Do you like listening to podcasts? I listen to a bunch of religious podcasts, but there is one baseball program that has been in my regular podcast rotation for quite a while. I’m talking, of course, of the Baseball Beyond Batting Average Podcast. For the past two weeks, BBBA teamed up with another baseball podcast, Two Strike Noise, to cover the 1990 season. And yes, Two Strike Noise has now been added to my podcast subscriptions.
I say all that to present a “fun card” inspired by the American League segment (which aired on the TSN feed)…a 1990 Fleer “Super Star Special” featuring Junior Felix and Felix Jose. Of course, they are not Hall of Famers like Steve Carlton and Carlton Fisk, but it is a card that definitely should have been in the early 1990s.
If you’re not already a regular listener of Baseball Beyond Batting Average or Two Strike Noise, pull up your favorite podcatcher (I use Stitcher, but they are available on all the major podcast apps) and subscribe right now!
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.
“Sweet Music” Frank Viola was 14-2 at the All-Star break in 1988, making him the easy choice to start the game for the American League. He pitched two innings and earned the victory.
“The Rocket” Roger Clemens was next up for the AL, and retired all three batters he faced.
Mark Gubicza was the first American League pitcher to enter the game that didn’t have a cool nickname. He was also the first (and only) to let the National League score; Vince Coleman came home on a wild pitch in the 4th.
Should Dave Stieb be in the Hall of Fame? I think not, but there are a lot of Stieb stumpers out there. He appeared in seven ASGs in his career, but only tallied 176 victories over 16 seasons.
Doug Jones had a breakout season in 1988; it was the first of five seasons in which he saved at least 30 games, and his first of five All-Star Games.
When I started collecting baseball cards, Dan Plesac seemed to be in every discount store box set. He had a solid 18-year career, but nothing that would have warranted his inclusion in so many “Young Superstar” and “Hottest Players”-type sets.
Dennis Eckersley was the only Hall of Fame pitcher on the American League roster. Of course, Clemens would have been enshrined long ago if he hadn’t derailed his chances by getting caught using performance enhancers.
Two pitchers were on the American League roster but didn’t get into the game. The first is the manager’s own closer, Jeff Reardon. I wonder if players get mad when they don’t get to play, or if the experience of being there is enough.
Doyle Alexander started his big league career in 1971 and was named an All-Star for the first time in 1988. He did not get an opportunity to take the mound.
To say Terry Steinbach was a controversial pick to start at catcher would be an understatement, and even he knew it. “There were a lot of mixed emotions. In 1987, I had a decent year as a rookie, but in ’88, I had missed a month with an injury and wasn’t hitting worth crap.” His home run off NL starter Dwight Gooden and MVP win briefly quieted opponents. Looking back historically, however, it’s clear that he was a poor choice.
Tim Laudner of Minnesota was selected as the backup. The players would have made him the starter and Steinbach’s teammate Ron Hassey the backup, though B.J. Surhoff and Andy Allanson had their apologists as well.
Canseco went on to win the AL MVP Award on the strength of the first-ever 40 home run/40 stolen base season.
Coming in second for the MVP Award was Mike Greenwell, who believes he should be retroactively honored due to Canseco’s admitted steroid use.
Kirby Puckett rounds out (no pun intended) the AL outfield in 1988.
Was anyone snubbed? The players would have added Cleveland outfielder Joe Carter to the roster ahead of Henderson, but since the fans get to select the starters, Carter stayed home.
- Dave Wlnfleld 141
- Jose Canseco 129
- Kirby Puckett 126
- Mike Greenwell 50
- Joe Carter 47
- Rickey Henderson 32
- Ellis Burks 8
- George Bell 6
- Bo Jackson 5
- Dwight Evans 3
- Robin Yount 3
- Chili Davis 3
- Danny Tartabull 2
- Jack Clark 2
- Willie Wilson 2
- Dan Gladden 2
- Devon White 1
- Gary Ward 1
- Pat Sheridan 1
- Mickey Brantley 1
- Lloyd Moseby 1
- Cory Snyder 1
- Gary Pettis 1
Wade Boggs was the starting third baseman for the American League, with Carney Lansford and Gary Gaetti on the bench. I posted the Lansford and Gaetti cards a couple of years ago when they were initially made, but I had not yet decided to make new versions of the All-Stars who had cards in the actual Topps set. After I finished everything else earlier this year, I decided to go back and update the actual All-Stars as well.
How did the actual roster compare with the players’ opinions? See for yourself; here are the players’ picks:
- Wade Boggs 90
- Carney Lanstord 46
- Gary Gaetti 36
- Paul Molitor 5
- Jim Presley 2
- Jack Howell 2
- Luis Saiazar 2
- Mike Pagliarulo 1
- Kevin Seitzer 1
- Buddy Bell 1
I find the inclusion of Bell on the list amusing since he didn’t even play in the American League in 1988. He lost his starting job to Chris Sabo during spring training and was traded to Houston in June. In 1988, the Astros were still a National League team (as they should be still).
Following his record-setting rookie campaign in 1987, Mark McGwire was voted by fans to start at first base in the 1988 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
USA Today surveyed the players in each league on who they thought should start the game. Players were only allowed to vote for their own league, and could not choose teammates. Results for American League first base were as follows:
- Don Mattingly 83
- George Brett 76
- Kent Hrbek 17
- Mark McGwire 13
- Fred McGriff 9
- Pete O’Brien 2
- Carney Lansford 1
- Steve Balboni 1
The 1988 All-Star Game is special to me because it was held in Cincinnati. I started making these cards two years ago and finally finished the complete rosters (front and back, including managers) earlier this year. I plan to post them here over the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy!
Please note that these are NOT real cards. There are no physical copies and they are not for sale. They exist only in digital form.
Don Sutton is often cited as a prime example of a “compiler,” a guy who is able to stick around for a long time and keep padding his statistical record while never truly dominating. And to that accusation (if you want to call it that), I say, “So what?” If he’s good enough to stick around, let him stick around.
Even though he was only named to four All-Star teams and only won 20 games once in 23 seasons, he had five straight top-five finishes for the Cy Young Award from 1972 through 1976. Outside of that brief brilliance, though, Sutton never received much recognition for his abilities. Even when it came time for Hall of Fame consideration, it took five ballot cycles for the BBWAA to decide to induct a 300-win, 3500-strikeout pitcher.
One other interesting note about Sutton: he attended four different colleges in three states. He started at the Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida, then went to Mississippi College in Clinton. From there, he went to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and finished up at Whittier College in Whittier, California.
Joe Morgan only went to two All-Star Games during his first stint with Houston in the 1960s and early 1970s. Once he arrived in Cincinnati, though, he never missed the mid-season appointment. From 1972 to 1978, “The Little General” started at second base for the National League, and in 1979 he was named as a reserve. After leaving the Reds in 1980, he never made another All-Star team. Coincidence?
It would look a lot like the 1987 Donruss “Opening Day” set. Not design-wise, but concept-wise. It would feature only the starters from Opening Day, perhaps the manager or mascot as well. It would (if possible) feature photos from Opening Day. I would definitely avoid using the same photo as used in the flagship set. Thirty teams, ten cards per team…a nice 300-card set featuring the starting lineup for each team.
The Mariners and A’s played the first game of the 2019 season early Wednesday morning in Japan. Well, it wasn’t early in Japan, but it was early here in the States. 5:30 a.m. Eastern time. I was able to watch the first inning and a half before my shift at work ended.
The Mariners Blog posted a bunch of fantastic photos, and I converted several of them into “fun cards.” The only player omitted from that post was Jay Bruce, but I was able to find a photo for him from an exhibition game played earlier in Japan.
The Mariners starting lineup was Bruce (1B), Dee Gordon (2B), Ryon Healy (3B), Tim Beckham (SS), Ichiro Suzuki (RF), Mitch Haniger (CF), Domingo Santana (LF), Omar Narvaez (C), Marco Gonzalez (P), and Edwin Encarnacion (DH). Scott Servais is the manager.
It was not as easy finding photos on the A’s side. I’m sure there is a good blog that posted nice photos, but I didn’t spend a lot of time searching. I did find enough from the game on Twitter and Google to make five players and the manager. The A’s starting lineup was Matt Olson (1B), Jurickson Profar (2B), Matt Chapman (3B), Marcus Semien (SS), Stephen Piscotty (RF), Ramon Laureano (CF), Chad Pinder (LF), Nick Hundley (C), Mike Fiers (P), and Khris Davis (DH). They are managed by Bob Melvin.
This design has a definite 2007 Fleer flavor to them. Not what I was going for, but I don’t hate it. It may be a little too similar to other designs I have made in the past though.
I plan to make a few of these for the Reds as I find good photos from Opening Day. If other teams post some good pics on Twitter, I may do a few non-Reds as well. Is there anyone you would like to see in this design (assuming, of course, they are in the starting lineup next Thursday)?