Card of the Day: 1989 Upper Deck Mark McGwire

In 1989, Upper Deck released the first pack-issued ultra premium baseball cards. These cards were different than their cardboard counterparts. The surface was smoother, the stock was brighter and seemingly stiffer, and on the back was an embedded anti-counterfeit device, the almighty hologram. Even the packs were different. No more wax. Now we were going to rip open “foil” packs, which further solidified this brand as the product to have. And while the best card in this set has, and always will be, card No. 1 (Ken Griffey Jr.), it is this Mark McGwire card that caprured my attention as a youth.



Not yet 10 when these cards hit the market, I was in awe when I saw this McGwire. I grew up in the Bay Area following the A’s (and Red Sox) and McGwire was my favorite hitter. So the day I pulled one of these McGwire’s my thoughts about baseball cards changed forever. To fully appreciate this card, you’d need understand the context in which it was pulled, and have a keen eye for what is depicted here. In 1989, I believe these packs were fetching close to $2, which was four times the cost of an average pack of baseball cards. So when I was lucky enough to scrounge up enough cans and bottles to recycle to buy a pack, I cherished every card I pulled. What made this McGwire pull even sweeter was the fact that one of my best friends at the time absolutely cherished McGwire, more than I did, but I was the one to have this card. Roger Clemens is and always will be my favorite player, but growing up a baseball fan in the Bay Area in the 80s and 90s, watching the Bash Brothers do their thing was special. Anyway, back to the card … At first glance this card doesn’t really appear to be special. And truthfully, it’s not. It’s a common McGwire that books for like $1.50. But the image used here was captivating. Typically we saw McGwire in on-field posses, in the middle of the swing and what not. But here he looks like Paul Bunyan walking out of the forrest. And at age 9, McGwire was Paul Bunyan to us. He was larger than life. He was hitting home runs further than anyone else, and this card captured that comic book hero-like image that I, we, held of the player we later came to know as Big Mac.

One Response to “Card of the Day: 1989 Upper Deck Mark McGwire”

  1. […] Do you see it? Hell, do you see them? It’s a pair of freakin’ Mark McGwire autograph cards! And one of them being signed on my favorite McGwire card of all time, the 1989 Upper Deck card? […]

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