1989 was a landmark year for baseball card collecting. In addition to Upper Deck, other intriguing sets were launched (or, in the case of Bowman, re-launched).
Even brands that existed began to branch out and create other ancillary sets in addition to their standard base issues. Score first issued cards in 1988 but quickly became one of these companies producing more than one standard set. These sets were often disregarded due to the glut of them being produced. But one of Socre’s most popular add-on type of sets was the 1989 Scoremasters set.
About the 1989 Scoremasters Set
When the Scoremasters cards hit the streets in 1989, not everyone had seen them. Some collectors to this day, even, may not be aware of them. But if you were one of the collectors that found them back in 1989, they were almost certainly among your favorite cards issued that year. It’s hard to believe but the set turned 30 this year.
While the regular 1989 Score baseball card set was mostly a dud, the Scoremasters cards certainly weren’t. They were not sold in packs or wax boxes. Rather, they were only offered through complete box sets.
The set included a total of 42 cards. If you had trouble finding them back in 1989, there is sufficient reason for that. They were not available everywhere and were a mail-order product. Some shops that carried Score products eventually got their hands on them but they weren’t found just anywhere.
The overwhelming interest in the set was due to its eye-catching artwork. While the regular Score set from that year used standard photos of players, the 1989 Scoremasters cards had artist depictions of the players. They are stunning visually and were probably the largest reason the cards were so popular. The cards remain (in this writer’s fair opinion) one of the most beautiful sets of that time.
Fronts of the cards had these dramatic artist renditions but with nothing else. That the player names were not on the front also helped them stand out from other sets. And in most cases, the artwork was so outstanding and the player so recognizable that having names on the front didn’t matter.
Backs included the player’s name in a cursive font, a biography, and a card number. And since this was a Score product, their logo also appears along the bottom on the reverse, along with the Major League Baseball logos, indicating it was a fully-licensed product. The cards had white borders and were also standard size, measuring 2 1/2″ wide by 3 1/2″ tall.
Even the boxes that housed the cards were stunning and, well, that’s because they included pictures of cards on them. More than one box design was created as an assortment of them were produced featuring different cards in the set.
In short, the cards were far different from the typical cards manufacturers offered in sets.
1989 Scoremasters Checklist
With only 42 cards in the set, a limited roster of players was included. But Scoremasters made the most of the space they had and included the biggest names in baseball. A few lesser players are included but the set has a decided focus on stars.
While other big names were known at the time in the set, today, the most notable card in the issue is a rookie card of Ken Griffey, Jr. Two other rookies were also included, such as Tom Gordon and eventual Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton.
Other stars included the likes of Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, Bo Jackson, Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, George Brett, and many more. One of the few missing stars was Barry Bonds but, overall, the checklist didn’t disappoint and includes a star-studded lineup.
1989 Scoremasters Rarity and Prices
While it isn’t clear how many of the cards were produced, they are not terribly difficult to find. They do not exist in the large quantities that Score’s 1989 base issue do. And being 30 years old, not every local card shop will have them available these days. But they are relatively easy to find online.
Most cards of the stars are available in the $1-$2 range but Griffey is sometimes slightly more. Even high-grade Griffey cards are affordable. PSA 9 examples sell in the $5-$10 range with PSA 10s usually at $50 or less. Because they were part of a boxed set, it is not hard to find high-grade copies.
And at only about $10, a complete set may be the best option for most collectors wanting more than one or two cards. You can see them in set and single form on eBay here.