Sunday, August 19, 2018

From My Collection: Some Score Young Superstars

I really liked Score when it debuted in 1988.  I forget for sure how I heard about it, but I think it might have been when Dad surprised me with a complete set one morning.  The gas station near his office had a big card section (it was the 80s, and that's what it was like), and he probably bought it there.  I got up one morning and there he was with this long box of baseball cards for me.  I guess the card guy at the gas station told him Score was this new big thing, and Dad thought it was a good buy.
Mike Aldrete.
Mike Aldrete card back.
Of course, despite having the complete set from the start, I still bought lots of packs of 1988 Score.  Mylar packs, as they were called at the time, and rack packs.  And it was only natural that the rack packs included a special glossy card, just like Topps rack packs did.  Topps had their glossy rack pack All-Stars, and their related glossy jumbo pack Rookies.  Score chose to go with the more nebulous concept of Young Superstars.  It's a nice enough design, I suppose, but somehow leaves me feeling flat.  I guess I like the card backs fine, but the front doesn't quite work for me.  Maybe there's too much real estate dedicated to the geometric elements at the bottom. 
Jose Canseco.
Mark McGwire.
I don't recall ever seeing it back in the 80s (which doesn't mean I didn't see it, but only that it didn't make a strong enough impression on me to be remembered 30 years later), but you could also buy a boxed set of these cards.  They come in two series, and I only appear to have Series I.  Maybe that's all that came in the rack packs.  Like all of these sets from back then, you can buy a complete boxed set on eBay now for little more than the cost of shipping.  Or you can buy a whole case of the boxed sets for not very much.  What you'd do with a case of them I have no idea.  As I've started collecting again after about 25 years out of the hobby, I have struggled sometimes with the question of which of these old sets I want to buy.  But there's no question that this one doesn't interest me -- the set is represented in my collection through these cards that I pulled from rack packs, and also by a few unopened rack packs, and that's it.
Terry Steinbach.
Matt Nokes.
For the rest of these, I think I might say something about the players instead, then.  Above we had Jose Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, and Mark McGwire, the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year.  They were followed of course by teammate Walt Weiss, the 1988 AL Rookie of the Year.  While he wasn't a Rookie of the Year like those guys, another important young player with that A's near-dynasty was catcher Terry Steinbach, who debuted in 1986 and who "exceeded rookie limits" in 1987.  Steinbach played with the A's through 1996, and then with the Twins through 1999 before retiring.  I've mentioned Matt Nokes a few times on the blog; he was a big deal when he debuted, but his rookie season was the best of his career.
Mike Dunne.
Mike Greenwell.
A similar thing can be said of Mike Dunne of the Pirates -- his 13-6 rookie season in 1987 was very good and got him some Rookie of the Year votes, but it was downhill from there.  Dunne was out of the majors by 1992.  Mike Greenwell was also a big deal at the time, probably on the strength of his RBI numbers, with 89 in 1987 and 119 in 1988, and batting average, which was .328 and .325 in those years, respectively.  He finished fourth in the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year vote, and second in the 1988 AL MVP vote.  His whole career from 1985-1996 was with the Red Sox, and he finished with 130 home runs, 726 RBI, and a .303 average.
Al Leiter.
Mark Grant.
Then I have a couple of cards from the 1989 Score Young Superstars (Series I) set.  I remember Leiter primarily from his 1988 Topps Future Stars card, which it turns out didn't even have the right picture.  Leiter had a long, solid career, playing through 2005 and compiling a lifetime record of 162-132 with a 3.80 ERA and 1,974 strikeouts.  He won the World Series with the Blue Jays in 1993 and with the Marlins in 1997.  I don't remember relief pitcher Mark Grant, but looking him up now, I see that he played from 1984 through 1993 and put together a career record of 22-32 with 8 saves in 233 games.  I'm not sure why you'd call him a Young Superstar in 1989 based on his 1988 season in which he went 2-8 with 0 saves, unless it's just to fill out the set to sell more Young Superstar baseball cards.

Thanks for reading!

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