Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 1980s Topps Sets

Last Friday Five countdown for the decade of the 1980s.  If you missed my take on the Fleer and Donruss products feel free to click the links.  Next week I am onto some 1990s cards.  Of the three brands that released products throughout the decade, this list was my favorite to put together.  It could be that much of my focus as a collector during this decade was on the Topps sets, or it could just be that these five sets would be best sets of the decade when matched up with the other brands.

Of course, I still think the 1989 Upper Deck set is the best set of the decade.  Here are my favorite five Topps sets from the 1980s.....

1980 Topps 

I have worked on this set for awhile and am going back and replacing some of the rough cards that own in this product.  I am not sure why I like this product, but it's one of my favorites from the decade.  Really the other four sets on this post were slam dunks and this set is better than the rest of the products in my opinion.  I am sure that a lot of people would have included the 1987 set instead of this one, but I feel like it's a bit of a knock off of the 1961 set.  Meanwhile, this is a decent design, but it has some good cards in it of some 1970s and 1980s stars like George Brett and Nolan Ryan.  It also has a really important rookie card....

I picked up my first Rickey Henderson rookie card some time during the height of Dwight Gooden-Mania.  How do I know?  The Henderson rookie card cost me my copy of Dwight Gooden's rookie card.  At the time Gooden was easily the best pitcher in baseball and I think the card had some pretty significant value.  My Rickey Henderson rookie, shown above, has some dings and creases.  However, it's still one of my favorite cards in my collection.  Besides, I have another nice copy of this card hanging around my set and it's even in a top loader.  

1982 Topps Traded 

There is really only one reason to buy the 1982 Topps Traded set and it's the Cal Ripken rookie card.  He's featured in all of the major 1982 card releases, but for whatever reason this card seems to be more valued than the other.  It's nicer looking than the other Ripken rookies if nothing else.  In my opinion, this is the second most iconic rookie card of the 1980s behind the 1989 Upper Deck Griffey rookie.  Every other really popular, well thought of rookie card from this era, either features a lesser player than Ripken or someone tainted by the steroids era.  The rest of the 1982 Topps Traded isn't much, there is a Chili Davis rookie, but if you are going to pick up a copy of the Ripken you should just buy/trade for the whole thing.  

1983 Topps 

This is one of my favorite designs of the decade.  It's the first year that I collected cards too, but I am sure that I have disconnected my personal feelings from this matter long ago.  I have run into a ton of collectors who love this set just simply based on looks.  In fact, one of my favorite card blogs, The Cardboard Connection, recently did their own version of March Madness with Topps base sets.  The 1983 Topps set advanced all the way to the Elite Eight.  

It was the only Topps base set newer than 1980 to make it that far in this fan vote event.  It's a really cool set just to pull out and flip through, but it also offers collectors some pretty important rookie cards.  We've talked about 1983 products frequently lately, so you know....Gywnn, Sandberg, and Boggs.  I like the Gywnn card, really unique, but if I am not mistaken I also know that it was one of his least favorite cards of himself.  

1984 Topps 

It's probably safe to say that this set was probably more important when it was first released and the two important rookie cards in the set, Mattingly and Strawberry, were really big stars.  However, I have it on my list because of the design.  I love the looks of this set, and again, love taking these cards out every once in awhile and just flipping through the set.  It has that little picture in the corner like the 1983 set, but the team name going down the side has always stood out to me with this set.  And while Strawberry and Mattingly did not maintain their stardom throughout their careers.....

They are still two of the more memorable 1980s baseball cards.  Definitely not on the level of the Ripken or Griffey cards, but if you collected cards in the 1980s your collection is not really complete without these two cards in your collection.  

1985 Topps

This set has lost a lot of luster and value over the years because of the steroid scandal, but 1985 for a good year to be a Cardinals fan and it was one of my favorites as a kid.  Why did the Cardinals cards all have a yellow box around their name?  I am not sure, but I really like the looks of these cards.  I put together several copies of this set sometime after the Cardinals traded for Mark McGwire.  There are three really great rookie cards to own from this Topps base set.....

The McGwire rookie is probably the best known rookie card in the set, but the Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett rookie cards are also both pretty cool cards worth owning.  If you like this set you should check out the 1985 Topps Blog run by the one and only Night Owl.  


  1. Glad to see 1983 make it to Cardboard Connection's Elite 8... I have that set in my Top 3 of all-time.

  2. The 82 Topps traded Ozzie is another reason to buy that set. One of his cooler cards IMHO, and as a fellow Ozzie lover I was surprised you left it out.