Tag Archives: fleer superstar specials

Dwight Gooden 1987 Fleer Superstar Specials w/Roger Clemens

Dwight Gooden 1987 Fleer Superstar Specials w/Roger Clemens

Wow, back in 1987 these guys were on top of the baseball world.  Having just competed for the World Series trophy during the previous Fall Classic, Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens could do no wrong!

Or so we all thought….

I would find it very hard to think that anybody could predict the routes that these two would take to the year 2011.  And while each had several speed bumps and hiccups presented to them on the field, they are nothing like what these guys have been through off of the field.

Instead of rehashing issues that have been covered to no end, I will choose to celebrate the two guys that threw a combined 456 strikeouts in that 1987 campaign!

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #633 – Pat Taber & Mark McGwire

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #633 – Pat Taber & Mark McGwire

“Big Bats At First”

The American League is chock full of outstanding first basemen.  Two of the best are Oakland’s Mark McGwire and Cleveland’s Pat Tabler.

McGwire had the best rookie season baseball fans have seen in a long time.  He led the American League with 49 home runs, and produced 118 RBIs.  Originally projected as a platoon player, Mark got off to such an incredible start that he virtually assured himself of a regular spot at first base.  By the All-Star break Mark had amassed a phenomenal 33 home runs and 68 RBIs.  He was selected to play in the All-Star game – a game which was played in his home ballpark – the Oakland Coliseum.

Table enjoyed the best season of his career.  He set career highs with 34 doubles, 11 home runs, and 86 RBIs.  He also received the ultimate honor of his career when he was chosen to play in the 1987 All-Star Game.  Pat is a clutch hitter and his prowess with the bases loaded has been well documented.  He was the New York Yankees first round selection in the 1976 baseball draft.

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #629 – Mark McGwire

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #629 – Mark McGwire

“Rookie Record Setter”

To say that the rookie home run record was broken in 1987 is an understatement.  Shattered would be the more appropriate word.  On August 14th in Anaheim Stadium, Mark McGwire deposited a pitch from 300-game winner Don Sutton into the left-field seats for his 39th home run of the season.  That dinger broke a record established 57 years earlier by Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves.  Berger belted 38 homers that season, a feat that had been equalled by only one other rookie(Cincinnati’s Frank Robinson in 1956) in major league history.  The American League record was held by current Giants’ GM Al Rosen, who crushed 37 round-trippers in 1950, his rookie year with the Cleveland Indians.

After the historic home run, Mark belted 10 more, raising the record to 49.  Had McGwire hit one more, he would have become the first American League player to hit 50 home runs since Roger Maris(61) and Mickey Mantle(60) turned the trick in 1961. 

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #626 – Bret Saberhagen, Mike Witt, & Jack Morris

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #626 – Bret Saberhagen, Mike Witt, & Jack Morris

“All Star Righties”

Bret Saberhagen, Mike Witt, and Jack Morris are three of the most dominant starting pitchers in the American League.  Each is the ace of his team’s pitching staff and all three were selected to the 1987 American League All-Star team.

After a disappointing 1986 season, Saberhagen reverted to his outstanding rookie form.  He won 18 games and hurled four shutouts.  He enjoyed a particularly impressive first half of the season, winning 15 games by mid-season.  He was the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star game.

Mike Witt won 16 games in 1987.  He has now was at least 15 games in the last four seasons.  On September 30, 1984, Mike became the 13th pitcher in baseball history to pitch a perfect game.

In 1987 Morris anchored the American League East Champion Detroit Tiger pitching staff.  He won 18 games and registered 208 strikeouts.  He has won more games in this decade than any pitcher in major league history.

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #625 – Dave Righetti & Dan Plesac

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #625 – Dave Righetti & Dan Plesac

“Classic Relief”

There is no more valuable member of a team that the relief pitcher who can enter a close game in the late innings and shut down the opposition.  Such relievers are called ‘stoppers’, and in 1987 the Yankees’ Dave Righetti and the Brewers’ Dan Plesac performed these roles for their respective teams.

Righetti followed up his record-setting 1986 season with another impressive campaign.  His 31 saves ranked second best in the league.  These saves, combined with his eight victories, show that Righetti had a hand in 30 of the Yankees’ 89 wins.  Since leaving the Yankees’ starting rotation after the 1983 season, ‘Rags’ has averaged more than 34 saves per season.

Plesac was a major factor in Milwaukee’s surprising success in 1987.  He appeared in 57 games, saving 23 and winning 5.  His ERA was an impressive 2.61.  The Brewers started the season with an incredible 13-straight victories.  Dan pitched in seven of those games, notching five saves.

Both of these relievers were members of the 1987 American League All-Star team.  It was Righetti’s second All-Star selection and Plesac’s first.

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #622 – Wally Joyner & Cory Snyder

1988 Fleer Superstar Specials – Card #622 – Wally Joyner & Cory Snyder

“Slugging Sophomores”

The term ‘Sophomore Jinx’ has been applied to many players in all sports.  It refers to a player that fails to duplicate an outstanding rookie season.  But, in 1987, both the Indians’ Cory Snyder and the Angels’ Wally Joyner produced solid campaigns, continuing impressive starts to what will certainly be long and distinguished careers.

Snyder smacked a club leading 33 home runs and drove in 82 runs.  He also proved to be the most durable Indian by playing in team-high 157 games.  Snyder’s two best games were a 3-run effort on May 21 against the Twins and a 2-run home run, 6 RBI explosion against the Royals on July 6.

Joyner following up his strong rookie season with an even stronger sophomore year.  His 34 home runs, 117 RBI’s, 100 runs scored, and 33 doubles all easily outdistanced his rookie numbers  in these categories.  His home run total was third best in the American League and his RBI production ranked fourth.  Wally enjoyed his best game of the season on October 3 against Cleveland when he went 3-for-3 with three home runs.

23 years later – Neither Joyner or Snyder were able to maintain their impressive starts.  While both built and still hold strong fan bases, neither of them went on to become MVP-caliber players.