The baseball card market was booming in the late 1980s, largely driven by the rising popularity of the hobby and increase in card collecting among both children and adults. While rookie cards of future Hall of Famers like Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas were debuted in 1988 Topps sets, 1989 Score was also an iconic release that featured several star players who would go on to have legendary careers. The distinctive gray border design on Score cards from this period has become very nostalgic for those who collected during that time as well. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most noteworthy rookies and star players featured in the 1989 Score baseball card set that continue to be highly sought after by collectors today.

Perhaps the most valuable and desired 1989 Score card is the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Widely considered one of if not the best all-around player of his generation, Griffey was already showing signs of superstardom in his age 19 rookie season with the Seattle Mariners in which he hit .284 with 16 home runs and 47 RBI in just 108 games. His smooth left-handed swing and effortless style of play made him a fan favorite from the very beginning. The Griffey Score rookie is one of the most iconic cards ever produced and remains in high demand by collectors even three decades later. PSA 10 Gem Mint specimens regularly sell for thousands of dollars online.


Another hugely popular rookie from the 1989 Score set is the Barry Bonds card. Bonds had just completed his first full Major League season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988, hitting .283 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI while also stealing 29 bases. He was already demonstrating the rare combination of power and speed that would later make him one of the most feared hitters in baseball history. Pristine PSA 10 versions of Bonds’ rookie card can exceed $1,000 or more depending on the market. The card is especially sought after by collectors seeking to own a piece of perhaps the best all-around player of all time before his record-breaking power numbers later in his career with the Giants.

Two other rookies featured in 1989 Score who had breakout rookie years were Gregg Jefferies of the St. Louis Cardinals and Gary Sheffield of the Milwaukee Brewers. Jefferies hit .286 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in his debut season while playing solid defense at second base, showing potential to become an all-star caliber player. Meanwhile, Sheffield displayed electrifying raw talent by hitting .271 with 19 home runs and 67 RBI in his age 20 season, hinting at the dazzling power/speed combination he would exhibit throughout his 17-year career. Their rare rookie cards are highly valued, though fetch considerably less than Griffey or Bonds.


In addition to rookie standouts, 1989 Score also featured many established superstars who were entering their athletic primes or coming off stellar 1988 campaigns. For example, the Bo Jackson card captured the two-sport phenomenon during his MVP season for the Kansas City Royals in which he hit .276 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 21 stolen bases while also playing professional football for the Raiders on weekends. His unique multi-sport accomplishments and career cut short by injury add to the lore surrounding the Jackson cards.

Another hugely notable 1989 Score card is the Roger Clemens issue, depicting the Red Sox flamethrower a year after he won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards by going 24-4 with a 2.60 ERA and 238 strikeouts. Clemens was establishing himself as arguably the best pitcher in baseball and would go on to have a legendary 24-year career. His pristine Score rookies from earlier in the decade also enjoy strong collector demand. Chipper Jones’ second year card gained significance years later as one of the few pre-Braves issues after he went on to a hall of fame career entirely with the Atlanta franchise.


Some other top stars whose 1989 Score cards remain highly sought after include Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants, who was coming off a monster 33 home run, 89 RBI, .308 batting average season; Mark McGwire of the Oakland A’s blasting 32 homers and driving in 109 runs the year before his monster breakout 1990 season; and Nolan Ryan, then in his nineteenth season and still striking out 226 batters for the Texas Rangers in 1988 at age 41. Kirby Puckett’s card also gained nostalgia after his Twins capped off their “Team of the 80s” run with a world series title in 1991.

The 1989 Score set will always be remembered very fondly by vintage baseball card collectors of that era for its amazing rookie cards like Griffey, Bonds, and Jefferies along with its portraits of many brightest stars entering their primes such as Clemens, McGwire, and Will Clark. Even over 30 years later, specimens of these classic cards continue to be widely collected, traded and appreciated for exemplifying the late ’80s heyday of the baseball card craze. For capturing so many legends before or during their rise to stardom, 1989 Score remains one of the single most iconic releases in the modern history of the hobby.

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