Score Baseball Card Of The Day

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I own every Score card ever made (1988-98) and still lament their parent company, Pinnacle, going bankrupt during my senior year of high school. 

Time has not diminished the detailed blurbs and awesome photography that was Score baseball, however. I've long done a Topps Card Of The Day feature on this site and have now decided to add Score to the mix on days a Topps card is not profiled. This company, defunct or not, deserves appreciation from collectors past and present—shoot, maybe a new generation of card enthusiasts will become enamored with Score as I did.

(We will not be presenting any Score Rookies & Traded cards; I never collected them because they were too different from the base sets.)

 

Click on images for larger views.

Score Mike James
Score Mike James

10/20/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Score #369 Mike James, Angels

Not to be confused with the current NBA fringer or the former NFL running back.

It's doubtful anyone remembers Mike James the MLB reliever unless they followed the surprising 1995 California Angels or the Darryl Kile-era St. Louis Cardinals. James gave both teams quality middle/late relief for a while before losing effectiveness; he even closed for a while with the Angels—more on that below.

Here, James is about to embark on Season Three in Anaheim after a strong 1996 season. Effectively wild, the tall right-hander put together a 1.01 ERA and just six walks over a 22-game stretch in early '96. From 8/4 on, in a homer-happy season, he allowed zero home runs to 78 batters faced!

THIS CARD: I'm at a loss to explain how we can randomly select James' 1997 Score card weeks after randomly selecting James' 1997 Topps card. As tempted as I was to simply copy and paste that write-up here upon making the selection, ultimately my honorary professionalism won out.

James is seen in the revamped look of the newly-renamed Anaheim Angels. This was the first (and last, due to its 1998 demise) Score set to present new team names/uniforms and transplanted players in its base set. The company previously released Traded & Rookies sets intermittently, but fallout from the strike did those in until 1998.

More from James' 1996 season: his ERA only reached the threes briefly in August, after being lit up in Mark Langston's 200th Angels start (which Langston still won). Teammate Jim Abbott was only 2-18 in a nightmare 1996 campaign, but James earned holds in both victories 5/2 and 9/8. Cleveland never figured James out, batting 3-for-24 against him with no runs in eight games!

(flip) Score typically presented MiLB stats for youngsters like James, but clearly the company was going to mention Lurleen Wallace college no matter what it took.

 

Among those who signed, only four players drafted lower than James in 1987 reached MLB—including longtime MLB C Brad Ausmus (#48, Yankees) and longtime MLB 1B/OF Jeff Conine (#58, Royals).

As you see in the splits, James had to be virtually invincible in night games at Anaheim Stadium. Especially against righty batters.

That Trade From Dodgers sent OF Reggie Williams up Interstate 5. He returned to the Angels in 1998.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 1997, James racked up a few saves while Percival was sidelined early on. But overall, his effectiveness waned, and by early 1998 he'd undergone elbow surgery. A year later, James required shoulder surgery as well, and that summer the Angels released him just as his rehab wrapped. (A stunned James suspected other factors contributed to the decision.)

James was reportedly 100% ignored on the market until holding a private workout—as we mentioned, he landed with St. Louis. James put up a 4.03 ERA over 91 games for the Cards 2000-01, also cleaning up SP Rick Ankiel's infamous mess in the 2000 NLDS Game 1.

Next, the 34-year-old made Colorado's 2002 Opening Day roster, but was outrighted to AAA after 13 up-and-down outings. James signed MiLB deals with the 2003 Devil Rays and 2005 Tigers, neither of which led him back to an MLB mound.

Mike James appeared in 1997-98 Score.

More October 2021 Score Cards Of The Day

Score Dan Petry
Score Dan Petry

10/4/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Score #705 Dan Petry, Red Sox

I have found no evidence that any of Petry's teammates/coaches ever called him "Dish", and I hope that's because none of them were ridiculous enough to do that.

Unless, of course, Petry was the kind of guy who would like essentially being called bacteria.

Best known for his days with the 1980's Tigers, the durable Petry racked up double-digit victory totals annually from 1980-85, helping Detroit to their 1984 World Series championship. That year, Petry placed fifth in AL Cy Young Award voting; a year later, he made his only AL All-Star team.

In 1986, however, midseason elbow surgery (to remove bone chips) contributed to a sharp fall-off, and the next year he pitched his way not only out of the Tigers rotation, but out of Detroit altogether once the season ended. The Angels brought Petry in for 1988, but he was limited to 22 starts by a June ankle sprain. By 1990 he was back with the Tigers and went 10-9 as a swingman.

Here, Petry has finished a 1991 season full of upheaval. By now, it was clear Petry's glory days were well in the past, but he had enough left to convince two teams to trade for him during the season! The veteran made his 300th (and final) career start on 5/24, and also eclipsed the 2,000-inning milestone during the year.

THIS CARD: Going by this image, you'd think Petry threw 98 MPH. Not quite, but he did get by for most of his Tigers career with primarily his fastball and slider. In fact, The Scouting Report: 1987 captioned Petry's page with "NEEDS ANOTHER PITCH".

To me, Petry never looked right in any uniform except Detroit's. He opened the 1991 season with the Tigers, was dealt to the Braves for OF Victor Rosario (who had eight AB with the '90 Braves but never resurfaced) in June, then was traded to Boston in August for a nothing prospect.

More from Petry's 1991 season: he opened the year in relief, started six straight games in May, then returned to relief for the rest of the season. On 7/15, Petry gave the Braves 4.2 innings out of the bullpen after SP Pete Smith was smacked around early, and on 5/9 he started and threw 6.2 shutout innings at eventual champion Minnesota.

(flip) Petry is allegedly 32 at the time of this pic. I don't mean this as any sort of insult, but that does not look like a 32-year-old man.

Petry is a San Francisco Bay Area native? Palo Alto lies between San Francisco and San Jose, and houses Stanford University.

As you can see in the stats, Petry didn't strike out many dudes, which kept his pitch count down and allowed for those high innings totals. Surprisingly, those 266.1 IP in '83 only ranked third in the AL, the same AL that saw nobody reach 200 this season.

AFTER THIS CARD: Nothing, at least on the field—when the 1991 season ended, so did Petry's playing career. In recent years, he's worked as a Tigers analyst.

Dan Petry appeared in 1988-92 Score.

Score Casey Candaele
Score Casey Candaele

10/8/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Score #97 Casey Candaele, Expos

When I first began collecting baseball cards full-time in 1990, Casey Candaele was off the major league radar. When he re-emerged with the 1990 Astros and I eventually nabbed his card, it fascinated me that Candaele was not some fresh young prodigy out of the minors, but rather he'd been around for several seasons prior...and was even a regular!

Eventually I became aware of Candaele's journey and everything made sense, but for that first year, I could have used a father figure to explain to me that sometimes dudes get hurt, or play their way out of regular jobs. It took a while for young me to understand that just because a dude received 400+ at-bats in a season doesn't mean he necessarily deserved them.

Here, however, Candaele is coming off his first (and only) full season with Montreal. He was a regular without a regular position, but still batted over .310 in three of the season's first four months en route to a 4th-place NL Rookie of the Year finish.

THIS CARD: This may be the only card in the set with a 2B-CF designation. Candaele held down 2B 68 times (29 starts) in 1987, while getting in 45 games (38 starts) in CF.

Partially visible is Candaele's #9. Among Expos, Marquis Grissom is far and away the best #9 ever, followed by Lee Stevens (yes, he was a productive Expo for a time). But Candaele may be third-best.

More from Candaele's 1987 season: despite all the defensive shuffling, he only committed four errors in the first half (three were bunched together) and just one in his final 34 games. Candaele was also a Cubs nemesis; on both 4/24 and 4/25, Candaele ripped three hits against Cubs pitching (upping his early-season average to .372), then closed June with four straight multi-hit games—three of them at the Cubs!

(flip) Rookie card company mistake: referring to the subject as a 2B-CF on the front, but only a 2B on the back.

Rookie card company mistake #2: listing stolen bases between at-bats and runs. It's okay to be different. It's not okay to confuse the hell out of seasoned collectors.

Not knocking Candaele, but he does not look 26 in that photo. I'm noticing a pattern with players from the 1980's-90's—most of them resemble managers more than players.

That red splotch on the photo was somehow created during the scan (which I performed twice with the same result). There is no splotch on the actual card.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 1988, Candaele slumped badly, and was traded to the Astros for C Mark Bailey in July. He didn't hit there, either, and was quickly dispatched to AAA Tucson—where he remained until being called up by the Astros in late April 1990. This time, Candaele resembled the 1987 version of himself and stuck around for the rest of the year, even playing 2B regularly after the August trade of longtime incumbent Bill Doran.

Candaele lasted three more seasons in a superutility role with Houston, but once again found himself outside the majors looking in from 1994-95. The mighty 1996 Indians turned to Candaele to fill a bench/PH slot in July; he earned his only MLB postseason experience that year. All but 14 of Candaele's final 351 professional games were at the MiLB level, however, and his playing career ended in 2000.

From 2011-14, Candaele worked as a baserunning/infield coordinator in the Texas organization. In 2016-17, he served as Mariners 1B coach under old Astros teammate Scott Servais; Candaele has managed in Toronto's system since then.

Casey Candaele appeared in 1988, 1991, 1992 and 1994 Score.

Score Steve Howard
Score Steve Howard

10/12/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #364 Steve Howard, Athletics

Howard was a so-so prospect with the late 80's-early 90's Athletics. He would have never cracked their outfield of Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson and Jose Canseco were it not for the sale of OF/DH Ken Phelps to Cleveland in mid-June 1990.

THIS CARD: That's #48 on Howard's jersey. Past Athletics you may remember wearing #48 include the highly-touted SP Ariel Prieto in the late 1990's, 2012 All-Star rookie reliever Ryan Cook, or most recently, veteran RP Joakim Soria 2019-20.

Oakland native Howard swings away at the Oakland Coliseum. An oddity from his major league tenure: Howard played just six of his 21 major league games at home.

More from Howard's 1990 season: he started 14 games across LF, RF and DH. On 6/20 against Detroit's Dan Petry, Howard singled home Ron Hassey for his lone big league RBI.

(flip) More power than anyone in the entire organization besides Canseco? Exactly WHO was saying Steve Howard had more power than Mark McGwire???

Well, to be fair to Howard, Canseco had a little help ascending to the major leagues.

That double was served up by White Sox RP Ken Patterson in Howard's debut. Though the youngster only finished 1-for-6 with two K that day, Oakland still won 12-3.

AFTER THIS CARD: Howard was optioned back to AAA Tacoma in mid-July, and never returned to Oakland's roster. For whatever reason, he did not play pro baseball in 1991 and after going 5-for-29 for AAA Richmond (Braves) in 1992, Howard was not seen on the diamond again.

 

Steve Howard appeared in 1991 Score.

Score Kenny Lofton
Score Kenny Lofton

10/16/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #81 Kenny Lofton, Indians

Here, we catch up with the budding star Lofton after his second full major league season (1993). It didn't take long for him to prove his breakout 1992 campaign was no fluke—he entered June 1993 on a 6-for-11 tear, upping his season average to .346. Lofton again led the AL in steals and was the Indians' team leader in runs, triples, walks (81), average and OBP (.408).

THIS CARD: Lofton visits Score COTD for the second time; we presented his 1996 Score card back in January 2021.

 

That has got to be the most polite-looking bunt attempt I've ever seen. Lofton looks as if he's saying to the pitcher, "You good? It's cool if I bunt now?" Something tells me asking the opponent for permission to bunt is out of Kenny Lofton's character.

This has got to be some type of Turn Back The Clock uniform; it certainly isn't the 1993 Indians' regular garb or even the brand-new attire premiered by the 1994 Indians. It actually resembles the Boston Red Sox' longtime look.

(flip) Before Lofton, the previous AL rookie record holder for steals was John Cangelosi (50 for the 1986 White Sox).

Lofton piled up 19 bunt hits and 43 overall infield hits in 1993, per BaseballReference.com. He'd bunted for hits 32 times in 1992!

Count 'em: one, two, three Chief Wahoo's. He may be gone, but he'll never be gone. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Let's see: three more years with Cleveland, a trade to Atlanta, a return to Cleveland for 4Y/$32M including option, then a new address or two every year afterward. Three Gold Gloves, six All-Star selections, over 2,000 more hits and nearly 500 more steals. A huge hit in the 2002 NLCS and one of the greatest catches ever in 1996.

Lofton's final season was 2007, a year split between the Rangers and (yet again) the Indians. Despite slashing .296/.367/.414 with 23 steals during the regular season, 40-year-old Lofton did not receive another major league deal.

Kenny Lofton appeared in 1992-98 Score.