If you collected baseball cards in the 1980s, you could depend on a few things:

  • Topps would be there for you, every year, from the beginning of the decade to the end.
  • There would be more cards produced this year than last, but not as many as there would be next year.
  • You would find Max Venable in a wax pack.

OK, so technically, you couldn’t find Venable in a pack every year, but it sure seemed like you could.

Venable played in at least 50 games, with the exception of 1984 with the Expos, from 1979 through 1986. During that time, he piled up a decent cardboard resume for a guy who hit just .231 — 1981 Fleer, 1981 Topps, 1983 Topps, 1987 Topps, 1984 Donruss, among others.

Amazon.com: 1992 Score #477 Max Venable: Collectibles & Fine Art

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Find 1992 Score Max Venable on Amazon (affiliate link)

After a season spent almost entirely in the minors with the Reds in 1987, and after spending most of 1988 in the Mexican League, Venable hit the comeback trail in 1989 after signing a free agent deal with the California Angels in January.

He made it into just 20 games for the Halos in the second half that season, but he stuck in 1990. And in 1991.

The modest restart and promise of more playing time was enough to get him back in pasteboard glory, too — 1990 Leaf, 1991 Donruss, etc.

Those two seasons proved to be Venable’s last with California and in U.S. professional baseball after batting .253 over 428 plate appearances in 1990 and 1991 combined.

He reached free agency again the November, at age 34, but found no takers, so he headed to Japan for a couple of campaigns

Thing is, though, Score either thought he was coming back to MLB … or they wanted to honor him with a career capper.

And so, the spring after Max Venable bid his adieu, and while he was plying his trade for the Chiba Lotte Marines, we find him on card #477 of the 1992 Score set, all flashy and sunny and 1990s gaud, looking like he just might go on meeting the ball where it was forever.

For kids of the 1980s, it was sweet nectar.

Still is.

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