Dave Babych||Extra space included after Forum||No|
|100||Yvon Corriveau||Washington and Hartford games not separate||No|
|114||Brian Benning||St Louis and LA stats not separate||No|
|117||Tony Granato||Plays RW and not C||No|
|121||Mike Kushelnyski||No position and number on card front||Yes|
|122||Bob Kudelski||Born in Springfield and not Feeding Hills||No|
|127||Tomas Sandstrom||89-90 stats not printed||No|
|129||John Tonelli||Misspelled Tonnelli on card front||Yes|
|130||Brian Bellows||Back photo actually Dave Gagner, Front LW and back RW||Image Corrected but position remains uncorrected|
|131||Aaron Broten||New Jersey and Minnesota stats not separate||No|
|136||Ulf Dahlen||Rangers and Minnesota stats not separate||No|
|146||Guy Carbonneau||Sept Isles listed as Sep Isles||No|
|153||Claude Lemieux||Reason is misspelled as reson||No|
|167||Slava Fetisov||Misspelled Vlacheslav on front||Yes|
|169||Alexei Kasatonov||Stats should indicate either Soviet or NHL||No|
|175||Peter Stastny||Front photo is actually Patrik Sundstrom||Yes|
|176||Patrik Sundstrom||Front photo is actually Peter Stastny||Yes|
|183||Glen Healy||Misspelled Glenn on card back||No|
|188||Hubie McDonough||Kings and Islanders stats not separate||No|
|189||Jeff Norton||Born Cambridge, Mass. not Acton||No|
|196||Mike Gartner||Minnesota and Rangers stats not separate||No|
|198||Miloslav Horava||Misspelled Miroslav on card front||Yes|
|204||Bernie Nicholls||Kings and Rangers stats not separate||No|
|208||Darren Turcotte||GP total says 97 and should be 96||No|
|209||John Vanbiesbrouck||Front C and back G||No|
|213||Vincent Rideneau||Wrong photo (Steve Larmer) on front||No|
|219||Ken Linseman||Bruins and Flyers stats not separate||No|
|222||Kjell Samuelsson||Born 10/18/58 not 10/18/56||No|
|228||Phil Bourque||Misspelled Borque on both sides||Yes|
|229||Rob Brown||Front RW, back C; actual position LW||No|
|230||Alain Chevrier||Chicago and Pittsburgh stats not separate||No|
|236||Mario Lemieux||Missed 21 games not 11||No|
|240||Kevin Stevens||Front LW, back C||No|
|242||Zarley Zalapski||Pittsburgh misspelled as Pittsburg||No|
|244||Lucien DeBlois||Front C and back RW; misspelled Deblois in bio on back||No|
|245||Marc Fortier||Misspelled Mark front and back||Yes|
|248||Tony Hrkac||Blues and Nordiques stats not separate||No|
|254||Tony McKegney||Red Wings and Nordiques stats not separate||No|
|257||Joe Sakic||Front 88 and back 19||No|
|260||Jeff Brown||Nordiques and Blues stats not separate||No|
|261||Gino Cavallini||on back, Meagher is misspelled as Meager||No|
|272||Rich Sutter||Canucks and Blues stats not separate||No|
|275||Allan Bester||Misspelled Alan on card front||Yes|
|290||Gilles Thibaudeau||Islanders and Leafs stats not separate||No|
|300||Jyrki Lumme||89-90 Canadiens and Canucks stats not separate||No|
|301||Andrew McBain||Photo on back is Jim Sandlak||Yes|
|303||Dan Quinn||Penguins and Canucks stats not separate||No|
|316||Mike Liut||Capitals and Whalers stats not separate||No|
|322||John Tucker||89-90 Buffalo Sabres team affiliation and stats missing 8 games||No|
|330||Dale Hawerchuk||No traded stripe||Yes|
|335||Fredrik Olausson||Misspelled Frederik on both sides||Yes|
|335||Fredrik Olausson||Misspelled Fred on front||Yes|
|348||Jari Kurri, All Star Card||Missing Italy tag on front||Yes|
|377||Bob Murdoch, Adams Trophy card||One tie in 1989-90 should be 11 ties||NO|
|378||Brett Hull||Byng Trophy, Should be Lady Byng Memorial Trophy||No|
|383||Gord Kluzak||Masterton Trophy - Should be Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy||No|
|385||Len Ceglarski, Lester Patrick Trophy card||Missing number on back||Yes|
|395||Brett Hull (League Leader)||Born 8/9/64 not 9/9/64||No|
|400||Darren Turcotte (League Leader)||Front RW, back C||No|
|421||Jiri Hrdina||Calgary logo on front should be Pittsburgh||No|
|428||Jacques Cloutier||White position and number on front, not black||No|
|430||Michel Goulet||White position and number on front, not black||No|
|465||Neil Wilkinson||Uniform number on front is 5; should be 35||No|
|466||JJ Daigneault||Front Jean Jacques and back JJ||No|
|470||Todd Ewen||Photo on back actually Eric Desjardins||Yes|
|556||Peter Zezel||Card says number 25 and sweater shows 9||No|
|593||Stephane Matteau RC||Front RW and back LW||No|
|596||Ken Sabourin||Front LW and back D; actual position is C||No|
|613||Mike Craig||Wearing 50 and card says 20||No|
|614||JC Bergeron||Front JC and back Jean Claude||No|
|632||Jaromir Jagr RC||Stat header on back is not aligned properly||Yes|
|668||Bob Gainey||Stats and bio are Bob McCammon's||No|
|676||Brian Sutter||Coaching totals say 0-69-21 and should be 70-69-21||No|
|678||Bob McCammon||Stats and bio are Bob Gainey's||No|
|703||Wayne Gretzky's 2000th Point||2.33 goals per game should be 2.33 points per game||No|
1991-92 Pro Set Hockey
|15||Pierre Turgeon||Born 8/29 not 8/28||No|
|17||Benoit Hogue||Stats show two seasons with Winnipeg and should say Buffalo||No|
|88||Paul Cyr||Stats show New York, should say NY Rangers||No|
|159||Brian Leetch||Career points total shown as 329 should be 229||No|
|165||Brian Mullen||Transaction says drafted by San Jose and was actually traded||No|
|168||Kelly Kisio||Transaction says drafted by Minnesota, was actually traded to San Jose||No|
|219||Adam Oates||Stats are off-line from top to bottom||No|
|225||Wendel Clark||Connecticut not capitalized in last line||No|
|239||Robert Kron||Type in stat box is smaller than others||No|
|319||Pittsburgh Penguins Cup Champs||Fourth line says won in 5 games and should say 6 games||No|
|328||Neil Wilkinson||Born Manitoba not Minnesota||No|
|531||Nicklas Lidstrom||Misspelled Niklas on front||No|
|603||Kirk McLean League Leaders||Leader logo shows PPG and should be GAA||No|
1991-92 Pro Set Platinum
|166||Michel Goulet||Wrong photo on front||No|
|197||Craig Billington||Front photo actually Chris Terreri||No|
|252||Dominik Hasek||Misprinted Pro Set logo on reverse||Yes|
- After the launch of football, Pro Set issued a 100-card PGA Tour set in 1990. The set included members of the Senior Tour and was issued as a complete set. This was the first time that Pro Set issued complete sets.
- Pro Set offered cards in various languages. In 1991, Pro Set featured football cards in Spanish, hockey cards in French and soccer cards in the King's English.
- Ludwell Denny was trying to syndicate a television show called "Profiles," an entertainment newsmagazine for memorabilia collectors. The show had a trial run in Dallas-Fort Worth and other parts of Texas.
- As part of their 1991 Series I set, Pro Set issued a card of the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner, Brigham Young University Quarterback Ty Detmer. However, Detmer had won the Trophy during his junior year and returned to BYU for his senior year in 1991. This created a mild controversy as it was one of the first times an active NCAA player was featured in a card set of professional athletes.
- In 1991, Pro Set issued a card of Notre Dame star Raghib Ismail, despite the fact that he signed with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. 1991 Pro Set's NFL Series I featured Ismail on card number 36, honoring him as the Walter Camp Player of the Year.
- In 1992, Pro Set created a 100-card set based on the Guinness Book of World Records. Each card was 3½x2½ inches. The cards were available in Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Great Britain.The first card featured Cosmoclock 21 at Yokohama, Japan. Card 100 showed Mike Powell at the 1991 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo. Cards 1-43 were classified as "Facts and Feats", while cards 44-84 are "Natural & Human World", and cards 85-100 are "Sports & Games".
- After disappearing in the 1960s, the Parkhurst hockey card brand was resuscitated in 1991 by Dr. Brian H. Price and licensed to Pro Set. After the hockey card explosion of 1990–91, Parkhurst cards were back in the marketplace. Pro Set promoted Parkhurst as a premium brand of cards. Series I and Series II were available in both English and French and featured the rookie cards of players such as Dominik Hašek and John LeClair. The 1991–92 Update Set was the final release of the year and was the most valuable of all three sets. Another key rookie card of that set was of Bill Guerin.
When Pro Set, Inc. entered Chapter Eleven bankruptcy protection prior to the 1992–93 NHL season, Price traveled weekly from Toronto to Dallas and became the unofficial hockey brand manager. The second year of Parkhurst (1992–93) was the last with Pro Set as the company went bankrupt and Price took his Parkhurst tradename and license to the Upper Deck Company, an agreement which began with the 1993–94 season.
- In August 1992, Pro Set replaced its founder Ludwell Denny at the insistence of its lenders. Denny was replaced with a San Francisco based turnaround expert. Robert J. McLaughlin became Pro Set's chief executive officer, with the task of resolving the obligations to its lenders, licensors and trade creditors.
- In December 1994, the National Football League asked Federal authorities to investigate investments made by two former NFL Properties presidents due to their affiliation with Pro Set. The NFL's special properties committee appointed by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the properties executive committee requested the investigation into Pro Set. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York was assigned to handle the investigation.
The allegations were based on investments made by former NFL Properties presidents, John Flood, (who was dismissed in March 1994), and his predecessor, John Bello, who quit in September 1993. Neither Flood nor Bello told the league they had set up companies to invest in Pro-Set Press, a printer partly owned by the Pro Set trading card company.
List of products
Products launched by Pro Set included:
- Desert Storm Pro Set (1991)
- Guinness World Records cards (1992)
- NASCAR Pro Set Legends (1992)
- NFL Football (1989)
- NFL Football (1990)
- NFL Football (1991)
- NFL Football Spanish (1991)
- NFL Football (1992)
- NHL Hockey Series 1 (1990–91)
- NHL Hockey Series 2 (1990–91)
- NHL Hockey Series 1 (1991–92)
- NHL Hockey Series 1 French (1991–92)
- NHL Hockey Series 2 (1991–92)
- NHL Hockey Series 2 French (1991–92)
- NHL Hockey (1992–93)
- Parkhurst Hockey Series 1 (1991–92)
- Parkhurst Hockey Series 1 French (1991–92)
- Parkhurst Hockey Series 2 (1991–92)
- Parkhurst Hockey Series 2 French (1991–92)
- Parkhurst Hockey Update (1991–92)
- Parkhurst Hockey (1992–93)
- Parkhurst Hockey Update (1992–93)
- PGA Tour (1990)
- Pro Set Platinum Football Series 1 (1991)
- Pro Set Platinum Football Series 2 (1992)
- Pro Set Platinum Hockey (1991–92)
- Pro Set Power Football (1992)
- Pro Set Puck Candy 1991-92 
- Pro Set Soccer (featuring English and Scottish soccer players) 1990-91
- Pro Set Soccer (featuring English and Scottish soccer players) 1991-92
- The Little Mermaid (1991)
- World League of American Football 1991
- Pro Set battles back from bankruptcy NHL, NFL Series 2 release dates delayed by Ruth Sadler on The Baltimore Sun, 30 Aug 1992
- Remembering Lud Denny and Pro Set by Rich Klein, 8 Nov 2011
- ARNIE STAPLETON (1992-05-03). "Now He's Holding a Lot of the Cards". Los Angeles Times. ASSOCIATED PRESS. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Sports Cards Price Guide Subscriptions, Values, Trading, Organize | Beckett.com". Beta.beckett.com. Archived from the original on 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "1989 Pro Set Football Cards". Awesome80s.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "1990 Pro Set: Building a Master Set: 1990 Pro Set Gazettes". 1990proset.blogspot.com. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "1990 Pro Set Football Cards". Sportscardarticles.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "1990 Pro Set: Building a Master Set: 1990 Pro Set Printing Variations". 1990proset.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
-  Archived February 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Pro Set takes to the fairways". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1990-10-26. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Ismail's Defection Cost Some Companies an Ace Collecting: Trading-card manufacturers split over whether photo of Notre Dame great should be offered with regular NFL series after his decision to sign with a Canadian team". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1991-04-28. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Guinness Record Book Collecting". Guinness.book-of-records.info. 1979-07-30. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Archives | The Dallas Morning News, dallasnews.com". Nl.newsbank.com. 1992-08-07. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Published: December 17, 1994 (1994-12-17). "PRO FOOTBALL; N.F.L. Asks for Investigation - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
-  Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.