Baseball Talk

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Baseball Talk was a set of 164 "talking" baseball cards that were released with much fanfare by Topps Baseball Card Company and the LJN Corporation during the spring of 1989. Each card featured a plastic disk affixed to the back of an oversized baseball card. When placed in the SportsTalk player the cards would play two to three minutes of recorded audio. The player retailed for $24.99 and was labeled for ages six and up. It required four AA alkaline batteries to operate. [1] The cards featured most of the better known players in baseball in 1988 and were sold in toy stores throughout the United States and Canada during 1989 Major League Baseball season. LJN and Topps planned to debut talking NFL and NBA cards (it stated in print advertising "Coming Soon - NFL Football and NBA Basketball Talking Cards), but those plans, along with follow-up MLB editions, were canceled as the card players often broke or played with very poor audio quality. [2] Stores were flooded with returned boxes of Baseball Talk and by the fall of 1989 many of the cards and players could be found in discount bins at places like Toys R Us and Target. At one point, packs of cards that had been priced at $4 a piece were selling for as low as 50 cents by stores that were eager to move a failed product.

Cards[edit]

The SportsTalk player was sold with four cards (a checklist card that served as an introduction to the series, a Hank Aaron card, and the cards of 1988 stars Don Mattingly and Orel Hershiser). Additional cards were sold with four to a pack and were labeled in a manner that let the buyer know what cards were inside. Hall of Fame broadcaster Mel Allen narrated eight cards that featured highlights from historic games as well as 33 cards of former stars such as Babe Ruth and Duke Snider. Hall of Fame legends like Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio and Bob Feller were omitted from the set as they did not agree to take part. [3]

Don Drysdale interviewed the players of the National League for their cards and Joe Torre did the same for the American League players. Many of the cards featured amusing or humorous anecdotes, such as Mike Flanagan recounting how his Japanese baseball glove manufacturer (Mizuno) spelled his name "Mike Franagan" and that the company's executives told him, "Mr. Franagan, we're very grad you use our grub."

Rare collectibles[edit]

Because the cards and players were on the market for a short period of time and that many of the players didn't work well, a complete set and a working player today are very rare and sell for a Beckett book value of $250–$300 (Beckett 2008 Almanac).

Text of print ad campaign[edit]

LJN and Topps advertised SportsTalk and Baseball Talk in two-page ads in the 1989 Street and Smith Baseball Guide and in most baseball team programs in April and May. The following is the text of the ad;

No Baseball Collection is Complete Without This Year's Hottest New Player.

The incredible SportsTalk Player and Topp's Baseball Talk Cards.

You've never seen or heard anything like the SportsTalk Compact Player. Each talking card features real voices with interviews, stories, and inside tips from today's Major League favorites to the all time superstars, plus cards featuring highlights from the most memorable games in baseball. Plus full color photos and complete statistics. Collect the entire Premiere Series. And bring heroes to life with baseball's hottest new player.

Street and Smith Baseball 1989 pages 104 and 105.

Checklist[edit]

The following is the numerical checklist for the only set of cards ever released for Baseball Talk.

Eight classic games[edit]

1. 1975 World Series, Game 6 [1]

2. 1986 World Series, Game 6 [2]

3. 1986 ALCS, Game 5 [3]

4. 1956 World Series, Game 5 [4]

5. 1986 NLCS, Game 6 [5]

6. 1969 World Series, Game 5 [6]

7. 1984 World Series, Game 5 [7]

8. 1988 World Series, Game 1 [8]

33 famous former players[edit]

9. Reggie Jackson

10. Brooks Robinson

11. Billy Williams

12. Bobby Thomson

13. Harmon Killebrew

14. Johnny Bench

15. Tom Seaver

16. Willie Stargell

17. Ernie Banks

18. Gaylord Perry

19. Bill Mazeroski

20. Babe Ruth

21. Lou Gehrig

22. Ty Cobb

23. Bob Gibson

24. Al Kaline

25. Rod Carew

26. Lou Brock

27. Stan Musial

28. Joe Morgan

29. Willie McCovey

30. Duke Snider

31. Whitey Ford

32. Eddie Mathews

33. Carl Yastrzemski

34. Pete Rose

35. Hank Aaron (b) Final season

36. Ralph Kiner

37. Steve Carlton

38. Roberto Clemente

39. Don Drysdale

40. Robin Roberts

41. Hank Aaron (a) Rookie season

122 Present Day Players and Managers in 1988[edit]

By Team

Each team was represented by at least three players except for the lowly 1988 Baltimore Orioles (54-107), who had only two (Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray.) It is thought that the late season trade of Fred Lynn from Baltimore to Detroit did not allow time to find a third Oriole, though catcher Terry Kennedy seemed like a possible replacement. The New York Mets had the most players with eight.

  • New York Mets 8 (Hernandez, Carter, Gooden, Darling, Jefferies, Myers, McDowell, and Strawberry)
  • New York Yankees 7 (Winfield, J. Clark, Guidry, John, Mattingly, Henderson, and Righetti)
  • Boston Red Sox 7 (Boggs, Clemens, Rice, Evans, L. Smith, Greenwell, and Hurst)
  • Oakland Athletics 7 (LaRussa, McGwire, Canseco, Welch, Eckersley, Parker, and Lansford)
  • Cincinnati Reds 6 (E. Davis, Daniels, Larkin, Sabo, D. Jackson, and Franco)
  • Detroit Tigers 6 (Anderson, Trammel, Whitaker, Morris, Tanana, and Lynn)

By Card Number

42. Dave Winfield, New York Yankees

43. Alan Trammell, Detroit Tigers

44. Darryl Strawberry, New York Mets

45. Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals

46. Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins

47. Will Clark, San Francisco Giants

48. Keith Hernandez, New York Mets

49. Wally Joyner, California Angels

50. Mike Scott, Houston Astros

51. Eric Davis, Cincinnati Reds

52. George Brett, Kansas City Royals

53. George Bell, Toronto Blue Jays

54. Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers

55. Rickey Henderson, New York Yankees

56. Robin Yount, Milwaukee Brewers

57. Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox

58. Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox

59. Vince Coleman, St. Louis Cardinals

60. José Canseco, Oakland Athletics

61. Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers

62. Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres

63. Doc Gooden, New York Mets

64. Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics

65. Jack Clark, New York Yankees

66. Dale Murphy, Atlanta Braves

67. Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles Dodgers

68. Jack Morris, Detroit Tigers

69. Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs

70. Nolan Ryan, Houston Astros

71. John Tudor, Los Angeles Dodgers

72. Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies

73. Dave Righetti, New York Yankees

74. Pedro Guerrero, St. Louis Cardinals

75. Rick Sutcliffe, Chicago Cubs

76. Gary Carter, New York Mets

77. Cal Ripken, Baltimore Orioles

78. Andre Dawson, Chicago Cubs

79. Andy Van Slyke, Pittsburgh Pirates

80. Roc Raines, Montreal Expos

81. Frank Viola, Minnesota Twins

82. Don Mattingly, New York Yankees

83. Rick Reuschel, San Francisco Giants

84. Willie McGee, St. Louis Cardinals

85. Mark Langston, Seattle Mariners

86. Ron Darling, New York Mets

87. Gregg Jefferies, New York Mets

88. Harold Baines, Chicago White Sox

89. Eddie Murray, Baltimore Orioles

90. Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds

91. Gary Gaetti, Minnesota Twins

92. Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City Royals

93. Roger McDowell, New York Mets

94. Joe Magrane, St. Louis Cardinals

95. Juan Samuel, Philadelphia Phillies

96. Bert Blyleven, Minnesota Twins

97. Kal Daniels, Cincinnati Reds

98. Kevin Bass, Houston Astros

99. Glenn Davis, Houston Astros

100. Steve Sax, Los Angeles Dodgers

101. Rich Gossage, Chicago Cubs

102. Roger Craig, San Francisco Giants

103. Carney Lansford, Oakland Athletics

104. Joe Carter, Cleveland Indians

105. Bruce Sutter, Atlanta Braves

106. Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh Pirates

107. Danny Jackson, Cincinnati Reds

108. Mike Flanagan, Toronto Blue Jays

109. Dwight Evans, Boston Red Sox

110. Ron Guidry, New York Yankees

111. Bruce Hurst, Boston Red Sox

112. Jim Rice, Boston Red Sox

113. Oddibe McDowell, Texas Rangers

114. Bobby Bonilla, Pittsburgh Pirates

115. Bob Welch, Oakland Athletics

116. Dave Parker, Oakland Athletics

117. Tim Wallach, Montreal Expos

118. Tom Henke, Toronto Blue Jays

119. Mike Greenwell, Boston Red Sox

120. Kevin Seitzer, Kansas City Royals

121. Randy Myers, New York Mets

122. Andrés Galarraga, Montreal Expos

123. Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles Dodgers

124. Cory Snyder, Cleveland Indians

125. Mike Witt, California Angels

126. Mike LaValliere, Pittsburgh Pirates

127. Pete Incaviglia, Texas Rangers

128. Dennis Eckersley, Oakland Athletics

129. Jimmy Key, Toronto Blue Jays

130. John Franco, Cincinnati Reds

131. Dan Plesac, Milwaukee Brewers

132. Tony LaRussa, Oakland Athletics

133. Hubie Brooks, Montreal Expos

134. Chili Davis, California Angels

135. Bob Boone, California Angels

136. Jeff Reardon, Minnesota Twins

137. Candy Maldonado, San Francisco Giants

138. Mike Marshall, Los Angeles Dodgers

139. Tommy John, New York Yankees

140. Chris Sabo, Cincinnati Reds

141. Alvin Davis, Seattle Mariners

142. Frank White, Kansas City Royals

143. Harold Reynolds, Seattle Mariners

144. Lee Smith, Boston Red Sox

145. John Kruk, San Diego Padres

146. Tony Fernández, Toronto Blue Jays

147. Steve Bedrosian, Philadelphia Phillies

148. Benito Santiago, San Diego Padres

149. Ozzie Guillén, Chicago White Sox

150. Gerald Perry, Atlanta Braves

151. Carlton Fisk, Chicago White Sox

152. Tom Brunansky, St. Louis Cardinals

153. Paul Molitor, Milwaukee Brewers

154. Todd Worrell, St. Louis Cardinals

155. Brett Butler, Cleveland Indians

156. Sparky Anderson, Detroit Tigers

157. Kent Hrbek, Minnesota Twins

158. Frank Tanana, Detroit Tigers

159. Kevin Mitchell, San Francisco Giants

160. Charlie Hough, Texas Rangers

161. Doug Jones, Cleveland Indians

162. Lou Whitaker, Detroit Tigers

163. Fred Lynn, Detroit Tigers

One Checklist card

164. Checklist

Sources and photographs[edit]

"Topps to debut Baseball Talk" Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, March 1989. No by-line.

"Baseball Talk Strikes Out - Sales Too Low to Continue Says LJN" by Steve Fleener. Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, November 1989.

Street & Smith 1989 Baseball Guide pages 104 and 105.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [Beckett Mar. 89]
  2. ^ [Beckett Nov. 89]
  3. ^ Beckett Mar 89