The 1986 Fleer baseball card set was the second series of cards produced by Fleer after they entered the baseball card market in 1981. The ’86 Fleer set marked several notable firsts and showcased many star players from that era. The set consisted of 382 total cards and featured a very unique and eye-catching design that set it apart from Topps, Donruss and other competitors at the time.

Fleer’s 1986 offering was the first major league baseball card set to feature rookie cards for future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Maddux’s rookie card would go on to become one of the most valuable cards in the history of the hobby. The ’86 Fleer set also included the rookie cards for other notable players like Will Clark, Barry Larkin, and Mark McGwire. McGwire’s rookie in particular would gain immense popularity and value in the late 90s during his single-season home run chase with Sammy Sosa.

Aside from rookie debuts, the 1986 Fleer set showcased baseball’s biggest stars of the mid-80s like Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, and Dwight Gooden. Gooden’s ’86 Fleer card captured him during his dominant 1985 season where he won the NL Cy Young Award at just 20 years old with a 24-4 record and 1.53 ERA. The card featured a close-up action photo of the “Doctor K” winding up for a pitch and showed why he was already established as one of the best pitchers in baseball at such a young age.


From a design perspective, the 1986 Fleer set really stood out. Unlike the straightforward vertical photo format that Topps had established as the industry standard, Fleer got creative with angled photos and a colorful border scheme. Most cards featured the player’s name and team name diagonally across vibrantly colored borders above and below the action photo. The design lent itself well to the set being referred to as “Diamond Kings” which was subtly printed on the borders. The unique presentation made the ’86 Fleer cards instantly recognizable and collectible.

Another innovation in the 1986 Fleer set was the inclusion of “fielding stats” on the backs of many cards. This was one of the earliest instances of a major brand incorporating defensive statistics directly onto the cards. Numbers like putouts, assists, errors, and fielding percentage added valuable player data that engaged collectors. The card backs also featured a small color team logo and season stats. The combination of creative visuals and informative stats helped take Fleer baseball cards to new heights of popularity.


While the rookie cards and superstar snapshots drew plenty of attention, the 1986 Fleer set is also noteworthy for featuring some truly obscure players who only had brief big league careers. Names like Darnell Coles, Dave LaPoint, and Joel Youngblood may not ring any bells with today’s fans but their inclusion added to the comprehensive nature of the 382-card checklist. Completing the entire ’86 Fleer set became an achievable yet challenging goal for many collectors at the time.

When the 1986 Fleer cards were released, the baseball card boom of the late 80s was still a few years away. But looking back, this innovative and iconic set helped laid the groundwork for the astronomical rise of the hobby and trading card market during the next decade. Prices for the star rookies and key cards from the ’86 Fleer set have risen dramatically in the decades since as more collectors appreciate its historical significance. For anyone looking to build a true vintage baseball card collection, owning examples from this groundbreaking Fleer issue is essential.


The 1986 Fleer baseball card set broke new ground visually while also featuring some of the most important rookie cards and players in the history of the hobby. Its unique design, inclusion of stats, and comprehensive checklist made it a highly coveted and collectible release that still holds value today for enthusiasts and investors. The rookie debuts of future Hall of Famers like Maddux, Glavine and McGwire alone make the ’86 Fleer set one of the most iconic and important baseball card issues ever produced.

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