The 1988 Score baseball card set was a major release during the junk wax era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Issued by Score Board, Inc., the 1988 Score set featured cards for over 750 players and included rookie cards for future Hall of Famers such as Tom Glavine, Gregg Maddux, and John Smoltz. While not the most popular or valuable set from this time period today, the 1988 Score cards provide an interesting snapshot of the players and teams from that season.

In 1988, Score issued cards in both wax packs and rack packs. The base card design featured a headshot of the player on the front with team name/logo across the bottom. Statistical and biographical information was printed on the back. The set included rookie cards, career stat leaders, retired player cards, and team cards. Rated rookie cards were also present to highlight top prospects. Parallel sets included ‘Glossy Gems’ as SP variations.


Some of the top rookies from 1988 that had their first Score cards included Tom Glavine, Gregg Maddux, and John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves. All would go on to have Hall of Fame careers and help the Braves dominate baseball in the 1990s. Other future stars like Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, and Mo Vaughn also had their rookieScorecards appear. While none of these rookies are particularly valuable today, they represent an interesting period in the careers of these all-time great players.

The 1988 Score set had several notable team variations. The Reds and Phillies included league leader cards marked as ‘NL Batting Champion’ or ‘NL Home Run Leader’ for player accomplishments from the 1987 season. The Cubs had special ‘Billy Buckner Error’ and ‘Wrigley Field Centennial’ commemorative cards to mark infamous moments in franchise history. Also, a small number of early Blue Jays cards had the team name misspelled as ‘Blue Jays’ instead of ‘Blue Jays’.


As with many late 80s/early 90s sets, production and distribution of 1988 Score led to an overabundance of printed cards. The glut of similar looking card designs flooded the market and drove down collector interest and card values. Still, the 1988 set is an important historical representation of that season. Rosters included already established stars like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, and Tim Raines. Younger talent like Will Clark, Barry Larkin, and Mark McGwire were featured as well.

The 1988 Score design is fairly basic but distinctive with its player headshots and team branding. Condition sensitive cards tend to be more valued today. The diamond parallels that include ‘Glossy Gems’ remain some of the scarcer variations. As with many 1980s/early 1990s sets, individual rookie cards have seen the most collector interest hold value over time. The glut of production means full 1988 Score sets can usually be acquired for relatively low prices.


While not considered one of the most desirable vintage card releases, 1988 Score cards provide a time capsule look at that season’s teams and players. The inclusion of future superstars like Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Bonds, and Bagwell in their rookie seasons makes the set notable. Errors, parallels, and special franchise cards add collecting interest as well. Overall, 1988 Score traded cards offer affordable access to a snapshot of 1980s baseball during the ‘junk wax’ era boom in production. As the vintage card market continues evolving, interest in sets like 1988 Score may see a resurgence from collectors seeking to fill holes in their historical rosters.

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