No matter if you love it or hate it, the 1987 Topps Baseball set is an iconic force to be reckoned with. With a status of nothing short of legendary, the cards from this set demand to be heard. Now… what they are saying… well, that’s left for each collector to interpret I guess. I don’t even know where to start when it comes to talking about this set, so I’ll start with the circumstances surrounding it.
The 1987 Topps Baseball set was the premium product of what was probably the most crucial year in all of the junk wax era. It was clear by then that the industry had hit a solid boom. It was also clear that the card companies were more than willing to accommodate. The set was produced in quantities like no other of the past, or other similar sets of that year. ’87 Topps cards flooded the market. Everywhere. And for a good reason. Not only was the demand high because of the collectors wanting the latest product, but the set itself was packed with absolutely awesome cards. There are probably 10 cards to have in this set. No less than 6 I’d say are a must. The crop of rookie cards alone in this set puts to shame the entire Topps set of the previous year.
The best card in the set would no doubt be the Barry Bonds rookie. It can still fetch at least a few dollars in an ungraded mint condition. The Mark McGwire card comes in at slightly less but would be the #2 card in the box. For me, the McGwire was the card to have over the Bonds. I would consider the Bo Jackson card to be the next best card. After that, there’s a number of other good cards to have. The Barry Larkin rookie, a Nolan Ryan, couple of Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, a Rafael Palmeiro rookie, and a Will Clark. This year is also the last regular set Topps player cards for “Mr. Charlie Hustle” Pete Rose, and “Mr. Baseball” Reggie Jackson.
I have to give special mention here to the Jose Canseco All Star Rookie card. Id consider it a mid level card at best in the set, but for me at the time, this was the card to have. One of my prize cards. And I have two crisp mint ones these days.
Interestingly, most of the key rookie cards of this set, are not the players first appearance on a Topps card. For instance, the notable Barry Bonds rookie, the best card in the set, is not Barry’s first time on a Topps card. He had an ’86 Traded card. And Will Clark did too. So did Bo Jackson, who has the beautiful rainbow Future Stars card in the ’87 set. Jose Canseco has the All Star Rookie trophy card, and an ’86 Traded card as well. And of course it has to be mentioned that Mark McGwire has the infamous ’85 Olympic card. All that being said however, this set brings them all together for the first time in 1 standard set Topps release.
Next time in ‘Part 2’ we’ll get into the aesthetics of the cards themselves. Starting with the controversial wood grain borders, which over the years have become a classic junk wax entity on their own.
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