Tag Archives: large


Topps baseball cards are considered by most collectors to be the most iconic and recognizable brand in the hobby. While their standard size cards from the 1950s onward receive the bulk of attention from enthusiasts, Topps also produced several runs of much larger cards during the late 1960s and early 1970s that have developed a passionate following amongst a dedicated subset of collectors. These oversized cards, sometimes referred to as “giants” due to their much larger dimensions compared to a standard card, showcased vivid full color images of players and provided more detailed statistics and biographical information.

The first true large size Topps baseball cards were issued in 1968. Dubbed the “Photograph Series”, these cards were significantly larger than the standard 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ size Topps used at the time. The 1968 Photograph cards measured approximately 3 3/4″ x 5 1/2″, offering roughly double the surface area for imagery and text compared to regular issues. All players included were depicted with large headshot style photographs in full color on the front. Biographical data and career stats occupied the back of the card. Although numbering was sparse and inconsistent across the different subsets, the 1968 Photograph set is believed to have contained approximately 120 total cards.

Despite their inflated dimensions and photo centric design, the 1968 Topps Photograph series saw limited distribution and production. Many speculate this was due to the challenge of fitting the abnormally sized cards into traditional wax packaging and card boxes. The large cards were also more costly to produce which may have dissuaded a wider release. As a result, 1968 Photographs have grown to become one of the more difficult and valuable vintage Topps issues to collect in top grade. Near mint examples in recognized star players routinely sell for hundreds of dollars or more today.

Encouraged by the novelty and popularity of the oversized 1968 Photographs, Topps revisited the large card concept with several additional series in subsequent years. In 1969 they issued the “Poster” set which maintained the same basic 3 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ dimensions but with a different graphic presentation focused more on action photography rather than headshots. Numbers jumped up significantly with the 1969 Posters containing around 350 total cards across different subsets. Distribution was also improved by packaging the posters in sealed cello bags instead of traditional wax packs.

Perhaps the most iconic of Topps’ large size baseball efforts were their 1970 and 1971 issues described as “Giant” cards on the packaging. These expanded the format even further to colossal measurements of 4 1/4″ x 6 1/4″ – giving each single card an extraordinary footprint larger than a standard postcard. Striking full color action photography again took center stage on the fronts surrounded by a thin white border. Stat tables and bios occupied both the back and a small portion of the fronts below the images. Numbering ranged between 350-450 individual cards across the 1970 and 1971 Giant sets combined.

While still limited in circulation compared to their standard issues, the giant 1970 and 1971 Topps cards saw much wider availability than the earlier large photograph and poster experiments thanks to their inclusion in special vending machines designed for their oversized dimensions. These vending machines, found mostly in candy and hobby shops, marketed the opportunity to obtain “giant baseball cards” for a quarter through a gumball style mechanism. The novelty and excitement of acquiring the mammoth cards from vending machines undoubtedly helped drive interest and sales during their original release.

Despite the inherent appeal of huge colorful baseball cards for young collectors, the economic realities of the early 1970s brought Topps’ giant card production to an end after 1971. Inflation, rising production costs, and the overall decline of the baseball card market led Topps away from further mega-sized card releases. While short lived, the 1960s-early 1970s large sized photo and giant card series from Topps have gained an enthusiastic cult following with the passing of time. Many modern collectors seek out original examples to showcase and admire the awe-inspiring photography and graphics afforded by their enlarged scale. Near complete high grade original sets can sell for several thousands of dollars given their status as some of the most visually impressive vintage trading cards ever produced.

While rare and highly valued in their original forms, the landmark Topps large photo and giant cards of the 1960s-70s have also seen notable resurgence in recent years through premier reprint efforts. In 2007, Heritage Auctions produced a limited reprint run of the entire 1968 Topps Photograph set which allowed a new generation of enthusiasts an affordable means to experience the historic oversized classic designs. Building off renewed interest in the 1970-71 Giants, Leaf Brands released an upscale high end limited numbering reprint series of both under the Leaf Greatest Moments brand in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Featuring all the original photographs and stats replicated on thicker cardstock with modern color vibrancy, the Leaf Giants reprints paid homage while breathing new collector life into the hallowed Topps original giants of the past.

While the standard size sets will likely remain the most widely collected Topps baseball issues in the long run, the short runs of oversized large photo and giant cards produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s stand as singularly unique efforts that pushed creative boundaries and size limitations. For those willing to search hard and pay top dollar, original examples from the 1968 Photograph, 1969 Poster, and especially the beloved 1970-71 Giant series provide a true sense of the visual impact and spectacle Topps aimed to achieve through maximizing card dimensions of the era. Their allure and rarity continue growing stronger with nostalgia as reminders of when baseball cards were allowed to become simply enormous.


The 1970 Topps baseball card set is considered by many collectors to be one of the greatest and most desirable issues of all time. The 1970 set marked the final year that Topps produced their standard size baseball cards, shifting to a smaller size starting in 1971. As a result, the 1970s remain the last large format baseball cards produced. With 792 total cards in the set, the 1970 issue featured many iconic players and exciting rookie cards that have stood the test of time.

Released in the spring of 1970, the design and photography of the cards retained Topps’ classic stylings of the late 1960s. The front of each card depicted the player photographed from the waist up, with the team name running across the top and the player’s name and position below. Statistics from the previous season were included on the reverse. As was common for the era, photo variations existed throughout the set, with Topps using multiple posed shots and action shots of players. Several variations within the photo itself or the cropping have led to different designated “photo types” among collectors.

One of the biggest storylines of the 1970 season was the Oakland A’s “Swingin’ A’s” dynasty, which dominated baseball behind future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, and Vida Blue. Their cards are highly coveted by collectors interested in their on-field achievements. Future Hall of Fame inductees featured prominently throughout the set including Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente in what would be the last card issued of the Pirates’ legend before his tragic death in a plane crash.

While stars of the day dominate the high-dollar cards from the 1970 set, it is the rookie cards that excite collectors the most. Future Hall of Famer George Brett’s first card can be found amongst the Kansas City Royals portion of the set. Other notable rookie cards include Ted Simmons, Tom Seaver, Dave McNally, Phil Niekro, and Thurman Munson. One rookie stands above the rest – Nolan Ryan, then a member of the New York Mets. Ryan’s imposing photo and blazing fastball captured collector imaginations even in 1970. In pristine condition, a Ryan rookie now regularly exceeds $25,000 and sets record prices when graded and preserved perfectly.

Condition plays a huge role in the value of any vintage sports card, and the 1970s provide several challenges. The size of the cards made them less durable than modern, smaller issues. Creases, folds, corners wear were inevitable during their years of existence. Gum stains on the reverse were also common after sticking to magazine racks or vending machines as kids collected them. Toploading, sleeves, and careful storage help preserve the fragile cardboard over decades. Graded gem mint examples fetch the greatest sums, while well-loved copies can still hold value for collectors enjoying the nostalgia.

In the early days of the hobby, complete sets were easier for collectors to assemble by trading or buying wax packs. With values rising dramatically in the 1990s collector boom, attaining a high-grade 1970 set became unrealistic for most people. Singles and small team/player lots saw the biggest increases. Top-tier vintage products graded gem mint 10s now command astronomical sums. A PSA 10 graded example of the aforementioned George Brett rookie became the highest price ever paid for a baseball card when it was purchased for $2.9 million in 2016.

Clearly, the 1970 Topps baseball card set remains one of collecting’s most iconic issues. Featuring the final large format cards, iconic stars, and memorable rookie cards, it bridges baseball card eras like no other. While high-dollar examples are reserved for the deepest pocketed investors today, 1970s still hold intrinsic value for casual collectors enjoying their connection to the nostalgia and history of the time. Condition is critical, but even well-loved examples continue to be appreciated by fans and collectors alike. The 1970 Topps cards have cemented their legacy as one of the hobby’s blue-chip investments after 50 years in the market.


Baseball lineup cards have long been used by managers and coaches to communicate their starting lineups to umpires, scorers, and sometimes even fans. As bullpens and benches have expanded in modern baseball, the standard lineup card sized at 3×5 inches just doesn’t always cut it anymore. Some forward-thinking managers have taken to using expanded, more detailed lineup cards to share richer information with their staff.

A prime example is Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash. Known for his innovative approaches and meticulous advance scouting, Cash frequently utilizes oversized 11×17 inch lineup cards jam packed with stats, matchups, and notes. “There’s just so much data available nowadays that I like having at my fingertips during games,” says Cash. “The large card format allows me to include pitching charts, heat maps, platoon splits, and more without having to constantly refer to my binder or iPad in high-pressure situations.”

Cash’s enlarged cards contain the standard batting order and defensive positioning, but then branch out from there. He includes season-long and last 15 game stats for both starters and key bench players. Cash also lists hot/cold zones and weaknesses for opposing hitters, such as how they fare against certain pitch types or when trailing in counts. On the pitching side, he maps out the expected starter and relief options along with their pitch mixes, spin rates, and recent velo trends.

Color-coded scouting reports for each positional matchup are another staple of Cash’s oversized cards. He may note that a certain lefty slugger tends to pull inside fastballs or that a weak-hitting shortstop frequently chops breaking pitches to the right side. This extra context regarding tendencies and scouting intelligence is valuable for Cash to reference between half-innings when making small strategic moves like alignments, intentional walks, and pitching changes.

Other managers borrowing this large lineup card approach include Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants and Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox. Kapler packs in align charts, heat maps, and spray charts to identify leverage situations for platoons or shifts. Cora takes it a step further by sometimes including predictive statistical projections for individual at-bats based on the matchup, count, and game state.

While detailed lineup cards remain on the cutting edge for now, their prevalence is likely to increase as front offices continue valuing abundant scouting information at the manager’s fingertips. Younger skippers who came up in an increasingly analytical game such as Cash, Kapler and Cora set the standard, but even old school veterans can see the value. Large cards condense pregame preparation and in-game resource accessibility into a single useful tool.

As stadium video boards and broadcasts get sharper, some experts argue lineup card images may start appearing to interested fans as well. Viewers could glimpse the scouting intelligence and strategy behind matchups in real-time. Others note privacy and competitive advantage concerns there. For now, the big boards stay behind closed doors, exclusively for managers to consult in high-leverage decisions.

While dugouts don’t always have space for unfolded broadsheets, visitors’ clubhouses present the opportunity. There, managers can lay out extensive pregame plans on a large table with their entire staff gathered around. Coaches provide input, players can see the thorough scouting of opponents, and everyone gains comfort knowing all available information supported each move. Then when game time hits, the enlarged card folds down small enough for the top step where in-game choices receive similar collaborative support.

As analytics permeate deeper into modern MLB, visually consolidated scouting intelligence becomes increasingly valuable to decision makers in real time. Perhaps one day soon, enormous 32×48 inch Interactive Touch Screen lineup cards could be the standard. Until then, innovative managers will continue finding ways to squeeze abundant useful data onto ever more enlarged cards that give their teams competitive edges through maximum information accessibility. The large lineup card revolution has only just begun.


While the standard baseball card has always measured about 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches throughout its lengthy history, there have also been larger baseball cards produced that are considered oversized or jumbo compared to the familiar size found in packs. These larger formats have come in various shapes and sizes over the decades and have typically been premium items aimed at collectors looking for something outside the norm.

Some of the earliest examples of large baseball cards date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s when tobacco companies would occasionally insert bigger lithographed cards as promotional items in cigars and cigarettes. Measuring around 5 inches tall, these extra large cards showcased popular players of the day in colorful designs. In the 1950s, Topps began experimenting with larger photographic cards called “Widevision” that were twice the width of a standard card at over 7 inches wide, though still the usual height.

The 1970s marked a boom in larger baseball card production as companies tried various innovations to attract collectors. Topps issued ” giants” in 1972 that measured 6 1/2 inches by 8 inches, showcasing full body shots of players. Around the same time, the lesser known Mammoth Cards brand produced cardboard cards reaching 10 inches tall featuring current stars. MLM also entered the scene with various oversized issues Photofacts and Team-Ups that were slightly taller than standard size.

In 1984, Topps raised the bar by introducing their largest flagship set yet with 7 1/2 inch by 11 inch “Super Baseball” cards that provided an incredibly large canvas for detailed action photos and statistics. This set helped spark a craze for even supersized issues that continued well into the 90s amidst the baseball card boom. A notable example was Donruss’ giant “Award Graphics” releases spanning multiple years showcasing retired legends in huge die-cut windows reaching 9 inches tall.

SkyBox branched out by marketing giant slab cards encased in thick plastic measuring 11 inches by 14 inches for standout rookie cards of rising stars such as Griffey Jr. and Piazza in the early 90s. Collector demand also led to tremendous “oddball” issues from short-lived companies like Photon and Pinnacle that cut genuinely oversized cards without standard dimensions solely for attention-grabbing novelty. Some experimented with box-style cards exceeding 12 inches tall and 20 inches wide containing hefty stats books on franchise records.

In the late 90s, manufacturers strived to outdo each other by pushing the boundaries of supersize. Providing the ultimate premium product, Topps produced their colossal 13 inch by 20 inch “Tomahawk” set celebrating 60 years of Topps baseball with lavish bronze-colored cards picturing past and present legends. Meanwhile, Upper Deck issued a landmark “Giant” issue in 1998 measuring a gargantuan 18 inches tall with large action shots and player bios for superstar rookies like Jeter and McGwire.

As the industry crashed alongside the baseball memorabilia bubble of the late 90s, large card production cooled off and modern issues have rarely matched the extremity of vintage supersizes. There is still demand for premium oversized items among dedicated collectors. In recent years, companies have issued large commemorative sets such as Topps’ “Tribute” cards stretching 12 inches long to pay homage to retired greats in high-end limited editions. Topps also unveiled their “Soto” project in 2021, producing two massive 24×36 inch framed display cards of budding superstar Juan Soto for true one-of-a-kind collectibles.

While standard size remains most practical for pack chasing and affordability, oversized baseball cards retain an appeal all their own by offering an expansive canvas to appreciate key players and moments on a grand scale. Serving as statement pieces for dedicated fans, these supersized premium offerings maintain significance as embellished tributes capturing legends enshrined in their largest cardboard form. As with any niche collecting segment, dedication and financial commitment separates these huge specimens as unique prized possessions within collections.


The 1971 Topps large baseball card set was one of the most innovative designs in the history of baseball cards. Topps decided to break from their traditional card size that year and switch to a much larger format that was considered jumbo-sized by collectors. The new oversized cards measured 3.5 x 5 inches, which was substantially bigger than the typical 2.5 x 3.5 inches that had been the standard in the industry for years.

Topps felt that a larger card presented an opportunity to showcase more photos and additional design elements compared to their standard size releases. With the larger real estate, they could make the images pop more and incorporate graphic elements that weren’t possible before. While an unusual departure at the time, the 1971 Topps large set is now regarded as one of the coolest and most iconic designs collectors love to this day.

One of the things that made the 1971 Topps large cards stand out so much was the bold colors and graphics used throughout the design. The borders featured a multi-colored striped pattern with yellow, orange, green and blue hues. Inside the border there would be solid blocks of one of those colors with a white outer square highlighting the image window. These bright, contrasting colors really made the cards stand out in a binder or on a dealer’s table compared to more drably designed sets from other years.

In addition to the striking color scheme, Topps also utilized the extra space to include several additional photos and graphic touches not seen on regular size cards before. Each player’s card contained three separate images – their main posed portrait along with two action shots positioned at the top corners. These gave a more well-rounded visual presentation of each ballplayer compared to only having a lone single image. Topps also included a colored team logo at the very top of each card which helped instantly identify which uniform each player represented.

Another area where the 1971 Topps large cards were groundbreaking was in the statistical information provided on the back of each card. With the bigger real estate, they were able to add two additional stats tables compared to prior years. One showed the player’s career totals through 1970 while the other listed their stats just for the previous season. More detailed data like games played, at bats, hits, home runs and RBIs were crammed into these charts. Checklists, manager cards and league leader cards from the set also contained bonus stats not found on standard sized issues.

While innovative, the oversized 1971 Topps large cards did present some new production challenges that the company had to work through. For starters, the larger cardboard stock required for the bigger cards increased manufacturing costs compared to standard size stock. The enlarged images also pushed photographers to use higher quality cameras with greater resolving power. Finding suitable larger packaging to house and display the jumbo cards in stores also posed logistical problems never faced before.

When first released in early 1971, the reception to Topps’ experiment with larger cards was mixed amongst collectors. Many were put off by the abnormal size which didn’t neatly fit into existing cardboard binders, plastic sheets or album pages like regular issues. The higher 50 cent price point for a pack of five large cards compared to 30 cents for a standard pack also rubbed some the wrong way. Over time though, as the unconventional ’71 Topps grew in popularity, fans began to appreciate their visual upgrade and appeal as uniquely large showcase pieces in a collection.

Today, the 1971 Topps large baseball card set is one of the most sought after vintage issues by collectors. Its oversized cards are great for admiring sharp photos and intricate graphical touches not seen on any other release from that era. Rarity also drives demand, as the larger stock was more prone to damage compared to thinner and more durable standard size cardboard. High grade specimens of stars like Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan in this iconic large format can fetch thousands of dollars despite originally retailing for just pennies a half century ago. The 1971 Topps large cards broke the mold and remain one of the most instantly recognizable and cherished designs in the hobby’s history thanks to taking size and design to the max.

The 1971 Topps large baseball card set was truly ahead of its time in utilizing an oversized card format never been tried before at that scale. While an unusual experiment initially, its innovative graphical design elements, enhanced statistical content and sharp full bleed photos have stood the test of time. The jumbo sized cards broke convention but pushed the creative boundaries of card design and helped define Topps as the undeniable leader in innovative baseball collectibles for decades since. Today, collectors prize these 1971 Topps large cards as superstars in any vintage collection.


The 1970 Topps baseball card set is notable for being the first and only time Topps produced large format cards for their mainstream baseball release. Up until 1970, Topps had utilized a standard size card that measured roughly 2 1⁄2 inches by 3 1⁄2 inches for decades. In 1970 they experimented with a much larger card size in an attempt to compete with the competing Fleer brand which had seen success with its larger cards the prior year.

The 1970 Topps large cards measured an imposing 3 1⁄4 inches by 4 5/8 inches, which was nearly 50% larger than the normal size Topps cards collectors had become accustomed to. While the card stock and design aesthetics stayed similar to previous Topps sets, the enlarged format allowed for bigger photographs and more detailed statistical and biographical information on the back of each card. Rather than conforming to the typical 6 cards per pack found in wax packs since 1956, the 1970 Topps large cards came bundled in 4 card plastic sleeves.

The massively enlarged cards were not an instant hit with collectors. While the bigger photos and stats were appreciated, the non-standard oversized format did not mesh well with how kids displayed and organized their collections in the postwar 1950s-1960s era. Storage space was also now at more of a premium. The higher card count per pack also hurt resale value on the secondary market. Perhaps most damaging, the larger size did little to compete with the successful new Fleer brand which had introduced color photography to baseball cards just a year prior in 1969.

Topps would go back to their regular size cardboard cards starting in 1971. Their experiment with enlarged cards lasted just one year before being deemed a failure. While the 1970 Topps set is not particularly rare on the secondary market due to the high print run, the larger cards remain one of the most unique anomalies in the history of modern baseball cards. Getting a complete set of the mammoth 3 1⁄4 x 4 5/8 inch cards in the original folded paper pack sleeves is a real prize for aficionados of oddball issues.

Though short lived, the 1970 Topps large card format trial run was not without some merits. The expanded real estate allowed for richer production values that advanced the visual storytelling capability of the cardboard collectible. Full body shots rather than bust portraits became more common. Statistics gained more prominence with expanded box scores and game logs on the back. Biographical blurbs provided more fleshed out bios. Color was also upgraded from the drab hues of the late 1960s to brighter, bolder shades that popped off the large card stock.

The oversized format was well suited to showcase the new larger action photos Topps was producing in the early 1970s in an effort to keep pace with Fleer’s photography innovations. Rather than have these dramatic action shots squeezed onto a postage stamp sized card, the 1970 large size allowed them to take full advantage of the increased visual impact big bodied shots afforded. Stars like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Johnny Bench truly came alive in these giant portraits bursting off the big beefy cardboard.

While not a rousing commercial success, the 1970 Topps baseball card large size trial proved the company was willing to take risks and push creative boundaries with their legendary cardboard collectible even after over a decade of dominance. It demonstrated Topps’ desire to keep the hobby fresh and move the industry forward through experimentation. Today, the mammoth 1970s remain an anomalous novelty that baseball card collectors relish for their unconventional departure from orthodoxy amidst Topps’ long rich history of standard issues. Their bizarro nature alone ensures the short lived large card trial run of 1970 maintains a special cult status among oddball enthusiasts half a century later.

While Topps abandoned the large card format after just one year due to lukewarm collector reception, the 1970 experiment holds an interesting place in the evolution of modern baseball cards. It showed Topps willingness to try bold new ideas even when venturing outside their safe standardized norms. The dramatic action photos really popped on the big cards and advanced ToppsStorytelling abilities. Though not a commercial success, the enormity of the 1970 large cards have given them enduring collector fascination as a one-of-a-kind oddity among the company’s legendary six decade run of baseball cardboard.


The 1986 Donruss large baseball cards were hugely popular upon their release and have endured as a favorite amongst collectors decades later. The 1986 set, which featured oversized 3.5 inch by 2.5 inch cards, showcased over 700 players and managers from both the American and National Leagues. Some of the biggest names in baseball at the time like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, and Ozzie Smith had highly collectible rookie and base cards in the 1986 Donruss set that still holds value today.

What made the 1986 Donruss large cards so special was their unique oversized format that allowed for more vivid full color photography on each card compared to typical 2.5 inch by 3.5 inch cards of the era. This larger canvas gave Donruss photographers and graphic designers the space to really make the most of detailed action shots and clear crisp images of players. Backgrounds were more vibrantly colored and uniforms even more distinctly rendered thanks to the additional real estate provided by the jumbo size.

Design-wise, the 1986 Donruss set had a very clean and classic look. A solid white or off-white border enclosed most of each card with just the player’s name, team, and position neatly printed at the bottom in blue or red depending on league. Statistics were kept to a bare minimum with just the basic hitting and pitching stats included. This minimalist approach allowed the focus to remain squarely on the large central photography occupying most of the front of each card.

The photo quality itself from set to set was noticeably better than prior years of Donruss issues as well. Likely due to improved camera technology and film available to Donruss photographers at the time, action shots were less blurry and facial features more sharply defined on the 1986 versions. Colors really popped whether it was vivid green outfield grass or the vibrant hues of different team uniforms highlighted on each card.

Besides superior photo quality, another major reason collectors love the 1986 Donruss baseballs cards is the star power and Hall of Fame talent featured. Rookie cards like Roger Clemens, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire, and Dennis Eckersley made their influential debuts in the set. Meanwhile, established superstars such as Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, and George Brett had some of their best and most iconic baseball cards included too from their playing primes.

In fact, the 1986 Donruss set stands out for showcasing so much talent that would eventually be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame over the coming decades. A who’s who of future inductees like Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, and Dave Winfield had highly collectible cards despite being past their rookie years. Adding to the star power was franchise legends like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Mike Schmidt still starring for their long-time teams at the time as well.

When it came to the lucrative hobby of sports card collecting really taking off in the 1980s, the 1986 Donruss large baseball issue was perfectly timed and positioned to ride that wave. Distribution was wide through retail outlets nationally so finding and opening packs was a fun pastime for kids and adults alike. Even today, the vintage ’86 Donruss set remains a must have for completionists and an integral part of the early modern sports memorabilia boom in terms of iconic cards produced.

Secondary market prices of graded 1986 Donruss gems have increased substantially in recent auctions, a testament to the lasting desirability and collectibility of this historic Topps competitor issue over 35 years later. Flagship rookies like Clemens and Eckersley PSA 10s can fetch thousands. Even commons of career-defining players like Schmidt, Ryan, and Rice in top condition command four-figure sums. The star power, photo innovation, and impeccable condition of high-grade ’86 Donruss cards clearly resonate with vintage collectors to this day.

For the perfect storm of larger sized photography, Hall of Fame players, and the growing sports memorabilia craze they rode, the 1986 Donruss large baseball card set remains one of the true classics of the hobby. Featuring legendary talents, incredible photography for the time period, and a memorable simple design delivered on a then gargantuan 3.5×2.5 inch canvas, Donruss scored big with this release. Over three decades later, cards from the vintage 1986 Donruss collection live on as favorites in portfolios and maintain their relevance as some of the best and most enduring baseball issues ever produced.


The 1985 Donruss large set was the third issue of Donruss’ oversized baseball cards and marked a transition period for the company. Coming off the immense popularity of their 1984 set featuring rookie cards of stars like Mark McGwire and Ozzie Smith, Donruss had cemented itself as a major cardboard manufacturer. Competition was increasing from Topps and Fleer who were both producing modern designs that appealed to collectors.

Donruss had stuck with their multi-color photo front style since returning to the baseball card market in 1981 after a decade-long absence. For 1985, they made the bold choice to mix things up while still keeping their iconic large card format that measured approximately 3.5″ x 5″. The front of the cards now featured almost full bleed action photos with no borders alongside grey borders. Player names were moved below the image in silver script. Overall it had a cleaner, more graphic appearance compared to prior years.

On the back, stats remained the focus but were now organized more logically per position. Additional career stats were also included. Perhaps most notable was the addition of a paragraph of text describing each player. This helped tell their story and provide context beyond just numbers. For a set aimed at kids as well as adults, it was an savvy choice that added value and memorability. It demonstrated Donruss was not standing still and willing to innovate as the industry evolved.

Despite breaking from tradition, Donruss was careful not to lose what made them popular. Fan favorites like the team logo box at the top-left corner of the front and the classic font across the bottom were faithfully carried over. Even the border color themes from 1984 were acknowledged through team-color lettering on the backs. Continuity alongside progress was the recipe.

While the visual and informational upgrades were appreciated, collectors and kids were undoubtedly excited by the star rookies and young phenoms featured in 1985 Donruss. Names like Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Ozzie Guillen, and Jay Howell jumped off the cardboard in their early career glory. More established stars shone as well from Mike Schmidt and Willie Hernandez to Pete Rose and Fernando Valenzuela.

As the ’85 season got underway that summer, many of these featured players lived up to the hype on the field as well. Most memorably, Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Gullickson threw a no-hitter on September 26th against the St. Louis Cardinals. His 1985 Donruss card suddenly gained recognition and value beyond the typical rookie or common parallel. Such real-life performances merging with the hobby gave Donruss collectors thrilling moments of sports fandom intertwined with their cardboard passions that have lasted to this day.

While the updated design attracted many, not all were pleased with Donruss’ changes for 1985. Some nostalgic collectors mourned leaving behind the familiar colorful rainbow borders and multi-position designs of days past. There was also scrutiny around the lower production numbers compared to Donruss’ previous baseball issues as competition ramped up industry-wide. When combined with the hype around star rookies, it made completing the set more elusive and costly than in past years according to the sources available from the cardboard-collecting community of the era.

These downsides hardly diminished the fun, nostalgia, and MLB fandom that 1985 Donruss sparked. Kids eagerly snapped packs at stores and made trades with friends at school and Little League games. Adults meanwhile bought complete sets, boxes, or individual stars on the thriving secondary market found at card shows and collectibles shops. Rivalry with Topps and excitement for the “big” card size kept the brand loyal and engaged through that summer of ’85.

While Donruss only kept their large format through the 1986 season before downsizing, their 1985 edition is still fondly remembered today. It found the right balance of tradition alongside progress and featured some of the biggest star rookies of the decade on its thick cardboard. Now over 35 years later, examples grace the collections of vintage fans and are regularly seen in the vivid colors of youth at online auctions fetching substantial prices. Though short-lived as the company’s flagship, 1985 Donruss remains etched in the memories of baseball card aficionados as an iconic hobby product bridging eras with great photography, statistics, and tales of the timeless summer game. Its innovation continues to inspire contemporary cardboard manufacturers even today.


The 1984 Donruss set is considered one of the most iconic and collectible issues in modern baseball card history. While not the highest print run ever, several factors contributed to its enduring popularity among collectors both serious and casual. Let’s take a closer look at what made these cards special.

Released in 1984 by the Donruss corporation, this was their third year producing baseball cards after beginning in 1982. Prior issues were standard size cards similar to Topps, but for ’84 Donruss introduced their “large” format which stood out on shelves. Measuring approximately 3.5″ x 5″, they were nearly 50% bigger than competitors. This gave card designers more real estate for visually striking photography and creative layouts.

Beyond sheer size, the photography quality was a major draw. Donruss had invested in professional studio lighting and hired acclaimed sports photographer Tony Tomsic. His crisp, vibrant images truly made the players “pop” off the cardboard in a way never seen before. Closeups were zoomed in tight, accentuating facial details and expressions. Action shots captured the unleashed athleticism of the national pastime.

It was Tomsic’s portrait photography that has endured the test of time. Clean, simple backgrounds allowed the athletes to shine through with piercing gazes and well-defined features. Even role players and journeymen seemed larger than life. Icons like Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, and Cal Ripken Jr absolutely jumped off the sheet in a way that made card collectors take notice.

Layout and design choices complemented the photography perfectly. A two-tone color scheme on most cards helped elements like team logo, stats, and position stand out clearly. Text was kept to a minimum, letting the portrait do the talking. Uncrowded fields preserved the natural “wow factor” of Tomsic’s images as the intended star attraction. For example, the back of Nolan Ryan’s card left over half empty to let his intense stare hold court.

On the production side, quality control was tops. Paper stock was thick, sturdy cardboard that has held up remarkably well even after nearly four decades of handling. Ink and spot colors remain vibrant without fading. Precise die-cuts and centered registration testify to Donruss’ commitment. Compared to the slightly flimsy feel of competing brands, these cards felt premium in the hand from day one.

Of course, demand from collectors has always been driven by the players themselves. The 1984 lineup featured a murderer’s row of future Hall of Famers in their primes like Mike Schmidt, George Brett, and Dave Winfield. Rookies like Dwight Gooden and Don Mattingly added excitement. But it was also a watershed year for baseball that magnified interest in the cards.

The 1984 MLB season saw epic campaigns from established names like 1984 Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe that helped spark renewed interest in the Cubs. younger talents blossomed into rising stars like Chet Lemon and Goose Gossage. Beyond individual feats, intense pennant races and playoff matches like the Tigers vs Royals ALCS delivered thrilling storylines. All combined to make baseball front page news and put more kids’ allowances into Donruss packs.

As years passed, many factors gave these cards additional cachet. The players portrayed are now viewed through the lens of lengthy, storied careers. Hall of Fame inductions raise retro nostalgia. Stories emerge of first-day collectors who hung onto a complete set while others ripped theirs apart. As with any thriving nostalgia market, rarity, condition, and that “first year” distinction holds a romantic appeal. Savvy investors long ago noticed these qualities coalescing for 1984 Donruss.

Graded specimens in pristine mint condition now command premium prices at auction. A PSA 10 Mike Schmidt just sold for over $5,000. But ungraded examples in average circulated condition can still demand hundreds due to enduring popularity and playable condition most have held up in after 37 years. Boxes sell out quick when a full unopened case surfaces, not just pursued by investors but fans who still thrill at the prospect of pulling their favorite star from a pack.

The perfect combination of unprecedented large size, innovative photography, classic designs, player excellence, and historical context have cemented 1984 Donruss as one of the most iconic and enduring baseball card sets ever produced. Their quality, pop cultural resonance, and ability to transport collectors back to a special time in sport has insulated them against trends and allowed new generations to discover this snapshot of a bygone baseball era with modern classics we still celebrate today. Where most issues are soon forgotten, these beauties proven they have staying power for decades more.


The 1988 Topps large baseball cards were unlike any previous Topps release. Up until 1988, Topps had always produced standard sized cards that were around 2.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall. For the 1988 set they decided to break the mold and go with a larger card format. The 1988 Topps large cards featured an oversized design that was approximately 33% larger than a standard card. They measured in at 3.5 inches wide by 5 inches tall, giving collectors significantly more photographic real estate to enjoy their favorite players.

The move to a larger card was likely driven by marketing goals of making the cards feel more impressive and special in collectors’ hands. Topps may have also hoped to help drive renewed interest in the hobby of baseball card collecting at a time when the industry was beginning to plateau in the 1980s. Whatever the motivation, collectors were certainly intrigued and excited to see what Topps would do with the extra card space. They did not disappoint with the excellent photography that filled the larger format.

Inside the 1988 Topps set, which contained 792 total cards, collectors found full body action shots, classic trademark headshots, and plenty of zoomed in close-ups thanks to the increased dimensions. This allowed for sharper images with finer detailing compared to prior years. Collectors could pick out facial expressions, uniform numbers and lettering, and even individual stitches on the baseball much clearer than before. The larger stage really let each player’s personality and style shine through in their photos.

In addition to the photogenic upgrades, Topps also utilized the extra real estate for more stats and fun facts on the back of each card. Space was maximized with two columns of text wrapping around individual nuggets of information on batting averages, pitching records, rookie milestones, and tidbits from each player’s personal life and career path. Colorful team logos, borders, and a classic Topps design scheme finished off the back detailing in high visual quality.

When it came to the physical production of the oversized 1988 series, Topps employed a special coated stock paper that gave the cards a glossy yet durable feel. The thickness was increased slightly from a standard cardstock without adding undue rigidity. The coating protected the vivid color reproductions and helped the cards maintain their like-new condition even with heavy handling by enthusiastic collectors. The stock also resisted smudging, fingerprints, and wear better than normal toploader sleeves of the time period.

As an added bonus, the 1988 set had increased odds of finding short printed and serially numbered parallel “stamp” cards mixed infactory-fresh packs. Special stamp variations paid homage to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier or celebrated championship seasons. Finding one of these raretreats in a pack of oversized cards made the discovery even moreimpactful. The larger scale provided a more appreciative canvas forshowcasing these specialty parallel inserts throughout the 792 cardbase set.

When 1988 Topps large cards hit retail shelves, the collecting community buzzed with anticipation. Upon opening their first boxes and continuing to chip away at the massive checklist, it became clear that Topps had not only changed the physical dimensions but elevated the visual experience dramatically. Players seemed to leap off the cardboard in a way never witnessed before thanks to the improved photography across each position. Stats wrapped the cards in tidy lists while still leaving room for fun facts and team accents. Throughout, the cards maintained professional printing quality and a durable feel without compromising on aesthetics or that classic Topps design charm collectors had come to know and love.

While not without some nitpicks around centering issues more common with the larger size, overall the 1988 Topps set was an unmitigated success that energized the hobby. It proved there was room to evolve the traditional baseball card format while retaining the nostalgic elements fans loved. Later sets like 1989 and 1990 would follow suit by remaining in the oversized footprint pioneered in ’88. The original large size cards have become some of the most coveted and valuable in the entire Topps archives, both for key rookie cards and rare parallel versions that emerged thanks to the extra design freedoms. They represent a pivotal change in the industry that still influences modern trading card dimensions today.

In the end, 1988 Topps large baseball cards left an indelible mark as one of the boldest and most impactful sets ever created. By taking a risk on increased sizing, Topps delivered cleaner photography, more informative stats, an improved inventory of short prints, and an overall superior collecting experience compared to any preceding standard sized releases. They proved larger did not have to mean less caring about the vintage aesthetic roots. Instead, collectors and the hobby as a whole benefited greatly from this revolution in card dimensions that made players appear to literally come alive in collectors’ hands like never before.