30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The End of the Innocence

The 1986 Topps baseball set isn't known for its exceptional rookie class or carry a lot of monetary value.  Nor do I consider it to have sensational design.  Yet it does represent a significant dot on my collecting timeline, because it marked the end of an era.

From the time I started collecting baseball cards in 1981 through the release of the 1986 Topps set, I solely collect baseball cards for entertainment.  It provided my OCD an outlet to sort things in different ways, while collecting my favorite players and teams.

But that era came to an abrupt end when I was introduced to pallets upon pallets of 1987 Topps baseball wax boxes at my local Costco/Price Club.  That's when I officially transitioned from a collector to an investor.

That year, I must have opened ten... maybe twenty wax boxes trying to build sets and create player lots in hopes that Dave Magadan, Rafael Palmeiro, and BJ Surhoff would one day pay for my college tuition.  However that's the topic of a future post.

Today I'm focusing my attention on the third challenge in Tony's 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge, which happens to target a card from the first set you tried to complete.  And if my memory serves me right, that would be the 1986 Topps set.

Before then, I made haphazard attempts with the understanding that I'd never actually complete anything since I didn't realistically open enough packs.  Then I started selling candy to my classmates, which allowed me to purchase more packs than usual on a more frequent basis.  I don't think I ever actually completed this set, but years later I added one to my collection.

1986 Topps #250

I picked Dwight Gooden for this post for a few reasons:

#1:  It features a great action shot of Dr. K.
#2:  Back in 1986, this was one of the most valuable cards in the set.
#3:  The Mets won the World Series in 1986.

The final reason I decided to go with this card is because it's a healthy reminder to learn from our mistakes.  Gooden is sometimes remembered for his off the field issues and this 1986 Topps set often reminds me of a cardboard scandal I was involved in.

But part of being human is learning from our mistakes.  1986 Topps helped me learn to appreciate my friends and resist taking advantage of them, while 1987 Topps helped me see that I'm better off collecting baseball cards than investing in them.

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!


  1. I missed the 1986 Baseball sets , but started in 1987 baseball. I first collected 1986 Topps Football. Boy, I wish I would have kept more unopened of that year. I love the 1986 Topps design though.

  2. Wise words, my friend. Wise words.

  3. every time i see that card...or any card of Dr. K, all i can think of is wasted talent. He was SOOOOO good...and that card brings back a ton of great memories for me. love it.

  4. I opened about 20 1987 Topps Wax Boxes and put sets together hoping on day they would fund my retirement. I am still working.

  5. Still my favorite since it was the first set I chased. I'm still planning on purchasing an unopened wax box just for the nostalgia of all the packs I ripped of this product.

  6. I would like to hear stories of people that actually cashed in on that era and then got out at the right time.....Do those people exist?

  7. sg488 - looked all over YouTube for a video... but they wouldn't play on my blog. Totally bummed.

    SumoMenkoMan - I remember seeing 1986 Topps football packs at my local Long's and passing them up for the baseball. Talk about an epic mistake.

    Cardboard Jones - Thanks. If one collector out there can learn something from my mistakes, I'll be a happy camper.

    cardboardhogs - i know. it's truly a shame. it's a great lesson on how drugs can ruin a career.

    John Bateman - We should start a club :)

    Reds Card Collector - I did that a few years ago. Found a box for $10 at a card show. It was a blast.

    Matthew Scott - I believe there are a few... but they're as rare as the 1990 Topps No Name Frank Thomas rookie card.