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1989 Oddball Baseball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

Here's our look at the the unusual (or "oddball") sets of baseball cards for 1989. Regular sets can be found here.

1989 Oddballs at a Glance
Bazooka's second annual set of 22 Shining Stars was produced by Topps. It is one of the least valuable sets of the Awesome80s.
A pair of new updates to the original Classic Game were produced in 1989. Classic Travel Orange and Classic Travel Purple each contained 50 new trivia cards for use with the board game. There was also a new version of the board game out with 100 light blue bordered cards.
Donruss produced another set of 64 All-Stars for 1989. The standard sized set contains the participants from the '88 All-Star game. The cards were distributed in packs of five with an All Star Popup.
Learn more about Donruss' Baseball's Best 336 card set here.
Donruss had a set of Super DK's which were oversized (4 7/8" by 6 13/16") reproductions of all 26 of this year's Diamond Kings. The set was available through a wax pack mail-in offer (for $10).
Donruss produced a 12 card set called Grand Slammers. The cards were available both in cello packs and with factory sets. The cards honored player who had hit a grand slam the in 1988. They are: Mark McGwire, Dave Winfield, Mike Marshall, Walt Weiss, Kevin McReynolds, Jose Canseco, Mike Greenwell, Keith Hernandez, Franklin Stubbs, Danny Tartabull, Jesse Barfield, and Ellis Burks.
Read more about the Donruss Rookies set here.
Twelve Fleer All-Star Team cards were randomly distributed in Fleer wax and cello packs again this year. The players were Bobby Bonilla, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Dennis Eckersley, Julio Franco, Mike Greenwell, Orel Hershiser, Paul Molitor, Mike Scioscia, Darryl Strawberry, Alan Trammell, and Frank Viola.
The Fleer six-card For The Record set essentially replaces the Headliners cards of the previous year in rack packs. The players depicted were: Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Andres Galaraga, Kirk Gibson, Greg Maddux, and Don Mattingly.
Fleer's boxed set of 44 Baseball All-Stars was produced for Ben Franklin stores.
Fleer's boxed set of 44 Exciting Stars was not produced for anyone in particular and was widely available. The set had been made for Cumberland Farms in past years.
Fleer's boxed set of 44 Heroes of Baseball was produced for Wolworth's.
Fleer's boxed set of 44 League Leader cards was also produced for Wolworth's.
Fleer's boxed set of 44 Baseball MVP cards was produced for Toys 'R' Us..
Kay Bee toy stores had Topps print them another 33 card boxed set in Ireland of glossy cards. The Superstars of Baseball set retained the look of the previous three sets. It would finally change in 1990, the last year the set was produced.
K-Mart also had their second-to-last Topps boxed set of 33 cards produced in 1989. The Dream Team set is divided into 11 1988 rookies and 11 rookies of the Awesome80s from each league.
Key minor league sets for 1989 included: Birmingham Barons (Robin Ventura), Quad City Angels (Jim Edmonds), Albany Yankees (Deion Sanders), St. Catherine's Blue Jays (Carlos Delgado), Indianapolis Indians (Randy Johnson), Williamsport Bills (Tino Martinez), Canton-Akron Indians (Joey (Albert) Belle), Gastonia Rangers (Ivan Rodriquez), Tulsa Drillers (Sammy Sosa), Denver Zephyrs (Greg Vaughn), Jacksonville Expos (Marquis Grissom, Delino Deshields), and the Rochester Red Wings (Curt Schilling).
J.J. Nissen distributed this "Super Stars" 20 card set in 1988. There are two versions of the Mark Grace card. The first, which actually has Vance Law's picture on the front, is worth more than the rest of the set. Neither fetch more than $10.
A checklist for O-Pee-Chee's 1989 set is here.
Score produced a pair of sets which were each distributed by Publications International in a $12.95 (suggested retail) package with a 48 page book. The first was called Score Hottest 100 Rookies and the second Score 100 Hottest Stars. Some 225,000 of each set were printed and they are worth about half of their original asking price, if you can find a buyer.
Score produced a set of 42 artist painted Scoremasters in a special boxed set. They are quite different from the Donruss Diamond Kings as they feature action shots and do not have busy fronts. In addition to the 42 cards in the set, ther is also a promo card of Don Mattingly with no number on the back.
Score produced another pair of Young Superstar boxed sets in 1989. The 47 cards from this first set were also given out one per rack pack.
The second boxed set of Score Young Superstars got all the attention, however. It contained rookie cards for future teammates Ken Griffey and Randy Johnson.
Topps created this 33 card glossy boxed set for Ames. It features members of the 20/20 club - those active players who have hit 20 or more homers and stolen at least 20 bases in the same season.
Topps and toymaker LJN combined forces to produce this unusual set of 164 cards called "Baseball Talk." The oversized (3 by 5) cards had a laminated back which contained a grooved surface like a 45 RPM record! You needed a handheld player from LJN (sold separately; batteries not included) to "play" them. The audio player shipped with Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Don Mattingly, and the checklist card. Those cards are ironically more scarce than the others. Others were available in four packs. Cards for retired players featured a reproduction of one of their old Topps cards on the front. This technology - which would have been groovy twenty year earlier but was largely ignored in 1989, was similar to the old Talking Viewmasters
Our coverage of Topps Big is here.
Topps produced a set of 22 cards for distribution in Cap'n Crunch cereals. Two cards and a stick of gum were in specially marked boxes and it was the only way to acquire the cards; there were no mail-in offers for complete sets. The Major League logos were not licensed, which is unusual for a Topps-produced set.
These familiar looking Glossy All Stars were distributed one per overproduced '89 Topps rack packs. There are probably millions still unopened in dealer's warehouses and landfills.
Topps produced special blister packs of their '89 cards for K-Mart and included one of these Glossy Batting Leaders in each. Usually Topps + K-Mart = overproduction and no collector interest. Not with this set. They are rarely offered and complete sets often sell above $50.
These Topps Glossy Rookies were inserted one per super pack of '89 Topps cards.
The seventh set of Topps Glossy Send-Ins, so named because they were available through a mail order offer in wax packs, was produced in 1989. It weighed in at 60 cards for the fourth straight season.
Topps produced this glossy boxed set in Ireland for Hills. It was called Team MVPs, which means there should be 26 cards. As you might have guessed, there were 33.
Yet another superfluous set of Mini League Leaders was produced by Topps. The 77 small (2⅛ x 3) cards feature large white borders.
The third annual 33 card boxed set of Baseball Rookies was made by Topps for Toys 'R' Us stores in 1989. Gary Sheffield and Roberto Alomar highlight the overproduced set.
After a failed experiment in 1988, Topps returned to England with a Mini set of baseball cards in 1989. The new UK set was smaller (2⅛ x 3) and was distributed in five card packs. The 88 card set was not well received and Topps wisely gave up on selling baseball cards to the Brits.




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Image courtesy of Grand Slam

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