Thursday, January 15, 2009

1994: Last Great Year -- Score Rookie/Traded

Last time, we took a look at the best of 1994: Fleer. Now, we take a look at the worst: Score Rookie/Traded. But before we continue, a clarification.

For the purposes of this feature, traded sets will be treated as an extension of their appropriate base set. (This is why Fleer Update was lumped in with Fleer.) But Score Rookie/Traded -- and Sportflics 2000 Rookie/Traded, which will be featured later -- gets its own entry. Although the composition of the 1994 Score Rookie/Traded base set is similar to traditional extended sets for some strange reason Pinnacle Brands decided to give it a new design. New design equals separate product in my book; ergo, a write-up of its own.

There aren't many red-bordered trading card sets. 1914-15 Cracker Jack immediately comes to mind, but I don't think there's ever been a card this red. It's a bright, loud, almost angry shade of red that certainly gets your attention -- and if that's what Pinnacle's design team had in mind, consider it a job well done.

Unfortunately, the other design elements are just nauseating -- and it's not just one nauseating design either. In something that (thankfully) has not been repeated since, Pinnacle gave separate and distinct designs to the rookies and the traded veterans. But even if Pinnacle kept the design of '94 Score, '94SR/T is not a good extended set.

1994 Score Rookie/Traded is to the 90s, what 1984 Topps Traded was to the 80s. While Topps could have included XRCs of Kirby Puckett and Roger Clemens in '84TT, but didn't; Pinnacle could have included a true RC of Alex Rodriguez, but didn't. Yes, there is an A-Rod card in '94SR/T -- which we'll get to a little later -- but he's not in the base set.

The set itself consists of 165 cards (70 traded players, 93 "rookies," and two checklists), and the only rookie cards of note are of Chan Ho Park and a Jose Lima -- a card with a back story of its own. We'll get to that card, and what Lima-Time's RC has to do with Alex Rodriguez, later.

'94SR/T was released in 10-card wax packs to both Hobby and retail in October 1994, and the sole difference between the two is that Hobby has an extra insert set that retail doesn't. Both Hobby and retail have a one-per-pack Gold Rush parallel and a 1:36/pack Changing Places insert. The other insert, Super Rookies, was exclusive to Hobby and was also seeded into packs at the rate of 1:36. So if you're dying to bust a box of this stuff (and after reading this, I know you will) you might as well go for the one that has the additional insert.

Alright, so here's the story of Jose Lima's short-printed RC, and the mysterious Alex Rodriguez redemption card. During the production process one of the press plates shattered and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, Jose Lima photo was accidentally deleted from Pinnacle's computer files. To rectify this, Pinnacle double-printed John Mabry's card. Very late in the production run, the double-printed Mabry was replaced with an exchange card.

Originally, the exchange card would be redeemed for a card of the first player from the 1994 Draft to make his Major League debut. But, because of the player strike and the subsequent cancellation of the last six weeks of the 1994 season, Pinnacle announced that the exchange card would be fulfilled with a card of the first overall pick of the 1993 draft. And that, of course, would be Alex Rodriguez.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Base Set: 165 cards

Gold Rush (one-per-pack)

12 Changing Places (1:36)
18 Super Rookies (1:36, Hobby only)
1 September Call-Up redemption (1:240)

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