Starting Lineup minor league action figure gallery
Like so many of my generational peers, I grew up collecting Kenner Starting Lineup action figures. Among the thousands of figurines Kenner produced for big league sports, there are a handful representing minor league baseball. In 1997, an individual, one-off figure was made featuring Nolan Ryan in his 1967 Jacksonville Suns uniform. In 1999, the bulk of the Classic Doubles subset was made up of ten “From the Minors to the Majors” players.
As a casual collector of both Starting Lineups and MiLB memorabilia, I own all eleven figurines and have removed all from their original packages for display purposes and to get a better look at all the details. On this page, I’ll say all that there is for me to say about each of these figurines.
1997 Nolan Ryan
This is a well-designed Starting Lineup figure. I love the orange details on the cap logo, jersey script, and stirrups. The J on the cap is a bit oversized, but that’s certainly a forgivable offense. Great job all around.
Here’s some detail on the logos, especially the admirable attempt at the “Smiling Sun” patch that the Suns wore for decades. [MLG Note: see several examples of the Smiling Sun on this page.] Though the angle is a bit off, and the mouth isn’t quite open the same way, you can tell that someone put some good effort into the design of this figure.
1999 “From the Minors to the Majors” set
In 1999, there were ten players featured in the “From the Minors to the Majors” Classic Doubles series. Each package contained two figures of the same player in both minor and major league uniforms.
My interest in this set began in 1999, when I bought the Alex Rodriguez package at my local Walmart. The A-Rod for the Appleton Foxes figure is the only one that I have saved since the original run. Though I own the complete set, I purchased the others in eBay sprees around 2012. After I took the photos for this gallery, I realized how much dust has accumulated on them. I guess I need to take them down more often.
Sandy Alomar, Jr. for the Wichita Pilots
This is a beautiful figurine, and the uniform details for such an obscure team are a real treat. With that said, it is a shame that a player known specifically as a catcher is not depicted in catching gear. Still, look at that jersey striping!
Darin Erstad for the Lake Elsinore Storm
This is one is the most “that guy? really” of the group. It must have been designed at a time when Erstad was looking especially promising. I guess he was a two-time All-Star, so that’s something. They did a pretty good job of getting his likeness translated to action figure form, though his eyes are a little intense. My favorite part about this one is the early Lake Elsinore uniforms. The jersey script in particular is audacious in its use of two letters converted to elements of weather.
Nomar Garciaparra for the Trenton Thunder
Oh, this set takes me back to the glory days of the late-nineties shortstop revolution. Nomar was certainly a rising star in 1999, and it appears that good efforts were made to get his striking visage sculpted in plastic. Very cool to see the green thunderbird-era Trenton duds.
Ken Griffey, Jr. for the San Bernardino Spirit
Here we have the most iconic ballplayer of his generation lovingly crafted. The “outfielder-jumping-to-make-a-catch” Starting Lineup template was used sparingly, and Griffey is a great choice for it. The body is attached to the wall with a metal wire, and can spin on its axis. Great Spirit uniform details, and a reasonable rendering of Junior’s fresh face.
Derek Jeter for the Columbus Clippers
I don’t know if it’s the roided-up forearms or the otherworldly eyes, but something about this action figure makes me laugh. Always a pleasure to see the vintage tri-color Clippers aesthetic.
Javier Lopez for the Durham Bulls
Much like Alomar, it’s a shame that we don’t get catchers’ gear here with Javy. Lopez may not be the most notable player from the Braves’ nineties juggernaut, but he was fresh off two consecutive All-Star games, and at that point in their careers, was about equal with Chipper Jones. Including a Brave and a Durham Bull in the nineties was a no-brainer, and Javy happened to get the nod.
Greg Maddux for the Iowa Cubs
Let’s make that two Braves. Here we have the great Greg Maddux in a 1980s-era Iowa suit. At that time, the I-Cubs were basically a straight copy of their parent club, and one could be excused for not realizing that this figurine is from a minor league series.
Mark McGwire for the Modesto A’s
The series is from 1999, so of course we’re going to get Big Mac. Their version of his face doesn’t quite jibe with the look he had in his early days–this one almost looks like if they took the 1999 McGwire and shaved off his beard. The Modesto uniforms may be straight COTOB, but the cap logo is the ubiquitous loopy M that was also used by the Modesto Reds, Madison Muskies, and even flipped into a W for the Wausau Timbers.
Raul Mondesi for the Albuquerque Dukes
This is one of my favorites from the set, due to my love of the Dukes and the hilarious pose that they put Mondesi in. Awesome detailing on the uniforms, and that cap logo is truly made with care.
Alex Rodriguez for the Appleton Foxes
We’ll end it with the one that I bought new back in the nineties and have saved for these past twenty years or so. There was only one season–1994–that the Foxes had the Mariners-inspired uniforms, so this is a nice little snapshot of that aesthetic. This is also one of my favorite action poses for any Starting Lineup.
So there you have it. These are the eleven Kenner Starting Lineup minor league baseball action figures that were produced. They will continue to sit on my shelf and collect dust indefinitely.