Set Review: 1990 ProCards Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
August 14, 2019
Grades Quality: B Design: B Star Power: C Collectiblity: B Intangibles: B Overall: C Value: $5 This is the standard bearer set for peak-hobby minor league card design. The 1990 ProCards set is full of stars and the design hints at some of the classic Topps designs (none the least of which being the ’87 woodgrain set).
The full set is littered with stars, including Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell and Bernie Williams. Of course, none of those big names called Lackawanna County Stadium home…
Quality: B The print quality is quite nice. Deep colors, sharp images, 3 colors on the back of the card. Each card is exactly the same size, and the set I have, the cards are very nicely centered. The short falling is in the photography. As with other minor league sets of the era, each card is a portrait. But the photographer tasked with shooting the Red Barons didn’t bother with addressing the problem of shadows across the face.
There is exactly one card in this team set that isn’t effected by a harsh shadow across the face, and that’s for team trainer Barney Nugent. The photography is so bad that for players with darker skin complexion, you may not be able to make out any facial details.
Design: B ProCards has received very high marks for this set design. It landed very well with young collectors in 1990. But 29 years later, a more critical eye can pick some pieces. The wood grain front feels just a bit tinker tots. The gold plaque plate is a little inelegant. The Coca-Cola branding on the reverse side did not reduce nearly as well as the designers I’m sure had hoped. And while the wood grain is a classic theme for baseball, I feel it’s a bit underserviced by a set full of headshots.
Star Power: C It’s the Phillies, there are going to be no pre-rookie Hall of Famers like Frank Thomas or Jeff Bagwell. Jim Thome is in the Burlington Indians set. As far as Phillies go, this team did have what was projected to be a pretty killer pitching corps that included Todd Frohwirth, Wally Ritchie, Jason Grimsley and Marvin Freeman. Unfortunately, Grimsley was the only one that saw impressionable playing time in Philly. As far as position players go, Mickey Morandini is the only guy truly worth mentioning.
Collectibility: B This set falls in the high number end of ProCards’ full minor league set. The whole set can be had for $15 on eBay, which is how I should have acquired the set. But, for nostalgia sake, men of a certain age could find a lot of nostaliga in this set. From the design to the old Red Barons’ hat with that georgeous “SWB”, and even some of the names.
For Phillies’ fans, the Nostalgia Per Hour on this set at $5 (or less) is pretty high.
Intangibles: B It feels very 1990. I can hear Bon Jovi‘s Blaze of Glory playing through some of these photos. While I do nit pick some of the design elements, for 1990, this design was truly in it’s glory. I wouldn’t be surprised if you found some 35+ year old collectors who may have bought some of these cards just because of how they looked.
Overall: C I think this may be a case of the design simply not aging well. Or maybe the design being just so of it’s moment that in retrospect, it doesn’t seem nearly as cool.
You’ve got a couple bucks in your PayPal. You collect Phillies from the 90’s, or you like minor league cards, get it.