You could make an argument that 1985 Topps baseball cards are the perfect physical representations of the hobby boom.

I mean, here you have a set that is typical 1980s Topps, with all its mushy brown card stock and thick white borders and subsets and so-so card design …

… but that’s also loaded with rookie cards that still make your mouth water if you lived through their glory years.

Of course, like most sets from that era, much of the promise of the ’85s have gone by the wayside. That doesn’t mean they’re all just fodder for the commons bins, however.

In fact, several still hold a decent bit of value, especially in graded form.

Here, then, are the most valuable 1985 Topps baseball cards, as ranked by PSA 9 values from the Sports Market Report Price Guide.

1985 Topps Mark McGwire Rookie Card (#401)

1985 topps mark mcgwire

Say what you will about Big Mac and his bulging biceps and whatever he took to make them bulge so, but I’ll bet once upon a time you thought he was amazing.

Like in 1987, when he set the rookie home run record with 49.

Or in 1998, when he hit 70 bombs to outpace Sammy Sosa as they both passed Roger Maris for the single-season mark (and set up Barry Bonds‘ run a few seasons later).

Or when you walked onto a card show floor in the late 1980s or the 1990s and saw that McGwire’s 1985 Topps rookie card — the one showing him as a member of the Team USA Olympic squad — was climbing in price again.

How high could it go? $50? $100? $200?

Yes, yes, yes, and more!

Until … the cardboard bust … and the PED taint … and our collective grasp of Sabermetrics, which sort of softened McGwire’s overall impact.

Then things sort of got ugly.

Still, this is a seminal card in the evolution of the hobby, and the allure of big boppers never really goes away.

Today, the Big Mac rookie fetches about $50 in PSA 9 and several times that in “10” form.

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1985 Topps Roger Clemens Rookie Card (#181)

1985 topps roger clemens

See that stuff I said about Mark McGwire above? Yeah, a lot of it applies to Roger Clemens, too.

Except, you know, Rocket was actually a much better player than Big Mac. Like an all-time great.

Like … top five starting pitcher great.

Right, I know, PEDs. I get it.

But from a baseball card perspective, Clemens was the second pitcher to really capture the hobby’s imagination in the 1980s, right after Dwight Gooden.

When Clemens broke out in 1986 with a 20-strikeout game en route to the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards, he sent us clamoring to pull his rookies from our “Maybe Someday” bins and into our “Road to the Hall” showcases.

This card ebbed and flowed along with Clemens’ performances into the early 1990s before rocketing through the steroid decade right along with him.

Today, even with the backlash against the muscle-y guys from those years, the Clemens rookie is a $30 item in PSA 9.

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1985 Topps Kirby Puckett Rookie Card (#536)


Like Clemens and McGwire, Kirby Puckett was something of a dark horse among 1985 Topps rookies, just one of dozens of youngsters who might someday be the “next” somebody.

So we set him aside and waited … until 1986, when Puck smacked 31 home runs and hit .328.

And especially in 1986, when his Minnesota Twins shocked the world with an amazing run to a World Series title.

Thanks to various ailments, Kirby only lasted 12 years in the Majors, but that was long enough to make him a legend and secure his place in the Hall of Fame.

It was also enough to keep his rookie card in good stead more than a decade after his untimely death.

Today, expect a PSA 9 Puckett RC to pull in $25 or so.

(If you like your Kirby Puckett rookie cards a little more, uh, unusual … check out this beauty.)

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1985 Topps Dwight Gooden Record Breaker (#3)

1985 Topps Dwight Gooden Record Breaker

Who was the hottest rookie card — and probably the hottest player — heading into 1985?

You could make a strong argument it was Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, but Donnie Baseball had to share the spotlight with crosstown youngsters Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden of the Mets.

And, while Strawberry drove the hobby frenzy with his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1983, Gooden became an almost mythical figure in 1984.

Part of it was that he was just a teenager, and part of it was that he was simply dominating batters, based on the statistics we saw in our Sunday newspapers.

But a lot of us struggled to get even a glimpse of the young man, and that only added to his mystique.

By the time Gooden appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets, collectors were fairly frothing to get a hunk of his cardboard.

And that fervor only heightened over the winter and into the spring when we finally got a look at his first widely distributed baseball cards.

The 1985 Topps Gooden rookie card (below) became an immediate smash and climbed to $3, $5, and beyond as Dr. K mowed down hitters at an even more astonishing rate that summer.

This Record Breaker rode the RC’s coattails to some extent, and the two are roughly equal in value these days.

Because, while Gooden sort of flamed out in the 1990s, he still fashioned a career that was better than some Hall of Famers.

And his cards still thrill your belly if you were there to experience the Gooden phenomenon in the moment.

This RB is about a $15 item in PSA 9.

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1985 Topps Dwight Gooden Rookie Card (#620)

1985 Topps Dwight Gooden

If you’re wondering how the card of a guy who fell off the Hall of Fame ballot after one try in 2006 can make a list like this, see the above discussion about Gooden’s Record Breaker card.

I’ll just add here that if you can gaze upon this hobby icon, with its ambiguous blue sky background — is it sunny or stormy? — and the serious young man who could have been king in the foreground, without experiencing a hitch of excitement in your chest …

Well, then, you’ll never truly understand what the hobby was like during the boom years of the 1980s.

Today’s cards owe a lot to forgotten treasures like this Gooden RC, and plenty of collectors remember.

That’s why, even today after all those years and all those stumbles, the ’85 Gooden is still a $15-20 card in PSA 9.

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1985 Topps Orel Hershiser Rookie Card (#493)

1985 Topps Orel Hershiser

The summer of 1985 was a magical time in the hobby and the game, especially if you liked breakout pitchers.

There was Gooden, of course, who we already knew about from his 1984 ROY performance but who broke out even more in ’85.

And then there was Bret Saberhagen, who looked like your friendly neighborhood farm boy and who seemed determined to win every game he pitched for the Kansas City Royals.

And then you had Orel Hershiser, who was supposedly almost 27, but who you knew was either a choir boy, a bat boy, or some Doogie Howser brainiac prodigy.

All Hershiser managed to do was go 19-3 with a 2.03 ERA as his Los Angeles Dodgers took the division flag in the old NL West. That was good enough to net Bulldog a third-place finish in the Cy Young vote and a Topps rookie card that quickly climbed into the $3 range.

Today, it can touch $10 or more in graded MINT condition.

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1985 Topps Pete Rose (#547)


Yes, Pete Rose is a pariah.

Yes, he bet on baseball.

No, it doesn’t look like he’ll get into the Hall of Fame anytime soon.

But the fact remains that Charlie Hustle was one of the most iconic — and best — players in the game from his debut in 1963 right up until the bitter end.

And in 1985, he broke Ty Cobb‘s career base hit record.

Rose has a few cards in the ’85 Topps set, but this manager issue tends to bring a bit more than the others in graded condition.

In PSA 9, it’s about $10 a pop.

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1985 Topps Nolan Ryan (#760)

1985 Topps Nolan Ryan

What can you say about Nolan Ryan that hasn’t been said millions of times, including hundreds right here on this blog.

The man is a legend, and he has been for decades.

You can bet, too, that any Ryan card will be near the top of the value chain in whatever set it appears in.

This 1985 Topps issue, showing The Ryan Express with the Houston Astros, is no exception.

Expect to pay around $10 for a PSA 9 copy.

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1985 Topps Eric Davis Rookie Card (#627)

1985 Topps Eric Davis Rookie Card

Eric Davis was one of those guys who didn’t look like he could do all the things he could do on the baseball diamond.

Built like a fawn, Davis could run, field, and hit for power like few in the game.

But like buddy Darryl Strawberry, Davis fell short of the lofty expectations that a 1986 breakout set up for him.

Unlike Straw, though, Davis didn’t really self-destruct. Instead, his body just broke down under the stresses of Major League Baseball play.

Still, he managed to hang on for parts of 17 seasons and put together a solid career.

This rookie card doesn’t have the swagger it once did, but it’s still a thrill to stumble on one in a box or at a show.

Today, you can find ED for less than $10 even in PSA 9.

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