1989 TOPPS CHEWING GUM BASEBALL CARDS

The 1989 Topps chewing gum baseball card series marked the 28th year Topps had produced cards as the exclusive licensed Major League Baseball card issuer. The 660 card base set featured all players from the American and National Leagues along with managers and coaches. As was tradition, Topps also released special subsets highlighting rookie cards, All-Star players, league leaders and more.

Some key details about the 1989 Topps set:

Design/Artwork: The design featured a large full color photo of the player along with stats and team logo/colors across the bottom. The border was white with the Topps logo and copyright info along the bottom. Overall it featured a very clean and consistent look fitting of late 80s card design sensibilities.

Short Prints: There were no true short prints in the base set, however Topps did produce a special autographed subset of 50 cards signed by the players themselves. These autographed inserts were significantly rarer to pull from packs.

Rookies: Notable rookie cards included Barry Bonds, Bobby Thigpen, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gregg Olson and Craig Biggio. While Bonds would go on to have a Hall of Fame career, none of the rookies were truly standouts in their debut seasons so their cards held little initial value.

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Star Players: The biggest stars of the late 80s like Orel Hershiser, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs and Mark McGwire all received prominent card placements within the set. McGwire’s rising popularity as a power hitter made his common card a popular bargain for collectors even at the time.

Inserts/Parallels: Topps released several inserted subsets highlighting All-Stars, league leaders, and postseason performers from 1988. There were no true parallels or variations outside of the autographed subset.

Production/Print Run: It’s estimated Topps printed around 750 million 1989 cards to fill demand, on par with production levels of the mid-80s. As the MLB licensed monopoly holder, Topps faced no competition and had strong distribution through mass retail outlets like grocery and convenience stores.

Initial Reception/Values: Outside of the rookie cards which held little value, most commons from the 1989 set traded for 10-25 cents through the early 90s. Stars and especially the autographed inserts performed a bit better. Overall it was considered an extremely common modern set, even by the completion of its release year.

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Long Term Value: Flash forward over 30 years and the 1989 Topps set has developed strong nostalgia and collecting appeal for kids who grew up during the late 80s baseball boom. Commons now sell for $1-3 while star cards can reach $10-25 in graded gem mint condition. Top rookie cards like Bonds have increased 1000x or more due to his HOF performance. The autographed inserts have also gained immense value as true rare chase cards from the set.

A big reason for the long term value increase stems from the baseball card boom of the late 80s/early 90s. With MLB popularity at an all-time high and child collectors excited to snap up the shiny new cardboard, sets like 1989 Topps were produced in mind-boggling quantities seemingly destined to become yard sale commons. What collectors didn’t anticipate was how fleeting the era would become. As the economy cooled and fraud/scandals rocked the industry later in the 90s, interest dropped precipitously leaving millions of abandoned collections in its wake.

Combined with the nostalgia of collectors who participated during the boom coming back to the hobby as adults, sets whose unopened production totals seemed like liabilities are now the long term blue chip nostalgia plays. While 1989 Topps may never achieve ultra high-end status, there’s no denying it resonates deeply with a large segment of collectors who grew up during one of the true golden eras in the history of sports cards. Three decades later it maintains its place as a fun and nostalgic set at reasonable vintage price points.

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While deemed an ultra-common set upon release due to massive production numbers, changing dynamics in the hobby have bestowed the 1989 Topps baseball card series with newfound nostalgia and value. As a window into late 80s MLB and a snapshot of a boom period in card collecting history, it holds distinct appeal for collectors today. Key cards like rookie talents and autographed inserts have appreciation tremendously while even commons retain popularity within the context of the era. The 1989 Topps set stands as an accessible and iconic reminder of baseball card collecting’s storied past.

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