Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Baseball Card Evolution in the 1990s - Score

Yesterday I presented my theory of baseball card evolution. I hope you liked it.

Score didn't so much evolve in the 1990s as stagnate and die. It debuted in 1989 at what I call Stage 3 of the evolutionary ladder. The cards were printed on white card stock, as were Donruss and Fleer since 1981, but Score added a nice color photo (usually a head shot) to the back.  The set featured colored borders with blocks of cards in numerical order using the same color. The border colors had nothing to do with the players team colors.

1990 Score #245 Wade Boggs

Except for a few minor changes, 1990 Score looks pretty much like 1988 and 1989 Score. The colored borders on 1990 were brighter, but that's about it.  The rational for the border colors is unknown to me. Cards 1-220 were green, 221 to 440 were red,  441 to 660 were blue, 661 to 682 were #1 draft picks with white borders. The rest of the cards, up to 704 were various subsets, generally with white borders. I liked 1990 Score enough when it first came out to buy a boxed set but I didn't really care for any Score set issued after this.

1991 Score #21 Mark Langston
 The easiest way to tell 1990 and 1991 Score apart is to look for the year on the front. 1992 featured the same sort of colored border scheme, with more colors, including black. With 883 cards it was one of the largest sets of the early 1990s. If you liked 1990 Score, then you'd like 1991 Score and I did buy another boxed set in 1991.

1992 Score #287 John Smoltz
From an evolutionary viewpoint, there were no changes for 1992, still a Stage 3 card. The front design is very similar to 1992 Fleer with a large border on one side and the player extending into the border. I liked the Score version of this less than the Fleer. The border colors are a bit more subdued than the last two years but some of the color combinations, like this orange and green, were not attractive. This was another 883 card set of which I bought very little.

1993 Score #31 Cecil Fielder
While other manufacturers are starting to include gloss and foil, Score remains the same. By the way, Score's 1993 is remarkably similar to Fleer again this year.

1994 Score #43 Roberto Alomar
Score achieves Stage 4 with a glossy set in 1994, but other wise the set has nothing to really distinguish it from any other year of Score. This year, they settled on one color border, a dark blue. The background color of the name block is color coded to the players team. Although the front design is simple (which I generally like), I never did warm to it, mainly because of the blue border which I found unattractive. This is the peak of evolution for Score.

1995 Score #70 Julio Franco
I actually almost like this set. It kind of harks back to the crazy border designs of 1980s Donruss, but that's not what I like about it. I like the sandy like top and bottom border and the background on the back. I think if they had forgot about the green whatever it is along the long edges, this would have been a nice set. At least it's more visually appealing than previous years. Score also changed their logo this year.

1996 Score #109 Doug Drabek
In 1996, Score stepped back a bit from "visually appealing" but at least the front is relatively uncluttered. The fronts use the shadow effect from 1992 Upper Deck and then tears one corner of the photo off. The torn corner sort of works on the horizontal cards but not so well on the vertical cards. Score, which was in trouble financially, was acquired by Pinnacle Brands before this year. Pinnacle won't last much longer either, but they weren't expending too much talent at Score.

1997 Score #174 Andy Benes
Their most minimalist set yet, Score actually stepped back a bit on the evolutionary scale by dropping the back photo. I think the front is actually a bit classy but the cards this year were very thin and cheap feeling.

1998 Score #17 Jim Thome
Score limped out of existence with this 270-card, retail only set. The cards were thin and cheap with a very light gloss. The wide border on the front could be on either side of the card. The player name and team name were in the team's colors. The backs are kind of crowded and again have no photo.


Maggie said...

I actually like that 1990 Score set. But they do look like they get uglier over time.

Fuji said...

I really liked Score during their early years. The bright colored borders and simple designs are a perfect combination. After 1990... things started to go down hill... and fast.