The 1990 Score baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and sought after sets in the hobby. With flashy photography, updated team logos and designs, along with some of the games all-time greats in their primes, 1990 Score cards captured the attention of collectors. Within the massive 762 card base set, there are a select few cards that are exponentially rarer than others and command premium prices in the marketplace. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the rarest 1990 Score cards that collectors drool over.

One of the true short prints of the 1990 Score set is the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card numbered to only 99 copies. The extreme rarity of this card is heightened by the fact that Griffey was on his way to a Hall of Fame career and is still widely considered one of the most talented players of all-time. Even back in 1990, collectors recognized Griffey’s superstar potential and this rookie card skyrocketed in demand quickly. In pristine mint condition, a Griffey Jr. 1990 Score RC graded PSA 10 recently sold at auction for a staggering $347,000, making it one of the costliest modern era cards ever sold. Similarly rare is the Nolan Ryan expressed interest card from 1990 Score, which is also limited to a tiny print run of 99 copies to memorialize this future Hall of Famer.

Beyond the extremely low numbered short prints, there are also several prototype and experimental cards that were accidentally mixed into the regular 1990 Score production run making them statistically rarer finds for collectors. There are only a handful of copies known to exist of the Mark McGuire prototype card from the set that features an older style team logo and different photography. Maguire’s stats are also listed as N/A since it’s assumed these cards were produced prior to the start of the 1990 season. Another peculiar experimental find is a Cecil Fielder card from the set that has a blank white back without any stats or formatting like a normal issue. Both McGuire and Fielder prototype cards would be considered premier key cards for any 1990 Score collector to track down.


Perhaps the biggest error card from the 1990 Score set is the Stan Musial “9000” error. The amazing part about this error is not one, but two Musial cards were accidentally printed stating his career home run total as 9000 instead of the actual total of 475. Considering Musial had been retired for nearly 30 years by 1990, the glaringly inaccurate home run stat number made this an instantly recognizable production mistake. There exists fewer than 10 examples reported of these ultra rare Musial “9000” error cards between the two variations that were found.

Moving beyond printing anomalies, perhaps the rarest cards to obtain from the core 1990 Score set have to do with short printed rookie cards of future Hall of Famers or superstars. Griffey was already covered, but other examples include the Chipper Jones rookie numbered to around 100 copies, the Mike Piazza rookie around 150 copies, and the Derek Jeter rookie estimated at 200 made. All three of these players went on to have incredible careers and their rookie cards from 1990 Score are the key young player cards for collectors. Even more rare was a rookie variation of Jeremy Giambi that was mistakenly left out of the regular set numbering and has a completely blank back. Only a handful are reported to exist.


On the veteran side, there were also certain star players that had extremely low printed short prints or variations from 1990 Score. A Frank Thomas “Sunday Afternoon” action pose parallel is thought to be the rarest regular issue card from the set with under 50 in collectors’ hands. A Nolan Ryan traded variation is also quite scarce with a print run closer to 100. For errors, one of the most valuable would be the Don Mattingly sticker autograph error card that was missing the sticker but still labeled as such – there are less than 5 known. The Frank Viola All-Star card from the set features a formatting mistake where his name is listed as “Fanc Viola” making it a hilarious and rare error to track down.

When it comes to 1990 Score, the condition and centering quality of even basic common cards can have a huge impact on their relative rarity and value. Securing many of these stars in pristine PSA 10 or SGC 9.5 black label status is an enormous achievement. One condition anomaly stands out as particularly rare – the perfectly centered “black dot” error cards. 1990 Score had an issue where some cards were seemingly perfectly machine cut yet featured a distracting black circle or void space in the white border. Figuring out the cause, Score took these back and they were thought destroyed. But a select few very off-center “black dot” specimens are known to exist in collectors hands today making them among the most peculiar discoveries from this classic set.


For the most avid 1990 Score collectors, the true Holy Grails would be locating any of the famous “dummy” or prototype/unreleased cards that were produced but never meant to be inserted in packs. Rumored examples include unreleased rookie or career tribute cards to players like Barry Bonds, Pedro Martinez, Craig Biggio and more. While virtually impossible to substantiate, if any of these ultra-rare pre-production cards somehow made it into the wild, they could shatter records as the most valuable 1990 Score cards in existence. For those willing to pay top dollar, the quest is always on to track down any of the true ‘ghost’ cards and hidden treasures within this iconic baseball card release.

The 1990 Score set is revered by card collectors not just for its design but also because it featured the emergence of so many baseball legends. Within its immense base set, a select group of extremely rare printing errors, short prints, rookie variations and prototype cards make this set highly sought after by advanced collectors. With cards like the Griffey Jr. rookie numbered to 99 and prototypes like early Bonds remaining as elusive as ever, the excitement of the 1990 Score hunt continues some 30 years later. For those willing to ride the highs and lows, it’s a set that can create memories and thrills unlike any other in the hobby.

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