July 11, 2015

When an All-Star is not an All-Star: NL edition

If you were like me, you blindly accepted the Topps All-Star team subsets as factual representations of real life. In the Topps universe, Shane Rawley and Dwight Gooden were All Stars in 1987, since they were included in its 1988 All-Star subset. And yet, neither of them was an All Star in 1987.

Rawley was an All Star in 1986, and he did have a great 1987 season, posting a career-best 17 wins for the mediocre Phillies. But that's not the point. The point is that Topps unilaterally decided that the voters got it wrong when they put pitchers not named Rawley or Gooden on the team. Or maybe Topps didn't want to make an All-Star card of Sid Fernandez? It's all unclear, but it got me thinking.

Just how many of Topps's 1988 All Stars were actually on the 1987 teams? Let's look at the starting lineups.

1. Eric Davis                   LF       1. Rickey Henderson             CF
2. Ryne Sandberg                2B       2. Don Mattingly                1B
3. Andre Dawson                 CF       3. Wade Boggs                   3B
4. Mike Schmidt                 3B       4. George Bell                  LF
5. Jack Clark                   1B       5. Dave Winfield                RF
6. Darryl Strawberry            RF       6. Cal Ripken                   SS
7. Gary Carter                   C       7. Terry Kennedy                 C
8. Ozzie Smith                  SS       8. Willie Randolph              2B
9. Mike Scott                    P       9. Bret Saberhagen               P

For the National League, Dawson, Smith, Clark, and Steve Bedrosian got Topps All-Star cards, and over in the American League, Randolph, Bell, Winfield, Mattingly, Boggs, and Tom Henke got cards. Tony Gwynn, Juan Samuel, Tim Raines, and Tim Wallach, represented in the Topps All-Star lineup, were NL reserves, and Kirby Puckett, Matt Nokes, and Alan Trammell, all three Topps All Stars, were reserves for the American League. But Benny Santiago? Not an All Star. Roger Clemens? Not an All Star. Jimmy Key? Dwight Gooden? Nope and nope. And no Shane Rawley, either.

The other side of that meant that Eric Davis, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Mike Scott, Sid Fernandez, Mark Langston, Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Terry Kennedy, and Bret Saberhagen weren't in the regular Topps All Star subset. (They were included in the Glossy All-Star mail-away set and the glossy All Stars found in rack packs, but so what? Not everybody had the cash to send away for the larger All Star set, and it wasn't a guarantee that your drugstore carried rack packs (which were also more expensive than wax packs).)

One of Topps's "things" would be to include an All-Star right-handed starting pitcher and an All-Star left-handed starting pitcher in their All Star subset. So for the NL, these should have been Mike Scott (RHP) and Sid Fernandez (LHP). And for the AL, Bret Saberhagen (RHP) and Mark Langston (LHP). So, because they should exist, here are your 1988 Topps National League All Stars.


Fuji said...

Nice detective work (& excellent customs). Topps completely fooled me.

Matthew Webber said...

Reading this post was like learning Santa Claus didn't exist, or that Franklin W. Dixon didn't actually write all the Hardy Boys Casefiles paperbacks. Any idea why Topps would do this?

Also, so many Shane Rawleys! Ugh. Why, Topps, why?

Stack22 said...

Thankfully Topps had the good sense to fix what the ignorant voters got wrong and go with Tim Wallach at thirdbase for the National League.

Wallach was after the Sporting News NL Player of the Year in 1987.