Topps started including subsets for the first time with their 1958 set with All-Star cards. It gave collectors a chance at a second card in a set of some of the game’s best players, like Mickey Mantle. It was a little something extra before there were inserts. The heyday for these All-Star cards was 1958-1961. And while they have never been as popular as regular issue cards, they’re more like commemorative cards; Topps continued releasing All-Star subset throughout their history. Here are 5 of my favorite Topps All-Star subsets.
1958 Topps All-Stars
Like I said in the intro, Topps introduced the Sports Magazine All-Star selection cards (#475-495) in their 1958 set. Topps gave collectors a chance at multiple cards of legends like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams. It was also the first Topps Stan Musial card. To me, this may be the greatest subset in the hobby. The star power is incredible, and the blue and red backgrounds with stars are pure baseball Americana. The cards also aren’t that tough to find, as most were double or triple printed compared to base cards.
1961 Topps All-Stars
The 1961 Topps Sports News All-Stars subset is extremely popular. They also come at the end of the set as part of the tough high-number series. The magazine/newspaper look is incredible, featuring colorful player images. The subset also has excellent star power with 12 Hall of Famers (numbered 566-589, but cards 587 and 588 were never released). I’ve found these cards tough to find centered and think they look even better than the regular issues. You have a classic hobby subset when you combine star power with great design and the scarcity of high numbers.
1968 Topps All-Stars
After some time away (5 years), Topps returned with an All-Star subset in 1968 with cards 361-380. Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente are the key cards. Interestingly, the cards feature players The Sporting News selected as All-Stars, not the choices from the 1967 All-Star game starting lineup, which the players voted on. I like that the backs of the cards formed two larger photos of Orlando Cepeda and Carl Yastrzemski.
1969 Topps All-Stars
Topps again produced an All-Star subset in 1969 with cards 416-435. The priciest are Pete Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Bench, Bob Gibson, and Brooks Robinson. The color player photo against the black and white action background really pops on these cards. Again, the backs of the 20 cards created larger images, like a puzzle, of Pete Rose and Carl Yastrzemski.
1987 Topps All-Stars
Nothing says “hobby boom” like 1987 Topps baseball, but I really like their design. The 1987 Topps design is always compared to 1962 because of the woodgrain border, giving the set a more vintage feel. Cards 595-616 are the All-Stars, and I find them far more interesting than the base cards with their slight design departure. This time the cards were of the players who actually made it to the midsummer classic in 1986.
Topps made many other All-Star subsets over the years (I’m also a sucker for the colorful backgrounds in the 1988 set). And if I felt it fit the theme, I would have loved to include the 1976 Topps All-Time All-Stars. There’s no shortage of All-Star cards to collect in the vintage market. So while the monstrous set sizes can be a bit daunting to piece together, these 20-ish card All-Star subsets are more manageable and make great additions to any vintage collection.