Thursday, June 20, 2013

1992 Score: the Miami Vice of Base Sets

In my collection: 9 regular, 9 All-Star, 5 90's Impact Player, 2 Superstar

Griffey looks: like he's swinging a champagne flute

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  One of my favorite action shots from Score.

The set: I'm convinced that this base set was designed by the same person who did the interior decorating for the beach house in Weekend at Bernie's.  While the layout isn't particularly awful, it does come across as cluttery and institutional with that big, honking color bar running vertical along the side and dominating the card. 

On top of that are each card's chosen colors which tend to have nothing to do with the team of the player depicted - quite the opposite: they are a gaudy mess.  Teal was really big back in the early 90's, so it's everywhere; but also this weird peach color coupled with a cacophony of pinks and pastels that irritate the eyes.  Case in point:

Here we have Cubs, White Sox, and Cubs.  Let's try and follow the logic:

Card 1 - Cubs - Team colors: Blue and Red.  Card colors: Blue and Magenta. (OK, at least this is close)
Card 2 - White Sox - Team colors: Black & White.  Card colors: Peach and Aqua. (Bwah?)
Card 3 - Cubs - Team colors: Blue and Red.  Card colors: Blue and Magenta Peach and Aqua.  (Fnuh?)

This color palette, which can only be described as "Zack Morris Bedspread" is bonkers.  I get that everyone was just coming off the massive coke binge that was the 80's and taste was a little questionable (looking at you, '92 Bowman rookies), but I find it hard to believe that no one stepped forward and said, "No!  Everybody stop!  We have families to go home to, guys.  We can't unleash this on the world."  There had to be someone at Score in 1992 that didn't hate eyes.

Really, Score.  Pastels?

I would like to point out that I usually have Score's back.  I think they put out a heck of a product in the late 80's/early 90's and innovated in several areas years before the premium brands came along and got credit for it.  However, those three cards you see above are perfect examples of what you can expect from the entire set, and I cannot defend those cards to you.

The lack of horizontal cards along with all this run-of-the-mill action photography also contribute to the base set being a little boring.  A mixture of action photos and portaits maybe with some fun or unique poses every now and then would round out the set a lot better.  Instead it's this guy's pitching, this guy's batting, pitching, pitching, batting, fielding, batting, ooooh bunting!  Pitching, batting. 

Here are a couple of relatively baddass exceptions:

This is the year Score would introduce into their sets a whole bunch of serial numbered cards as well as autographed cards from Chuck Knoblauch, Carl Yastrzemski, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle.  While they were already very much on the insert/subset trolley, in '92 they went ballistic with the inserts and subsets and limited-edition cards and tributes.  Without going into too much detail, here's a smattering of all the non-base and subset cards from '92 Score:

Not pictured because I don't have it: Nolan Ryan.  Oops.

Griffey didn't make Score's Dream Team in '92.  Still, the other Dream Team cards are pretty damn awesome.

Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth - Per Baseballcardpedia: "The Memorabilia subset cards all feature items from the famed Barry Halper collection. Halper was a part-owner of Score at the time."

Limited to 150,000, unnumbered
Limited to 30,000 per card, unnumbered.

Cooperstown Cards are back!  More painting-y than '91 but still great-looking cards.

 Now, on to the Griffeys:

The first in the set, Griffey's is another one of the better put-together cards in '92 Score.  Thankfully yellow and blue make green; hence, the coloration here is not the travesty that it is on some specimens.  Plus the motion of the bat here makes it look like Griffey is swinging a champagne flute

And just in case you read the back of this card, elan is defined as "dash or vivacity; verve."  It's one of those words that rarely gets used because it sounds stupid.

The Score All-Star subset cards are notorious for their caricatures.  Sadly this is probably the best one of Griffey that Score ever did (Wait 'til you see the worst - I don't want to give it away, but they make him look like Darryl Strawberry after a fight).

This 90-card insert (!) has Junior at mid-trot, suspended in air as he rounds third.  The picture on the front is unique as you don't see too much of Griffey the baserunner.  

Sadly the unremarkable design of this insert prevented it from standing out among the droves of Griffey cards that were being produced in the early 90's.  It looks lik they used the first version of Print Master to make this.  And is that Times New Roman font in super heavy italics?  Ugh.

Still, both the front and back pictures are good and so is the blurb with the Al Kaline quote. 

Now this is what I wanted when I was a kid: bright colors, a cool split-fade, and a big ass yellow star that proclaims, "This - this here is the guy."  The card itself looks like a big ol' peice of candy.  Plus you've got Junior having just line-driven (?) one over the second baseman's head on the front and a giant, borderless superimposed Griffey head on the back.  No complaints, Score.  This is a solid card.

Some of the base cards (the ones with somewhat appropriate colors) weren't so bad, but the ones that missed the mark did so so thoroughly that they throw off the entire set.  I really do like the Franchise inserts of classic players, though, as well as the return of Cooperstown Cards.  Both of those inserts were ahead of their time. 

Score would make a set of cards for Proctor & Gamble in 1992, but I'm saving that one for another post....

Today marks the nine-year anniversary of Griffey's 500th home run.  Congrats, Junior!  We here at The Junior Junkie will be celebrating with a pizza party and a small offering of Pepsi and marshmallows at the Graltar (Griffey altar - I'm working on the name).


  1. Like some who love '91 Fleer for no earthly reason, I love '92 Score for no earthly reason.

    1. This post makes it seem like I hate the set more than I actually do. I really do like the Griffey base card. The Ozzie, too, despite the big blue pillar. There are a few hits and a ot of misses. On a card-by-card basis, the base cards range from "pretty good, I guess" to "seriously ugly, bro."

      Just look at that Jeff Reed card. Aqua and peach on a Reds card. Blech.....

  2. I dislike 1992 Score for all the reasons you mentioned. I get giddy when I find out someone is collecting it.

    It's a little like 1990 Topps in that a ton of the cards look awful, but every once in awhile, the color pattern matches up and the card looks amazing. (Or maybe it just looks amazing because it's standing in the middle of so much hideous).