Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Chris Sabo


I had writer’s cramp from writing Chris Sabo‘s name in on All-Star ballots in 1988. Back in the day of printed ballots, teams had to submit their players to the league far in advance. Buddy Bell was expected to be the Reds’ starting third baseman, but his spring injury and Sabo’s unexpected success changed things.


The fans at the All-Star game in Cincinnati began chanting Sabo’s name, and National League manager Whitey Herzog wisely inserted the rookie third baseman as a pinch runner in the seventh inning. He promptly stole second base off Jeff Russell and Tim Laudner.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Carney Lansford


The Oakland A’s were a powerhouse in the late 1980s, with Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire sending baseballs into the stands. Meanwhile, third baseman Carney Lansford put the ball into play on his way to a half-season .331 batting average. Unfortunately, he forgot how to hit in the second half and his average plummeted to .279.


Lansford was often an underrated player during his career, with only one All-Star appearance to his name, but that’s what happens when you play third base in the same league as Wade Boggs and George Brett. He led the AL with a .336 average in the strike-shortened 1981 season, and ended with a very respectable .290 average.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Vance Law


Three-fourths of the Cubs’ infield was named to the National League All-Star team; the only omission was rookie first baseman Mark Grace. Vance Law made his first appearance as an All-Star, and finished with his highest RBI total and batting average of his career.


Manager Whitey Herzog put Law in the game in the ninth inning, but not at third base; Law replaced Cubs teammate Ryne Sandberg in the field at second base.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Gary Gaetti


Wade Boggs started eleven straight All-Star games for the American League, and was featured in the 1988 Topps All-Star subset. Gary Gaetti was an easy pick to back up the future Hall of Famer at third. He had just come off two 30-homer/100-RBI seasons, and appeared to be on his way to another. He fell a little short, but his stats at the break were promising enough for manager Tom Kelly to put him on the roster.


Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Bobby Bonilla


Mike Schmidt started seven All-Star games from 1981-1989; Graig Nettles started in 1985, and Bobby Bonilla in 1988. Topps featured Tim Wallach at third base in the 1988 All-Star subset, but the Expos’ third baseman did not appear in the 1988 game.


Bonilla recently received his yearly $1.2 million payment from the Mets. He will receive a check from the Mets every year through 2035 as a result of his release in 2000.

Happy Reds birthday, Gordy Coleman!


July 5, 1934

Gordy Coleman spent eight seasons with the Reds, becoming a very popular personality in the city. Statistically, Coleman was solid with 98 home runs and 387 RBI. Following his playing career, he worked in public relations for the Reds and made many appearances in Cincinnati to promote the club. In 1990, he color commentated Reds’ television broadcasts. Coleman passed in 1994, suffering a heart attack at the age of 59.

Other July 5 Reds birthdays:
Tony Cingrani (1989)
Mario Picone (1926)
Hod Eller (1894)
Beals Becker (1886)
Ward Miller (1884)
Lee Viau (1866)

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Tim Laudner

1988 All-Star Tim Laudner Minnesota Twins

Tim Laudner would have been the starting catcher if players controlled the lineups, with Ron Hassey backing him up. It was Laudner’s finest season since he made his debut with the Twins in 1981, and he got a substantial raise in the off-season, but 1989 would be his last as a big leaguer.


See all the TWJ ’88 All-Stars here.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Terry Steinbach

1988 All-Star MVP Terry Steinbach Oakland Athletics

No one would have guessed that Terry Steinbach would be the offensive hero of the 1988 All-Star Game. The starting catcher, who probably should not have even been on the team, blasted a solo home run off Dwight Gooden in the third inning, then drove in a second run on a sacrifice fly off Bob Knepper in the fourth. Steinbach was named the MVP of the game.


Steinbach’s selection caused some grumbling about the process of fan voting. This was long before computer voting became the norm, and paper ballots were used by fans. According to the Columbus Dispatch, ballot box stuffing could be achieved by “driving a nail through a stack of voting cards.” Even Steinbach was uneasy with his selection, recalling “mixed emotions” because he “wasn’t hitting worth crap.” Deserving or not, he came through big for the American League.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Lance Parrish

1988 National League All-Star Lance Parrish Philadelphia Phillies

Lance Parrish joined the Phillies in 1987 after several successful seasons in Detroit, where he had made six All-Star teams. He only spent two years with Philadelphia before returning to the American League, joining the California Angels and making his eighth All-Star team in 1990.


Parrish’s similarity scores on show a slew of well-known names, including Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, and Gabby Hartnett.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Gary Carter

Gary Carter 1988 All-Star National League New York Mets Riverfront Stadium Cincinnati Ohio

The starting catcher for the 1988 National League All-Star squad was Gary Carter of the New York Mets. Carter was past his prime by this point, but was still a very popular player. According to players surveyed, however, Carter should have been third in line behind the Phillies’ Lance Parrish, who was a reserve, and the Dodgers’ Mike Scioscia, who was left off the roster.


Topps assigned the catching position to Benito Santiago of the Padres, who had an excellent rookie season in 1987 and capture the National League Rookie of the Year Award. He did not start as strong in 1988 and did not make the All-Star team.

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