The 1989 Score baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and valuable issues of the late 1980s. Produced by Score Board, Inc., the 1989 Score set was the 11th edition in the long-running Score baseball card series and cemented itself as a memorable release due to the inclusion of several highly sought-after rookie cards. While not quite as valuable as rookie card-heavy sets from the early 1950s, the 1989 Score issue remains a beloved choice for collectors due to its excellent photography, design aesthetics, and ability to capture future Hall of Famers at the beginning of their careers.

The biggest rookie card draw in the 1989 Score set is Ken Griffey Jr., who had just begun his debut season with the Seattle Mariners after being drafted number one overall in 1987. Griffey Jr.’s smooth lefty swing and game-changing athleticism made him an instant star, and his rookie card is one of the most iconic and valuable cards ever printed. In top graded gem mint (GM) 10 condition, Griffey Jr.’s rookie fetches upwards of $3,000 due to its extreme rarity. Even well-centered near mint (NM) 7 copies can sell for $400-600 based on eye appeal.


Another notable rookie in the 1989 Score set is Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds. As the shortstop for the “Nasty Boys” Reds teams of the late 1980s and 1990s, Larkin put together a stellar 19-year career that landed him in the Hall of Fame. In top condition, his rookie card has risen well above the $1,000 mark due to his success and the fact that it was produced in far fewer numbers than Griffey’s more high-profile issue. Like Griffey, even NM copies in the $200-400 range make Larkin’s rookie a prized pickup.

In addition to star rookies, the 1989 Score set provided the opportunity to acquire then-current playing cards of baseball legends. Perhaps most notably, the final card in the set is none other than a Ken Griffey Sr. issues from his days with the Atlanta Braves. This serves as a neat bookend pairing with his son’s infamous rookie. In high grades, Griffey Sr.’s card can sell for $150-250 based on his respectable career and connection to his superstar son.


Other investment-worthy veteran cards from the 1989 Score set include Don Mattingly’s last card as a Yankee before his trade to the Mariners ($100-300 NM), Nolan Ryan’s still-powerful Astros issue ($75-150 NM), and Ozzie Smith’s slick defense-first card from his 13 Gold Glove seasons in St. Louis ($50-150 NM). Each of these veterans underscored the power and longevity of Score’s photography and high-quality production throughout the 1980s.

Beyond flagship rookie and star player inserts, the 1989 Score set included several innovative inserts that maintained collector interest for decades. The “League Leaders” subset highlighted category-dominating performances from the previous season in a visually striking format. These have steadily increased in value to the $25-75 range based simply on their handsome nostalgic design. “Turn Back The Clock” inserts transported players’ uniforms and photos to bygone eras, igniting imaginations. Higher-end examples trade for $50-150.

Perhaps most innovatively, Score debuted “Hologram” parallels in 1989 that added a layer of mystique with their futuristic foil materials. While producing a wondrous 3D effect in-hand, the scarcity and technical wizardry of holograms rocketed values to stratospheric levels over time. In pristine condition, a Mark McGwire hologram reached over $10,000 at auction – truly a technological marvel from the tail end of the 1980s card boom.


While not producing quite the same earthquake as the iconic 1952 Topps or 1957 Topps sets before it, the 1989 Score baseball card set became a timeless classic in its own right. Featuring extraordinary photography and design from the prolific Score brand, it also had the fortune of capturing the early days of future Hall of Famers like Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin. Today, the set maintains relevance as a prized vintage release with cards that span the value spectrum – from affordable fan favorites to true high-end crown jewels fetching thousands. For both dedicated collectors and casual fans,1989 Score endures as one of the finest snapshots from the golden age of baseball cards.

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