Tag Archives: Score

John Olerud 1992 Cards #2

1992 Leaf

1992 Leaf Black

Okay, on we go. Do you know how badly I wished that Black Gold design would be the real Leaf design? I think the history of Leaf might have gone very differently if they had gone with that design as the base. Or a world where they jump from the 1990 design straight to the black border design. I know lots of people either don’t like gold leaf or are sick to death of it, but I like it when it’s used correctly, and I feel this is the correct application. Now, as for the card itself, I would’ve preferred a better shot than his back, but I guess it’s interesting, especially in the context of the numerous fielding cards we’ve seen so far.

1992 Pinnacle

I’m so torn on this set. I really like the design, the black borders, the coloring…but there’s something that always made the set feel “cheap” to me, and I can’t put my finger on it. I suspect it’s because it’s a throwback to a little different school of design, where the design is the centerpiece and the photograph plays second fiddle. I just can’t help but wonder what that picture would look like if it was allowed to fill that entire black space to the upper right-hand corner. Although it is another average picture. Ho-hum.

1992 Pinnacle Team 2000

Now THAT is what I’m talking about. Why couldn’t they have made the Pinnacle design look like that? I love it; the design elements are neatly placed on the left-hand side, with a full-bleed to the top and right of the card. The photograph becomes of far more importance, and you get the nice black borders with gold leaf. It’s a win-win decision. I like this card so much I’ve purposefully bought multiple copies with an eye toward filling a page with them. I may try to put the set together one day; watch this space.

1992 Score

You know, I had never made the connection between the 92 Score and Pinnacle designs, but they have a lot in common. You have the design elements taking up 3/4″ of the card, to the point where they become the main focus rather than the photo. The lines are similar, from the lines at the bottom to the top. Hell, the photo on this card is even similar. Obviously, the colors are different, but it does make me wonder if the same guy who designed this designed Pinnacle that year.

1992 Score Impact Player

And here we have an example of what I like about the Team 2000 card all over again. Design elements are relegated to the lower left corner (though lifted a bit off of the picture, allowing for the photo to bleed to that edge), leaving the rest of the card for the photo. And it’s actually a well-constructed photo. This card is a darkhorse favorite of the early 90s for me, and I’d never put together why until I saw it side-by-side with the Team 2000 card. Again, same designer? We may never know.


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2002 UD Authentics #2

Time to take a break from National finds…

Say what you will about Barry Zito, I like this card a lot. It totally captures the spirit of 1989 Upper Deck, and the colors on his uniform mesh so well with the colors on the border. A card like this is why I think this design was begging to be re-used at least once.

I think this card also captures the spirit of 89 Upper Deck really well; the photography is a bit sharper than the 89 set, but the contrast of dark and light is so well-done that I think it’s what they were shooting for with some of those darker pictures and just weren’t able to capture. I think a lot of thought went into the shot selection for this set.

Here we get to the first mediocre shot of today. I’m not really sure what to say about it other than it’s A-Rod from his few years with the Rangers and was one of the more expensive cards of the set.

Man, there sure are a lot of Yankee logos on this card. But see what I mentioned in my last post about saying a player signed with a team when it’s abundantly obvious on the card? I mean, ABUNDANTLY. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about these kinds of cards. The first example I can recall was Darryl Strawberry’s 1991 Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck cards:

I guess if you’re trying to beat the other guys to show him in his new uniform, I could see it, but it seems like a waste of a potentially good card. I also take the view that a given set is a historical record of the previous season, so these kinds of cards should be saved for update sets or later series. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about the Giambi, but I get why they did it. Thankfully, it’s the only one in the set.

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John Olerud 1991 Cards #3

1991 Panini Sticker

These were produced for the 1991 Panini Sticker album (albums that my mother collected in the mid-80s, acquainting me with baseball players). The album looked something like this:

Panini Album

I don’t remember seeing these back in 1991, and I’m not actively pursuing these as much as cards, but they’re a pretty cool find, and actually pretty informative for what they are.

Did you know?

John had no intention of signing when the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round. I was able to track down a newspaper from the time via Google News Archive that shows:

An interesting read. I’ll detail some more items along this line as we go on…

1991 Post

I always hated this card. That airbrushed helmet makes it look like he’s wearing an egg on his head, and I’m pretty sure “Toronto Blue Jays de Toronto” is not proper French, but who am I to argue? There’s just not much to say about this card outside of “came with cereal”. Kellogg’s did it much better.

1991 Score

I also used to despise 1991 Score, but now I just think of it as kind of workmanlike. The design works okay; I think it was the color choices that were throwing me off. I mean, look at this monstrosity. The shot is a bit washed-out (I color-corrected it), and the border choices…teal, yellow, and purple for a Blue Jay? Really, Score?

1991 Score Boxtop

This is the same thing, but was a pop-out on the 1991 Score wax box. I *had* to buy a box of Score back then just to get this. Funny thing, this box actually came with one of the rare Mantle inserts, so I guess it was worth it.

1991 Score The Franchise

That’s better. The shot is more humanizing, the design is a lot more sedate, and the black-and-white works well on the black borders. I’m not sure how I feel about the blue background, but it kind of works here. It’s funny, when this set came out I never really liked this card, but these days I think I appreciate it a lot more than the base score card. Odd how that goes.

1991 Score Rising Stars

Finally, we have the Score Rising Stars card. While not the best issue from that year (far from it, in fact), I would have been a lot happier with this being the design of the base Score set. There’s a lot more real estate for the picture, and the colors aren’t as garish. Not to mention there’s some matching blue in the border! All in all, not a bad way to wrap up this entry.

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More John Olerud Rookie Cards

I was hoping to get through all of Olerud’s rookies in this post, but I forgot about all the Broder/Magazine issues, so I’m going to save them for the next entry. For now, let’s look at the rest of the major company’s releases from 1990…

1990 Score Rising Stars

I believe these came with an album back in the day, but I never bothered to purchase it, just getting the card instead. As for how I feel on the card…eh. It was good to get an action shot of Olerud in 1990 when they were pretty few and far between, but this isn’t the best action shot in the world. I mean, you can barely see his face. So, meh.

1990 Score Young Superstars

Now that’s what I’m talking about. I don’t like this design at all, but that’s one hell of a photo, and I had never seen it until earlier this year. That’s right, I wasn’t even aware this card existed for, what, 20 years? I was pretty stoked to come across it, and even with the butt-ugly design, it’s one of my favorites.

1990 Topps Traded

It’s impossible to tell, but that’s actually a scan of a Topps Traded Tiffany card. Back when this came out, in our neighborhood at least, Tiffany was a distant dream. I certainly never saw one until much, much later. And I’m a bit mixed that my only Olerud Tiffany card is this one, because, well, it’s 1990 Topps, which is synonymous with butt-ugly. The photograph isn’t even that great. I was pretty underwhelmed then, and still am.

1990 Topps 1989 Debut

This is a weird one. I kind of like it, but again, 1990 Topps design. It’s just kind of…there. It did serve as a better Topps rookie card for Olerud, I think. Maybe it’s because the colors are a little more muted? I don’t know. But the photograph, again, kind of bland.

1990 Upper Deck

Last but certainly not least, my favorite Olerud rookie. Technically, yes, it’s not that great a card – it’s posed, there’s nothing else going on…but there’s something about the simplicity of the photograph paired with the simplicity of the design that caught my eye back then and still does to this day. It’s also cool to see Olerud wearing a hat rather than a helmet (something that perturbed me about him through his entire career).

Anyway, that covers the major releases. Stay tuned for Broder/Magazine/etc, and then we’ll delve into 1991…

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The 1988 Project – Day Three – Chris Sabo – Significant Rookie (Then)

What would a 1988 update set be without Spuds, the 1988 NL rookie of the year? Nowhere, that’s where. Sabo was THE hot rookie of 1988. Odd-looking, intense, but talented, just about anyone wanted to “be” him when we played ball.

Side note, does anyone remember that whole aspect of sandlot ball? Or were we the only ones who did this? We’d pick teams and we got to “be” the player we picked. The other kids always picked the superstars, and I’d pick some obscure rookie or prospect; hell, I didn’t see the point of picking players anyway, so I figured I’d try to be as weird as possible. It’s the only reason I remember the existence of players like Sherwin Clintje (and yes, I had to order this card – expect to see it soon) to this day, honestly, so it was kind of neat for obscure minor leaguers, if nothing else.

Anyway. On to the Sabo goodness.

1988 Donruss Rookies

A shot of Sabo’s back. Meh. I guess there’s no doubt who he is, though, between the uniform and the glasses. Okay, gonna call this a crappy photo. I guess it’s showing his intensity, but you can only really see his profile (which is already obscured by the giant goggles). Not my favorite Sabo card.

Speaking of intensity…

1988 Fleer Update

No goggles?!?!? What trickery is this? Oddly, this was my favorite Sabo rookie back in the day, and I’m not even sure why. I look at it now and it’s boring as hell and lacking the goggles, but maybe that was what made it for me. I don’t know.

Oh, Chris Sabo, you are my nutty buddy…

1988 Score Rookie and Traded

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Classic Sabo pose, goggles representin’, poised to strike. This was one of the most desirable cards of this set, and you can see why. I didn’t get to see a copy til my mid-teens, by which time Sabo was pretty much done with as a fan favorite, but seeing it now is a lot of fun.

1988 Topps Traded

Well, how about that? Topps Traded with a pretty good action shot. If the actual photo quality were better (by which I mean the color balance, etc.), I’d be even happier, but that was a problem even the Traded sets struggled with when it came to Topps. For Topps, this is a damn good card, and was another key to the set back in the day.

Ultimately, of course, Sabo fell off after his rookie season, which is bound to happen to a 26-year old rookie who never OPSed far above 800 in the minors. And let’s not forget he had a .315 OBP that “amazing” rookie year of 1988. But he managed to last until 1996 with a 13.3 career WAR, so he didn’t totally suck. So hats off to you, Chris Sabo!


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A Few John Olerud Rookies

I spoke some yesterday about my history with collecting John Olerud cards, and I thought I’d start looking at my collection with the rookie cards, as those have the most emotional attachment for me.

1990 Donruss

I was never crazy about Olerud’s 1990 Donruss card. Of course, I was never crazy about 1990 Donruss, period. Even keeping in mind the hideous design (which actually improves with almost any other color than that red), the whole thing was just sloppy. This particular specimen of the card isn’t in the greatest of shape, but I have upwards of 30 of these things, so I wasn’t picking through them all to find the best one. What can I say? It’s a generic, static shot in old Comiskey park, but it does bring back memories of trading for every single one from my friends.

1990 Score

My second-favorite Olerud rookie, it’s the only one from the regular issues that year that shows some sort of action shot (even Upper Deck couldn’t manage that). I’m sure that’s down to how few games Olerud played in 1989, appearing in just six games after jumping straight to the majors. After checking his 1989 game logs, there are a few possibilities of which game this could be, but I strongly suspect it’s the October 1st, 1989 game, the only one Olerud started (and he started at 1B that game). I like the guy lounging on the right side of the card.

1990 Classic I

Finally, the first of two Classic issues for Olerud that year. Man, this set just screams early 90s. Look at those neon pink splashes. I was never crazy about Classic, and 1990 is when they really got stupid, with the gimmicky Pete Rose Jr. card (trying to cash in on Griffey, anyone?). I’d say the stupidity could be linked to the design, but I don’t know…anyway, this was one of the better base shots of Olerud. You don’t see too many bench shots like this. And is that Rob Ducey in the background?

More Olerud rookies tomorrow.

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The 1988 Project – Day One

And so begins one of the new regular columns in this spot. The concept, as I mentioned earlier today, is to acquire every late 80s/early 90s traded/rookies set and post them. I’m beginning in 1988. Why 1988? Because it marks the beginning of my collecting.

Back in those days you didn’t have a whole lot of baseball to watch if you had basic cable; generally we got a handful of Orioles games a year and could watch the Braves or Cubs daily. The Braves were pretty awful, so as a neighborhood, we gravitated to the Cubs. This is where collecting comes in.

August, 1988, as I recall, and I had been pretty disdainful of my friends collecting cards up to that point. Until someone gave me a Cubs Team Leaders Topps card for free. Something clicked. At the time, in our town, Topps was pretty much it, so I started picking them up at the mini mart.

But now let’s think about this. It’s 1988. You’re 12. Your budding baseball consciousness really only revolves around one team. Who is the player you want the most out of any 1988 set, and are denied over and over again (if you’re limited to Topps)?

Mark Grace.

And that’s why he’s the first pick for the 1988 project; which is funny, considering I’m not even that big a fan of the guy these days.

But let’s do this chronologically. My first ever Mark Grace card…is this one. Literally this one. I didn’t have to rebuy it in some fit of nostalgia or feeding my inner child.

1988 Topps Traded

I was insanely jealous of my friend who had the 1988 Topps Traded set. There was nothing I liked more than rookie cards, and it was FULL of Olympic athletes that I just knew would go on to be huge stars. I needed it. And so I put together a package that he could not refuse for it. I’m sure I got completely ripped off, but I was thinking at the time of future value, which helped me justify it. Shows I was a bit of a businessman from the beginning, I guess. I have held on to that set til this day, and this Grace comes from that set. Unfortunately, getting that set with players that had insane futures meant I wasn’t as interested in Grace (and had moved on from him at that point anyway), so this card never really made an impression on me. I’m guessing that’s because it’s not a very good card. Even grading for the 1988 Topps angle (let’s face it, the photography in that set is just…yeah. Abysmal), it’s a dud. Who looked at a picture of him and said “Yeah, let’s take the one where his eyes are closed”? Geez. Nostalgic, yes. Good, no.

Moving on…

1988 Fleer Update

How friggin hot was Mark Grace in 1988? Two sets that had already published cards of him created a second one. Grace appeared in the 1988 Fleer set, sharing a card, and yet got his own Fleer Update card. I don’t know if that was standard procedure back then, but it’s interesting, at least. I’m fairly sure this was the second Grace card I bought, as I found a sealed Fleer Update set in an Eckerd and bought it without hesitation. While this card is also subpar, I have to note that I was a Fleer fanboy up until Upper Deck. The 1987 Fleer design evokes a pleasant longing for what seemed like simpler times…and as cheesball as 1988 Fleer is to a mature eye, that design was AWESOME for a 12-year-old boy in 1988. It was my favorite of the year, and is why I still have both Fleer sets from that year.

1988 Donruss the Rookies

Third card I got. I vividly remember buying this set at an antiques mall in early 1989. The proprietor was a real ass, and I’m sure this was overpriced, but I didn’t care. Rookies, rookies, rookies! They’re why this set became the first set I would purchase every year after this. And hey, that Grace card is actually pretty damn nice despite the hideous borders; as a former first baseman, I love that photo, and I loved it back then, too.

1988 Score Rookies and Traded

And finally, the white whale. In 1988, I scoffed at Score. I thought the design was godawful, the card stock cheap (still think that about the 88 set), and the overall package just cheesy. I figured it would be like sportflics. I actually get the impression that this was the case with a lot of people in 1988, hence some of the limited nature of this set. What this means is that I saw this set in a coin shop back in 1988 and never bought it, because who the hell wanted Score? Wellllll…when I became a Roberto Alomar collector, I learned about the card in this set (this was 1989), and then saw how much it was worth in Beckett. My heart sank. Here was a traded set, something cheap and inexpensive, that had shot up almost immediately. It wasn’t fair.

I absolutely refused to pay what people wanted for the set, despite wanting it badly for years. Even when I got back into collecting in 2003, I resisted, despite going back and paying more for some other sets I wanted. It was a matter of principle, really.

So a few weeks ago, having gotten savvy at finding bargains on eBay, I thought I’d apply my new skills to this set. And I did it – I found the set for 12 bucks. Pretty close to what I would’ve paid back then. Allowing for inflation, I was happy. And so we come to the Grace card. Like I said, I still think the card design is goofy as hell, but appreciating now what Score was bringing to the table, this card comes alive for me. I mean, it’s a great photograph. Heads above what the other series, even Donruss, was offering.

And a word about the entire Score set. I found it fascinating how when I looked through the set, I found that the 1988 season came alive to me in a way that it had never lived before. I realized that 1988 and prior had always had a certain “set” feel to them thanks to the more staid photography (and photography is my #1 reason for liking these cards). Suddenly these more static images became dynamic, with better lighting. It was like 1989 forward, only for 1988. I mean, just look at them. It’s almost apples and oranges. So good job, Score. Pretty awesome what you brought to the table.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at a Yankee.


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A Mess of Pedro Martinez

1994 Score Rookie/ Traded

1994 Score Rookie/ Traded

1994 Leaf

1994 Leaf

1994 Bowman

1994 Bowman

1995 Collector's Choice

1995 Collector's Choice

1995 Score

1995 Score

1996 Bazooka

1996 Bazooka

1996 Studio

1996 Studio

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Larry Walker Rookies

In the vein of my Randy Johnson rookie review, here are most of Walker’s rookie cards.

1990 Bowman

1990 Bowman. Spring training shot; the only one with this terrible mustache. Glad he gave up on that.

1990 Fleer

1990 Fleer. Can anyone identify that stadium? Kind of looks like the old Vet.


1990 Leaf

1990 Leaf. Spring training shot. LOVE this card, always have, always will.

1990 Score

1990 Score. Guessing this is also a Spring Training shot, as it's too light to be the dome.

1990 Topps 1989 MLB Debut

1990 Topps 1989 MLB Debut. That stadium looks vaguely familiar...maybe Candlestick?

1990 Upper Deck

1990 Upper Deck. Another stadium that looks familiar, but I can't quite place it.

1990 Upper Deck Rookie Threats

1990 Upper Deck Rookie Threats. FINALLY an easily identifiable stadium: Atlanta's Fulton County stadium. And no, the Brave in the background did not clue me into that.


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Wil Cordero

Wow, quite a few Wil Cordero cards in my collection.

1991 Upper Deck

1991 Upper Deck

1992 Score Traded

1992 Score Traded

1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier

1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier

1994 Leaf

1994 Leaf

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