May 7, 2010

Friday Thought: 1984 Topps Traded Set Values or Boxed Set Perceptions

I had just been perusing ebay recently and was searching for sets when I saw something I hadn't seen before. 1984 Topps Traded sets are popular!? There hasn't been many sales recently, but there were a few "Buy It Now"s completed at over $20 apiece; there were also a few auctions with the set hovering aroun $15.

I am a major collector of small boxed sets (Topps Traded, Fleer Update, etc). This one has not entered the pantheon of "need to have" traded sets from the '80s...for me. Witness the checklist highlights below.

Notables Rookies: Dwight Gooden, Juan Samuel, Brett Saberhagen, Mark Langston

Other Notables: 1984 Cy winner Rick Sutcliffe's as a Cub, Pete Rose as an Expo, Joe Morgan as an Athletic, Tony Perez, Tom Seaver, Goose Gossage, 1984 MVP Willie Hernandez as a Tiger, 1984 ROY Alvin Davis

This doesn't scream out to me as being a $15 set. In fact, I purchased it for less than $5 not that long ago. As I was typing this, two more sold at $22 and $26, respectively. What is going on with this set? Is it now much rarer than originally thought? Are people trying to catch the 1984 Fleer Update wave from the same year (but without the same rookies present?).

Rookie values drive these type of sets. Are Dwight Gooden and Mark Langston more popular than before? Based on my perception and educated guessing on impact, here is my ranking of Topps Traded sets of the boxed late-season Traded set era (1981-1993)

12. 1990: Only notable rookies were John Olerud and Scott Erickson. The design was garish as well.

11. 1985: Ozzie Guillen and Mariano Duncan and that's it. Does Rickey Henderson as a Yankee count as important?

10. 1993: Had the Olympic team cards, only great MLBer of those was Todd Helton. Also had Barry Bond's 1st card as a Giant and Greg Maddux's 1st card as a Brave.

9. 1989: Ken Griffey's 1st Topps card, but was released much later than everyone else's.

8. 1984: Details previously mentioned. I do like the 1984 design.

7. 1991: Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi rookies along with other team USA cards.

6. 1981: Danny Ainge rookie (yes, the basketball one) and Fernando Valenzuela's 1st solo card, but nothing much else to write home about. This was the progenitor though, including the use of alphabetical order of the names in the set (though Topps abandoned the continuation numbering in 1982)

5. 1983: Darryl Strawberry rookie along with the incredibly timeless 1983 design and Von Hayes's 1st card as a Phillie. First one I would characterize as moderately difficult to find.

4. 1988: Bring on the Olympians! I don't care what it sells for now, but it was a revelation at the time. Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura, Roberto Alomar, Tino Martinez, etc; it was a truly original theme for a traded set (though it was first introduced in 1985 Topps)

3. 1986: Great rookie selection for the time: Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Will Clark, Andres Galarraga, John Kruk, Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco. These are a lot of players that held someone's imaginations in the 1980s and 1990s as all-stars. Too bad there was a fall out for some unknown reason.

2. 1992: This is a purely personal ranking. But, Nomar! Nomar! I was really excited when I bought this set many years ago. Also, there were other Team USA cards, including a Jason Varitek rookie. They also introduced the first mainstream parallel boxed set by releasing a ToppsGold factory set that year (I don't know if Topps Tiffany sets were available in stores)

1. 1982: Cal Ripken's, the man who saved baseball after the strike, first solo card. It was also produced in pretty limited quantities. Even today, the set goes for around $80 (though it routinely reached $150-$200 in the past), It also had Ozzie Smith's 1st card as a Cardinal and other HOFs such as Reggie Jackson, Gaylord Perry, and Fergie Jenkins.

What's your impression left by these rarely opened releases?

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