What do you remember best from 1985? It was the year the world was introduced to New Coke, Michael Jordan was a rookie with the Chicago Bulls, and moviegoers were enjoying Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Meanwhile, collectors were busy tracking down some of the top 1985 baseball cards.
Like much of the decade, 1985 was dominated by Donruss, Fleer and Topps. Similar to other years in the modern card era, there are important rookie cards and early cards of a few players that have been the focus of the hobby since these products were released. This list looks at 10 of the best 1985 baseball cards to collect, including multiple options for Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett.
All three major card brands had established a pattern for their sets during the first half of the 1980s and not much changed in 1985. The 1985 Topps Baseball release featured 792 cards with several subsets mixed into the checklist, including the 1984 USA Baseball Olympic team series with the only true Mark McGwire rookie card. The 1985 Fleer and 1985 Donruss sets each contained 660 cards, as had been the case since 1982. Although Donruss and Topps came as factory sets, the Fleer set had to be assembled by hand. Topps and Donruss were also both released in Canada under the O-Pee-Brand and Leaf brands, respectively.
Overall, there was very little innovation in the baseball card hobby during the 1985 calendar year. However, Topps did produce its Tiffany factory set for the second straight year, which offered collectors the chance to own a glossy version of Topps base cards with a print run of roughly 5,000 copies. The high-end finish and limited production have made the cards in the set the most sought-after cards from 1985. Both Fleer and Donruss would begin pushing into the glossy card market the following year, which would later lead to the premium card boom starting with 1989 Upper Deck.
There were a lot of great cards in 1985, many of which are also some of the most popular cards from the 1980s. This list will guide you through some of the best cards from the year.
Do you have a favorite card from 1985? Let us know in the comments below.
Top 1985 Baseball Cards to Collect
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10. 1985 Chong Modesto A's Mark McGwire #17
TCMA dominated Minor League Baseball cards during the 1980s, releasing dozens of team sets every year. That trend did not stop some teams from issuing their own baseball cards. Starting in the late 1970s, the Modesto A's released a team set that was sponsored by local grocery store owner Frank Chong Sr. The Chong's Modesto A's cards always featured black-and-white photographs with a white frame. The design varied slightly from year to year, but they were generally simple cards. The 1985 McGwire and 1977 Rickey Henderson issues are considered the best cards in the decade-long run of Chong's Modesto A's cards.
For collectors interested in this Mark McGwire card, there are two different choices. One version of the card spells McGwire's name correctly, while the other spells it as McGuire. Collectors should also pay attention to the white borders on these cards, which have yellowed in some cases.
9. 1985 Topps Eric Davis RC #627
He is not in the Hall of Fame, but Eric Davis is definitely a great player from his generation who still enjoys a healthy following in the baseball card hobby. At the time of the 1985 Topps Baseball release, this Eric Davis rookie card did not have the same notoriety as some of the other cards in the set. Within a few years, Eric Davis' combination of power and speed made him an annual MVP candidate and garnered the attention of the collecting world, driving the popularity and prices of his rookie cards. However, Davis does not appear in the 1985 O-Pee-Chee set.
8. 1985 Donruss Kirby Puckett #438
While the 1985 Donruss Baseball release for Kirby Puckett often falls below Fleer and Topps cards in terms of popularity, this card is the most condition-sensitive of the group. Similar to other sets with black borders, such as 1971 Topps Baseball, the 1985 Donruss cards easily show wear. Many collectors pursuing the key cards in 1985 Donruss often opt to buy graded copies or sealed factory sets that offer some control over the condition. Raw copies of this Puckett card are plentiful on the secondary market and very affordable.
There is also a Leaf version of this card, which was distributed in Canada. The Leaf set is smaller, so the card number (#107) is different and it can be harder to track down.
It is worth noting that several players, including Puckett and Roger Clemens, were initially found in 1984 update sets. Many collectors still consider the 1985 cards as rookies.
7. 1985 Fleer Kirby Puckett #286
This is Puckett's second Fleer card after his initial appearance in 1984 Fleer Update. While the '84 Fleer Update card might be more popular, it is expensive and can be difficult to find, leading many to turn to Puckett's 1985 cards. The grey and powder blue borders of 1985 Fleer have long been considered aesthetically appealing by many collectors. The cards also largely avoid the chipping and edge wear that can be problematic with Puckett's Donruss card. The 1985 Fleer cards were produced in smaller quantities than the Donruss and Topps sets, but that has had little effect on the availability and pricing of this Kirby Puckett card.
6. 1985 Fleer Roger Clemens #155
The most important Roger Clemens card is his 1984 Fleer Update rookie, but the 1985 cards still remain a very important part of the hobby. His second Fleer card is popular for many of the same reasons as the Puckett. The card is plentiful, easy to find in good condition, and is an affordable option compared to 1984 Fleer Update. The Clemens card is the standout card of the 1985 Fleer set, so there are plenty of graded copies around if you are willing to spend some extra money.
5. 1985 Donruss Roger Clemens #99
This is the most condition-sensitive option as far as 1985 Roger Clemens cards, but collectors can find 1985 Donruss Baseball in factory set form. The cards in the factory set were shrink-wrapped in plastic in groups of roughly 50 to 60 cards. The sealed factory set is more expensive than buying one that was hand-collated, but the cards in the set have not been handled and therefore usually have less damage. This card was produced in large quantities and can easily be found on the secondary market at very reasonable prices. Graded copies are also widely available and relatively affordable compared to other popular rookie cards from this era. Again, there is a Leaf version, which is also card #99.
4. 1985 Topps Kirby Puckett #536
The 1985 Topps Kirby Puckett card is an easy find and easy on the wallet, while also being one of the great cards of the 1980s. The design of the card combined with the action shot of Puckett wearing the 1980s powder blue Twins road uniform is a hobby favorite. His 1985 Topps Baseball card has never been the most expensive card in the set, but it is a popular early card of the Hall of Fame outfielder. While Clemens and McGwire have gaudier career numbers than Puckett, he remains the lone Hall of Fame player of the three. Collectors can also pursue the O-Pee-Chee and Topps Tiffany versions of this card.
3. 1985 Topps Roger Clemens #181
Outside of his 1984 Fleer Update rookie, 1985 Topps Baseball offers one of the most popular early cards of Roger Clemens. For those who do not have the time or money to track down a copy of his Fleer Update, this '85 release has always been a card that has brought many collectors satisfaction. Plentiful and affordable on the secondary market, fans looking for a challenge can track down high-grade copies of this card, or try to find the O-Pee-Chee or Topps Tiffany versions, which have more limited quantities available.
2. 1985 Topps Dwight Gooden #620
Dwight Gooden's 1985 Topps Baseball card was the card in this set at the time of its release. Similar to Puckett and Clemens, Gooden appeared in traded and update sets at the end of 1984, including Topps Traded and Fleer Update. Collectors can also track down the Topps Tiffany and OPC versions of this card, which is far more affordable than the Hall of Famers and Hall of Fame candidates who also appear in the set. Dwight Gooden does appear in the 1985 Fleer and Donruss sets, but his Topps card has been the standout of '85 for the longtime Mets hurler.
Although very plentiful and affordable, the 1985 Topps Gooden card is still one of the most iconic 1980s baseball cards as demonstrated by its inclusion in Topps Project 2020.
1. 1985 Topps Mark McGwire RC #401
The Mark McGwire rookie card in 1985 Topps Baseball is one of the great cards of the 1980s and a must-own for collectors. Initially, the excitement over the first-of-its-kind USA Baseball subset stemmed from its inclusion following the popular 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles. This Mark McGwire card became more notable shortly after he began hitting home runs at a record-setting pace during his first full season in 1987. The popularity of the card peaked in the late 1990s during the home run record chase. The price of the card has waned since Big Mac's admitted steroid use, making raw copies more affordable to collectors. The Tiffany copies of the Mark McGwire 1985 Topps card are a different story, especially high-grade copies, which can be amongst the most expensive cards from the era.