The 1980s blessed us with some incredible baseball players and some pretty sweet Topps All-Star cards, too.

So, I thought it might be fun to marry the two and pull the best of the best into a single post.

Herewith, then, I present the All-Time 1980s Topps All-Star Team, with just a few rules:

  • Every set in the decade must be represented by one, and only one card.
  • Every position on the diamond must be covered (DH is not a position).
  • No player repeats.

Sound like a plan?

Good … here we go!

(Let me know in the comments where you think I’m off-base.) 

1980 Topps Steve Carlton – Relief Pitcher

1980 Topps Steve Carlton

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Let’s get one of the controversial picks out of the way right off the bat.

I know Steve Carlton was an all-time great starter, but he never had a 1980s season as great as Roger Clemens had in 1986. And, since this is an All-Star team, I can use starters as relievers (or relievers as starters if I wanted to).

And Lefty is, well, a lefty, so he complements Clemens.

This is a great, powerful All-Star card, too.

So … Carlton is our 1980 Topps All-Star card and our reliever, even though he won his third Cy Young Award that summer.

1981 Topps Mike Schmidt – 3rd Base

1981 Topps Mike Schmidt

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You say you like George Brett or Wade Boggs as your 1980s All-Star third baseman?

Well, that’s just so sad, too bad, buddy.

Mike Schmidt is the greatest third baseman who ever played the game, and this card was issued right smack in the middle of his peak.

Schmitty won the National League MVP in 1980, and he’d win it again in 1981 … and 1986.

On this card, Schmidt is in pure battle mode. You just know he’d disembowel you if you even breathed his direction while he was fielding the ball that was inevitably about to be smashed in his direction.

End of discussion.

1982 Topps Gary Carter All-Star – Catcher

1982 Topps Gary Carter All-Star

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Johnny Bench may have been the greatest catcher of all time, and Carlton Fisk may have accumulated more stuff than any other catcher, but Gary Carter was the catching face of the 1980s.

First with the Montreal Expos and then with the New York Mets, Carter was a perennial All-Star who could hit you a home run, handle your young pitchers, throw out a baserunner, or survive a plate collision.

And at the end of the day, he’d still look like a model — one with a warm and welcoming all-American smile. And he’s a Hall of Famer, to boot.

Dude had it all, just like his 1982 Topps All-Star card.

1983 Topps Rickey Henderson All-Star – Left Field

1983 Topps Rickey Henderson All-Star

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The 1983 Topps All-Star design was made for Rickey Henderson.

I mean, the only star that could come even close to the hot-doggety shininess of Rickey is the big blue one there near his left shoulder.

Henderson could do just about anything he wanted on the diamond, from hitting home runs to drawing walks to, of course, stealing bases.

About the only thing he didn’t do at the absolute highest levels was play centerfield, which explains why he started in left in the 1982 Summer Classic.

It also makes him a perfect LF and 1983 Topps pick for this team.

1984 Topps Ozzie Smith All-Star – Shortstop

1984 Topps Ozzie Smith All-Star

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You can’t have a 1980s All-Star team without Ozzie Smith, and there is enough offensive firepower on this squad to more than make up for The Wizard’s so-so bat.

Besides, Ozzie developed into a decent offensive contributor in his prime.

Anyway, this is Ozzie’s first Topps All-Star card, so it seems a fitting selection here.

Ozzie is our shortstop, and 1984 is our shortstop card.

1985 Topps Dale Murphy All-Star – Right Field

1985 Topps Dale Murphy All-Star

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As much as I think Dale Murphy was overhyped for a good part of his career and as much as I resent him for costing Schmidt a run at three or four straight MVP awards, you can’t talk about 1980s superstars without the big Atlanta Braves catcher/center fielder/right fielder.

Murphy was still patrolling center for the Braves and for the NL squad in 1984 and 1985, but he’d finish out the decade in right.

That’s enough for us to stick him at seven.

His 1985 Topps All-Star card is a classic, solid shot that’s reminiscent of some great 1950s and 1960s cards. Good enough!

1986 Topps Don Mattingly All-Star – 1st Base

1986 Topps Don Mattingly All-Star

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Just as you have to include Murphy in any discussion of Eighties legends, you can’t talk about 1980s baseball cards without pulling in Don Mattingly.

Maybe more than any other single advent, Mattingly’s 1984 breakout at the same time his rookie cards were still available in wax packs helped fuel the hobby boom that eventually landed us where we are today.

In 1986, Donnie Baseball had just come off probably his greatest season and was in the midst of maybe his greatest season.

He was just freaking awesome, and his cardboard was gold.

So, yeah, the 1986 Topps Mattingly All-Star is our first-base/’86 entry.

1987 Topps Roger Clemens All-Star – Starting Pitcher

1987 Topps Roger Clemens All-Star

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After a couple seasons of finding his professional footing, Roger Clemens turned on the afterburners on The Rocket in the summer of 1986.

His unbelievable 24-4 record was bolstered by a 2.48 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and 238 strikeouts in 254 innings. It was enough to propel the Boston Red Sox into another (heartbreaking) World Series and light the fire under Clemens’ cardboard.

That season, he made his first All-Star team, yes, but he also copped American League Cy Young and MVP honors. Wow!

All of this is to say that you can’t leave Roger off any 1980s All-Star team, and his 1987 AS card — his first — is the choice here.

1988 Topps Andre Dawson All-Star – Center Field

1988 Topps Andre Dawson All-Star

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After finding no takers on the open market as a free agent after the 1986 season, Andre Dawson left the Montreal Expos to sign with the Chicago Cubs on what was essentially a blank contract for 1987.

The Cubbies filled in a cool (and cold ) $700K, but that didn’t deter Dawson, who took advantage of Wrigley Field’s cozy confines to the tune of 49 home runs, 137 RBI, and the National League MVP award despite toiling for a last-place club.

Oh, and a fat new contract.

And an All-Star berth.

This 1988 Topps All-Star card of Dawson is his first with the Cubs and a snapshot of baseball history.

It’s on our team, and Dawson is our starting center fielder, just like he was for the NL in 1987 — creaky knees and all.

1989 Topps Ryne Sandberg All-Star – 2nd Base

1989 Topps Ryne Sandberg All-Star

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Dawson’s teammate on that 1987 Cubs team, Ryne Sandberg had already busted out during Chicago’s division-winning season in 1984. By 1989, he was a perennial All-Star and a Cubs legend.

While there were plenty of other good-to-great second basemen in the 1980s, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that had more overall impact than this future Hall of Famer.

So, make your arguments for Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker and Paul Molitor — I sure have over the years — but in the end, there can be only one choice at the keystone for this team.

And, given that the Cubs won another division title in 1989, a Sandberg All-Star seems a fitting way to end the decade.

The Lineup

So, just one more piece of business to attend to.

How should we bat these guys? You could go a few different ways, but here is my lineup card:

  1. Rickey Henderson, LF
  2. Ryne Sandberg, 2B
  3. Don Mattingly, 1B
  4. Mike Schmidt, 3B
  5. Dale Murphy, RF
  6. Andre Dawson, CF
  7. Gary Carter, C
  8. Ozzie Smith, SS
  9. Roger Clemens, P

That leaves Steve Carlton to relieve and/or pinch hit — not such a crazy proposition when you consider that Lefty collected 346 career hits, including 13 bombs, en route to a 201 lifetime average.

Not a bad group, at all, even if I say so myself.

So … what would you do differently to build your 1980s All-Star team?

Let me know in the comments below.

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