In a time when companies were providing essentially the same thing year after year, Upper Deck jumped in the game and changed everything. 1989 Upper Deck Baseball inaugurated the addition of something different, a hologram. Not only was this an incredibly attractive addition to the flip side of a baseball card, it made counterfeiting much more difficult. More, these cards feature quality more superior than that of the times competitors. With white card stock and classic field green front side bars, the design still presents a sleek approach to sports card manufacturing. In addition to the already impressive contents captured within these shiny silver foil packages are found hologram stickers. Other companies throw some gum at the market while Upper Deck included free hologram stickers.
On a more personal note, I can remember ripping through packs specifically for the stickers. Mainly the 1990 version of this product because at the time, I couldn’t afford the 1989 release you see here as everyone was chasing the Griffey RC and premiums were held way above my $2/wk allowance. Anyway, regarding these fun holographic stickers, I used to place them all over my storage boxes and the like.
It’s simple but classic. I really enjoy the use of the baseball image on the fronts of these packs. That and the silver foil in conjunction with the blue, green and red tones really create a pleasant presentation. The bordering around the baseball and the footer are reminiscent of a baseball diamond. Even though the design is unlike a baseball diamond, the green diamond shapes and the white lines remind me of baselines and bases. The footer in turn looks something akin to a home plate zone. This is a clever design for an inaugural product.
Related article: Dale Murphy 1989 Upper Deck #357 Variation Comparison
My pack had two holograms. As you can see, my pack had been handled quite a bit before it reached my hands. There is a bit of scuffing on the foil. That’s fine though, it gives it character. The 1989 Upper Deck set hosts an impressive roster of rookies, many of which are Hall of Fame worthy, as well as notable error cards of Dale Murphy and Pat Sheridan. Obviously I was looking for the illustrious Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card but he wasn’t in this pack. Even though this product was mass produced, it is still an enjoyable purchase given that it’s Upper Deck’s first release and the chase for Griffey has withstood the test of time. In terms of price, it’s all over the board. It just depends on who’s selling but I would assume a common price point at the time of this writing would be at or around $5 per pack give or take. Even that sounds high but again, with the potential to pull one of the most iconic rookie baseball cards in the history of the hobby, some premium is, in fact, necessary.
Related article: Pat Sheridan 1989 Upper Deck #652 Variation Comparison
The Base Design:
Upon further investigation of the contents of this pack, I chose a few cards that I thought featured some great photos. Classic white with lovely field green right side bars complete with baselines. Such a great design! Upon closer look, it looks as though the team logos have all been updated with a silky smooth look and feel. Just a step up from everything else that was released during that time. And again, the pictures are gorgeous. In some cases, White Sox uniforms look almost sky blue instead of the traditional and intended white. The Harold Baines card (not shown) is a great example of a card that depicts the White Sox uniform in a subtle blue tint. The uni isn’t actually blue, it’s just the way in which the picture was taken that makes it seem so. This is just one of the reasons why I enjoy this set. The pictures are amazing!
Related article: DeWayne Buice 1989 Upper Deck Promo #1a
The backs of these cards feature an additional large player action photo, stats and a very basic bio. This is simple enough. What I like here specifically is Upper Deck’s trademark hologram on the bottom-center of the card. That diamond logo, much like a baseball diamond, is such a clever addition to this set.
With an inaugural release from what would eventually become synonymous with quality, this was a huge seller for collectors everywhere in ’89 in the endless search for the iconic Ken Griffey Jr. RC. That card was #1 in the set which was the perfect decision on point of Upper Deck.
A simple but classic product that some might even say, has reached legendary status as a set that changed the hobby forever. While still over-produced, 1989 Upper Deck Baseball helped push competition and stimulate innovation. This 800 card set started a trend that materialized to the feel of more gloss, lesser print runs, more inserts, gold foil, scarcer parallels and even bolder, 1/1’s. This trend would ultimately define the decade to come, the 1990’s.
To see what’s currently on eBay from 1989 Upper Deck, click here.
What’s the deal with the “Mantle Card Contest Rules” text on the back of the pack? I dont remember that at all.
That’s a good question Bryan; I was thinking similar things myself. Something else about that little blurb is the complete lack of details about the Mantle card itself. What are we to expect? An original? A reprint? A 3×5? There really isn’t any information other than the general notion of the existence of a contest.
and on the front too? lol
The 1990 Upper Deck set has great photography front and back. This was one of the cleanest designs of the time. Let’s hope they resolve their legal troubles soon. I miss the quality.
I agree. 1990 was a solid year for Upper Deck in terms of design. The alpine white border does it for me every time. I too hope they will find their way back to the baseball card market.
This is a great SI article on upper deck and other aspects of the industry.
Epic find! That was an incredible read. It elicited emotions of excitement and sadness at the same time.