30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Final Four

Not all baseball sets are created equally.  Scarcity, size, cost, physical appearance, and sentimentality are all things that come to mind when I'm deciding on which sets to build.

When I made the decision to build the 1988 Kenner SLU baseball set, I knew that these were fairly common... yet not quite as common as 1991 Fleer baseball.  Most of the singles in the 124 card set are available online in the 50¢ to $5 range, which meant that it wouldn't be a super cheap project... however it wouldn't break the bank either.

The two biggest reasons I took on the challenge were the set design and nostalgic appeal this set delivers.  Kenner Starting Lineups were (and still are) a huge part of my collecting timeline.  I've always enjoyed the packaging, the figures, and within the past decade or so... the idea of collecting the cards, which often have some of the coolest designs around.

My favorite?  The 1988 baseball, football, and basketball designs.  They're simple.  They have team logos.  And most of them offer really nice action shots.  I haven't really taken the time to rank my all-time favorite baseball card set designs, but it's safe to say that this one would fall in the Top 25.

It took a few years, but I recently picked up the final four cards I needed for my set, but before I show them off... here's a look at the 124 card set in its entirety:

For now... the set resides in a 200ct. box, but eventually I'd like to throw them into 9-pocket pages for easy viewing.  I just don't have the space right now.

Okay here are the final four cards I needed to complete the set:

I've seen multiple copies of these over the years, but people always want way more than I deemed worthy.  Eventually, I found a guy selling 1988 Kenner SLU lots on eBay and managed to grab both of these along with about 20 other singles for just under a dollar per card.

The Buddy Bell was also included in the eBay lots, but it was in very poor shape.  So I bit the bullet and purchase a sealed figure.  Unfortunately... that card was also beat up.  Eventually, I'll need to find a replacement... but for now... at least I have a copy.

The final and most expensive card in the set is the Nolan Ryan:

I'm not sure why these cards are so pricey.  I'm sure they triple printed Nolan Ryan... just like they did for most of the big names in the set.  I figured this was going to be one of the last cards I purchased... and it was.

I found a guy selling two copies for $20 on eBay and immediately snagged them.  Normally I wouldn't need two copies, but I'm really excited to add the spare to my inserts and oddballs binder.  Kenner did an amazing job with photo cropping on this card.  Plus collectors are even treated to old school stirrups.  It's easily one of my favorite cards in this set.

That's all for today.  I hope everyone is enjoying their cardboard as much as I'm enjoying this set.  Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. That's beautiful! I have a small collection of that set (about 15 of them) and think the look on them is great.

  2. Congrats on completing your quest! I always liked the cards WAY more than the figures, but I guess. I'm squarely in the minority there.

    1. I feel I'm in the minority, too. Take the figurines, give me the cards. And these cards go for way too much money!

  3. Just out of curiosity, are you big on keeping your SLU figures boxed, or do/did you take them out to display? I recently purchased some basketball starting lineup figures, and my first impulse was to unbox them, as how much will a Michael Cage or Kevin Willis in a beat up box appreciate in value. But now I'm not sure.

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  6. Congrats! I completed a set of SLUs last year but amazingly I never got around to posting about it.

  7. Congrats! I completed a set of SLUs last year but amazingly I never got around to posting about it.

  8. Congrats on the accomplishment Fuji. That really is a beautiful set! I love the old Reds logo on those cards and Nolan always looks better as an Astro!

  9. Were any of the doubles you picked up along the way Cubs? I would eventually like to build the SLU Cubs team sets too to go with my mainstream stuff.

  10. Congrats. It does appear that some of these cards are difficult to find in high grade for those that grade them. I never did collect them unfortunately.

  11. josh d - i also like how they used the same design but different colors for football and basketball.

    hackenbush, mark hoyle, and angus - thanks!

    tony burbs & night owl - i used to be big on the complete package (figure and card), but now I'm with you. if i had to choose one or the other, i'm all about the cards.

    ko rob -great question. if i have an 80's figure in great condition, i keep it sealed. otherwise i just don't have the space to store them, so i pop them open and pull out the card. the figure goes in a giant bag i have filled with old slu's. i honestly don't think there's a super bright future in terms of value for these things. however...maybe one day so many collectors will pop these open that they'll be considered rare and the value will go up.

    fashion shoes & matthew scott - thank you for the kind words

    billy kingsley - show them off! i love reading posts involving slu's. p.s. your prize package was shipped out yesterday!

    reds card collector - i agree. i love seeing him in an astros jersey.

    patrick smith - i'm in the process of building a second set, but i should have a few extras (especially the big names).

    r laughton - yeah... graded copies can sometimes go for ridiculous prices.

  12. Awesome! Congrats on completing the set. I loved the design of 1988 SLU cards. I remember I used to spend all my allowance each week buying a new figure from the local Jamesway. Awesome nostalgia