Hobby Oddities: 1989 Starting Lineup Card Index

I like to think I know a little bit about this hobby.  There are so many undiscovered hidden gems waiting to be found and understood.  Its not possible to know everything.  When it comes to Starting Lineup figures, I’m far from an expert.  I remember these figures all over the place while attending card shows in the 90’s.  They weren’t really anything I paid that much attention to.  For the most part I just skipped right over them.  At one time I remember owning a Bo Jackson figure that came with a mini Heisman Trophy.  Like a lot of kids, I took it out of the package.

Starting Lineup figures were the brainchild of former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Pat McInally.  Between 1988 and 2001 they were produced by Kenner and later Hasbro.  (124) MLB figures were included in that first set.  Kenner enjoyed selling figures regionally.  This made it difficult to complete a set, especially when the internet was in it’s infancy.

Values for these tiny pieces of plastic vary dramatically.  Some can go for next to nothing, while others reach the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  The ones that command high prices don’t necessarily have to be of well known players either.  Its all about how many were made, and where they were distributed.

After that successful initial release, it just snowballed from there.  NFL, NBA, NHL soon followed.  It wasn’t long before NASCAR, boxers, and even golfers received the Starting Lineup treatment.  The Starting Lineup brand is still around today, but mainly used to make figures specifically for stadium giveaways.

Sometimes things don’t need to be improved upon.  Starting Lineup found this out in 1989 with their Card Index.  It was a very common thing for these figures to come paired with a trading card.  I guess they thought it would be neat to make their own album.  This just wasn’t any album either, it was smart.  Once you applied (2) of the possible (8) labels to the front, with the push of a button you could instantly open the album to the category of your choice.  No longer did you need to spend time flipping through pages.

Although a cool idea, the Card Index never caught on.  Starting Lineup cards traditionally are the same size as normal cards.  So a regular album would work just fine.  Limited category selection didn’t help either.  Unless you turned into MacGyver and figured out a way to make your own.  It can’t hold nearly as many cards compared to a normal album, and I don’t see any type of expansion feature.

Starting Lineup’s Card Index is a perfect example of how a product with such a convenient feature doesn’t come without certain limitations.  As you can imagine it wasn’t a big seller.  A few thousand were made.  Die-hard Starting Lineup collectors want them today.  Mainly because they weren’t popular, and are difficult to come by now.  Depending on how badly a collector wants one, they can expect to pay $30-$100.  If it would’ve come packed with some exclusive cards, I believe the price would be much higher.

When Kenner went out of business and/or was taken over by Hasbro, former employees took stuff with them.  Here is a mock-up card of the Card Index showing it in the early stages.  From the looks of it, at one time they were going to have it open vertically.  Somewhere along the line they switched it to horizontal.

Completely unrelated to the Card Index, check out this mock-up card for a Starting Lineup product that never got produced.  They were thinking about packaging a figure with a cassette tape.

Card of the Day: Brian Bosworth 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup

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Card of the Day: Seth Joyner 1992 Kenner Starting Lineup

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“Pin-Up” of the Week: Starting Lineup 10th Season Pin

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Starting Lineup figures ruled the hobby from 1988 to 2001.  First they were made by Kenner, and then Hasbro.  Collectors had never seen such highly detailed action figures of their favorite sports stars before.  They were the brainchild of former Bengals punter/wide receiver Pat McInally.  Before Starting Lineup, most of the sports action figures were very generic looking.  Collectors went crazy for them.  A lot of the figures went on to be worth a lot.  The ones you think would be in high demand aren’t.  Many times the figures that hold the most value are of people you may have never heard of.  Figures can range in price from a few dollars well into the thousands.

Like a lot of card companies at the time, Starting Lineup had a Collector’s Club.  Members would receive exclusive figures and all sorts of fun stuff.  In 1997 or 1998 members were given special pins to commemorate Starting Lineup’s 10th season.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1988 Starting Lineup

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Every kid that grew up in the early 90’s can remember Kevin McCallister in Home Alone shooting these figures with a bb gun and watching them fall down the laundry chute.  I’m sure there were even a few kids that actually attempted it.  That was my first introduction to Starting Lineup figures.

Former Cincinnati Bengals punter and wide receiver Pat McInally was the brain child behind the Starting Lineup brand.  The figures were produced by Kenner and then Hasbro from 1988 until 2001 when they were discontinued.  Kenner released the first Starting Lineup series with a 132-player set for Major League Baseball.  Each team had an average of four figures.  Kenner made it very difficult to complete the set because they released the figures regionally.  After the initial success of the MLB set, they began to create figures for other sports – football, basketball, hockey, golf, boxing, racing, etc.  Most figures came with an accompanying card.

The value on these figures will vary.  Just because the figure is of a superstar like Don Mattingly doesn’t mean its worth a ton.  Some of these figures are barely worth a thing while others can sell for hundreds or even thousands.  Usually the players you’ve never heard of are the ones that go for big money.

With the discontinuation of Starting Lineup figures, today’s collectors have McFarlane figures to fill the void.  Most collectors would agree that McFarlane figures are much superior when compared to Starting Lineup.  Not only do they look more realistic, but they make so many variations to collect.  Opening a case is like a box of cards, you don’t always know what your’re going to get.  McFarlane figures really picked up the ball when it came to collectible sports figures.  They released their first sports product in 2001.

Autograph Lineup For The Sept. ’09 Philly Show

According to show Manager Paul Kutch, this will be the autograph lineup for The Philly Show that takes place on Sept. 25-27 at the Valley Forge Convention Center.

Sat. 9-26-09

  • Johnny Bench
  • Carlton Fisk
  • Joe Frazier
  • Angelo Dundee
  • Dave “The Hammer” Schultz – This will be the FREE one that comes with your ticket

Sun. 9-27-09

  • Whitey Ford
  • Bob Boone
  • Ric Flair
  • Greg Gross – this will be the FREE autograph that comes with your ticket

The show’s website states that Yogi Berra is coming but he wasn’t on the list that the Manager just sent to me.  It looks as if they replaced Berra with Frazier.  I wasn’t planning on paying the high price for Berra, but it would have been cool to see him.