Modern Card Brands
The multitude of baseball card brands we have today is due in part to Fleer. Like Topps, Fleer started life as a gum and candy company. They even released a card set in 1959, which was focused on Ted Williams, 1960 and 1961. None of which contained current players, due to Topps have exclusive contracts will all the players. In the 1970's, Fleer sued Topps and the MLBPA. After a decade of litigation the MLBPA was forced to open the license program to any manufacturer.
Fleer's first real set of cards came in 1981 with 660. Much like Donruss, Fleer in 1982 put team stickers in the packs instead of gum. Since the beginning Fleer has organized their sets by team, making it easy to sort cards straight from the pack. By 1993 Fleer was producing 3 different sets a yet with Fleer, Fleer Ultra and Flair. No sets were produced from 1998 thru 2001 due to a slowdown in the hobby. At the end of 2001 Fleer ramped production back up and introduced a new face by splitting the base set into two. Fleer Tradition catered to the amateur collectors while Fleer Platinum catered to the more premium crowd.
At the end of the 2004 season, Fleer announced the end of production for good. The Fleer name was sold at auction and won by the Upper Deck company. Upper Deck has continued to produce Fleer branded sets without skipping a year. General consensus among collector's however say the Fleer product doesn't live up to it's name anymore.