1986 TOPPS BASEBALL CARDS TO LOOK FOR

The 1986 Topps baseball card set is considered by many collectors to be one of the most iconic and desirable releases from Topps. With 792 total cards in the base set, the ‘86 Topps issue featured traditional design elements like player photos, stats and team logos. Several standout rookie cards and key legendary player inserts make certain 1986 Topps cards extremely valuable to this day if obtained in pristine condition.

Perhaps the most notable ‘86 Topps rookie is card #1, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Barfield. As one of the premier power hitters of the late ‘80s, Barfield’s rookie is highly sought after by collectors. PSA 10 graded examples in top condition have sold for well over $1000. Another standout rookie is #559 Chicago Cubs pitcher Jamie Moyer, who went on to become the oldest player in MLB history. High-grade Moyer rookie cards can reach several hundred dollars.

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The true crown jewel rookie of the 1986 Topps set is #630 New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry. Considered one of the greatest players of the 1980s, Strawberry was a superstar from the outset of his career. His iconic first card showing him in Mets pinstripes is a must-have for any collection, with PSA 10s valued over $5000. Additionally, #540 Chicago White Sox catcher/1st baseman Carlton Fisk and #656 Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens both debuted that year and are valuable rookie options.

Moving beyond rookies, the 1986 Topps set provides collectors a chance to own cards featuring some of baseball’s all-time greats like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and more. Card #650 honors Mantle during his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, while cards #83, #113 and #129 pay tribute to Mays, Aaron and Stan Musial respectively during their careers. High grades of these legendary player inserts can sell upwards of $400-500 each.

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Another notable ‘86 Topps highlight is card #1, Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros. Considered one of the most impressive individual player cards ever produced by Topps, the artistic close-up shot of the flame-throwing Ryan is a must-have for collections. PSA 10 examples regularly sell over $1000. Additionally, Cardinals superstar Ozzie Smith’s card #640 picturing his famous backflip is highly coveted in the community as well over $500 in Gem Mint condition.

Beyond big individual cards, completing the entire 1986 Topps set in pristine condition is a monumental achievement. There are a few specific team-centric subsets that are especially prized. Cards #640-645 focus on the 1985 World Series champion Kansas City Royals, making those premium chase cards. Cards #696-701 spotlight All-Star selections from that season’s Midsummer Classic in Houston. High grades of complete All-Star and World Series subsets can demand prices well over $1000.

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While the 1986 Topps base set as a whole remains very attainable for most collectors, certain standout rookie cards, legendary player inserts and celebrated team and event subsets make finding and preserving high grade examples of specific cards quite difficult and valuable. The combination of iconic photography, historical significance and star power featured throughout the issue have cemented the 1986 Topps set as one of the most beloved and investment-worthy releases in the entire hobby. For dedicated collectors, chasing PSA 10 copies of cards like the Strawberry, Ryan or Fisk rookie represents achieving true pinnacles within the collection.

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