The 1988 Topps baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and valuable releases from the late 1980s. The design featured team logos across the top of the cards and colorful action photos of the players. Several rookie cards and stars from the 1987 season made their debut in the set and have become highly sought after by collectors in the decades since. Here are some of the most notable and valuable cards collectors search for from the 1988 Topps set.
Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (Card #1) – Widely regarded as one of the best rookie cards ever printed, Griffey’s debut is the crown jewel of the 1988 Topps set. Even in well-worn condition examples can fetch thousands of dollars due to his legendary career and status as a fan favorite. In pristine mint condition, a Griffey Jr. rookie has sold for over $100,000, making it out of reach for most collectors. His iconic swing pose and bright smile made this an instantly iconic card that introduced “The Kid” to baseball card enthusiasts.
Barry Bonds Rookie Card (Card #250) – As one of the greatest hitters in MLB history, Barry Bonds’ rookie card is a key piece for any collection. While overshadowed at the time by other rookies like Griffey, Bonds went on to shatter home run records and win numerous MVP awards. High grade copies have sold for over $10,000 due to his all-time elite status. This was the first trading card to feature “The Bash Brother” as a Pittsburgh Pirate.
Greg Maddux Rookie Card (Card #480) – Maddux is considered one of the best pitchers of all-time and this served as his first card appearance. Despite a more plain design compared to stars like Griffey, the Hall of Famer’s rookie remains a pricey card to acquire, especially in mint condition. Examples have sold for over $1,000 for the first look at the future 355 game winner’s career.
Tom Glavine Rookie Card (Card #531) – Another pitching great debuted in 1988 Topps as Glavine’s rookie card featured him in an Atlanta Braves uniform. Like Maddux, it showed promise of the excellence to come from the lefty. High grade copies have sold for well over $500.
Ozzie Smith (Card #610) – Nicknamed “The Wizard” for his dazzling defense, Ozzie Smith was already a six-time Gold Glove winner for the St. Louis Cardinals when featured on this card. His acrobatic plays made him a fan favorite and this issue showing his backhanded skills is iconic for collectors of the period. Higher quality versions can reach $400-500.
Nolan Ryan Express Postcard (Card #660) – One of the most unique cards in the set, this postcard style issue highlighted Nolan Ryan’s record breaking fifth no-hitter in 1986. The “Express” was already a legend when this was printed and its novel large format design has made it a highly valued card, especially for Ryan aficionados. Near mint copies have sold for over $1,000.
Rickey Henderson Base Card (Card #689) – Already a two-time stolen base champ for the Oakland A’s, Rickey Henderson’s speed and leadoff abilities made him a superstar when this card was released. It features one of the game’s most exciting players in action. Higher grade versions regularly sell for $150-300 due to his Hall of Fame career.
Don Mattingly Base Card (Card #715) – As the best hitter on the New York Yankees, Don Mattingly was a fan favorite during his 1980s heyday. This issue portrays “Donnie Baseball” at the height of his powers prior to back injuries slowing him down. Pristine copies in a Yankees uniform have topped $500.
While age and use have made high grade copies rare today, collectors still enjoy seeking out these iconic players and their rookie or star appearances from the 1988 Topps baseball card set. Thanks to the talent featured and classic design, it remains one of the most revered issues from the junk wax era of the late 1980s and early 1990s.