I can never spell this guy’s last name correctly the first time every attempt.
The 1990 Score card is one of Chuck’s two (technically three if we count the Bowman Tiffany parallel) official rookie cards. Chuck only made it into Bowman and Score in 1990, which means he wasn’t included in Donruss, Fleer, Leaf, Topps, Upper Deck, and whatever Traded/Rookie sets were produced that year. He sorta went unnoticed until the release of the ever popular 1991 Stadium Club set, at which point, his cards enjoyed a brief stint of moderate collectibility. More influential was the fact that Chuck won the Rookie of the Year (ROY) award in 1991 and with all of a single home run for his entire season of 151 games played. Who knew a single homer could garner an ROY award?
What makes this version special is it was a buyback that was seeded into packs of 1992 Score Baseball. It’s signed in gold ink and serial numbered to just 3000 copies, which was an ultra limited print run for the era. I acquired this copy back in December of 2011 and paid $20.50, which I thought was high for the time given the minimal market interest in Chuck’s cards. This card has picked up some interest in recent years with graded copies performing surprisingly well settling in nicely around $100/ea. While I’m still surprised, this particular card is incredibly difficult to pull from packs of 1992 Score Baseball so in a way, it represents one of those Needle in a Haystack sort of arrangements. Sure, fine, you can grab a signed copy of this card, even one with a similar gold signature, that wasn’t pack inserted and be out just a few bucks. This one pulls the numbers because, well, it’s akin to pulling a 1991 Donruss Elite. If you don’t know what that’s like, think about dropping a rock in the ocean in the morning, then going back that night without a compass and looking for it. Possible? Perhaps, but who has that kind of time?
I’d imagine that with time, like many other early elusive inserts, this card will continue to garner interest. I still keep an eye out for these wherever I go. In all of the years I’ve been in this hobby, in all of the tens of thousands of boxes I’ve sorted through, the millions upon millions of cards I’ve seen in person, I’ve never once seen one of these. This adds a layer of intrigue and mystery to this card.
Scarcity draws me to certain cards. And I distinguish between actual scarcity and manufactured scarcity. Actual scarcity is that which is created by minimal product type and maximum output ratio. So for example, this was the only Knoblauch buyback issued in 1992 Score Baseball. While the serial numbering could have been any number, the fact that it was in the four figures speaks of the total production output for 1992 Score Baseball, which is likely closer to six or seven figures, probably closer to seven figures. Here’s where it gets interesting – that seven figure number – is for each card in the 893-card set. So much of this stuff was printed that sealed boxes of 1992 Score Baseball are still readily available online in today’s market. The incredibly high supply of the “junk wax” era eroded any potential for long term investment opportunities. Fact of the matter here is that anything printed in a quantity of 3000 that’s seeded in a pile of cards potentially numbered to 893,000,000 defines actual scarcity.
Manufactured scarcity, on the other hand, is when I put a high price tag on something that shouldn’t cost a whole lot to make or even sell, but since I’m the only one selling it, my price is the only one on record. In economics, we call this a monopoly pricing structure, which in turn can lead to what’s called a deadweight loss, or sunk cost. You see the concept of manufactured scarcity implemented in ecommerce all the time. Overpriced stuff just sits and sits for years and years. Not only is this strategy cost inefficient, but it makes the seller look stupid. Looking stupid is a choice that’s easily avoidable.
If you’re in the market for something different that’s somewhat forgotten but certainly important, attempt to add one of these to your collection.
Did you open any 1992 Score Baseball as a kid? Share a memory in the comments.