I remember my 11th birthday just like it happened 26 years ago. My mother bought me two, unopened boxes of 1991 Score and a baseball-themed cake. In those two boxes I found the infamous “Dream Team” card of Jose Canseco, shirtless and in jeans swinging a baseball bat. Well over a decade later through some research during the glory days of Wax Heaven, I discovered the photo in question came from an American Express ad. The questionable photo was taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and plastered on what was likely 10 million cards produced by Score during the “junk wax” years of trading cards.
Now, on to more pressing matters. Who was the artist behind the 1991 Score Dream Team subset which featured adorable caricatures of the game’s biggest stars of the time, including Jose Canseco. To an 11 year-old, these cards were golden. Sure, Upper Deck had certified autographs and Donruss had the legendary Elite numbered inserts but you had about as much chance to find either of those cards as you had a night with Madonna. Keep in mind, this is prime, 1991 Madonna not 2017 Madonna with weird veins and wrinkles everywhere.
Well, I found my first clue to these cards today, nearly 30 years after the cards were produced and made their way into my collection. Take a look at the image below. It is clearly the original art used by Score minus some color touch-ups and the addition of the background image of Jose in a ballpark cranking one out. I would even say the original, unedited version has a more classy feel to it. That is, if caricatures can be classy. Now, check the writing on the lower right hand corner. “M. Lopez 5-9-91”. Those few letters and numbers are now burned into my subconscious. Who are you? WHERE are you? Are you a Matt? Mike? MARIO?
The world must know. If not the entire world, at least one collector who absolutely loved your work WAAAAAAAAAY back in 1991. These cards are a part of my childhood and many collectors all around the world feel the same way. Well, at least those coming of age during that time. Today, a card like this missing a piece of a game-used relic or a signature with serial numbers and glowing card stock would be thrown in the box of commons but in 1991, things were different. A fun card like this could still be appreciated and become a beloved part of one’s childhood. So this will be my mission in 2018, to find out just who “M. Lopez” is.
Stay tuned …