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30 Years Later: 1988 Score Box Break

What a year we had in 1988. Doug Williams led the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl XXII victory while winning the game’s MVP. The end of 1988 saw the United States elect George H.W. Bush its 41st President. In between, we watched the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, and Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta. We enjoyed Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in the year’s Academy Award winning Best Picture, “Rain Man.” We were enamored by “Who Shot J.R.” on Dallas, and U2 won the Grammy for Album of the Year with “Joshua Tree.”

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The year also brought us two things for the first time: the World Wrestling Federation’s Royal Rumble, and Score was introduced to baseball card collectors. Thirty years later as I watch the 2018 Royal Rumble, I am going back in time by opening a box of 1988 Score.

A box of 1988 Score featured 36 packs with each pack containing 17 player cards and one magic motion trivia card. Rick Sutcliffe appeared on the side panel of boxes.

There were also cards on the bottom of the box, which had also been done by Topps. My particular box featured Eric Davis, Willie Randolph, and Terry Kennedy, plus a “Do You Remember” moment from Wrigley Field. Wrigley Field: the home of the Cubs! Score (no pun intended!).

Inside, the packs were a bit different from the other brands as you could actually see which card was on the top and bottom if you looked closely, and in some cases moved the cards around.

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Pack searchers didn’t even have to work. Full disclosure: pack searchers are scum, and I will not apologize if that offends you.

Opening pack number one, and it’s an immediate “hit,” with Nolan Ryan on the bottom of the pack. Inside, we find two bigger “hits,” for this Cubs collector. Manny Trillo and Rick Sutcliffe. This was Trillo’s second stint with the Cubs. First, he played in Chicago from 1975 through 1978, and returned for a three-year stint in 1986. At age 36 in 1988, Trillo hit .250 playing in 76 games.

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Sutcliffe had a down year in 1988, going 13-14 with a 3.86 ERA. He did log 226 innings which was one of eight seasons he tossed more than 200 innings in a season.

Nary a Cubs card in pack two, but a pair of Red Sox all-stars are here in Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs.

What pack two was lacking, pack three landed three Cubs cards. Brian Dayett, Jody Davis, and Jerry Mumphrey checking in.

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Did you know: Jerry Mumphrey had the highest WAR of any Cubs player in 1986? Unfortunately, by 1988 his career was coming to an end. In his final season Mumphrey hit just .136 in 63 games. He was released by the team following the season.

Pack four was a bit disappointed in Cubs-ness, but this pack was gold in 1988. Mike Schmidt and Kirby Puckett. Matt Williams rookie card. Mark McGwire and Matt Nokes rookie sluggers. Impressive selection of stars here. And Ed Lynch. Lynch didn’t even play in 1988. His final big league season was 1987 with the Cubs. He became better known with the organization as the team’s General Manager in later years.

For as exciting as pack four was, the fifth pack was a downer. Only Robin Yount stands out here. No Cubs.

Duplication already with the Rookie Sluggers card. At least it’s not another Scott Bankhead.

Jamie Moyer was starting his third big league season with the Cubs in 1988, his last with the team.

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And who would have thought the pitcher would finish his career an amazing 24 years later. His career spanned 25 seasons with eight different clubs.

No Cubs in pack eight, but a couple superstars in Steve Garvey and Reggie Jackson. Both players ended their long playing careers in 1987.

Another Reggie Jackson card popped up in pack number nine. This one featuring the slugger in an Orioles uniform.

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Also, Don Mattingly for the first time, and a pseudo-Cubs card. Wrigley Field is the setting for the Magic Motion trivia card for Babe Ruth’s “called shot.”

My favorite card in pack 10 is neither a Cubs card, nor a star. Well, there are no Cubs here and a duplicate Mattingly/Jack Clark card we saw in pack nine. So, my “hit” here is Detroit Tigers catcher Mike Heath. Why? Well, one of my friends in high school was also named Mike Heath. He wasn’t a very good baseball player, but a very talented actor!

Another dud with the 11th pack opened. For the first time I have gone two consecutive packs without a Cubs card. The only star here is Dwight “Doc” Gooden.

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Gooden was an All-Star his first three seasons with the New York Mets, then missed the 1987 All Star Game. He came back in 1988 for his fourth All Star appearance, which was the last of his career that continued for another 11 seasons.

Three superstars in 1988 that are a bit underappreciated in hobby circles thirty years later. Rickey Henderson has a decent collector base, but Gooden and Wally Joyner are largely overlooked. Speaking of overlooked: a third straight pack with no Cubs.

A prospector’s dream in 1988. This pack was full of rookie card punch. Jeff Treadway, Shawn Abner, AND Roberto Kelly. Sadly, in 2018 they will be tossed into their respective team’s boxes for trade. Again, no Cubs!

Cubs-less for five straight packs now. Pack 14 did yield another Robin Yount. And here’s Tim Wallach for super collector @29Collector.

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When I think of 1988 Topps, I think Tim Wallach. For some reason every pack I opened, or box I sorted, the 1988 Topps All Star Tim Wallach was there.

Sweet streak breaker! The “Hawk” Andre Dawson checks in. Dawson had another All Star campaign in 1988 hitting .303 with 23 home runs and 79 RBI playing in an impressive 157 games for the Cubs. Bonus hit in this pack is a Fred McGriff rookie card.

Biggest bust pack of the bunch, and most likely the box. The biggest star in pack 16 is Lou Whitaker of the Tigers. And again, no Cubs.

Cal Ripken Jr. and Will Clark highlight pack 17. Again, no Cubs cards here. There are four players here that were or became Cubs: Steve Lake, Chuck Crim, Gary Gaetti, and Danny Jackson.

Two Cubs hits! A couple of good ones here in Rafael Palmeiro and Bob Dernier. Palmeiro had an All Star season in 1988 by batting .307 with 41 doubles, 8 home runs, and 53 RBI.

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Dernier was not even with the Cubs in 1988 after he was granted free agency following the 1987 season and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team he won a World Series with in 1983.

RYNO! Hit my first Ryne Sandberg of the box. Sandberg had another All Star season in 1988 with 19 home runs while hitting .264. Too bad it’s 1988, or I hit a gold mine with this Sam Horn rookie. He was the prospect darling of the year.

Three Chicago cards appear in pack, but none Cubs. All three are White Sox: Carlton Fisk, Donnie Hill, and Richard Dotson. Also, here a Reggie Jackson Athletics card.

Barry Larkin highlights pack 21. Zero Cubs appear in this pack.

1988 marked the final season in Chicago for Jody Davis. On September 29, 1988, Davis was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Kevin Blankenship and Kevin Coffman.

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Davis played 90 games total in 1988, with 88 of them with the Cubs. He hit nine doubles and six home runs in his final season with Chicago. Jose Canseco also here, as well as a double dose of Benito Santiago.

Paul Noce pops up, and was another Cubs player that appeared in this set that did not appear with the big league club in 1988.

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Noce played in 70 games in 1987, but spent the entire 1988 season in Triple-A split between the Cubs and Expos organizations. He was traded on July 28 for Bryan Oelkers.

Excellent pack 24 with a couple big stars in Bo Jackson and Roger Clemens. Galesburg, Illinois native Jim Sundberg also here in a Cubs uniform. Sundberg was traded to the Cubs ahead of the 1987 season by the Kansas City Royals for Thad Bosley and Dave Gumpert.

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Sundberg only made it a half season in Chicago before getting released on July 15. The catcher appeared in 20 games during the 1988 season and mustered up 13 hits, two of which went for home runs. Sundberg lasted just one more season in Major League Baseball (a 16-year career) with the Texas Rangers, where he spent several years as an executive.

My plan was to keep any pack unopened if a Cubs card appeared at the front. Through 24 packs, I nearly forgot to check numerous times. But, I caught myself and checked each pack. Until pack 25 when I started ripping the pack open. Halfway through I realized this pack wasn’t checked for a Cubs card. Of course, there was a Keith Moreland Cubs card at the front of this pack.

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After thinking about leaving it half ripped, I decided to just rip it the rest of the way. Tom Glavine’s rookie card was inside, as well as the aforementioned Moreland. “Zonk” was a Cubs fan favorite during his tenure from 1982 to 1987, but by 1988 he was with the San Diego Padres following a February trade. He was sent to San Diego with Mike Brumley for future Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and Ray Hayward.

Leon “Bull” Durham with a beautiful mid-swing action shot on a popping green border shows its face in pack 26. Durham was one my favorites during this era. In 1988, his final Cubs season, he hit .219 in 24 games before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Perry on May 19. He was in the twilight of his career, as he played just one more season, 1989, with the franchise he started with, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Zero stars and zero Cubs in this pack. In fact, only one player in this pack had played with the Cubs and that was Dennis Lamp.

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Here shown with the Oakland Athletics. Keith Comstock was annointed a Cubs pitcher on his 1991 Topps error card, but he was actually a Seattle Mariner.

I’m keeping pack 28 intact as Tim Wallach appears on the front. Maybe @29collector will be interested.

Nothing of signifcance in this next pack. The only former or future Cubs inside is Carmelo Martinez who played 29 games for Chicago in 1983.

Ozzie Smith is the only hit in pack 30. Zero Cubs appear.

Only one Cubs card here in another Durham. But, five other cards of players that had formerly played with the Cubs or would eventually become Chicago Cubs.

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Dennis Lamp and Rick Reuschel both played with the Cubs during the 1970’s. Bill Long, Domingo Ramos, and Rick Aguilera would later become Cubs in the 1990’s.

Two former Cubs in Joe Niekro and Tim Stoddard are here. Niekro played for the Cubs from 1967 to 1969, while Stoddard spent the 1984 season in Chicago.

Six of the 17 cards in the 33rd pack were at one time Chicago Cubs. However, none of them appeared in a Cubs uniform in the 1988 Score set.

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Former Cubs pictured here are Willie Hernandez, Chris Speier, Bill Buckner, Randy Myers, and Guy Hoffman. Also, Chris Bosio, recently the Cubs pitching coach is here as a Brewer.

Another pack void of Chicago Cubs, but here’s another “Big Mac” Mark McGwire card.

I missed the front facing Keith Moreland before ripping open the pack. Here is Jamie Moyer showing on the backside of this pack, so I’ll keep this one unopened.

And now to the final 36th pack. Vance Law was an All-Star in 1988, but his 1988 Score card shows Law with the Montreal Expos. This final pack has me torn as to whether or not I should tear into it. Vance Law was one of my favorites from this time. Maybe it was his glasses and the fact he looked more like an accountant than a big league baseball player.

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Law hit .293 with 11 home runs and 78 RBI in 1988 with the Cubs after being acquired as a free agent, signing in December 1987. For the time being, I am going to leave this pack intact. Also in my collection is a scouting note card from the San Diego Padres with a spray chart of Law during his Cubs tenure. This will be another oddball in my Vance Law collection.

The total Cubs count was 17 player cards plus one Wrigley Field magic motion trivia card. There was at least one more Cubs card (Jamie Moyer) in the three packs that remain unopened.

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