I initially thought it was going to be a walk in the park, but it ended up being quite the challenge. There are a few sets that set themselves apart from the pack. However after selecting my Top 3 sets, there were a bunch of sets in the running for the 4th and 5th slots. To remedy this issue, I decided to create a Top 10 list instead.
But before I share my list, you should know what I based my selections on. There were three main factors: front card design, rookie star power, and personal nostalgia. Out of the three, the card's design was the main thing I considered, but the other two were used as tie-breakers.
With that out of the way, let's get to my Top 10 Baseball Card Sets of the 80's...
#10: 1982 Topps
This set proves that the 80's were loaded with awesome trading card designs. I'm a huge fan of the Hockey Stick set design and the use of bright colors like pink, light blue, purple, lime green, and orange. And the In-Action cards are simply fantastic.
#9: 1983 Fleer
I enjoy simple and plain... which is the best way to describe the 1983 Fleer design. Plus it contains one of the strongest rookie card classes from my childhood.
#8: 1980 Topps
The 1980 Topps baseball card design is solid. The white borders paired with the colored banners compliment each other really well, but honestly without the Rickey Henderson and Dave Stieb rookie cards this set would probably be on the outside looking in.
Both of those guys hold a special place in my collection. Henderson was my favorite player before Gwynn came along. Stieb is the only MLB player to attend the same high school as me. And both of their rookie cards feature awesome photographs which will always earn bonus points in my book.
#7: 1984 Fleer
Another simple, plain, and attractive set. Growing up I favored the 1984 Topps and Donruss counterparts, but like your trusty baseball glove this particular design has improved with age.
#6: 1985 Topps
This is another set that has become more attractive to me in recent years. Don't get me wrong, I loved this set as a kid. I couldn't get enough of the amazing rookie class. But eventually I lost interest in this set. In fact, in 2016 I ranked my all-time favorite Topps designs and this set didn't crack the Top 15. As a point of reference, the 1982 design was ranked #13 and the 1980 was ranked #11 on that list. Today this design trumps both of them in my book.
#5: 1981 Fleer
1981 Fleer was the first complete set of cards I ever owned and it was a gift from my parents. I'd sit around and sort the cards by positions, then build all-star teams, and wrap things up by putting them back into team sets. I repeated this process many, many, many times.
In regards to personal nostalgia, this set is in a league of its own and that's why I couldn't leave it out of my Top 5. And honestly... the design isn't too shabby. I know most collectors prefer the Topps' hats over Fleer's balls, but I'm okay being in the minority on this one.
#4: 1985 Fleer
In terms of design, this is my favorite Fleer baseball set design of all-time. I enjoy the way the gray and team colored borders are paired up and go together with the team logo in the upper left-hand corner. This set might not have played a huge role in my childhood, but like the 1985 Topps set, it features a really great bunch of rookie cards.
Before I get to my top three favorite baseball cards sets of the 80's, I wanted to show off two honorary mentions that just missed the cut:
Honorary Mention #1: 1987 Fleer
When it comes to plain and simple, nobody did a better job of it in the 80's than Fleer. I really like how the card design transitions from light blue to white... with a solid blue stripe at the bottom. Combine that with the team logo and you've got a nice design. Plus the 1987 rookie card class was one for the ages.
Honorary Mention #2: 1984 Donruss
If there was a charity case on this list, then this set would be it. The one thing that really stood out after building this list is that I'm not as big of a Donruss fan as I thought I was. Don't get me wrong. I truly enjoy every Donruss design from 1982 to 1987. However none of them cracked my Top 10.
1984 Donruss is the only one I even considered and that's because I opened a lot of this stuff when I was younger. People always say that this product was much more scarce than its Topps and Fleer counterparts, but that wasn't the case in my area.
Okay... let's wrap things up and check out my Top 3 sets of the 80's...
#3: 1989 Upper Deck
Iconic set. Awesome design... although I do enjoy the 1991 design a tad bit more. Four hall of fame rookie cards. This is a truly awesome set.
#2: 1987 Topps
Five years ago, I ranked the 80's Topps designs and this set came in 8th place. Five years later, it's my 2nd favorite set among all of the major manufacturers. For years, this set was a negative reminder of when I stopped collecting for fun and started collecting for financial gain. That hasn't really changed, but these days I choose to embrace the truly beautiful wood grained design, awesome rookie class, and the fact that I've opened up more 1987 Topps baseball than any other trading card product in existence.
And the King of the 80's Baseball Sets title goes to...
#1: 1983 Topps
This set is one of my favorite card designs off all-time. Plus it contains my all-time favorite athlete's rookie card. And if that weren't enough to put this set atop my list, I also opened up a bunch of this stuff back when I was eleven years old.
Well there you have my favorite baseball sets of the 80's. If you're wondering... I did consider Score and Sportflics sets, but neither company cracked my Top 10. As for things like Kellogg's and Mother's Cookies... I decided to leave them out of the equation since they're oddball/regional issues.
Maybe one day I'll create a Top 10 list for those as well. In the meantime, I've got to start putting together my Top 5 list of 80's baseball cards, which I hope to publish in the next week or so.
What is your favorite 80's baseball card set?
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!