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.