The first thing that comes to mind when I reflect back on the 1985 Topps set is the strong rookie class. Kirby Puckett, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Eric Davis, and Orel Hershiser are some of the key rookies in this set! A couple of those guys stood the test of time, others had their moments, but I remember back to their heydays fondly.
Gooden came onto the scene in 1984 and put up a 17-9 record to go along with a 2.60 ERA. That effort got the attention of fans, and they were eager to get his 1985 rookie card when it came out. In his second season he delivered 24 wins and a glowing 1.53 ERA which only fueled the fire of this set’s card #620. Even as late as 1990, this card was valued around $10. After his well documented fall from grace, his popularity faded and now this card can be found for less than $1.
The McGwire card is similar in nature. The unique thing about this card is that it featured him in his Olympic uniform. He wouldn’t actually make his debut until late 1986, so this card could be had for pennies in many locations throughout the ’85 season. As the Bash Brothers popularity grew throughout the late 80’s, the value of the ’85 rookie card spiked into the triple digits. As with many cards from this era, it can now be found for $5-$10.
Roger Clemens had an outstanding and long lasting career(no comment on any assistance he had to achieve those results), and Kirby Puckett was a tremendous talent in the years he was healthy. It amazes me that these rookie cards can be found for only a few dollars each.
The set contains 792 cards, with the majority being standard base cards. There are several subsets featuring the 1984 All-Stars, the 1984 Olympic Team, and a celebration of players who broke a MLB record the previous season. From a design perspective, after two consecutive years of having two photos on the front card, Topps went back to a single photo in the 1985 set.
As with several other years in this era, Topps produced a Glossy Mail Order set that required sending in special promo cards which had been inserted into wax packs. There was also a Glossy All-Stars insert set that could be found inside Rack Packs.
I stumbled across a “Sell Sheet” from this set and one of the quotes said, “Topps Baseball Cards Are Like Money In The Bank”. Despite being at the early stages of “Peak Cardboard”, how much money were retailers making on 35c packs of cards?
Today, this set is very affordable and can be found on eBay for around $30 delivered. It’s a great collection of rookies and young superstars that collectors continue to embrace.
You can find the 1985 Topps Checklist Here.
The 1986 Topps Set that followed was the one that introduced me to this hobby, but I’ve come to love this set almost as much!