During a Twitter discussion earlier tonight, the topic of year-end highlights baseball sets came up. I immediately thought of the Donruss Highlights sets which were issued from 1985-1987. I’m disappointed this set did not continue beyond 1987, and wondered what a 1988 edition might look like. I tried to go with a gold border with silver in place of the red gradient. It is similar to the “Baseball’s Best” set, but not quite as orange. Since I don’t have the font Donruss used in 1988, I simply copied-and-pasted the nameplate from an actual 1988 release.
Bobby Bonilla seemed to be the heir apparent to Mike Schmidt as the regular NL third baseman, and was given the starting job in 1988. He did log six All-Star Games between 1988 and 1995, but no one today would dare claim that his career measured up to Schmidt’s. To be fair, no one’s career measured up to Schmidt’s. Bonilla’s backups, Vance Law and rookie Chris Sabo, couldn’t claim it either.
Again, the voters and players agreed on the starter, and the managers and players were not far apart on the bench. Here are the players picks for third base in 1988:
- Bobby Bonllla 121
- Vance Law 14
- Mike Schmidt 11
- Chris Sabo 7
- Terry Pendleton
- Tim Wallach 5
- Pedro Guerrero 2
- Buddy Bell 1
- Kevin Mitchell 1
- Graig Nettles 1
— TanManBaseballFan (@tanmanbbfan) January 11, 2019
The above Tweet from Tanner, noted Jose Canseco superfan, started a frenzy among a small group of baseball card collectors. What in the world are those cards? Customs? Nope. Real deal. But where are the name plates?
As it turns out, a few Topps Gold cards from 1992 got out the door without the gold foil…and they ended up on eBay a few weeks ago. I snagged a handful, as did a few other Twitter users that were following the thread. I have never seen these before, and never knew they existed until Tanner’s Tweet. I am, however, happy to add them to my collection.
I am now the proud owner of six 1992 Topps Gold “missing foil” Reds cards…
Turning the cards over plainly shows that they are from the Gold parallel series, albeit without the gold on front…
I also picked up a Shawon Dunston card, who was another favorite player growing up.
It’s amazing (in a great way) that we can still discover things from the junk wax era today, and that we have ways to easily add them to our collections. Thank you Tanner for the heads-up!
I’m not sure if I have ever participated in a Blog Bat Around before, but this one might help me organize my thoughts on collecting. Thanks to Night Owl Cards for starting the topic. Here goes…
MY CARD COLLECTING PROJECTS
Cincinnati Reds: I know I will never own every Cincinnati Reds baseball card, but that doesn’t stop me from attempting to create a master checklist. It’s an ongoing project, as new sets are released every year and I discover older sets I never knew existed until some kind soul sends me a card from the set. I’m still working on crossing out my recent acquisitions, and I found a shoebox that had several other needs that have not been inventoried yet.
Kurt Stillwell: The former second-overall draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds has right around 100 cards. At one time, I had a good checklist and kept up with the collection. I was close to completion, and something went off the rails. I have several empty slots in the binder, and the checklist has disappeared, and I really have no idea which cards I still need. It’s not a huge project, and so close to finished, I really need to figure out where I’m at with it.
Shawon Dunston and Doug Dascenzo: As a baseball fan in the mid- to late-’80s and early ’90s, I saw a lot of Chicago Cubs baseball on WGN. I loved watching Dunston fire the ball to first base, nearly breaking Mark Grace‘s hand. I loved seeing Dascenzo hustle around the bases and take the mound on occasion. Both were fantastic “through the mail” signers to boot, so I have quite a few autographs of each. I would like to eventually acquire, at a minimum, all their Cubs cards from their playing days. Both moved on to other teams, and I do have some cards from those later years, but I remember them best as Cubs.
Reggie and Bo Jackson: I think Reggie was my first favorite player. Or at least my first favorite non-Reds player. I don’t have a huge number of his cards, but one of my prized possessions since middle school has been his 1973 Topps card. I recently came into possession of his rookie card, which is now the pièce de résistance of my small Reggie collection. These are not organized at all, and I have no idea what I might be missing. Bo was an amazing athlete. For those who never saw him perform live—even if only on television—you truly missed out. Acquiring his cards from his playing days, even if including the football issues, seems a little more doable than Reggie.
Non-Reds cards of Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Buddy Bell, and Dave Parker: Davis and Sabo had their best years in Reds uniforms, while Bell and Parker were better known for their time with other teams. I don’t have checklists available for these collecting goals yet, but I like to pick up cards I don’t think I already have occasionally.
Stars and Famers: I used to hoard cards of Hall of Famers. I didn’t care how many 1986 Topps Ozzie Smith cards I had, they were never available for trade. Until recently. The cards were just taking up so much space, and I didn’t ever look at them. A much more manageable project is to keep one or two favorite cards of these guys. The rest have been shipped off to team collectors. Likewise with the likes of Don Mattingly, Ken Boyer, Dale Murphy, and a few guys that aren’t really should-be Hall of Famers, but once seemed to be on the right track, like Darryl Strawberry and Will Clark. Same rule as HoFers: one or two favorite cards of each is enough for me.
Music Cards: Pro Set Musicards, Yo! MTV Raps, Donruss KISS cards, and a very small selection of other brands. I have nearly the complete set of Musicards (missing only a handful of cards). Two of my favorite music cards came from Steve over a year ago, when he had Topps make custom cards of Vivian Campbell and John Sykes for me.
Miscellaneous: Here is the catch-all. If it’s something I like, I’ll collect it. Be it He-Man cards, Dukes of Hazzard cards, Star Wars cards, Superman cards, you name it. I may never chase the entire set, but I like to have a few cards of pop culture awesomeness in my possession. Come to think of it, I might be close on that He-Man set. No closer than I was 15 years ago when I first bought that wax box, mind you, but close still.
I look forward to reading all the other bloggers’ various card collecting projects.
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.
January 19, 1962
1988 Rookie of the Year. 1990 World Champion. Three-time All-Star. Protective eyewear fashion trendsetter. Buzzcut aficionado. Spuds MacKenzie doppelgänger. Chris Sabo was all of these things, but so much more to a certain sixth-grade boy in 1988.
Mrs. Gracey’s assignment was to interview someone they really admired. Most of the kids selected a parent or grandparent, and while I loved my parents and grandparents very much, I was absolutely obsessed with baseball at the time. When I arrived home, I wrote down a handful of questions that I wanted to ask my favorite baseball player, Chris Sabo. I called the Reds’ general offices phone number and left my name, number, and reason for my call. The receptionist sweetly took my information and said she would deliver my message. I think my mom doubted the receptionist, and while she was not condescending at all, she encouraged me to develop a backup plan because Sabo was a professional baseball player and he certainly had more important things to do than talk to a sixth-grade kid on the phone. I shrugged it off, grabbed my basketball, and headed outside to shoot some hoops.
About a half hour later, my mother started tapping on the kitchen window to get my attention. I had a phone call. I came inside, sweaty and out of breath, and she whispered, “It’s Chris Sabo.” I smiled, grabbed my pen and paper, and answered the phone. I told him I was nervous; I had never spoken to an actual baseball player before! There was a part of my brain that told me there was no way this could actually happen, but here I was…talking to the rookie third baseman for the Reds! He told me that I shouldn’t be nervous; he was just a regular guy like me. And he was…he drove a Ford Escort instead of a Lamborghini (which is what I would have driven if I was a pro athlete in the 1980s), and he grew up rooting for his hometown team, the Detroit Tigers. His favorite player as a kid was Al Kaline.
I don’t remember the rest of the interview now, but I remember the feeling. Sabo even arranged for tickets to be left at will call for me a few weeks after the phone call. My dad and I sat in the blue seats (which were the really goods seats in Riverfront Stadium), behind home plate with the players’ wives. I even snapped a photograph of my favorite player in the on-deck circle.
I met Sabo in person later that year at a drug store (possibly Rink’s) in Bellevue, Kentucky, as he signed autographs for hundreds (maybe thousands) of fans; the line was out the door. He smiled, shook my hand, and signed a baseball and baseball card, but didn’t really have time for conversation. I have seen him a few times since then, and he claims to remember speaking to me when I was in sixth grade. Whether he actually does or not, it was nice to hear, and allowed me to relive that moment of pure joy that I experienced in 1988 again.
A stack of random Reds arrived in my mailbox today from the Night Owl…a perfect way to start the season. Well, a win plus baseball cards would be the perfect way. Night Owl and the Reds just worked together and made my day today.
Opening Day is a holiday in Cincinnati. I didn’t have to work today, but didn’t feel like going down to the park for the game. I’ve been watching a few innings here and there of some out-of-market games, and have listened to some of the Reds-Phillies broadcast, and I’m enjoying it all in my comfortable recliner.
I also enjoyed going through some of the cards that Greg sent. In addition to the Brandon Phillips, Mariano Duncan, Ted Power, and Chris Sabo cards above, Greg delivered Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce, Rob Dibble, and more.
Thank you for the cards Greg! And now, if I could just find some time to update my wantlists…
Todd Frazier might be my favorite active third baseman, but he has quite a bit of catching up to do if he wants to replace Chris Sabo at the top of my favorites list. In 1988, when I was in sixth grade, I interviewed Sabo (via telephone) for a school homework assignment. Mrs. Gracey wanted us to write about someone we admired, and most of the other kids chose their dads or grandpas. And it’s not that I don’t love my dad, I do! He instilled in me a love for baseball that, though it has waned from time to time, I still cherish. But I wanted to be different from the other kids, so I called the Reds’ general offices after school and asked to speak to the rookie third baseman.
The operator was very kind, took my name and number and the reason for my call. I hung up the phone and headed out back to shoot some hoops. Not much later, my mom started rapping on the kitchen window, motioning for me to come inside for a telephone call. I came in, and Chris Sabo was on the other end.
I asked him about his favorite team growing up (the Tigers), his favorite player (Al Kaline), and what kind of car he drove (Ford Escort). He was extremely polite, very humble, and even left two tickets for a game a couple of weeks out for my dad and I. We got to sit in the “blue seats” (the good seats back then) with other players’ wives and girlfriends. That was pretty cool.
So, Mr. Frazier, though I will vote for you every year for the All-Star Game, and I will call you my favorite current third baseman, unless you come over for dinner and drop a couple of All-Star tickets off, Mr. Sabo will remain at the top of my list.
I received an e-mail from Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life a couple of months ago proposing a trade. He had a stack of Reds cards that he didn’t need anymore, and he wanted oddballs in return. I was happy to oblige and purge a good number of 1988 Donruss Baseball’s Best, minor league cards, and department store issues from my collection. I also sent along some duplicate stadium giveaways Reds sets that I had, and we exchanged 300ish cards with each other. Below is some of the loot I received…
Bo hit several needs, filling in a bunch of 1990s cards that I had never seen before. I haven’t had time to update the want lists yet, but I know I’ll be crossing off several entries thanks to this blind trade.
You’ll notice at the bottom a few non-Reds. In addition to my hometown Cincinnatians, I also collect cards of Doug Dascenzo and Shawon Dunston, as well as non-Reds cards of Eric Davis, Buddy Bell, Chris Sabo, Dave Parker and Kurt Stillwell. And if I ever get organized (ha!), I’ll probably add more names to that list. But Bo was kind enough to throw in some cards of these players that I had not yet obtained.
I love doing blind trades, though I don’t do it as often as I used to. It wasn’t very long ago that I gifted thousands of cards to a friend in the area, so I don’t have much in the way of non-Reds cards to trade anymore. Luckily, Bo was looking for some items that I just happened to still have and was more than happy to send away.
Thanks for the trade Bo!
I picked up a nine-pocket page of baseball cards at the Antique Mall yesterday. At least six of those cards (pictured above) I did not already have in my collection. Two of them (the Pete Rose cards) I have never even seen before. The Johnny Bench card comes from the 1976 SSPC set, while the Redsfest cards are variations on cards I already owned. In 2008, baseball cards were given away at Redsfest at various booths, but they did not have the sponosrs’ logos on the cards like these do. I’m not sure if there are variations for all nine cards, or just Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto. In any case, I was happy to add the cards to my collection.
My wife also spied a couple of Starting Lineup figures for me—one of my favorite players, Chris Sabo, and Nasty Boy Rob Dibble—and the price was right to add them to my collection as well. I will be breaking them free of their packaging as soon as I get my mancave cleaned up a little bit, and put them on display with the rest of my SLU collection.
Antique Malls are awesome for finding deals on baseball cards and memorabilia.