The 1989 Topps baseball card set was the 58th annual release from Topps and featured cards of Major League Baseball players and managers from the 1988 MLB season. Some key things to know about the 1989 Topps set:

Set Details:

The 1989 Topps set included 792 total cards
The base card issue ran from #1 to #792 with no subset series included
Design featured a simple white border around each photo with team logo and player stats/bio on the back
Mark McGwire’s rookie card was included as #181

Notable Rookies: In addition to McGwire, some other top rookie cards from the 1989 set included Ken Griffey Jr. (#116), Gregg Olson (#340), and Tom Glavine (#393). Griffey and McGwire would go on to have Hall of Fame careers while Olson and Glavine also enjoyed long and successful MLB tenures.

High Number Short Prints: Topps produced short print variations of cards #660-792 which were much harder to find in packs than the standard issue cards. Some of the more valuable short prints included Nolan Ryan (#660), Ozzie Smith (#678), and Wade Boggs (#692). These high number variations have gained popularity with collectors in recent years.


Chase Cards: While no true “chase” parallel sets existed, some of the most sought after and valuable standard issue cards included Ken Griffey Jr.’s rookie (#116), Mark McGwire’s rookie (#181), Ozzie Smith (#178), and Nolan Ryan (#660). Griffey and McGwire rookies in particular have sold for thousands in high grades.

Design Theme: The simple white border design was a departure from some of the busier and more creatively designed sets of the late 1980s. The clean look allowed the photography and player information to stand out more prominently. On the back, team logos were prominently displayed above each player’s stats.

Set Retirement: The 1989 Topps set saw the retirement of a few notable legends including Steve Carlton (#180), Don Sutton (#292), and Rollie Fingers (#704). Their cards provide a snapshot into the tail end of their Hall of Fame careers.


Prominent Players: Other marquee players well represented in the set included Wade Boggs (#178), Ozzie Smith (#178), Nolan Ryan (#660), Roger Clemens (#98), Rickey Henderson (#136), and Dave Stewart (#334). These stars anchored both the American League and National League in the late 1980s.

Variation Cards: A few error variations have been discovered over the years, such as missing team logos, inverted photos, or misspellings. These anomalies are quite rare and hold premium value for advanced collectors.

Legacy of the Set: Now over 30 years old, the 1989 Topps set endures as one of the most iconic issues of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Rookie cards of future Hall of Famers like Griffey and McGwire take center stage while the entire set provides a snapshot into the final years of the careers for legends like Carlton, Sutton, and Fingers. Strong player selection, clean design, and an affordable price point have ensured the set remains popular with collectors both young and old. While flagships sets of the early 1990s may garner more attention today, 1989 Topps deserves recognition as the conclusion of a golden era in the history of Topps baseball cards.


The 1989 Topps baseball card set provides collectors a view into the transition from one generation of MLB stars to the next on the cusp of a new decade. Rookie cards of future Hall of Famers and the retirement of legends gives the issue historical significance. While not the flashiest design, the clean look lets the photography shine and endures as one of the most iconic issues from the late 1980s/early 1990s period. Strong player selection coupled with affordable prices have kept the 1989 Topps set popular with collectors for over 30 years since its original release.

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