ARE LATE 80s BASEBALL CARDS WORTH ANYTHING

Baseball cards from the late 1980s can potentially be worth something, but it really depends on the particular cards, their condition, and the players featured. The late 80s was an interesting time for baseball cards as it was right before the junk wax era of the early 90s that produced so many cards that their values cratered.

Some key context – the late 80s saw the rise of major sports card companies like Fleer, Donruss, and Score really ramping up production. While output was increasing, it hadn’t yet reached the saturation levels of the early 90s that made most cards from that era essentially worthless. Players were also starting to sign multi-million dollar contracts, capturing more mainstream attention.

Top stars from the late 80s like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, and Kirby Puckett had some of their earliest and most iconic cards produced during this period. Rarer or rookie cards featuring these all-time great players could hold substantial value for collectors if in near mint or gem mint condition. For example, a 1986 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett rookie card in mint condition has recently sold for over $1,000.

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The values are highly dependent on the specific player and card. For every big name star, there were plenty of average players whose cards don’t command high prices even in top shape. Context on demand and print runs matters – less printed and more popular players will retain worth. Bottom line – don’t assume all late 80s cards still have value; you need to research the particulars.

Some other late 80s cardboard that could carry value today include 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. and Gregg Jefferies rookie cards. The ’89 Upper Deck set dramatically changed the industry and those vintage rookie cards are highly sought. Also, rare 1987 Topps Traded José Canseco and Mark McGwire rookie cards could fetch hundreds in pristine condition due to their importance capturing the steroid era.

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Condition is critical – to retain any meaningful value, late 80s cards need to be in near mint or gem mint condition without creases, scratches or other flaws. Even top stars lose a lot of value in worn condition. Professionally graded cards through services like PSA or BGS that confirm a card’s condition tend to sell for the most.

While there are always exceptions, in general most common late 80s cards of decent but not superstar players are unlikely to be worth more than a few dollars even in great shape. The market is usually more interested in the biggest names, stars, and especially rookie cards from that era. It’s also important to consider overproduction – certain late 80s sets like 1990 Leaf, 1991 Studio or 1992 Stadium Club massively overprinted and flooded the market.

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While the junk wax era hadn’t fully set in, late 80s baseball cards are a bit of a mixed bag. Only the best condition, most desirable rookie cards of true all-time greats or highly sought after players seem to retain meaningful collector value today. But there are certainly deals to be had collecting from this transitionary period before the early 90s glut if you do your homework on players, conditions and particular card issues.

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