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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Ranking Topps Baseball Card Designs (1980-1989)

by Paul Semendinger


As we wait for the season to begin, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the old Topps baseball card sets and rank the designs.

Here are the 1980s designs year-by-year:











Now comes the difficult part, ranking the designs. Some thoughts...

The 1980s is what I picture when I hear the word "junk wax." These cards were printed in abundance. As the decasde went on, the designs and the quality of the cards seemed to diminish.

I also grew-up in this time, graduating from high school, going to college, falling in love... all that good stuff. Baseball cards stopped being part of my life, except for two years, 1987 and 1988 when my college roommate and I would buy packs at the Woolworth's in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to relive the youth we thought we were far away from...

1980 - I like this set. This was the first set that my parents purchased for me as a complete set. I was thilled to have the complete set, but in retrospect, it took a lot of the fun out of collecting.

1981 - A poor design.

1982 - Another poor design.

1983 - One of my favorite sets in any decade

1984 - A cheap and less impressive imitation of the 1983 set.

1985 - Nothing special

1986 - I like what they were trying to do here. It didn't work especially well though.

1987 - I think this was an attempt to look more "old-fashioned." It sort of worked.

1988 - It seems like the designers were simply out of ideas.

1989 - Not bad, not great, but not bad.



  1. 1983

  2. 1980

  3. 1989

  4. 1987

  5. 1988

  6. 1986

  7. 1985

  8. 1984

  9. 1982

  10. 1981

How do you rank these designs?


Crystal Ann Righthouse
Crystal Ann Righthouse
Feb 25

I'd say











In my unprofessional opinion.. 😀


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Feb 21

I can't stand the cards the don't have the position on them. Sure, I know where the Yankees played, but what about the Angels or Twins? Who knows where many of those people play?

Mar 03
Replying to

I have the baseball cards that have everything that the baseball players played and how many home runs and innings and hits and when they first was drafted from every team down to the rookies topps baseball teams and hockey players and basketball players and teams that my uncle and grandpa and Dad willed to me in anyone are interested in purchasing them all from 1960 through 1990 thanks again please email me at


Alan B.
Alan B.
Feb 21

You had to put Jerry Narron's card as the 1980 card? Thanks a lot. NOT!!!!

It just reminds me that I was still in mourning for MY CAPTAIN, #15. 😪😪😪😪😪

Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 21
Replying to

It has always been my belief that if Thurman Munson had lived to finish out his career and retire, that he would have gone on to become a big league manager, and a darn good manager. And probably a manager similar to Lou Piniella who would be in an umpire's face and "put on a show" if he disagreed with a call.

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