1990 FLEER ALL STAR BASEBALL CARDS

The 1990 Fleer baseball card set was unique for both its design elements and the talent featured on its All Star selection of cards. Coming off a decade where collectors were enthralled by the flashy and colorful offerings from Donruss and Score, Fleer decided to take a simpler approach for the new season. While the base cards may have lacked pizazz, the All Star picks more than made up for it with some of the biggest names and rising young stars in the game at the time.

Fleer had been producing baseball cards since 1956 but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the company began to compete more directly with industry leaders Topps and Donruss. In 1989, Fleer made headway by utilizing innovative technologies like holograms and fluorescent ink on certain inserts. For 1990 though, they opted to let the players shine through with straightforward photography rather than flashy graphics. Each base card featured a solid white border surrounding a color action shot of the player in uniform against a plain gray or tan background. Text was kept to a minimum with just the team name/logo and some career stats along the bottom.

While simple compared to sets from competitors, the clean minimalist design highlighted the athletes. It also allowed collectors to focus more on the talents and not be distracted by visual gimmicks. From both an artistic and financial standpoint, the stripped-back approach proved successful as the 1990 Fleer set became one of the most popular of the decade despite lacking razzmatazz. It helped further cement Fleer as a serious contender worth investing in long-term for the growing collector base.

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Naturally, one of the highlights for any mainstream baseball card release are the special All Star selections. For 1990, Fleer picked 31 All Stars to feature including 14 starting position players and 9 starting pitchers from the 1989 Midsummer Classic at Anaheim Stadium. Many of the selections were no-brainers, headlined by the likes of Kirby Puckett, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, and Nolan Ryan. A few wildcards were also included who were either coming into their own or making a big splash at the time.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the list (but certainly not as an All Star that year) was 24-year old Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners. Still early in his epic career, “The Kid” was already dazzling fans with jaw-dropping plays in center field and a sweet left-handed swing. He was named an All Star reserve but his dominant potential was obvious. His 1990 Fleer card alongside the game’s established stars showed he was poised for superstardom. Now one of the most iconic athletes ever, any Griffey Jr. rookie or early career issue is a must-have for collectors.

Another young talent highlighted was 25-year old Ruben Sierra of the Texas Rangers. As a rookie in 1989, Sierra smashed 20 home runs in just 370 at-bats and made his first All Star team. Deservedly so, his 1990 Fleer All Star pick proved prescient as he’d go on to have a solid 16-year career. Then there was 27-year old Bobby Thigpen, who shattered the major league record for saves in 1990 with 57 as the Chicago White Sox closer. With his funky delivery and overpowering fastball, he was must-see TV during saves and his card captured him at the peak of his dominance.

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On the National League side, 26-year old Barry Bonds was selected fresh off winning his first NL MVP award. His immense potential and 5-tool ability was evident and he would go on to smash the career home run record. Elsewhere, 22-year old Dwight Gooden made the list following a dominant season where he won 17 games and struck out 268 batters for the Mets. “Doc” was already a superstar but injuries would impact his career trajectory in the coming years. Regardless, any vintage Gooden issue remains a highly coveted piece for 80s/90s collecting.

Also of note were the returning veterans still performing at an elite level like 42-year old Nolan Ryan, who was thrown hard as ever for the Rangers posting a flame-throwing 14 wins and 225 strikeouts. Meanwhile, surefire Hall of Famers like Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, and Kirby Puckett maintained their offensive dominance in 1989. For Puckett specifically, it was a banner season hitting .332 with 31 HRs and 112 RBIs en route to his first MVP award. His 1990 Fleer card cemented his status as not just the best player on a juggernaut Twins team, but one of the premier talents in baseball at the time.

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When examining the full 1990 Fleer All Star baseball card checklist, it’s clear the selection committee recognized both established contributors and ascending young core players who shaped the sport for much of the 90s decade. Seeing the marquee names alongside up-and-comers proved prescient for how the next few seasons would unfold. While the base issue lacked frills, the star power featured on these special All Star picks more than delivered. They remain a prized collecting commodity to this day for those seeking iconic stars and underrated gems from the late 80s/early 90s golden era of the game.

In the end, Fleer let the talented subjects shine through on simple but effective 1990 design. It highlighted the players over production values at a time baseball card popularity was booming. The All Star selections proved especially prescient for the careers to come. Whether completed base set or prized individual issues, the 1990 Fleer offering deserves a place in any vintage collector’s storage. They offer a memorable snapshot capturing iconic players and rising talents who thrilled fans for seasons to come.

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