Tuesday, December 11, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1985 Topps

#23-If I had done a countdown of great sets a decade ago this et would have probably been in the top 5.  At worst the top 10.  No set was helped more by the steroid era in baseball and no set was hurt more by the steroid era than the 1985 Topps set.  Sure, I have always loved the design of the cards and think that, style wise, it's one of the better efforts that Topps made during the eighties.  However, this sets fate has really rested with three key rookie cards.

1985 Topps Mark McGwire 

The most important of the big 3 is the Mark McGwire rookie card, which appeared as part of the 1984 Olympic Baseball Team subset.  The card was always pretty popular and grew after McGwire set the rookie home run record in 1987.  The height of the 1985 McGwire rookie came during the home run chase of 1998.  That summer collectors went crazy for this card.  I rarely take the sales option with card shops, trades are always better, but actually ended up selling two copies to one store outside of St. Louis so they would have inventory.  It was the closet to "book" that I've ever been offered on a card by a dealer.  A week later my sales price was much closer to the 50%-60% that shops and dealers traditionally offer.  

1985 Topps Roger Clemens 

The Clemens card was also a pretty popular card shortly after its release.  Clemens shined early in his career for the Red Sox and helped them to the 1986 World Series.  By the mid 90s, Clemens began to fizzle a bit when his career was magically rejuvenated with the Blue Jays and Yankees.  For awhile, the Clemens card was riding the coat tails of the McGwire rookie card.  After all, there is a better Clemens rookie out there for collectors to chase.  By the end of Clemens Yankees years he had crossed 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts, Hall of Fame benchmarks for a pitcher, and his rookie card was a stand alone in the set.  

1985 Topps Kirby Puckett

This has always been my favorite Kirby Puckett rookie card.  I love the old powder blue Twins uniforms with the red TC hats.  Classic and distinctly 80s.  Puckett would go on to win a pair of World Series titles with the Twins and a batting title or two.  He retired early because of an eye injury and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.  Puckett died at the age of 45 in 2006.  His card is the least valuable of the big three rookies, but it's value has always remained pretty steady and his legacy as a Hall of Fame player has never been in question.  

McGwire and Clemens would get caught up in the cloud of steroids and their standing as Hall of Famers has been called into question.  Both of their cards from this set are both highly sought after and popular cards, but lack the same value the both once possessed.  

Like the 1985 Topps set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown is the 1984 Topps.  I considered putting this set in the Top 50 for style and design, but it lacks a quality star rookie card.  I have always loved the block writing down the side of the card showing the team name, different colors for each team, and the two pictures on the card.  I have always thought of this set as the square eighties version of the 1963 Topps set.  I already gave this set a little love last spring.   

1984 Topps Don Mattingly

The best rookie cards in the set belong to Darryl Strawberry and Don Mattingly.  Mattingly is the most popular card of the two.  It's an easy card to find and inexpensive to purchase.  I was never a huge fan of Mattingly, the player version.  He was often injured and did play well when he was healthy, but I believe that longevity should be a part of voters considerations when electing players into the Hall of Fame.  My 2 cents.  

1984 Topps Andy Van Slyke

Similar to the 1985 Topps set, the 84 version, had plenty of great 80s players wearing great polyester uniforms.  My Cardinals are wearing a lot of powder blue uniforms, like this Andy Slyke.  I normally plug going out and buying the set at the end of my posts.  However, for something different, I am going to recommend you pick up a wax box of the 84 Topps.  They can be found for less than $50 and can be a blast to open.  Think about it this way: Instead of buying that box of high end Topps product, buy or trade for a couple of cool singles, take your savings and sink it into a box of these awesome cards.  Just don't chew the gum.  

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