The June 1990 issue of Beckett is a classic reminder of the excitement that could be generated from the cover of a hobby magazine. Well, at least it generated excitement in the minds of all my fellow middle schoolers.
The iconic Richard Noble photo was used prominently in the Nike “Bo Knows” series of ads, and as the campaign’s popularity grew, so did the popularity of the photo. It began to make its way onto posters and then naturally onto a baseball card, the fun to chase 1990 Score card #697. By that summer, Bo Jackson mania was in full swing, and this magazine just fueled the fire. The issue itself didn’t feature a ton of Jackson centered content, but it did have a two page spread of photos and a few other mentions of the All-Star outfielder.
Bo was the first two sport athlete of my lifetime, and I was thoroughly impressed. There had been some guys earlier who had played multiple sports in college, some who were drafted in multiple sports, and Danny Ainge even had some baseball cards produced prior to committing to basketball full time. However, Bo was the first who excelled at both baseball and football at the professional level. He is the only athlete who played in both the MLB All-Star game as well as be named to the Pro Bowl team in football.
The mystique that surrounded him went beyond his in-game statistics. He broke bats with ease (unlike Carlos Gomez in the video below).
We did the same with our plastic whiffle ball bats.
He ran with power and broke tackle after tackle, and when someone broke free in our backyard football games, Bo Jackson was the “obvious” comparison. He even dominated in Tecmo Bowl! I mean come on, does it get any better?
My love for his game was mirrored by my love for his cardboard. I was trading my friends for all the Jackson cards I could get my hands on. The Topps and Donruss rookies were easier for me to find in my area, and boy was I proud of my stash when they hit $5 and $10 respectively. The Fleer version proved to be elusive, and it’s $21 price tag made it that much more difficult to acquire. I picked up my share of the 88’s and 89’s, but the 1990 Score Bo Knows card was one I just had to have....and so did everyone else apparently. The price guide in this “Bo Knows” issue had card #697 at $10 as compared to $.75 for his regular base card.
I just knew Bo was going to be a future legend, and his cards were going to be worth a fortune!
And then came January 13, 1991.
During a playoff game against the Bengals he suffered a hip injury that ended his football career. He battled back to the majors late in the 1991 season with the White Sox, but had to have hip replacement surgery the next year. He played parts of two more seasons with the White Sox and Angels, but he just could never get back to the level of play he delivered over the course of his first four seasons.
Today, those rookie cards can be found for only a couple bucks each, but for me, the memories they bring me are priceless. Even though I have a copy of each of them at this point, I can’t help but try to work out a deal every time I see some at a show. In fact, I was able to buy a Topps, Donruss, and Fleer for less than a dollar each last weekend at a local show. The Score card is still one of the most popular Bo cards, and at $2-$3, it is one of the most expensive cards found in that 1990 set. His very similar 1989 Score Supplemental football card commands even more.
It was unfortunate that such a promising young player had his career cut short by a football injury, but at the same time, his football ability contributed to the level of popularity he achieved. In a recent interview, Bo indicated that if he knew then what he knows now about the injury risks in football he may never have played. At the same time, he said he has no regrets about the decision he made to play both sports.
The fact that his cards are still worth a few bucks each even though he peaked in the midst of the “junk wax” era says a lot for his popularity today and the impact he made on a generation of fans in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
I loved Bo, and you know what?
I still do.
If you enjoyed this story, check out my post on Jim Abbott!
As always, I’d appreciate it if you use the share icon below to invite your friends to join in on the fun of remembering the card collecting days of our youth!