Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ignored sets: 1989 Score

I don't know if this is going to be a new series. Right now, when I think of "ignored sets," 1989 Score is the first and only one that comes to mind.

Of course, "ignored" applies to me only, as in "I keep ignoring this set." And it applies only to sets for which I have a significant number of cards. ... Hmmm, sounds like I'm going to make this a series, doesn't it?

Anyway, 1989 Score. I ignore it. All the time.

It's got to be one of the least appealing major sets of the 1980s. After the debut of '88 Score, which is highly appreciated even today, the '89 set is lacking. It's not nearly as colorful as the '88 set and the design is both too simple for me and boring. And even though the design allows for a larger photo than on '88 Score, that's not necessarily a good thing because it just shows you how dark the pictures are.

Score could hold the record for most darkened faces in a set. The scan gives you a better look at Ray Knight's face than if you're looking at the card in hand. In hand, I'm not sure that Knight has eyes.

There is just very little in the set that makes it stand out, so much so that I almost never pick up the 150-or-so cards of 1989 Score that I own, sitting in a box with the rest of my Score cards, and look through them. For this post, I did look through them, probably for the first time in several years, and some of the cards seemed absolutely foreign to me. Because I never look through them.

Yet, I can't get myself to trade any of the cards (not that anyone would want them) or get rid of them. There is some special meaning to 1989 Score.

In 1989, I was working two part-time jobs. I was just out of college trying to find my way, and there wasn't a lot of down time. During afternoons between jobs or on a rare day off, I'd drive to a drug store on Millersport Highway in suburban Buffalo and grab the cards that they had there, which were Score rack packs.

That's what I think of when I see '89 Score today, days off spent buying cards. It's a nice memory.

So that's why the cards remain where they do.

But I've never added to that total. The '89 Score cards that I have are pretty much the ones I bought at that drug store, plus maybe 30 more accumulated through random cards in trades or a discount repack.

This year of Score does have some interesting cards:

Graig Nettles as an Expo.

Ron Kittle as an Indian.

Bob Horner as a Cardinal.

And early cards of mega stars like Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds.

 The rookie card subset is kind of a hoot.

For Dodger lovers, 1989 Score is known for a rare look at Mario Soto in a Dodger uniform and Don Sutton's final goodbye in Dodger blue.

Yet, except for the Soto card and the Nettles card, you can find all of the above -- and just about everything else '89 Score issued -- in other card sets issued the same year.

The 1989 Score set had the misfortune of disappointing during the same year that Upper Deck debuted with a mind-blowing, attention-grabbing set. And there was a new set from long-dormant Bowman, too. When your sophomore effort is less appealing during the same year some hot new rookie shows up, you're forever branded as lackluster.

I don't know if that's fair. I've always liked Score in general. But you look at all of those reasons and it's probably why I ignore '89 Score all the time.

What I should do is take an evening and devote it to reading '89 Score's card backs.

Now that's a write-up.

Not even Upper Deck could compete with that.


  1. Wrigley Roster Jenga, http://wrigleyrosterjenga.blogspot.com/2015/09/its-major-reward.html, also posted about Score today. I have about the same comment. Whatever you have to say about Score, the backs were great.

  2. I believe the traded set from '89 Score contains a certain rookie card of a certain Mariner who would go on to win the hearts and minds of kids and adults across the land.

    I'm talking, of course, about Omar Vizquel.

  3. I am pretty sure I read the back of every Score card I owned for the first few years of its existence, something I could never say about any of the other card companies. It's crazy how poor the quality control was with Score when you contrast it with the attention to detail that was paid to the card backs.

  4. Oh I can enjoy a few of those 89 Score cards... It's not a set I'd collect, but I'd grab any Expos or Jays

  5. 89 Score is a big time nostalgia set for me. One of the first that I can remember my mom buying me packs of.

  6. That's strange, Mario Soto as a member of the Dodgers? Was this maybe from spring training? As far as I know, he only ever pitched for the Reds.

    Regardless, of the early Score sets, I think this is probably my favorite, mainly because of all the weird stuff you mentioned, like Graig Nettles as an Expo, Ray Knight as a Tiger, etc.

  7. You're not alone. I ignore the 89 Score baseball set too.

  8. If you throw the Griffey from the Update into the flagship set, and then cut the overproduction down to maybe, say, 1990 Leaf levels, I think this set would hold up a lot better today.