The 1986 Fleer baseball card set is widely considered one of the most valuable and sought after sets in the entire history of baseball cards due to the presence of several rare and valuable errors. Produced during the height of the 1980s baseball card boom, the 1986 Fleer set featured photography on the fronts of all 660 cards in the set alongside player statistics and brief bios on the back. While the regular issue cards can still hold value, especially for stars of the era, it is the various misprints and mistakes that have made some 1986 Fleer cards among the most expensive in the hobby.
One of the most famous errors from 1986 Fleer is the Gedman/Geddy Lee error card. Generally numbered to #425, the front of the card instead features a photo of Rush lead singer Geddy Lee rather than Boston Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman as it should. Extremely few of these cards left the Fleer factory in 1986 before the mistake was caught and fixed. As a result, the Gedman/Geddy Lee error remains one of the most desirable baseball cards ever produced. In near-mint condition, ungraded examples have sold for well over $100,000 at auction.
Another hugely valuable error involves cards #91 and #418, which were supposed to feature Baltimore Orioles outfielder John Shelby and San Francisco Giants outfielder Chili Davis, respectively. The photos were swapped in error, with Shelby appearing on the Davis card and vice versa. Like the Gedman error, very few of these “photo swapped” cards made it to the public. In high grades, they have reached similar six-figure auction prices.
One of the more common yet still quite rare 1986 Fleer errors involved specific player nicknames missing from the backs of certain cards. The backs were meant to list a player’s full name as well as their common nickname, if applicable. Errors saw the nicknames omitted for several stars including Vince Coleman (#89), Jeff Reardon (#117), Bob Horner (#153), and Tony Pena (#160). While more plentiful than photo swap or substitution errors, high graded examples with the complete missing nickname error can still sell for thousands.
Beyond specific player card mistakes, there were also errors present throughout the entire 1986 Fleer set involving uniform discrepancies not matching the photos on the fronts of cards. For example, Tim Raines’ Expos road grey uniform on his card #49 does not match the home pinstripes depicted in his photo. Similarly, Bobby Bonilla’s Pirates road uniform on card #142 differs from the home whites shown. These so called “uniform number mismatches” are quite common in the set but still hold value for dedicated error card collectors.
There were issues of specific player cards having incorrect statistics or biographies on the backs. Notable mistakes include Steve Trout’s win-loss record (#13) showing 15-7 instead of his actual 1985 totals of 15-5, Bob Horner’s home run total (#153) printed as 16 rather than his 32 longballs, and Eric Davis’ position listed as 3B not OF (#340). While less dramatically rare than photo or name swaps, cards showing clear statistical or biographical inaccuracies remain quite sought after by the growing error card enthusiast community.
When it comes to valuable misprints and irregular issues, the 1986 Fleer baseball card set stands above virtually all others. The high-profile mistakes like the Gedman swap and multiple photo swaps understandably get the most attention due to their extreme rarity and value. For avid error collectors, the 1986 Fleer set offers plenty of other opportunities in the form of missing nickname variations, uniform mismatches, and inaccurate player info variations. Over 30 years after production, 1986 Fleer error cards remain a fascinating area of the expanding baseball memorabilia market. With no reprints, only the original errors which slipped through Quality Control that year exist, making each one all the more desirable and valuable.