The 1987 Topps Traded set featured an insert of potential Hall of Fame players and rising stars from that season. While not the most iconic or well-known vintage baseball card set, several key rookies and legends featured make certain 1987 Topps Traded cards among the most valuable from that year. The scarcity and historical significance of some of these players has led to high demand and prices for their rookie or star cards from this 220 card set over the past few decades.

One of the most coveted and expensive 1987 Topps Traded cards is the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Widely considered one of if not the best player of his generation, Griffey’s rookie card from this set has consistently risen in value ever since he began collecting batting titles and Gold Gloves in the late 1980s and 1990s. In gem mint condition, a Griffey Jr. rookie now easily fetches over $10,000 and has sold for as much as $22,000 in recent years. What makes his card so scarce and sought after is its late release in the Traded set, meaning far fewer were pulled by collectors compared to cards in the regular Topps series that year.


Another rookie cardgenerating big money from the 1987 Topps Traded set is that of Greg Maddux. Like Griffey, Maddux went on to have a Hall of Fame caliber career winning over 300 games and capturing 4 Cy Young Awards. In high grade, his rookie has sold for around $5,000. Maddux has the added cachet of being one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1990s, giving his early cards lasting value. The scarcity of both his and Griffey’s rookies in the harder to find Traded insert set as opposed to the flagship series adds a substantial premium.

In addition to star rookies, the 1987 Topps Traded set featured then-established legends whose cards have increased greatly in value with time. A standout is the Ryne Sandberg card, featuring the 10-time All-Star and 1984 NL MVP at the peak of his career with the Chicago Cubs. In pristine ‘Gem Mint’ condition, a Sandberg from this particular set recently sold for over $4,000 due to his marquee status and winning that elusive championship as a member of the 2016 Cubs. High grade examples of the Ozzie Smith or Don Mattingly cards from this year have also been known to cross the $1,000 mark.


The 1987 Topps Traded set is additionally notable for introducing or highlighting several players who would go on to have Hall of Fame careers and demand high single card prices. Reds’ power hitter Eric Davis achieved superstar status early in his career and examples of his solid ’87 Traded issue in top condition can approach $1,000. Another in-demand star is the Pedro Martinez rookie, predating his dominant run with the Red Sox. In a sought-after 9 or 10 grade, his first card has sold for well over $2,000.

Condition is extremely important when considering value of any vintage card, but especially for the true elite issues in the 1987 Topps Traded set. With its late-’80s production values, the cards are highly subject to damage from bending, wrinkling or other flaws over decades of being opened and shuffled. For patient collectors willing to rigorously grade and preserve examples, there exists significant longterm financial potential. Beyond the headliners already covered, mint examples of other stars like Alan Trammell, Barry Larkin, or Bo Jackson could routinely sell for hundreds today and may appreciate substantially in the coming years as those players enter the Hall of Fame.


While it came out later in the 1987 season and did not enjoy the same initial fanfare as the Topps flagship set, the Topps Traded insert has proven to contain some of the most historically important and lucrative rookie cards ever made. Headlined by the Griffey and Maddux rookies, this set consolidated multiple emerging and established talents in a single release. For savvy collectors who can acquire high grade copies of the keys playersprofiled, the 1987 Topps Traded cards offer an compelling vintage investment opportunity—especially as the hobby has dramatically increased in popularity and prestige in recent decades. With the high demand spurred partly by nostalgia for the late 80s/early 90s generation, these young star rookies and seasoned vets remain some of the most collectible and monetarily valuable cards from the entire 1980s period.

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