Score Baseball Set Reviews

I began collecting Score baseball cards not long after I began collecting Topps cards in 1990. Which is to say I came home one day to find a factory set of 1989 Score waiting for me. These cards were different—glossy, with detailed blurbs, multiple photos and a position called "RP". I was intrigued, especially after getting my hands on the 1990 and 1991 sets and finding many dudes omitted from the respective Topps sets.

 

SCORE SET: 1988  1989  1990  1991  1992  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998

 

1988 Score

Set Size: 660​

Card #1: Don Mattingly

Subsets: Salute To Reggie Jackson (5) All-Stars (4) Highlights (9)

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #40 Willie McGee ("excited" misspelled "excitd") #87 Rick Honeycutt (stats wrong) #100 Jack Clark (1985 listed twice in stats) #104 Dennis Eckersley ('87 and career CG wrong) #209 Marvell Wynne (misspelled "Marvelle") #251 Scott Fletcher (stats listed with Cubs instead of White Sox)

#264 Bob Forsch (one loss in 1977 instead of seven) #285 Ted Simmons (listed with "Cardinal" in 1978) #508 Jose DeLeon (blurb years messed up) #565 Gene Garber (listed with A's instead of Royals 1973-74) #572 Donnie Hill (1984 SB wrong) #587 Lee Tunnell (extra . in 1987 ERA) #640 Chris Gwynn (listed as R/R instead of L/L)

My Thoughts On The Set: Score's debut set blew me away with the second photos on the reverse and lengthy, detailed blurbs that included mini-scouting reports. True, there were numerous error cards, but don't all rookies foul up here and there?

The cards backgrounds were purple, red, blue, green, gold or orange based on card number—every 110th card on the checklist activated a new color. This was a theme never before seen on sports cards, and it continued in similar fashion for the first few years of Score. Many disliked the look, but I was more or less okay with it, although an Ozzie Smith card with a purple background just didn't add up.

The retiring Reggie Jackson of the A's received a five-card "Salute To Reggie Jackson" subset recalling his five major league stops (Oakland, Baltimore, New York, California and back to Oakland). Other subsets: four All-Star combo player cards and nine Highlight cards. In both subsets, informative blurbs take up nearly the entire card reverses!

Rookie Prospects, which eventually became a Score staple, are grouped in this set. That would not be the case moving forward.

#239 Doug DeCinces and #293 John Candelaria are shown as Angels, though the former finished '87 with the Cardinals and the latter finished '87 with the Mets.

Overall, I liked the set enough to go back and build it well after I thought my Score collection was complete. I had acquired about 100 cards from a friend and let them sit around for a couple of years. Then I went on repeated pack-buying binges to acquire 500 or so more cards before individually gathering the final few dozen. On TCDB.com, I rated it a 7.

 
1989 Score

Set Size: 660​

Card #1: Jose Canseco

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #58 Tim Teufel (reads 1985 "TWINs") #94 Eddie Murray (1986 average misaligned) #120 Cecil Fielder (back photo reversed) #125 Greg Gross (reads "Gregg" on back) #175 Wade Boggs (in blurb, career avg. incorrect) #185 Bryan Harvey (1987 games incorrect) 

#219 Bill Swift (1987 CG wrong) #230 Lou Whitaker (1985 games incorrect) #249 Floyd Bannister (given batting header instead of pitching) #306 Randy Myers (1987 hits wrong) #387 Luis Polonia (1985 triples wrong) #399 Bobby Thigpen (blurb saves total wrong) #411 Shawn Abner (1987 stats wrong) #438 Jeff Russell (career saves wrong) #453 Todd Stottlemyre (given batting header instead of pitching)

#488 Shawn Hillegas (1987 IP wrong) #509 Bobby Meacham (1984 games reads 099) #530 Jay Buhner (uniform number wrong on back) #561 Don Slaught (1987 games incorrect) #583 Donnie Hill (1984 SB wrong) #611 Ted Simmons (shown with "Cardinal" in 1978) #624 Mike Harkey (1988 BB wrong) #628 Charlie Hayes (listed as OF) #642 Dwight Smith (1987 HR wrong) #647 Todd Frohwirth (described as southpaw in blurb) #650 Dave West (career hits wrong)

My Thoughts On The Set: I call this "The Garlic Bread Set", as it was gifted to me along with a sizable piece of garlic bread that I soon puked up for some reason. Score continues to color its cards with no regard to the team being depicted, switching up every 110 cards. (Jose Canseco ends up with a green background, but so does Cal Ripken, Jr.) But still, the design is original and okay by me.

Despite its limited set size, 1989 Score snuck a few dudes in its set that Topps did not, such as Bill Buckner. Don Sutton received a sunset card, even though he ended 1988 unemployed after the Dodgers released him in August. 

 
1990 Score

Set Size: 704​

Card #1: Don Mattingly

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #310 Roger Clemens (blurb says "dominate" instead of "dominant") #350 Mark Thurmond (1986 ERA misprinted) #469 R.J. Reynolds (blurb says "footware") #483 Joe Hesketh (blurb reads "rookiess") #501 Tim Teufel (reads 1985 "TWINs" on back) #503 Matt Williams (given uniform #9 instead of #10) #530 Erik Hanson (blurb says "seson") #637 Juan Gonzalez (reads 1986 "Sarasots")

#682 Willie Greene (misspelled "Green") #685 Tony Gwynn Dream Team (blurb reads "battling" instead of "batting) 

My Thoughts On The Set: ---

 
1991 Score

Set Size: 893​

Card #1: Jose Canseco

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #6 Bret Saberhagen (blurb says "mised" instead of "missed") #15 Ricky Jordan (blurb says "legue" instead of "league") #28 Bip Roberts (blurb says "playd" instead of "played") #46 Mike Scott (blurb says "dominate" instead of "dominant") #53 John Tudor (did not win 41 games in 1981) #68 Bill Sampen (blurb says "along" instead of "long") #95 Cal Ripken Jr. (blurb says "genuis" instead of "genius")

#107 Darryl Hamilton (blurb is for Jeff Hamilton) #132 Donn Pall (1988 ERA wrong and "rejuvenated" misspelled) #180 Sid Fernandez (did not allow 779 runs in 1990) #203 Junior Felix (blurb says "NL" where "AL" should be) #276 Mike Morgan (career IP slightly off) #279 Kevin Seitzer (blurb has incorrect number of 200-hit and .300 seasons) #353 Julio Valera (blurb says "progessed" instead of "progressed") 

#413 Shawon Dunston Rifleman (blurb says "in the baseball") #418 Bobby Thigpen highlight (who the hell is "Hal McRae Jr."?) #486 Erik Hanson (blurb says "baseketball") #503 Craig Worthington (blurb misspells Doug DeCinces as "DiCinces") #504 Mark Eichhorn (1989 Braves missing from stats) #517 Ron Robinson (did not K 577 in 1990) #580 Rick Cerone (number of Yankee stints incorrect) #602 Craig McMurtry ("anonymously" misspelled in blurb)

#643 Reggie Harris ("hepatitis" misspelled in blurb) #659 Dann Bilardello (1990 stats wrong) #661 Doug Drabek AS ("through" misspelled) #666 Barry Larkin AS ("coolly" misspelled) #690 Jose Canseco Master Blaster (what the hell is "monmouth"?) #715 Dan Boone (career IP incorrect) #748 Omar Olivares ("league" misspelled "legaue" in blurb) #750 Mo Vaughn (did not steal 44 bases in 1990) #764 Sean Berry (misspelled "Barry" on front) 

#787 Jose Vizcaino ("Offerman" misspelled "Opperman") #799 Scott Ruskin (blurb lists four batting averages but references three) #809 Joel Skinner (blurb error) #811 Pat Tabler (blurb "always" misspelled "alway") #812 Scott Erickson (blurb "record" misspelled "rcord") #825 Ozzie Smith (in blurb, "shortstop" misspelled "shortsop") #837 Randy Kutcher (blurb "infectious" misspelled) #869 Todd Zeile Franchise ("powerful" misspelled "poweful") #881 Damon Berryhill (1989 Iowa stats incorrect) 

* too many vitals errors to list

My Thoughts On The Set: There is something so 1990 about this set. After releasing 660-to-704-card sets in each of its first three years of existence, 1991 Score upped the set size to 893, with subsets making up a huge chunk of the additional cards. To this day, 1991 Score has the best (and certainly the most) subsets of any set I've ever collected.

There are an overwhelming amount of spelling errors in this set, but shoot, there's page-long blurbs on just about every card in the set; they were bound to happen with a company still in its infancy.

 
 
1992 Score

Set Size: 893​

Card #1: Ken Griffey Jr.

Subsets: All-Stars (20) Highlights (6) No-Hit Club (8) Awards (6) 1st Round Picks (12) Hall-of-Famers (5) Dream Team (13)

The Best Cards: almost all Dream Team cards, #311 Jeff Reed, #31 Albert Belle

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #---

My Thoughts On The Set: 893 cards for the second straight year...I am salivating today, though at the time I just figured things would always be this way and there was nothing to get overly excited about.

I did not complete this set until 2019 and did not actively collect it for many years until being gifted with about 200 commons from a buddy and former collector. That was all it took for me to embark on a set-completing mission.

The colors used in 1992 Score's commons design...well, they don't make sense. It's nothing for a California Angel, for example, to feature a green name box and a purple logo bar. (See card #849 Kyle Abbott) 

About those logo bars: not sure why Score wanted to obscure almost a third of its front image space in 1992, but it did. The bars could have worked if made transparent, but that didn't happen. At least Score had the sense to "Photoshop" players' bodies/equipment over the bars.

1992 Score includes a litany of "Rookie Prospects" I'd never heard of, since they were omitted from Topps.

Once again, subsets galore can be found in 1992 Score, including the popular 13-card black-and-white Dream Team subset. Score once again names a Man Of The Year (Cal Ripken, Jr.) and includes a card for Jack Morris, the 1991 World Series MVP.

Of the 12 1st Round Picks in 1992 Score, Manny Ramirez became a star, Cliff Floyd and Aaron Sele had their moments...that's pretty much it in terms of valuable rookie cards.

Towards the end of the set are five cards covering five Hall-of-Famers (Satchel Paige, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb), with their gear pictured on the front and a blurb on the back. There is no obvious name or purpose for this subset.

1993 Score

Set Size: 660​

Card #1: Ken Griffey Jr.

Subsets: Awards (6) Highlights (8) World Series Highlights (2) All-Stars (20) Dream Team (11) Draft Picks (15)

The Best Cards: #209 Greg Olson #550 Kirby Puckett Man Of The Year

 

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #---​

My Thoughts On The Set: Wow, a 233-card dip from the 1992 set...what happened?

I did not own a single 1993 Score card until buying the complete set in 2018; one day I realized I owned every Score set ever except 1988, 1993 and 1995. I would have rather collected the set in packs as I did with 1992 Score, but not enough were available in the year 2018...goodbye, fifty bucks.

Too many action shots in this set. In fact, except for the expansion Rockies and Marlins, nobody got a posed shot or unique image of any kind. Score had done such a good job in those regards previously; I was a little disappointed.

Don't get me wrong: for the year 1992, these photos are very rich and very crisp. But too many of them are, well, basic.

 
1994 Score

Set Size: 660​

Card #1: Barry Bonds

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #---

My Thoughts On The Set: Though a smaller set than what Score produced earlier this decade, there were a high number of players featured in this set that the larger, more established Topps passed over. Scott Sanderson, Tom Brunansky, Darnell Coles, Jeff Reardon, Charlie Leibrandt, to name five.

I'm not sure what the dotted look reminds me of, but it reminds me of something. It's not an unpleasant reminder; I like 1994 Score's (black) background and font. Score continues to fit a second photo on their card reverses, which not everybody was doing at the time.

 
1995 Score

Set Size: 605​

Card #1: Frank Thomas

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #250 Greg McMichael (Mike Stanton pictured) #328 Checklists (Ken Griffey Jr. incorrectly listed as card #1) #561 Tony Gwynn Hitters Inc. (says AL batting titles rather than NL) 

My Thoughts On The Set: For the second straight year, Score produced a load of cards for players that Topps ignored. This despite Score's usual 660-card set being cut down to 605 cards because of the strike.

When I check out this set's design, I'm reminded of...beehives. The pattern is almost tessellation-like, is it not? At other times I'm reminded of the portable plastic fence my old baseball league employed. Neither of these things are necessarily bad, but I'm willing to bet more people disliked the design than not. I officially stand indifferent.

Score ditched its original logo beginning with this set; now it's sleeker with the set year printed as well. I THINK I liked the old one better, but I liked the new one just fine, too.

Series One wastes 14 cards on Team Checklists; Series Two features four regular Checklists.

 
1996 Score

Set Size: 517

Card #1: Will Clark

Subsets: ---

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #---

My Thoughts On The Set: First of all, I gotta talk about the photography. After the strike, obviously a load of animosity existed between players and fans. But the photos in 1996 Score were so...humanizing. Like the company was trying to dissolve some of that animosity through its cards. More than ever before, dudes were depicted signing autographs for fans, smiling and laughing, even holding babies. 
Basically, being regular people rather than the greedy, selfish monsters some painted them to be.

In my case, at least, the effort was successful. I can't look at these cards and not feel warm and fuzzy. My word, I miss Score baseball sets.

 
1997 Score

Set Size: 551

Card #1: Jeff Bagwell​

Subsets: Goin' Yard (35) Rock And Fire (13) True Grit (15)

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: #343 Delino DeShields (1948 should be 1947) #514 Jim Thome Goin' Yard (incorrectly numbered #515)

My Thoughts On The Set: ---

Japanese star Hideki Irabu was acquired by the Yankees 5/30/97; he was issued a short-print card #551 in 1997 Score. 

The only other short-print in the set, according to TCDB, is #209 Jim Bruske. His blurb begins "Here you are, Jim; this card's for you" leading me to believe the obscure Dodgers reliever asked to be included in the set.

For the first time ever, 1997 Score omits a second photo on the reverse. In its place: stats. A whole lot of statistical splits and even some fielding stats. There are numbers here nobody else was printing, and for one set the extra data was an interesting detour from normal. More than two sets, however, and they'd have lost their charm...overkill is a thing.

Also for the first time ever, 1997 Score features some players with their 1996 and 1997 teams, such as Eddie Murray. Score Rookies & Traded wasn't produced 1995-97, so relocated stars found their way into the base set. I didn't exactly like it, but I understood.

1997 Score Series 1 features the California Angels; Series 2 features the Anaheim Angels.

 
1998 Score

Set Size: 270​

Card #1: Andruw Jones​

Subsets: Interleague Moments (15)

The Best Cards: #---

Notable Uncorrected Error Cards: none discovered​

My Thoughts On The Set: Unfortunately, Score and its parent company, Pinnacle, went belly-up before Series 2 of this set could be produced, so even the likes of Juan Gonzalez—the 1998 league MVP—did not make it into 1998 Score.