Tag Archives: 1986


One of the most coveted and valuable 1986 Topps baseball cards is the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Griffey Jr. went on to have an incredible Hall of Fame career and is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. His 1986 Topps rookie card, which has the card number 116, regularly sells for thousands of dollars in near-mint to mint condition. In a PSA 10 Gem Mint grade, Griffey Jr.’s 1986 rookie card has sold for over $25,000 and the price continues climbing higher as his legend grows. The card holds exceptional value because it captures Griffey Jr. at the very start of his legendary career and rookie cards for iconic players will always be in high demand.

Another extremely valuable 1986 Topps card is the Roger Clemens rookie card. Clemens, like Griffey Jr., also went on to have an outstanding Hall of Fame career and his rookie card number is 281. In top grades of PSA 8 to PSA 10, the Clemens rookie card has sold for $4,000-$15,000 depending on condition. What makes it especially rare and sought after is that Topps only produced his rookie card in limited quantity in 1986 as Clemens didn’t make his MLB debut until midway through the 1984 season. It’s one of the most scarce Topps rookie cards from the 1980s as a result. Any mint condition example of the Clemens rookie would be a valuable find decades after the set was originally released.

In addition to rookie cards of future all-time greats, other 1986 Topps cards that have gained immense value include stars from that era who went on to have incredible careers. One of those is the Barry Bonds card numbered to 474. Bonds had already put together a few strong MLB seasons by 1986 but hadn’t yet entered his prime and reached that unprecedented level that would make him arguably the greatest hitter of all time. His card sells for $500-900+ in high grades today. Another 1986 Topps star who long appreciated in value is Don Mattingly. His card is numbered to 168 and has earned Mattingly notoriety as one of the most consistent hitters of the 1980s. In top condition, his 1986 Topps card can reach well over $1000.

Two other position player cards from the 1986 Topps set that often demand four-figure prices are Rickey Henderson’s (card #610) and Tim Raines’ (card #582) rookie cards. Both were already exciting speedsters and base stealers in 1986 and went on to Hall of Fame careers. Raines arguably never got his full due but he was an integral piece on Montreal’s teams. The scarcity and historical significance of their rookie cards maintain strong prices decades later. On the pitching side, Dwight Gooden’s card numbered 35 has also gained tremendous value in the ensuing years. His 1984 and 1985 seasons established him as one of the best young power pitchers in baseball before substance abuse problems derailed his career prematurely.

Some of the 1986 Topps cards that have appreciated most substantially over the past 35+ years and hold the highest values today are the rookies of future superstars Ken Griffey Jr. and Roger Clemens. High-grade samples of their iconic rookie cards can each sell for over $15,000-$25,000 now. Other enormously valuable 1986 Topps cards feature childhood heroes like Barry Bonds, positional legends like Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Don Mattingly, and young phenoms like Dwight Gooden. Their on-field accomplishments, Hall of Fame careers, and the simple rarity to pack such a valuable trading card in the 1980s all contribute to the substantial prices that top 1986 Topps cards can command in the present-day collecting market.


The 1986 baseball card market is an interesting one to analyze in terms of potential value and demand. Cards from the mid-1980s era can often still hold value with collectors depending on the player, team, and specific card factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the dynamics around 1986 baseball cards.

To start, 1986 was not considered one of the true high point years for baseball card production and release of premium rookies or talents that would drive long term collector demand. That isn’t to say there are no valuable cards to be found from sets released that year. Some notable rookies that debuted in 1986 include Cory Snyder, Bret Saberhagen, Eddie Zosky, and Darrin Jackson. While none became true superstars, some hold modest value today particularly in high grade.

In terms of the major card manufacturers and releases that year, Topps dominated the baseball card market as they had for decades. The main flagship Topps set contained 792 total cards as was typical for their annual releases in the mid-80s. The design was not one collectors today drool over but production numbers were high making most commons relatively affordable even in top condition. Upper deck also released starting in 1987 but 1986 was still solely a Topps year in terms of major producers.

Taking a look at specific rookies and stars that could carry premium value today, Bret Saberhagen stands out as one of the top prospects. Saberhagen went on to have a solid career including two Cy Young awards. His Topps rookie card remains one of the key 1986 cards to watch for. In near mint to mint condition, examples can still reach prices up to $100 or more depending on supply and demand.

Other players like Reggie Jackson and Wade Boggs also appear prominently in the 1986 Topps set as veteran stars. High graded copies of their base cards could appeal to team and player collectors for $20-50 range. Rookie cards for players like New York Mets pitcher Rick Aguilera also hold appeal but more in the $10-25 range today. So while no true superstars, there are still multiple cards from 1986 that can return value if preserved in high quality.

When it comes to factors that influence 1986 card prices, the most important is the individual player and their career arcs. Did they become a Hall of Famer or multiple time All-Star? Cards of flameouts typically fare poorer over the decades. Condition is also huge, with near mint to mint copies (Graded 8+ on the 10 point scale) bringing much more than worn lower grade examples in most cases. The set and specific card number can also be important to completionists for full sets.

While 1986 may not stand out as hugely valuable year across the board, dedicated baseball card collectors know there are still diamonds in the rough to be unearthed. Keys like the Bret Saberhagen and other star rookie cards could certainly be worth looking out for in collections. For common players, even graded examples may only bring $5-10 today. But for the right big name rookies or veterans, 1986 plastic can still carry appreciable value depending on the factors examined. Overall it remains an era with cards that dedicated collectors enjoy and are worth reviewing the full checklist against today’s markets.

1986 baseball cards do still have potential value and worth reviewing depending on the exact cards and their condition. While not always huge money individual like in peak 1980s years, key rookies from stars of the era and well-preserved examples of veteran stars can still appeal. For collectors of particular players, teams or just completionists of the entire 1986 sets, they scratch nostalgia itches that give the cards intrinsic worth beyond mere price tags as well. Across shorter turnarounds today, cards from the mid-80s also still have opportunities to shine for value where properly preserved and paired with the right buyer demand.


The 1986 Topps baseball card set is well-known to collectors and considered one of the more valuable sets from the 1980s. There are several factors that contribute to cards from this vintage holding value today, over 35 years later.

One of the biggest stars of the 1986 season was Roger Clemens, who had a breakout season for the Boston Red Sox winning the AL Cy Young Award. His rookie card from the 1986 Topps set is one of the most desirable cards from that year. In near mint to mint condition, Clemens’ rookie currently sells for $100-300. Another star rookie that year was Barry Bonds for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In top condition his rookie fetches $75-200. Both Clemens and Bonds went on to have Hall of Fame careers raising interest in their rookie cards.

The 1986 set is also known for featuring player photos with solid blue or gray backgrounds as opposed to the more colourful and action shot style Topps moved to in later years. This simpler photographic style can appeal more to collectors. The set also marks the last year that Topps had the exclusive Major League Baseball license before Score entered the market in 1987 introducing more competition. This is the final “true” flagship Topps set with licensing from just one maker.

Beyond the star rookies, there are several other players spread throughout the set that can hold significant value depending on condition and completeness of the card. Future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs’ card can sell for $15-40. Other stars like Don Mattingly, Kirby Puckett, Rickey Henderson, and Dennis Eckersley from championship Boston Red Sox and World Series teams in the mid 80s range from $5-25 per card. Supporting players from those teams will still attract collectors but for lower value, usually $1-10 each depending on condition.

The set has 525 total cards as was typical in the 1980s. TheFLAGSHIP flagship Topps brand and classic design make completed (or near-completed) 1986 Topps sets quite desirable. A fully intact set in near mint to mint condition can reach $1,500-3,000 US depending on buyer demand and availability. Even in well-loved condition a completed set still holds value around $800-1,200 showing this set has maintained solid Collector interest. For investors, sealed and unopened 1986 Topps factory sets have seen greater returns. A fresh, unwiped wax box can brinng upwards of $5,000 today from serious vintage collectors.

When it comes to individual cards, condition is king for determining value just like any collectible card. The scarcer the card and higher the grade, the more desirable and valuable it becomes over time. For example, a 1986 Topps Barry Bonds rookie in PSA/BGS Gem Mint 10 condition could reach $2,000-3,000 today. While a common player’s base card in battered condition may only be worth a dollar at most. It’s also worth noting pop culture and nostalgia can impact demand. The 1986 Topps set was released when many current adult collectors were children. This childhood connection increases enthusiasm and willingness to pay more.

Due to star rookies, iconic designs, limited competition and nostalgia the 1986 Topps baseball card set endures as a strong vintage investment over 35 years later. Whether in complete or partial sets, individual star cards, or even sealed factory boxes – condition is vital but 1986 Topps maintains solid collector interest and returns particularly when high quality examples surface. While masses of common cards hold little value, the combination of stars, history and emotional nostalgia ensure this set from the 1980s golden era stays relevant and valuable for dedicated collectors.


The 1986 Topps baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic and valuable sets from the 1980s. While most common cards from the set hold nominal value, there are several standout rookie and star player cards that can be quite valuable depending on the grade and condition. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top cards from the ’86 Topps set that collectors closely watch and that often fetch substantial prices at auction.

One of the most sought-after rookie cards from any year is the Roger Clemens card. Clemens burst onto the scene in 1986 and went on to become one of the greatest pitchers of all time, winning 7 Cy Young awards. His rookie card, especially in high grades, is incredibly valuable. In a PSA 10 gem mint condition, it has sold for over $20,000 before. Even in lower grades of PSA 8 or 9, it still commonly sells for thousands. Given his pitching dominance and longevity of career, the Clemens rookie is always in high demand.

Another hugely valuable rookie is Greg Maddux. Like Clemens, Maddux went on to have a Hall of Fame Career pitching for over two decades. His ’86 Topps rookie in a PSA 10 has also cracked the $20K mark before. Lower graded versions still attract bids in the multiple thousands. Both Clemens and Maddux established themselves as ace pitchers right away, making their rookie cards especially sought after.

In addition to star rookie cards, the ’86 set features the iconic returning cards of all-time legends already in their primes. The Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, and Don Mattingly cards regularly sell for thousands when high graded. Schmidt’s career was winding down in 1986 but he was still arguably the best third baseman ever. A PSA 10 Schmidt could pull in over $5,000. Ozzie Smith’s 1985 and 1986 Topps cards are two of the most coveted Wizard cards for collectors. His ’86 in a PSA 10 has reached $4,000 before. Mattingly’s 1985 and 1986 Topps cards defined his early career playing for the Yankees and are icons of the era.

The set also features one of the most legendary baseball cards ever printed – the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Griffey was among the most anticipated prospects ever and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. High graded examples of his rookie in a Griffey Jr. jersey have sold for astronomical sums. One PSA 10 example was part of a sale that reached $3.12 million back in 2016, making it the most valuable baseball card ever sold at that point. Even in lower grades, it still fetches thousands due to Griffey’s all-time status.

While the star cards demand premium prices, there are also numerous high quality common players in the set that dedicated collectors seek out to complete their sets. Having even an entire common set in high grades makes it quite valuable. Examples of popular commons include Don Baylor, Wade Boggs, Tim Raines, Fernando Valenzuela, and others from that era. Even those cards have attracted hundreds when presenting immaculately in higher PSA grades.

Of course, the true value of any individual 1986 Topps card depends on several factors – the particular player, the player’s career accomplishments relative to expectations at that time, the card’s state of preservation as measured by professional grading companies, and market demand influenced by the collecting population’s tastes. But in summary – whether its a Clemens, Maddux, or Griffey Jr. rookie, or iconic returning stars like Schmidt, Smith, and Mattingly, or even pristine common players – savvy collectors know that the 1986 Topps baseball set features many cards that can gain significant worth, especially in top grades. It remains one of the cornerstone collections for enthusiasts of the hobby.

While the average 1986 Topps baseball card may hold limited financial value today, the set contains several true gems that are coveted by serious collectors and have proven to attract substantial prices at auction based on the accomplishments and enduring popularity of players like Clemens, Maddux, Griffey Jr., Schmidt, and others featured prominently in the set. For knowledgeable investors and those pursuing certain key pieces to highlight their collections, yes – many 1986 Topps cards truly are worth something.


The 1986 Topps baseball card set is considered one of the most valuable vintage sets from the 1980s. While it does not contain any cards that rival the sky-high prices of iconic rookie cards from the 1950s and 1960s, there are several standout cards from the ’86 Topps set that can be quite valuable, especially in top graded condition.

One of the headlining rookies from the ’86 set is Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Bell. As the 1985 American League MVP, Bell’s rookie card is one of the most sought after cards from the year. High-grade versions of the Bell rookie have sold for thousands in recent years. Another key rookie is New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. As one of the biggest pitching prospects ever, Gooden’s rookie exploded in value in the late 80s and early 90s during his dominance on the mound. Pristine copies have reached over $10,000.

Beyond the rookie cards, standout stars from the 1980s also have cards in the ’86 set that hold value. One of the most iconic is Chicago Cubs ace Rick Sutcliffe, pictured pitching on the front of the base card. Highly sought after by Cubs fans, mint Sutcliffe cards can fetch a few hundred dollars. Kansas City Royals star George Brett also has a card from his playing days that is popular with collectors from that organization. Graded mint copies of Brett’s ’86 card sell for $100-200.

Two other superstar cards that command big prices are New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti and Oakland A’s slugger Jose Canseco. Righetti’s card shows him windmilling during one of his dominant relief appearances. Canseco’s breakout 1985 season made him one of the first true “five-tool” players of the modern steroid era. Their cards consistently sell in the $75-150 range when in near perfect condition.

Another area that can yield valuable returns is finding star players’ cards from their breakout rookie or early career seasons captured in the ’86 set before they became household names. San Diego Padres third baseman Gary Sheffield had his career year in 1986 and his card reflects his promise before future All-Star seasons. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning won 20 games in 1986 as well. Finding high-grade versions of these before they broke out can net $50-100+.

While not all 1986 Topps cards will make you rich, there is clearly growth potential contained within the set when it comes to keys like the Bell and Gooden rookies as well as stars like Brett, Righetti, and Canseco. With over 600 players featured across the 792 total cards, savvy collectors can still find relative bargains by targeting emerging young talent or franchise favorites poised to increase over the long run. When combined with the 1980s nostalgia factor, choice ’86 Topps pieces certified in pristine condition means this set remains an intriguing investment option for vintage baseball card collectors.

While the 1986 Topps set may not contain modern-era record prices seen for iconic 1950s rookie cards, there are still several valuable gems to be found within the set. Rookies like George Bell and Dwight Gooden along with star players like George Brett, Dave Righetti, and Jose Canseco make up the headlining expensive cards. But savvy collectors can also find diamonds in the rough by targeting players on the verge of stardom whose values increase as their careers progressed. The ’86 Topps set remains a foundational part of the vintage collecting scene worth exploring for valuable pieces.

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The 1986 Topps baseball card set is considered a key mid-1980s vintage set in the hobby. It marked several important milestones and featured some of the game’s biggest stars and rookie cards from that era. With 792 total cards in the base set, obtaining a 100% complete set with all the cards in near mint to mint condition would certainly be a prized possession for any serious baseball card collector.

To determine the monetary worth of such a set, there are a few important factors to consider. First is the condition and grade of the individual cards. The cards would need to be professionally graded by a reputable service like PSA or BGS to properly ascertain their condition on the established 1-10 grading scale. Cards in pristine mint condition of 9-10 would be most valuable, while well-worn cards in poor condition at the lower end of the scale from 1-3 would have minimal value.

Another key aspect is the scarcity of particular chase cards, rookies, and stars within the set. The 1986 Topps set saw the rookie cards of future Hall of Famers like Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. It also featured established superstars of that era like Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, and Ozzie Smith. Cards of this caliber in top condition can carry premium prices. Less common errors, variations, and parallels from the set also hold substantial appeal to completionist collectors.

Looking at recent sales data and auction prices for individual 1986 Topps cards in top grades, some key standouts that show the potential ceiling include a PSA 10 Greg Maddux rookie card selling for over $12,000, a PSA 10 Barry Bonds rookie fetching close to $9,000, and a PSA 10 Tom Glavine rookie reaching $5,000. Even common superstar cards have sold for hundreds in pristine condition. The bulk of the base cards outside the most desirable rookies and stars would likely hold values in the range from $5 up to $50 or more per card depending on the player and grade.

Considering all of these variables, a realistic estimate for a complete set with an average grade of EX-MT 8 across the board could garner $15,000 to $20,000 on today’s market. A full set with all PSA 10 gems could potentially reach the $30,000+ range given the premium associated with true mint condition and completeness. The ceiling would be uncertain, as a one-of-a-kind perfect specimen could sell for many times that amount to the right collector bidding against other serious, deep pocketed competitors.

Acquiring a full 1986 Topps baseball card set in pristine near-mint to mint condition intact would be an immensely desirable find for any collector. With the milestone rookie classes, star power, and lasting nostalgia of 1980s cardboard, such an untouched treasure intact for 36 years could earn anywhere from $15,000 up to theoretically over $30,000 based on details of the grade average and which iconic cards stand out. Of course, a true untapped 100% census complete PSA 10 dream set would likely surpass any presupposed value. In the rarified air of complete, high-grade vintage collection, the scarcity and condition determines the potential worth.


The 1986 Topps set focused on highlighting players and teams from the 1985 Major League Baseball season. It was the 65th annual Topps baseball card produced and sold at retail stores across the United States and Canada. The main set contained portraits of players from all 26 Major League Baseball teams at the time.

The breakdown of cards in the main 1986 Topps set is as follows:

660 cards featuring individual player portraits from both the American League and National League. This included current MLB players as well as a few retired players and managers who were featured in “Topps All-Time Fan Favorites” subset.

24 team cards highlighting each of the 26 MLB teams with the starting lineup and short summary of their previous season performance.

16 variations cards highlighting different player accomplishments from 1985 such as All-Star selections, Gold Glove awards,Cy Young awards, and Rookie of the Year honors.

16 short printed Bobblehead cards that were inserted much less frequently than the standard player and team cards. These featured photos of bobblehead dolls recreating the portrait images of star players like Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, and Dwight Gooden.

20 World Series highlight cards summarizing key moments and players from the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals.

16 League Leader Statistics cards listing the top performers in various hitting and pitching categories from the 1985 season.

16 manager cards highlighting all 26 big league skippers, including Johnny Oates who was new to managing the Texas Rangers in 1986.

24 puzzle cards that when arranged correctly revealed hidden baseball-related images. Collecting all 24 puzzle pieces and solving the puzzle was a challenge for many young collectors.

In addition to the main 744 card base set, Topps included 48 rookie/prospect bonus cards as promotional inserts accessible by mailing in proofs of purchase from Topps wax packaging. Rated rookie talent like Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin, and Lenny Dykstra were some of the future stars featured in these oversized bonus cards.

The 1986 Topps set maintained the traditional vertical “bowl” design that Topps had utilized for several prior seasons. With vivid team colors and crisp action photography on every card, the 1986 edition was one of the most visually appealing designs of the 1980s.

Card quality seemed to improve compared to issues in some mid-1980s Topps sets with more solid construction and brighter colors that secured cards inside those ubiquitous green-backed waxy wrappers. The rise of multiple sports card manufacturers in the late 1980s would soon present new competitive challenges for Topps but they remained the undisputed MLB card market leader for 1986.

The 1986 set became a very popular release amongst collectors both young and old. While star players like Gooden, Mattingly, and Boggs began ascending commodity statuses, younger enthusiasts cut their teeth on completing this 792-piece puzzle by trading, purchasing, or sorting through countless penny packs, quarter boxes and dollar repacks. Regional variations seen in some earlier Topps issues were scarce in 1986, making for a largely uniform national checklist.

Over the ensuing decades, the 1986 Topps baseball release has maintained its nostalgic appeal. Complete 792-card sets remain highly coveted by vintage collectors while individual key rookie and star player cards retained strong residual values in the vibrant trading card marketplace. The detail-rich designs, statistical highlights and visual documentation of 1980s MLB have cemented the 1986 Topps baseball issue as one of the most fondly remembered and frequently researched sets in the hobby’s history books.

The 1986 Topps baseball card set was the pinnacle vintage release that shaped many childhood summers with its engaging checklists, sharp photography and timeless documentation of players and performances from a stellar MLB season in 1985. Completing this 792-card puzzling journey has offered collectors of all ages enduring memories and appreciated intrinsic values that spans generations.


The 1986 Topps baseball card set is considered one of the most valuable sets from the 1980s. While most commons from the set hold little value, there are several standout rookie cards and Hall of Famer cards that can be quite valuable, depending on the player and the card’s condition. Here are some of the top 1986 Topps baseball cards that are worth pursuing:

Roger Clemens Rookie Card (#181): Clemens’ rookie is arguably the most valuable card from the ’86 set. Fresh off winning the AL Cy Young Award in 1986, Clemens was already dominating baseball. In near mint condition, this iconic rookie card can fetch $1,000-$2,000. Higher grades like mint 9 can sell for $3,000+.

Greg Maddux Rookie Card (#500): Maddux burst onto the scene in 1986 and would go on to have one of the greatest pitching careers ever. His Topps rookie in near mint is worth $300-$500 but can reach $1,000+ in mint condition or higher. The fact it’s numbered to 500 also adds significance.

Tom Glavine Rookie Card (#584): Another Hall of Fame hurler, Glavine debuted in 1986 and would go on to amass over 300 wins. High-grade copies of his rookie are quite scarce, with mint 9s selling for $500-800 depending on market conditions.

Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#112): While Junior’s rookie debuted in 1989 Upper Deck, the 1986 Topps set contains Griffey’s earliest card. His sophomore season in the majors showed him developing into a five-tool star. Near mint copies sell for $150-300 generally.

Roberto Alomar Rookie Card (#650): Alomar would go on to have a Hall of Fame career primarily with the Blue Jays and Indians in the 1990s. His ’86 Topps rookie in gem mint 10 condition has sold for over $1,000, so high grades hold great value.

Barry Larkin Rookie Card (#628): Larkin was just starting to break out in 1986 for the Reds. The shortstop would go on to win an MVP award and get inducted into Cooperstown. His rookie has sold for $400-600 in NM-MT condition.

Mark McGwire Rookie Card (#256): Big Mac was still early in his career in ’86 but showed his tremendous power. Near mint copies of this future home run king’s first card sell for $75-150. Higher grades bring more.

Frank Thomas Rookie Card (#416): The Big Hurt’s debut came in 1986 as he started showing why he’d eventually win back-to-back AL MVPs. Near mint copies can sell for $50-100 depending on the market.

Kirby Puckett Rookie Card (#650): The beloved Puckett was still developing in his second MLB season. Moderately played rookie copies sell for $30-60, with near mint bringing $75-150 based on conditions.

Nolan Ryan Card (#474): While not his true rookie card, this marks one of the Express’ earlier cards as he pitched for the Astros. An iconic power pitcher on any team, near mint ’86 Ryan cards sell for $40-80.

Dwight Gooden Card (#382): Gooden was coming off his historic 1985 ROY/CY Young campaign and still in his prime. Near mint condition copies of his second year card sell for $25-50 typically.

Gary Carter Card (#506): An eight-time All-Star and gold glover at catcher, Carter was with the Mets during their mid-80s resurgence. Near mint Carter cards earn around $20-40 all said.

Ozzie Smith Card (#210): The Wizard was one of the most exciting defensive shortstops ever. High grade copies of this future Hall of Famer’s older cards can demand $15-30 on the market.

High-grade rookie cards and early cards featuring Hall of Famers from the 1986 Topps set are always in demand from collectors. Other factors like specific players’ career success or fame along with the overall condition/grade of a single card will affect its market price level. While most 1986 Topps cards are relatively inexpensive, with patience and a watchful eye deals can still be found on pricier keys from this iconic vintage release. Carefully researching conditions and recent sales is key for anyone pursuing investment-worthy material from the 1986 set.


One of the most valuable baseball card sets from 1986 is the iconic Topps set. This was the 25th regular Topps baseball card series and it featured 792 total cards. Several star players from this era have cards that can fetch a pretty penny today if in good condition. One of the most desired 1986 Topps cards is card number 1, which features Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees on the front. In pristine mint condition, this card can sell for over $1000. Other high value individual cards from the 1986 Topps set include:

Card number 306 featuring Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox. In near mint to mint condition, this card has sold for upwards of $800. Clemens was already establishing himself as one of the game’s elite pitchers in 1986.

Card number 660 featuring Barry Bonds of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Considered one of the finest five-tool players of all-time, even early in his career Bonds’ cards hold value. A mint copy of this rookie card sold at auction in 2021 for $525.

Card number 734 featuring Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs. The perennial All-Star second baseman and 1984 NL MVP had many productive seasons ahead of him in 1986. Near mint and mint copies can sell for $350-400.

Aside from individual star player cards, the 1986 Topps set also holds value depending on the grade and completeness of the entire collection. A full base set of all 792 cards in near mint to mint condition would likely fetch anywhere from $2000-$3000 online or at major card shows and auctions. For collectors looking to invest, acquiring and holding completed sets of flagship sets like 1986 Topps in high grades is a strategy that generally leads to long term appreciation.

Another valuable 1986 issue was the Fleer set. Featuring fewer cards than Topps at just 402 total, the 1986 Fleer cards are highly sought after by collectors today for their iconic cardboard design and photography. Several rookie and star player cards stand out as particularly valuable, including:

Card number 83 featuring Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox. Considered the finest Clemens rookie card due to its dramatic action photography, a pristine mint condition copy recently sold for just under $4000.

Card number 145 featuring Barry Bonds of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Regarded as Bonds’ true rookie card debut, high graded versions can reach $1000-1500.

Card number 332 featuring Mark McGwire of the Oakland A’s. Arguably the biggest physical specimen even as a rookie in 1986, near mint McGwire Fleers have sold for $675.

Much like completing a full 1986 Topps base set, acquiring and holding a pristine full run of the 1986 Fleer set in the highest available condition is looked at as a worthwhile long term investment for seasoned collectors. Well-preserved full sets in the respected NM-MT 7 to 8 grading range could achieve $5,000+ at major auction.

While Topps and Fleer grabbed much of the spotlight in 1986, Donruss also offered its brand of colorful cardboard that year. Featuring the same amount of cards as Fleer at 402 total, the 1986 Donruss Rookie/Traded set carried several highly sought after rookie introductions including:

Rookie card for Hall of Fame inductee Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs. High graded versions in the PSA/BGS 9 range can demand up upwards of $1000 or more on today’s hobby market.

Rookie card for future 500 home run club member Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox. Like Maddux, pristine Frank Thomas rookie Donruss cards in the 9.0 to 9.5 Gem Mint condition spectrum have sold for four figures at major auctions.

Debut card for fan favorite Ozzie Smith of the 1985 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. A complete 1986 Donruss base set featuring Smith, Maddux, and Thomas could achieve $800-1000 if preserved well.

Beyond the flagship brands, many other oddball 1986 issues also hold value today. Examples include the Pacific Crown Collection mini cards which offered many stars in a fun, affordable format. The Pacific Stan Musial mini from 1986 is highly coveted. And for higher end collectors, the rare but iconic Goudey Gum Company reissue set featuring rephotographed cards from the 1930s maintains immense value depending on condition assigned by authorities like PSA.

In summary, 1986 proved to be a banner year for baseball cards with phenomenal young talent stepping onto the scene and established veterans still in their prime. Sets like Topps, Fleer, and Donruss from this period were monumental in introducing future Hall of Famers. Over thirty years later, condition sensitive gems and complete sets from 1986 consistently attract collectors’ wildest bids. For investors or those simply wishing to hold onto a tangible piece of baseball memorabilia, high quality 1986s remain a smart addition to any collection.


The 1986 Topps Mark McGwire rookie card is one of the most desirable rookie cards from the 1980s. As the first widespread glimpse of McGwire’s prodigious power, his rookie card gained value as he cemented his status as one of the game’s all-time great sluggers. In near-mint to mint condition, the 1986 McGwire rookie card can fetch thousands of dollars. For a PSA 10 gem mint example, collectors are willing to pay upwards of $10,000 nowadays.

Another very valuable 1986 rookie card is that of future Hall of Famer Barry Bonds from the 1986 Topps set. Even before Bonds broke the career home run record, his rookie card was in high demand due to his five MVP awards and status as one of the greatest players ever. A PSA 10 of his rookie card is valued at over $3,000 in today’s market. Slightly played copies can still sell for $500 or more.

The 1986 Fleer Update Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card stands out as one of the most iconic of the entire decade. Ripken’s historic consecutive games played streak only added to the allure of his rookie card over time. Near-mint BGS or PSA 8 copies can sell for $800-$1,000, while a PSA 10 gem is worth at least $2,500. The 1986 Fleer Cal Ripken is just as coveted and carries similar values depending on condition.

Another top 1986 rookie is that of future 300-game winner Greg Maddux from the 1986 Donruss set. As one of the greatest pitchers ever with a career ERA+ of 132, Maddux’s rookie card remains a highly sought after piece. In near-mint to mint condition, it can sell for $300-$500. A BGS or PSA 10 grades out around $1,000 today.

Continuing withHall of Fame inductees, the 1986 Fleer rookie card of Tom Glavine is gaining value every year. Glavine won 305 games and two Cy Young awards over a stellar career. His rookie card is worth $200-300 in NM-MT condition, while a PSA 10 could possibly fetch over $800.

Two all-time slugger rookie cards from 1986 deserve mentioning – Mark Teixeira’s ’86 Donruss and Bobby Abreu’s ’86 Phillies Team Issue. Teixeira clubbed over 400 home runs while Abreu was a consistent .300 hitter and stolen base threat for nearly two decades. Their rookies have appreciated up to $150-250 each in top grades.

Lastly, while he didn’t have the career expected of him, Ben McDonald’s 1986 Topps rookie card holds value due to his status as a former #1 overall draft pick out of LSU. High graded versions can sell for $100-200 based on demand from Tigers and Orioles collectors alike.

In terms of stars who were not rookies in 1986 but have valuable cards from that year, two stand out – Ryne Sandberg and Roger Clemens. Sandberg’s production and ’86 Fleer Update card made him extremely popular during the junk wax era. High grade copies sell for $70-150 each. Meanwhile, Clemens’ dominance as arguably the best pitcher of the late 80s translated to strong demand for his ‘86 cards. A PSA 10 Fleer Update is valued at $350-450.

Beyond the players mentioned, there are several other key 1986 cards that gather interest based on the career accomplishments of their subjects after the fact. It’s always recommended to research population reports and recent sale comps for any highly rated ’86 card you may have, as condition is critical to their value. While most mid-graded ’86s have little monetary worth, there are still quite a few players whose rookie or star issue cards from that year can sell for hundreds if maintained in top condition like those outlined above.

While 1986 was considered the peak of the “junk wax” era with huge print runs that crushed values of many common cards issued that year, there still remain quite a few rookie cards and star player cards that have maintained or increased in worth decades later. This is due to the Hall of Fame careers, iconic status, and continuing collector demand surrounding select players like McGwire, Ripken, Maddux, Glavine, Bonds and others who have 1985-86 Topps, Donruss, Fleer and Score cards that can be quite valuable, especially when high grade. Reputable authentication and grading is integral to maximizing the resale price potential for these high-end ’86 cardboard collectibles from baseball’s past.