I Love the 80’s!!

There really is a lot to love about the 1980’s. I was between the ages of 3-13 through that decade and there are so many great memories from that era. The television was unbeatable. We had the original Transformers, He-Man, Different Strokes, Alf, The A-Team, Growing Pains, Knight Rider, Full House and many more great shows to choose from. To go along with TV Shows, the big screen didn’t disappoint either. Movies today just can’t compete with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Beetlejuice, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Stand by Me and E.T. As I got a little older, my attention turned to movies like Terminator, Aliens and The Lost Boys. What a time to be alive!

Music was fun too. We could strut around singing Eye of the Tiger, lose our voice to Livin’ on a Prayer and Don’t Stop Believing, and try to woo the girls with tunes like Here I Go Again and Just Like Heaven.

When we weren’t watching TV or singing 80’s Rock, we could be found playing the Atari or Nintendo. Video games were unbelievable back then because we had never had anything like it. Kids now can go back and compare graphics over the last 40 years. We had nothing to compare our Atari to back then so we thought it was as good as it got. Then Nintendo came along and made us feel like the video games had come to life! I could spend 24 hours straight, playing video games when I was 10.

Based on what you’ve read so far, it may not come as a surprise to you that I think the best baseball card era was during the 80’s as well. Before you dismiss this statement, understand that I don’t mean it was the most valuable or even the most innovative era in history. I know it sounds like I just contradicted myself but I’m not done just yet. Collecting in the 80’s (for the most part) was about having fun with cardboard and enjoying the cards that we got our hands on. The early 80’s were right at the beginning of the “oh, this might have some sort of value” phase of baseball cards and it really wasn’t until the late 80’s that the hobby just exploded with mass production and oversaturation.

I believe that value can be based both in dollars and in nostalgia.

I think it really is the only decade in which we tied both value and childlike wonder to baseball cards. Before the 80’s, value was the farthest thing from the minds of the card holder. After the 80’s, we only cared about value and nothing else; disregarding the name on the cards for serial numbers, refractors, scarcity and, soon after, autographs. I love collecting now. I love finding autographs, memorabilia cards, printing plates and inserts of my favorite players. But when I buy packs in 2017, it’s almost always about trying to find something of value. When I want to truly enjoy the card, I will rip some old 80’s to relive some of the glory days of my youth. I believe that value can be based both in dollars and in nostalgia. While I may never be rich in dollars, I am a tycoon in nostalgia as long as I have access to my youth.

Tonight, I found myself on such a journey while sifting through an old box of cards that I go through about once a year. I have such an array of cards in this box from when I was a kid. Some have decent monetary value but all of them are priceless to me. Let’s take a look at each year of the 1980’s Topps sets and remember when cards were just cards. Turn on AC/DC, grab a Clear Pepsi and a pack of Dunkaroos and join me!

1980 Topps
This Ozzie Smith is one of the first baseball cards I remember owning. I didn’t get it in 1980 because I was only 3 but I do remember this being one of the cards that got me hooked. I traded a WWF Action Figure for it in a music class in middle school. I love the 1980 design with the banners at the top and bottom, along with the facsimile signature.

1981 Topps
This was not my favorite Topps design as it was relatively bland looking compared to ‘80 and ‘82. But, it’s Nolan Ryan so I am not too bummed that I stumbled across it.

1982 Topps
This is the best design from the 80’s in my opinion. I love the retro border design and it reminds me of Atari game screens. How many of you knew that Danny Ainge played 3B for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981?

1983 Topps
1983 introduced a small inset photo of the player in the bottom corner of the card. Dave Winfield was a monster player during the 70’s and 80’s hitting both for power and average. There is also something that is airbrushed in the background of this card but I can’t quite figure it out. Look at the blue outline around Winfield.

1984 Topps
This was another Topps design with an inset photo but it had a little different design. The team name was more prominent on this card as well. Was there a better hitter in the ’80’s than Tony Gwynn?

1985 Topps
While the design is good but not great, 1985 Topps is probably my favorite set from the 80’s. The rookies included Gooden, Clemens and Puckett and the set remains very collectible today.

1986 Topps
Most people either love or hate this design. I personally am on the love side because the team name in a team color at the top of the card gives it a good look to me. The backs were not the best of the 80’s but they weren’t the worst either. Did you know that George Brett hit .390 in 1980 over 449 at bats?

1987 Topps
EVERYONE knows what 1987 Topps looks like. You would be hard pressed to find someone who was not familiar with the old wood grain border for this set. The rookies were solid and included Bo Jackson, Will Clark, Barry Larkin and Barry Bonds. But at the time, I wanted Jose Canseco over all of them!

1988 Topps
This set is probably the least liked set from the 80’s as far as Topps is concerned. The rookie class was mediocre, the design was rather bland and mass production was over the top. This set is still fun to go through though if you like 80’s superstars. Of course, McGwire was the other half of the Bash Brothers with Jose Canseco and highly collectible in the late 80’s.

1989 Topps
The final entry for Topps in the 80’s was a very classy design. The team names were in bubble lettering much like the Dodgers font used for generations. The border was simple but still attractive. The backs were bold red (pink) and black and the return of the banner style from the early 80’s was a welcome throwback. Draft picks were featured in their college uniforms and I’ve always been partial to this Robin Ventura.

Going through cards from the 80’s takes me back to when times were simple. Collecting was simple as well. When we opened packs in the 80’s, we didn’t have to cross reference checklists while scouring every inch of the card to determine if we had a short print or variation. We just had a card of our favorite player and we learned their statistics so we could quote them to our friends at school. I’ll keep holding out hope that the 80’s cards will rebound in the hobby. When they do, I’ll be sitting here with my stack of cards, ready to trade!


Storage Boxes

Storage Boxes


  1. I enjoyed reading your article. I started collecting cards in the early 60’s and still collect cards today. 64 topps is my favorite set than 84 topps. I enjoyed all of topps set in one way or another. 89 topps is my lest favorite something about the design never really caught my eye but still have a couple set.

  2. This was an great trip down memory lane, Dub! I very much remember 1980-1986 Topps sets, but fizzled out around my sophmire/junior year in high school and then I was off to college in ’87 to the University of Kansas! I did not get to appreciate the 1987 Topps set until this year with the retro cards they threw in with Series 1 this year so 30 years later it’s nice to finally appreciate the diamond in the rough! Great blog! -M. Carlson (SpartyHawk Cache)

  3. I went from middle school through college in the 80’s. You brought back so many memories from my brothers and i collecting and doing card shows you my collecting of Canseco and McGwire. As usual, any amazing read. Thanks for the memories.