30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, December 20, 2018

I Love the 80's: Favorite Rookie Cards

I was around during the 70's, but the vast majority of my childhood memories take place during the 80's.  That applies to my collecting history as well.  Is there a chance that I cracked open some 1978 or 1979 Topps baseball packs back in the day?  Sure.  But if so, I don't remember them.

I do remember messing around with my 1981 Fleer baseball set that my parents bought me.  I also remember opening 1981 Topps and Donruss packs.  In short... 1981 was pretty much my Big Bang baseball card collecting moment.  It wasn't long after that I started chasing down rookie cards.

That trend lasted throughout the 80's and into the 90's with brief spurts here and there leading up to the present.  Although autographs are my main focus these days, I still enjoy going back to my roots and picking up rookie cards every now and then.

Today I'll be showing off my five favorite rookie cards from the 80's.  Before I begin, let's address the elephant in the room.  Yes... I decided to include Topps Traded and Fleer Update cards.  I understand that some collectors don't consider these to be official rookie cards since they weren't pack pulled.  Unfortunately... this is my list.  My List = My Rules.

That being said... I didn't include minor league cards on my list.  There's only so much controversy I can handle in one post.  That being said, let's do this...

#51984 Fleer Update #U-93

I always considered Puckett the American League version of Tony Gwynn.  Both were a little fluffy.  And both could hit for average.  It's a shame both passed away way too early.

#41980 Topps #77 

Dave Stieb is one of the greatest players in Toronto Blue Jays franchise history.  He had the 2nd most wins in Major League Baseball during the 80's and was a 7x AL All-Star.  Yet he's often overshadowed by guys like Orel Hershiser, Dwight Gooden, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens.  But not by me.  Stieb was one of my favorite pitchers back in the day and a fellow Oak Grove High School alumni.

#31987 Topps #320

If it weren't for my two favorite baseball players claiming the #1 and #2 spots, this card would be my favorite.  It features two things I really, really love:  the 1987 Topps design and a well cropped action shot.  Throw in the fact that he's one of the greatest hitters of his generation and this card is a winner in my book.

#21980 Topps #482

Had the Oakland A's never traded Rickey to the New York Yankees on December 4th, 1984... it's highly likely that he'd be my favorite player of all-time and not Tony Gwynn.  Like most A's fans during the early 80's, I worshipped #35.

The trade changed everything, but he won me over again in 1989 when he helped the Athletics win their only World Series Title in over four decades.

#11983 Topps #482

This card features my favorite player and my favorite 80's card design.  If you didn't foresee this card being in the #1 slot, then you're probably not a regular to this blog.

I think it's pretty cool that the Gwynn and Rickey are both card #482 in their respective sets.  It's like the Baseball Card Gods did this on purpose for me.

Well there you have it.  My favorite rookie cards of the 80's.  A huge thank you goes out to Kin over at Bean's Ballcard Blog.  His I Love the 80's post inspired me to create this list... as well as my My Favorite Baseball Card Sets of the 80's list I published last week.

I'm debating about creating two more 80's listsFavorite Oddball Sets and Favorite (non-rookie) Baseball Cards.  I already have a few ideas for each of these lists, so we'll see.

In the meantime...

What's your favorite 80's rookie card?

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. Rickey's rookie is my favorite. But Bo Jackson's 1986 Topps Traded would be very high on my list too. He's a monster. It's like the card can't hold him.

  2. It was fun reading this after Night Owl's post the other day. Some great cardboard here, Fuji! I got to #2 and went "Wait, Rickey's #2?!" and then got to 1 and said "Oh, right, Gwynn."

  3. I actually don't have a lot of '80s RCs of note, aside from the Griffey '89 UD RC. My favorites would be the '84 Topps Don Mattingly, '85 Topps Kirby Puckett, and '86 Donruss Fred McGriff.

  4. Great choices! I wouldn't have guessed Stieb would be on your list, but that's what makes blogs so much fun reading and writing.

  5. This is easy...1982 Cal Jr rookie...the regular one, not the update. I stashed away a small box of them and sold them at the height of their value. Nearly paid for my year of grad school. It's the only real 'investment' I ever made in the hobby and honestly I wasn't intending it to be. I used to hoard all Orioles cards back then. This one happened to become valuable.

  6. Rookies ... zzzzz. Favorite '80s rookie cards are '80 Henderson and '82 Topps Traded Ripken. After that, throw them in a big heap, they're just like any other card to me.

  7. jeff s - i thought about putting bo on this list... but i would have used his 87t card. love the future stars scrolled across the card... and the action shot.

    dennis - rickey should almost be #1b

    nick vossbrink - that card would be in my top 10. stay tuned... i have a post featuring that card in the very near future

    chris - griffey is another card that would be in my top 10.

    brian - yeah... he's gets overshadowed by all of superstars on this list

    commishbob - i have a lot of respect for ripken. loved the way he played the game. and as much as i like 82t, i'm not the biggest fan of multiple player rookie cards. i would have gone with his 82d rookie card or his 82tt.

    night owl - lol. was waiting to see what kind of comment you'd leave. btw... what about the 81f or 81t valenzuelas?

  8. 1989 UD Griffey only because it is the iconic card representing the height of the collecting era during the 1980s/1990s.

  9. 81 Donruss Tim Raines. He played minor league ball for my hometown Denver Bears. And 83 Fleer Ron Kittle, I was gonna make a million dollars on his rookie cards 🤪

  10. I have to go with 1988 Topps Traded Tino, where he's donning the red, white, and blue. Technically it's an XRC.

    I really should pick up a Gwynn and Henderson RC.

  11. Kudos on the Dave Stieb inclusion. I think he falls into the same trap Harold Baines did: In the time he pitched, he was among the best. However, the 80's was such a overall weak era in baseball's history that when you compare these guys to players from other eras their accomplishments look muted. That's why players from that decade have gotten so little consideration from the Hall of Fame.

  12. Great choices Fuji, and beautiful cards. Love that '83 Gwynn, what a fantastic copy!

  13. 86 Donruss Canseco.As a kid I loved It,but never owned it :( It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally picked one up and I'm not even sure If It's the real deal.You know ,with so many counterfeits going around.But then a gain,It's not like the card is that popular anymore.

  14. Any of the big stars from 1983 Donruss and Flleer. My brothers and I bought wax boxes at a Chicago National for $3-4 each because no one wanted them. We ended up with about 50 boxes and 40 of them were probably these 1983s. I have great memories of scattered stacks of cards, boxes and wrappers all over my room - some things never change.

  15. Someday I need to add a Henderson

  16. sumomenkoman - definitely an iconic card. had it sitting in this post with a few others until i narrowed the list down

    baltmoss68 - i can close my eyes and picture both of those cards. great picks.

    the lost collector - i always forget that tino has that usa card. his 90ud card is always the first card i think of.

    matt - i read a post on a forum debating greatest pitchers of the 80's and a lot of people left stieb off their lists. very sad.

    shoeboxlegends - wish i could afford a psa 10 copy ;)

    big tone - i have a few copies. gotta wonder if mine are all legit.

    runfore kelloggs - wow. that must have been awesome!

    sport card collectors - they're much more affordable these days.

  17. I really like Mark McGwire's from 1987 Topps. I know there's the Team USA one out there but his '87 was in my first-ever pack.

  18. adam kaningher - yeah... solid action shot. i like that card too.

  19. What a fun list and darn it, now I think I have to do this one as a follow-up to the best/favorite 1980s cards. You probably know what my number 1 will be. And since it'll be my rules I'll allow for a tie.