10 Most Valuable 1989 Score Baseball Cards

Unopened Box of 1989 Score Baseball Cards

If you ask most collectors, 1989 Score baseball cards typically go down as just another nearly-forgotten set of the “junk era.”

Their monetary value, like most cards of the late 1980s, has undoubtedly declined because of how widely-printed and distributed they were.

Let’s face it, these cards were everywhere.

But, there are still many great memories packed within its checklist…

An instantly recognizable design, multiple Hall of Fame rookie cards, and many superstars of the day can still put a smile on your face if you collected these as a kid.

And in this guide, I’ll run through the ten most valuable.

Let’s jump right in!

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Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

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Brief disclaimer: the cards on this list will generally not be worth anything...

Like the 1989 FleerToppsBowman and Donruss sets, these cards were printed in such huge numbers that the market for them became oversaturated.

The only way they can have much value is by being graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition (PSA 10).

That means the card needs to be basically flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the top ten:

1989 Score Traded #100T Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

Heading into the 1989 season, the baseball world waited for the incredibly talented Griffey Jr. to make his MLB debut.

The buzz surrounding him could not have been louder and collectors everywhere were doing anything they could to get their hands on his rookie cards.

And even though this particular card has never been considered his most desirable rookie, it still has respectable value in PSA 10 condition.

Interestingly, even though Score's "Traded" series included players who were either traded or called up mid-season, Griffey was actually in the Mariner's Opening Day lineup on April 3, 1989.

And in his first MLB at bat, he doubled off of Oakland's Dave Stewart and from that point on the legend of "The Kid" was well on its way.

1989 Score Rookies Traded #100T Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

1989 Score #637 Edgar Martinez Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Beginning in 1973, the "Outstanding Designated Hitter Award" was presented annually to the greatest designated hitter in the American League.

However, since 2004, the award has been referred to simply as the "Edgar Martinez Award".

That should tell you everything you need to know about the legendary Mariners DH.

From 1990 to 1994, Martinez served primarily as the Mariners' starting third baseman but in 1995 the team made him their full-time DH.

That season, Martinez would finish third in MVP voting as he put up an incredible stat line with a .356 batting average, .479 OBP, 121 R, 29 home runs and 113 RBI.

It was off to the races for Martinez from that point on and now that he's a Hall of Famer, his rookie cards have seen a well-deserved boost in value.

1989 Score #637 Edgar Martinez Rookie Card

1989 Score #616 John Smoltz Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $20

When debating the best starting rotations in MLB history, it's not a question of whether the Atlanta Braves anchored by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz are included, but rather which rotation?

Was it their 1993 staff? Or how about those rotations from 1996 to 1998?

No matter the year, Smoltz was consistently part of that three-headed monster that terrified opposing hitters throughout the decade.

And he was incredibly versatile, too, as he dominated as a starter through the early part of his career, became a dominant reliever for a few years, and then went back to being a starter again.

Smoltz's success on the mound made him a natural choice as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2015.

His rookie card is one of the keys to this set and will set you back about $20 in PSA 10 grade.

1989 Score #616 John Smoltz Rookie Card

1989 Score #300 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $20

After a successful stint with the Houston Astros, the "Ryan Express" would make his Texas Rangers debut during the 1989 season.

Ryan wasted no time getting started with the Rangers as he pitched well enough to earn his 8th All-Star appearance and eventually led the league in strikeouts (not surprisingly) with 301 that year.

Few pitchers ever crack the 300 strikeout mark in a season but this was the 6th time Ryan had done so and 1st since the 1977 season.

Ryan was 30 years old during the 1977 season, so you can understand him striking out 300+ hitters back then.

But, at age 42, he struck out 301 hitters?  Are you kidding me?

It's just one of the many things about Ryan's career that will raise your eyebrows.

1989 Score #300 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1989 Score #645 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15

What you see on this card is one of the most terrifying images that many MLB hitters saw in their careers: the 6'10" frame of Randy Johnson about to unleash what looks to be his 90+ mph slider that he affectionately dubbed "Mr. Snappy."

Whether it was his slider or his 100 mph fastball, there was a good chance you weren't going to hit it.

Johnson struggled a bit early on with the Expos and the team quickly gave up on him, trading him to the Mariners on May 25, 1989.

However, he soon transformed into one of the most dominant pitchers the game has ever seen and went on to win 303 games while striking out 4,875 hitters along the way.

Oh, and he won five Cy Young Awards and finished second in Cy Young voting three times.

He was a real joy to watch whenever he stepped on the mound and even though his rookie cards appeared during the "junk era," I still think they're undervalued.

1989 Score #645 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score #625 Gary Sheffield Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15

I remember watching Sheffield and being in awe of his incredible bat speed, a key to his success in smacking 509 home runs over his career.

That powerful swing is on full display on his 1989 Score rookie card which gives it a tremendous amount of eye appeal.

Sheffield bounced around from team to team throughout his career, always playing at a high level and was especially critical to that historical World Series-winning 1997 Florida Marlins team

Unfortunately, his legacy is tainted by his connection with the PED scandal, but there is no doubt that he was incredibly talented.

1989 Score #625 Gary Sheffield Rookie Card

1989 Score #237 Craig Biggio Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15

When it came to playing defense, Craig Biggio was as versatile as they come.

A 4-time Gold Glover at second base, Biggio also spent time in the Majors as a catcher and outfielder.

And the guy was just as good on the offensive side as he totaled 3,060 base hits, scored 1,844 runs and stole 414 bases over his Hall of Fame career.

He was simply one of the most well-rounded and brilliant players of his era.

As rookie cards, this one is pretty straightforward due to the headshot pose but you gotta love that old Astros uniform gives this card some much-needed pop.

1989 Score #237 Craig Biggio Rookie Card

1989 Score #630 Sandy Alomar Jr. Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15

Had it not been for Benito Santiago, Sandy Alomar Jr. probably would have been a San Diego Padre for far longer than the eight games in which he played with them during brief appearances in 1988 and 1989.

However, the Padres traded Alomar and teammates Carlos Baerga and Chris James to the Cleveland Indians for Joe Carter during the 1989 off-season.

Alomar's rookie debut in 1990 was one of the greatest rookie seasons any catcher ever had as he was named Rookie of the Year, won a Gold Glove, and became the first rookie catcher ever to start the All-Star game.

A six-time All-Star, Alomar Jr. was one of the best catchers of his era but never did quite turn in Hall of Fame numbers.

1989 Score #639 Sandy Alomar Jr. Rookie Card

1989 Score #330 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $15

Bo Jackson was everywhere back in the late 1980s: Nike commercials, Nintendo games, you name it.

And because he was one of the biggest superstars of his day, his cards still have a respectable following in the hobby from those who grew up idolizing him as kids.

This card easily ranks among the best in the set when it comes to action shots.

You can almost feel the power generated by his compact and quick swing.

Had injuries not gotten in the way, who knows how great Bo Jackson could have been?

1989 Score #330 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1989 Score #15 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $10

Last, but certainly not least, on the list is none other than the legendary Cal Ripken Jr., arguably the greatest shortstop who ever lived.

A 2-time MVP and 19-time All-Sar, Ripken haunted opposing defenses quite literally day in and day out as he'd eventually go on to set the record for most consecutive games played at 2,632.

Ripken was one of my favorite players growing up and I remember the joy of pulling his cards from packs, this one included.

1989 Score #15 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1989 Score Baseball Cards In Review

Overall, this set typically doesn't rank among the best of the 1980s but I still think there is plenty to love within the 660-card checklist.

Rookie cards of Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Gary Sheffield alongside base cards of many superstars of the era still made for a decent set.

And for those who like trivia, how about those "Magic Motion" trivia cards that were included in packs?

The set did lack a significant amount of subsets, but collectors could still enjoy two:

  • Rookie Prospects (#621-651)
  • Highlights (#652-660)

In general, the hobby doesn't look back on 1989 Score with much appreciation but for those who grew up collecting them during that era, there is still plenty of nostalgia to be had within this set.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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