I collected next to no cards in 1988. Hopelessly in love with both a girl and bar-hopping, cards were decidedly uncool in '88. No time and no desire.
Rack packs of 1988 Score could have been hanging in an aisle in the drugstore I frequented almost every week. But I'll never know because I never paid attention.
Chances are they were. As I've come to find out, there is an endless supply of 1988 Score.
Still, I find it to be one of my favorite sets of the entire junk wax era, and I should finally be completing it very soon. I like it because it's colorful and the photos, for the most part, are interesting. It's got that cool Reggie Jackson subset, too.
But I admire 1988 Score for the card BACKS. Color mug shot, team logo, yearly stats, vertical orientation. Sure, it has all that. But far and away the most admirable part of the entire set is the write-up on each card back.
Look at that thing. That's like 250 words there. (the word "homers" is misspelled as "homes").
You have to remember the era in which '88 Score appeared. Through the 1970s and 1980s, write-ups on the backs of cards were almost an afterthought. This is often what they consisted of:
- Went 3-for-5, 2 RBIs vs. Tribe, 8-14.
I don't know about you, but I don't find that very informative.
Score from '88 definitely informed.
How many people remember Tommy Hinzo? I certainly don't. I wasn't even aware of him when he played. But judging from the write-up, there was a lot to remember about Tommy. I mean that's a mini essay.
I often wonder who the people were at Score who toiled over these write-ups. How much more research did they do then the folks at Topps? Did Score have more people working on research and writing or did they really overwork and underpay their copywriters?
This one amuses me. The writer asserts that Horn was known as "Big Sam." He then refers to Horn exclusively as "Big Sam" throughout the write-up. Five times.
Because many of the players in a base set like '88 Score hadn't achieved anything worth 200 words, the writers were forced to break out the extra adjectives. I noticed that "dandy" was used on more than one card.
Score doesn't get into players' off-the-field histories much in this set, although you do find out in this write-up that Casey Candaele's mother played for the All-American Girls Pro Baseball League. You also find out that Candaele's "hustle and enthusiasm is contagious."
The first sentence of this write-up mentions that Robbie Wine "is being groomed as the Astros' catching successor to Alan Ashby." Shhhh! Don't tell him about Craig Biggio!
The majority of the write-ups in the set are 150 words or more. I don't know if the writers were relieved or disappointed when they came across a card for a veteran like Schmidt and couldn't squeeze in gobs of words. Schmidt's card does mention a "champagne season." I don't know what that is.
Meanwhile, this card is both impressive and sad.
It's a good thing that I didn't know what Score was in 1988. I wouldn't have any time to read the backs of the cards anyway. And that's the best part of '88 Score.
Best of the set:
It would literally take me a week to read through all of the card backs. So I'll just pick this one and say it's the best:
Any card back that features the phrases "blithe spirit" AND "calcium deposits" in the same write-up, is completely awesome.
(previous card back countdown selections):
50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps
27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps
21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps
19. 1977 Topps
18. 1974 Topps
17. 1957 Topps