A new podcast touched off a bit of nostalgia for me this week. Kin Kinsley and Jason Martin debuted We Love the 80s Cards show on Youtube this week and among the topics discussed was the pair’s top three sets of the 1980’s. This inspired me to rip open a 1989 Topps pack on my daily Youtube show, Hobby Evolution.
Over the summer I decided to purge my collection of junk wax packs and began selling them two for a dollar at the Madison Card Show and the Northern Illinois Card Show in Rockford. The packs were a hit. Before I sold them all, I pulled a few random packs to save for a rainy day. One them was a 1989 Topps pack because it’s the set that began my love for Chicago Cubs baseball cards.
Not having much to talk about on the October 29, 2021 edition of Hobby Evolution I decided to rip open a pack of 1989 Topps baseball cards. It provided more nostalgia than I had anticipated. As I went through the cards one by one it dawned on me that the contents of this pack would have been a great return on investment in the summer of 1989. There are stacks of Beckett magazines and Baseball Card Magazine price guides in my storage room. Maybe I should dig one from 1989 and price out my pack.
My Beckett Baseball Card Monthly collection is rather sparse, but I did find an issue from November 1989. Typically, especially in the late 1980’s, the prices were at least a month or two old so that still puts the 1989 Topps prices in season.
With so few sets in 1989, Beckett was able to provide individual pricing for much of the sets. You’ll see names such as Dave Eiland, Terry Blocker, Sherman Corbett, and Doug Dascenzo under the 1989 Topps prices. Many names (common cards) are not listed, so we will have to go with the “common player” pricing of a nickel in the November 1989 Beckett. That is where we will start.
1989 Topps #133 Bill Long
Bill Long was the gum card. Fortunately, the gum had cracked in half which is a good sign. That means it’s dry and this pack of cards has been kept out of humidity for 32 years. At initial glance you can’t even see the gum stain on the back, but if you look closely it is there.
1989 Topps #336 Steve Balboni
A first baseman/designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners, the 1989 season would be Balboni’s ninth in the big leagues. The fun part of these old baseball cards is reading the card backs. The card back for Steve Balboni offered a player stat: “He drilled 1st major league Triple: 4-22-81.” Impressive since Steve only appeared in four games during his 1981 rookie campaign with the Yankees. Through the 1988 season, Balboni had only hit 9 triples in his career.
1989 Topps #768 Bill Wegman
According to Wegman’s stats on the back of the card he logged 225 innings during the 1987 season with the Brewers.
1989 Topps #773 Keith Moreland
Keith Moreland spent much of the 1980’s with my favorite team: Chicago Cubs. He was with the San Diego Padres for 1988 and was pictured as a Padre on his 1989 Topps card. His card back stat shares when Moreland logged his 1,000th career hit. It came on August 30, 1987 with the Cubs.
1989 Topps #364 Rob Deer
The next card in my 1989 Topps pack is Rob Deer. Home Run or Strike Out. Deer led the league in strikeouts in 1987 and 1988 with 186 and 153, respectively. In parts of five seasons, Deer slugged 95 home runs and struck out 599 times.
1989 Topps #328 Rick Honeycutt
I shared my pre-pubescent humor on Hobby Evolution as I ripped through this 1989 Topps pack. As a 7-year old, my friends and I would yell out, “Honey, I Cut the Cheese” whenever we came across a Rick Honeycutt card. If you weren’t a child of the era, it’s a reference to the Rick Moranis movie that was popular at the same time: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!
1989 Topps #278 Andy McGaffigan
McGaffigan was somewhat of a journeyman as he was on his second stint with the Montreal Expos in 1989. His career began in 1981 with the Yankees, then spent time with the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and his first go-around in Montreal.
1989 Topps #212 Scott Sanderson
My first Cubs card is Scott Sanderson. Sanderson played for the U.S. National Team at Inter-Continental Cup in Montreal (1975) and Pan American Games (1976) according to the Topps card back.
1989 Topps #513 Jesse Orosco
Here’s the real journeyman of this 1989 Topps pack: Jesse Orosco. His career ultimately spanned 24 seasons for nine different teams.
1989 Topps #356 Kevin Elster
Kevin Elster was listed as a common in the November 1989 Beckett. But, in a Baseball Cards Magazine price guide his card was listed for a dime. Elster was a highly touted prospect for the New York Mets in the mid-1980’s and a highly collected rookie in 1988.
1989 Topps #80 Cory Snyder
Here’s where the fun begins. A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I grabbed the Cory Snyder card and checked the number on the back of the card. Number 80. Then, I opened the Beckett to page 58 where the 1989 Topps prices were listed. I scrolled by #1 George Bell Record Breaker listed at 12 cents. Getting closer I passed #70 Mark McGwire ($0.50) and there it was, #80 Cory Snyder. Twelve cents. How exciting.
1989 Topps #53 Ruben Sierra
Pretty sure I saw Sierra’s name as I scrolled through the numbers. Yup, there it is. #53. Ruben Sierra. Even better. This card is worth 15 cents (in November 1989). Sierra was #9 on the Beckett Hot List this month.
1989 Topps #206 Roberto Alomar
I remember Roberto Alomar and Sandy Alomar Jr. being hot cards in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Next to Roberto Alomar’s name was “FTC.” That stood for First Topps Card. Alomar also got the always-exciting up arrow, denoting the price trends were rising.
1989 Topps #490 Chris Sabo
I hit the Chris Sabo rookie gold cup. This would have been a big hit in 1989. Sabo was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1988, and his baseball cards were hot. When I saw the Sabo was fifty cents, that seemed fair. Then I noticed the down arrow next to his name. And…I took a look at the Hot/Cold Lists. Sabo was #6 on the Cold List. After winning the ROY in 1988, he had an injury-riddled 1989 and his stats suffered. Sabo did go on to appear in two more All Star games in his career (1990 and 1991).
1989 Topps #465 Mark Grace
WOW! Had I pulled the Mark Grace rookie gold cup in a 1989 Topps pack of cards as a 7-year old I would have jumped up and down screaming. This was THEE hit of 1989 Topps for a Cubs collector. Just a beautiful card, that gold cup, and it even had an up arrow next to the $1.50 price. I was almost as excited as a 39-year old when I saw the Grace as I talked about Keith Moreland in my video below.
My Pack Was Worth $3.07
When I was 7-years old growing up in Annawan, Illinois, a 1989 Topps pack of baseball cards was 45 cents at the local IGA grocery store. Hitting a $1.50 Mark Grace rookie gold cup really helped getting my 1989 return on investment in this pack. Using November 1989 Beckett pricing, my pack of cards was worth $3.07. As I suspected, this would have been one heck of a pack to pull 32 years ago.