The year 1989 marked another exciting season in Major League Baseball. Future Hall of Famers like Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, and Nolan Ryan were in their primes, thrilling fans with outstanding performances. To commemorate the season, Topps released its annual baseball card set. Still one of the most popular brands in the hobby to this day, the 1989 Topps baseball card set featured players and managers from all 26 MLB teams at the time. The set contains 792 total cards, including variations. Let’s take an in-depth look at the 1989 Topps baseball card price list to see which players and cards have held or increased in value over the past 30+ years.

Base Cards and Parallels
The base set contains a card for every player that appeared in a major or minor league game in 1988. Manager cards were also included, totaling one card per team. The basic common base cards in pristine mint condition are mostly worth between $1-3. There are certain star players that command a premium. For example, a mint condition common card of Ken Griffey Jr. from his rookie season would fetch around $15-20. Bonds and Henderson rookies from the set also sell in the $10-15 range when graded gem mint. Parallel versions exist, like “Glossy Sendbacks” that have a glossier finish. These parallel cards tend to add $1-3 to the base card value.


Short Prints and Premium Cards
As is typical with Topps releases, some cards were produced in shorter print runs classified as “short prints.” Two of the most coveted short prints from the 1989 set are Nolan Ryan (#398) and Cal Ripken Jr. (#498). Both are considered rare and in pristine condition can sell for $75-150 depending on recent sales and demand. The true “high number” short prints beginning with card #630 are also highly sought after collectors and include stars like Rickey Henderson. In top grades, these tier 1 short prints can reach prices of $50-100 each. Top rookies like Barry Bonds (#379) and Gregg Jefferies (#397) were also printed in lower quantities, increasing their value to $25-50 graded gem mint.

The true premium, sought after cards of the ’89 Topps set are the two Mike Witt “Blue Back” variations (#617, #637). Only 10 of each were inserted randomly in wax packs instead of the standard gray backs. These are the undisputed keys to the set worth $2,000-$3,000 in near mint to mint condition. Beyond being extremely rare pulls from packs, the bright blue backs stand out visually in a collection.

Rookies, Stars and Future Hall of Famers
Of course, star players and rookie cards usually garner the highest prices in any vintage set. Outside of Bonds and Griffey mentioned above, other coveted rookie cards from ’89 Topps include Tom Glavine (#481), Gregg Jefferies (#397), and Ben McDonald (#505). Each has increased in value over the years based on those players’ success ranging from $15-50. Hall of Famers like Wade Boggs (#12), George Brett (#40), Ozzie Smith (#55), and Rickey Henderson (#107) as well as superstar pitchers like Nolan Ryan (#398) and Roger Clemens (#419) maintain strong collector interest. High grade examples can reach $25-150 depending on the player and recent sales comps.


The true crown jewels of the set are the rookie cards of Chipper Jones (#654), Bernie Williams (#672), and Jim Abbott (#683). As future Hall of Famers, especially Jones, mint condition copies of their first Topps cards are highly coveted. Expect to pay $100-300 for top graded versions of these keys to any complete ’89 set. The Cal Ripken Jr. all-star card (#498) is also enormously popular fetchin $50-150 in top condition. Essentially, this set features a who’s who of baseball legends either in their early careers or continuing future Hall of Fame production.

Variations and Inserts
Beyond the basic base set cards, Topps included several special variations and inserts to enhance collector interest in the release. Prominent among these are the “Turn Back The Clock” photo variation cards recreating iconic baseball images from the past. Star players like Rickey Henderson (#628) and Nolan Ryan (#652) received these retro treatment variants. In top condition, they gain $10-25 in extra value compared to the base cards. Postseason highlight and All-Star cards of stars like Wade Boggs (#AS6) and Kirby Puckett (#PS88) can also reach $10-25 prices.


The array of special insert cards sprinkled throughout wax packs added excitement for kids opening packs in stores. These include “Traded” cards denoting in-season player moves, “Manager” cards for all 26 big league skippers, “Record Breakers” inserts for statistical milestones, and “League Leaders” cards as well. Each different insert added around $3-10 to the base price of the common player’s card depending on the level of insertion rarity and demand.

Summing Up the 1989 Topps Baseball Card Price Guide
The 1989 Topps baseball card set remains a highly collectible and investible vintage release over 30 years later. Future Hall of Famers, rookies, stars and especially the ultra-rare variations continue to entice collectors and drive prices higher annually. Whether a casual collector looking to build the basic base set or a serious investor, the ’89 Topps prices across different collecting tiers provide opportunities. From $1 commons to $3,000 blue backs, this fun and memorable set very much represents the late 80s era of baseball excellence on the diamond. Prices are sure to appreciate further as another generation discovers the vintage cardboard delights within.

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