Best Player to retire in 1989. Mike Schmidt (Hall of Famer)
Did he have a 1990 card? Yes – Donruss.
This is one of the big ones – Schmidt is widely regarded as the greatest third baseman of all-time*. Schmidt’s last Topps card was in 1989, but he did get a card in 1990 Topps as part of the Turn Back the Clock subset to honor his 1980 MVP campaign. I wish Topps had put him in the 2012 Archives set on the 1990 design, though he is featured on the 1972 design – which is kind of a “card that never was” also (only at the start of his career)! Schmidt is featured in 1990 Donruss with an All-time Great card that has his full career statistics – all 548 home runs!
Apologies to: Tommy John. Like Carlton the year before, he didn’t last long in the 1989 season, which probably has a lot to do with his lack of a card in 1990. John was released by the Yankees at the end of May that year. Buddy Bell, a very underrated player historically, also retired during the 1989 season and didn’t have any 1990 cards.
* – For my money, here’s my opinion on the all-time greats at each position.
- SP – Walter Johnson
- RP – Mariano Rivera
- C – Johnny Bench
- 1B – Lou Gehrig
- 2B – Joe Morgan
- 3B – Schmidt
- SS – Honus Wagner
- LF – Barry Bonds
- CF – Willie Mays
- RF – Babe Ruth
To me, Rivera, Gehrig, Schmidt, Wagner, Mays and Ruth are pretty clear-cut. Aaron, Cobb and Mantle are historic players that may have been better than some of the guys at other positions on that list, but Ruth and Mays are the top 2 players of all-time in most rankings I’ve seen.
- LF – Ted Williams is arguably just as good as any player on this list, and if you want to discount Bonds because of the steroid thing, I understand it (though I obviously haven’t done that here).
- 2B – Before the rise of sabermetrics, I think most people would have put Rogers Hornsby here. I don’t think there’s a lot of debate that those are the top 2.
- SP – Cy Young has 511 wins and the award named after him, Lefty Grove was arguably more dominant than any pitcher at his best, and could you argue that Maddux, Clemens or even Tom Seaver are in the discussion because they were so great relative to their peers, but after the game had changed in a way that an individual pitchers are devalued compared to the earlier part of the century.
- C – Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza are probably in the argument.