When 1986 Topps baseball cards first hit store shelves that spring, expectations were sky high on the heels of a 1985 set that was jampacked with high-profile rookies. And, although the set fell flat in terms of stellar first-year cards, it still holds collector interest all these years later.

And it doesn’t hurt any that the 1986 Topps Traded set featured a couple of hobby heavyweights that continue to spark imaginations today.

With that in mind, here is a rundown of the most valuable 1986 Topps baseball cards … plus the most valuable 1986 Topps Traded cards … plus a few bonus listings, all as determined by actual selling prices for cards graded PSA 9.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed.)

25) 1986 Topps Dale Murphy (#600)

1986 Topps Dale Murphy

Although he was a couple years removed from his two MVP awards, Dale Murphy remained among the most popular players in the game as 1986 dawned.

After all, he won home run titles in both 1984 and 1985, and he was headed straight for the Hall of Fame.

As things turned out, of course, Murph had only a couple of truly standout seasons in him before a steep decline phase sapped his career totals.

Still, the die was cast as far as collectors were concerned, and Murphy’s cards – including this classic kneeling pose – still sell well today.

Value: $10-15

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24) 1986 Topps Tom Seaver (#390)

1986 Topps Tom Seaver

Seaver ended up on the southside thanks to the Mets leaving him unprotected in the 1984 free agent compensation draft, and he used the new start to post two winning seasons after two losing ones, with the Reds and Mets.

No matter, really, since Seaver was already a legend by then.

And, yeah, he STILL looks sort of odd in a White Sox uniform, but it’s better than the mess we’d find in the Topps Traded issue late that fall.

Value: $10-20

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23) 1986 Topps Carlton Fisk (#290)

1986 Topps Carlton Fisk

At nearly 40 years old, Carlton Fisk should have been about finished when his 1986 Topps card hit store shelves, but he just kept on chugging into the early 1990s.

Fisk’s amazing Hall of Fame career keeps him popular among collectors today, and this card features Pudge in a classic shot, chugging out of the batter’s box.

Value: $15-20

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22) 1986 Topps Wade Boggs (#510)

1986 Topps Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs followed up his amazing 1983 batting-crown breakout (.361) with a more mortal .325 batting average in 1984.

For anyone who thought that opposing pitchers had discovered kryptonite in their rosin bags, though, let me tell you – Super Boggs returned in full force in 1985, to the tune of a major-league-leading 240 hits and .368 batting average.

Even a hobby built on the long ball couldn’t ignore that sort of prowess at the plate, and Boggs started to creep back up hot lists. By the spring of 1986, his Topps (and Fleer and Donruss) card was a premium pull.

Still is.

Value: $15-20

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21) 1986 Topps George Brett (#300)

1986 Topps George Brett

At 32, George Brett managed to stay on the field for 155 games in 1985, the most he had logged since 1976, nearly a decade earlier.

But Brett didn’t just merely play – he hit a career-high 30 home runs, drove in 112 runs, and batted a robust .335, helping his Royals to another division crown … an American League pennant … and their first World Series title ever.

Coupled with a booming hobby, Brett’s rebound to health and superstardom pushed his cards forward and made all his 1986 issues must-haves for collectors.

We still love Mullet and his cardboard even all these years later.

Value: $15-20

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20) 1986 Topps Ozzie Smith (#730)

1986 Topps Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith was already generally acknowledged as the greatest defensive shortstop of all time when this card was issued, but his lack of offensive firepower limited his hobby appeal.

A little more swagger at the plate and a run at 2500 hits – and, of course, enough Gold Gloves to field a couple teams – over the latter half of his career helped boost The Oz’s profile among collectors, and his cards are as popular as ever these days.

Value: $15-20

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19) 1986 Topps Cecil Fielder Rookie Card (#386)

1986 Topps Cecil Fielder Rookie Card

With four big power seasons in the minors and a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays under his belt, Cecil Fielder was enough a prospect entering the 1986 season to garner rookie cards in all three major sets – Donruss, Fleer, and Topps.

But with Toronto on a winning track and Willie Upshaw entrenched at first base, Fielder’s MLB career was going nowhere fast.

So, after the 1988 season, Fielder took his talents to Japan, where he turned in a Ruthian season and caught the eye (again) of American teams.

After signing with the Detroit Tigers for 1990, all Fielder did was unleash the first 50-homer season since George Foster’s 1977 MVP showing with the Reds … and send collectors scrambling to retrieve his rookie cards from the commons bin.

They never went back.

Value: $15-20

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18) 1986 Topps Ryne Sandberg (#690)

1986 Topps Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg’s fourth Topps card captures the Cubs legend in a full-on smile. You can generally capture that sunshine, ungraded, for around a dollar, but a solid PSA 9 will cost a good hunk more.

Value: $15-25

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17) 1986 Topps Reggie Jackson (#700)

1986 Topps Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson was nearing the end of the line when his 1986 Topps cards was issued, but he still looks like he could smack the cover off a baseball anytime he wanted. This late-career gem is a must-have for any serious 80s collectors.

Value: $15-25

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16) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Record Breaker (#206)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Record Breaker

There was no bigger baseball story for most of 1985 than Pete Rose’s final run to the all-time record for hits.

It all came to a rushing, emotional conclusion when he singled off Eric Show of the Padres on September 11, and Topps commemorated the event the next spring with card #206.

So, yes, this card was super popular right out of the pack, and the resultant years and scandal(s) have done little to tarnish its appeal.

Value: $15-25

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15) 1986 Topps Roger Clemens (#661)

1986 Topps Roger Clemens

Nobody was clamoring much for *any* Roger Clemens baseball cards at the start of the 1986 season.

That all changed after an amazing summer that saw the Red Sox righthander rip off a 14-0 start en route to a 24-4 record, 20 strikeouts in a game, his first American League Cy Young Award, and the A.L. MVP award that forever anointed him The Rocket … and a collector favorite.

Value: $20-25

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14) 1986 Topps Kirby Puckett (#329)

1986 Topps Kirby Puckett

Puckett established himself as the Twins everyday centerfielder in 1984 and solidified that standing with a .288 average, 21 steals, and plus defense in 1985.

None of that really resonated with collectors, though … but his .328 average and 31 home runs in 1986 sure did. In an instant (OK, in a season), Puckett went from potential and a small fanbase to baseball fire and a national audience.

Things only got better in 1987, and Puck – and his cards – never looked back.

Value: $20-25

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13) 1986 Topps Dwight Gooden (#250)

1986 Topps Dwight Gooden

Was there a more scorching player in the game and the hobby entering 1986 than Dwight Gooden?

Maybe, but if there was, his name was, “Don Mattingly.”

Otherwise, Gooden’s ridiculous 24-4, 1.53-ERA, 268-strikeout 1985 encore to his 1984 Rookie of the Year showing not only landed him a Cy Young Award, but also hobby royalty as a mere 21-year-old entering the new season.

Dr. K continued to mesmerize batters and collectors as the Mets won the 1986 World Series, and, even though personal issues left him short of the Cooperstown plaque we all imagined for him, his early cards – like this one – are still plenty popular.

Value: $20-25

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12) 1986 Topps Rod Carew (#400)

1986 Topps Rod Carew

Rod Carew hit .280 for the California Angels during the 1985 season, a mark that was sort of mundane by his standards and lost in the glare of the young superstars of the day.

But his 124 hits pushed him over 3000 for his career and assured that his 1986 cards would hold some special meaning, marking the milestone as they did.

What we didn’t know as the new season dawned, though, was that this crisp Topps issue would quickly become an unusual tribute when Carew announced his retirement in June of 1986 without ever taking the diamond as a player again.

And so, despite Topps’ best efforts to avoid such finales, their 1986 Rod Carew card stands as a sterling career-capper for a man who could hit the ball like few in the history of the game.

Value: $20-25

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11) 1986 Topps Darryl Strawberry (#80)

1986 Topps Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry burst onto the baseball scene in 1983 to capture the National League Rookie of the Year award on the strength of 26 home runs in just 122 games, and at the tender age of 21.

His 1983 Topps Traded issue was one of the most anticipated cards of the 1980s, and Straw built on the excitement with another excellent season, over more games, in 1984.

Injuries limited him to just 111 games in 1985, but Strawberry nevertheless cranked a then-career-best 29 long balls, helping keep him on an upward trajectory and making his 1986 Topps card an exciting grab.

He played more in 1986 – 136 games – but his power softened a bit (26 dingers) … none of which really mattered when the Mets won a classic World Series matchup with the Red Sox.

Big rebound campaigns in both 1987 and 1988 kept Strawberry perking on hobby hot lists, and his early cardboard still draws plenty of attention all these years later despite the problems that curtailed what everyone thought would be a Hall of Fame career.

Value: $20-25

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10) 1986 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. (#340)

1986 Topps Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken was already a superstar amongst superstars when the 1986 baseball cards debuted, and even a second straight “down” season – by his standards – that summer couldn’t dim his star.

Neither could a further spiral the next few seasons, though Cal did lose a bit of the limelight to a crop of young sluggers before putting together a monster 1991.

That’s all ancient history now, though, and this 1986 Topps stands as a classic early-career card of the Orioles legend who chased down Lou Gehrig and his consecutive-games-played streak.

Value: $20-30

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9) 1986 Topps Rickey Henderson (#500)

1986 Topps Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson was near his peak with the New York Yankees in the mid-1980s, and this is his first Topps base card with the Bombers. It’s a great looking piece of cardboard that continues to capture collectors’ imaginations.

Value: $25-35

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8) 1986 Topps Tony Gwynn (#10)

1986 Topps Tony Gwynn

By 1986, Tony Gwynn was in a perennial battle with Wade Boggs for the title of best pure hitter in the game. Gwynn eventually ended up with a 10-point advantage in career average (.338 to .328), not to mention eight batting titles to Boggs’ five, and a forever home among the hobby’s most beloved figures.

Value: $25-35

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7) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Manager (#741)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Manager

After breaking Ty Cobb’s record for career hits in 1985, Pete Rose had about half a season left in him as a player.

But by then, Rose had also built himself into the fiery and (mostly) respected manager of the Reds and given collectors a whole new way to partake of Charlie Hustle’s cardboard splendor.

Even after his downfall a few years later, and especially now, with decades of perspective, Rose and his cards are as popular as ever.

Eventeh MGR variety.

Value: $25-35

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6) 1986 Topps Mike Schmidt (#200)

1986 Topps Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt won MVP awards for the Phillies in 1980 and 1981, then lost out on the hardware to Dale Murphy (and four others) after another fine showing in 1982.

Schmidt won home run titles the next two seasons before sort of becoming the forgotten old man in 1985, “slipping” to .277, 33 home runs, 93 RBI while spending most of his time at first base.

That all made this card feel like something of a tribute entering the 1986 season, what with Schmidt staring 37 in the eyes (he’s a September birthday).

The man himself had other ideas, though, batting .290 with 37 home runs and 119 RBI, both counting stats good enough to lead the N.L.

And the whole ball of wax good enough to land the future Hall of Famer his third MVP award.

Value: $30-35

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5) 1986 Topps Len Dykstra Rookie Card (#53)

1986 Topps Len Dykstra Rookie Card

Scrappy Lenny Dykstra was one of the heroes of the amazing 1986 New York Mets team that won an unforgettable World Series against the Boston Red Sox, and he brought his tough as “Nails” game to a whole new fanbase with the Phillies in the early 1990s.

Though Dykstra’s career petered out and he has run into plenty of off-field problems, his rookie card maintains enough popularity to crash this list.

Value: $30-45

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4) 1986 Topps Eric Davis (#28)

1986 Topps Eric Davis

Eric Davis had all the talent in the world but had trouble staying on the field due to a fragile physique. Still, he made enough of an impact during his first few years, and sustained his performance well enough for many years, for this second-year card to continue drawing hobby dollars even today.

Value: $35-45

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3) 1986 Topps Don Mattingly (#180)

1986 Topps Don Mattingly

In 1986, Don Mattingly was considered by many — maybe most — observers to be the best all-around player in the game.

A bad back snuffed out the promise of what looked like a surefire Hall of Fame career, but Donnie Baseball is still popular in the hobby today … and so is this gorgeous third-year Mattingly.

Value: $35-45

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2) 1986 Topps Nolan Ryan (#100)

1986 Topps Nolan Ryan

As Nolan Ryan cards go, this one is not very exciting, but it’s still a 35+-year-old card of The Ryan Express.

Expect to pay near the top of this set’s price scale for a Ryan in nice condition.

Value: $40-45

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1) 1986 Topps Pete Rose (#1)

1986 Topps Pete Rose

When this card was issued, Pete Rose was just a few months removed from having become the all-time hits leader, surpassing Ty Cobb‘s long-standing mark of 4191 (since amended to 4090). Topps honored the Hit King with card #1 in their 1986 set, a pasteboard that’s still exciting all these years later … betting scandal or not.

Value: $40-50

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Honorable Mention

Not every card that makes waves with collectors is a high-roller in terms of selling prices years down the line.

But if you were around the hobby in 1986, you no doubt remember how “special” these cards were … and are!

6) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#2)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

After Rose broke Cobb’s record, Topps decided to squeeze the Charlie Hustle berry for all it was worth.

So, we got Pete’s base player card … a record breaker card … a manager card … and a run of six cards that showed all of Pete’s Topps base cards from previous Topps issues, in miniature format.

This one started it all off, with Rose’s 1963 Topps rookie card, plus his 1964-66 issues.

Value: $10-20

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5) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#3)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

This one continued the Rose tribute, showcasing his Topps cards from 1967 through 1970.

Value: $10-20

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4) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#4)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

The next entry in the Rose parade, taking us from the 1971 through 1974 Topps issues.

Value: $10-20

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3) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#5)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

Here we see a maturing Rose, as he was featured in Topps cards from 1975 through 1978, covering the heart of the Big Red Machine years.

Value: $10-20

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2) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#6)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

More Rose tribute unfolded here, covering his last card from his first stint with the Reds (1979), and his first three Phillies base cards, from 1980 through 1982.

Value: $10-20

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1) 1986 Topps Pete Rose Special (#7)

1986 Topps Pete Rose Special

This final Rose tribute card showcases his 1983 through 1985 Topps cards, covering his transition back to the Reds.

As a sort of bonus, the first slot here, in the upper left-hand corner, shows Rose gazing upward towards a sort of ghostly version of Ty Cobb at bat.

Value: $10-20

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1986 Topps Traded

So, even though the 1986 Topps base set turned out to be a bit of a wasteland for rookie cards, the old gum company sort of made up for that in the fall.

And, among all the great first-year cardboard unleashed in 1986 Topps Traded, there was also one terrible, awful, but fully necessary and indispensable legend sighting. Here have a gander …

We also give the 1986 Topps Traded set a fuller treatment in this article.

5) 1986 Topps Traded Tom Seaver (#101T)

1986 Topps Traded Tom Seaver

After a so-so start with the White Sox in 1986, Seaver found himself in the Red Sox rotation with young gun Roger Clemens after a June trade that sent Steve Lyons to Chicago.

And, while Seaver would eventually hang up his spikes before pitching in the bigs in 1987, no one knew that as the ‘86 season came to an end.

As a consequence, Seaver got both a career-capper in the 1987 Topps set … and this airbrushed beast the fall before, in 1986 Topps Traded.

It’s ugly and awful, but still a historic hunk of Seaver cardboard.

Value: $10-15

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4) 1986 Topps Traded Jose Canseco Rookie Card (#20T)

1986 Topps Traded Jose Canseco Rookie Card

Canseco entered 1986 with a lot of hype surrounding him, then almost lost the summer to California Angels upstart Wally Joyner.

Wally World cooled off after his torrid start, though, while Jose kept plugging along, eventually winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award on the strength of 33 home runs, 117 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.

Of course, collectors were chasing Canseco’s Donruss and Fleer rookie cards in wax (and cello and rack) packs all season long, but we had to wait until the fall for Topps to get their Bash Brother game together.

Generally speaking, this card was worth the wait, even if Canseco fell short of the Hall of Fame.

Value: $15-25

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3) 1986 Topps Traded Will Clark Rookie Card (#24T)

1986 Topps Traded Will Clark Rookie Card

Dubbed “The Natural” as a nod toward his sweet left-handed swing and no-nonsense, hard-nosed approach to the game, Will Clark became an almost instant (if sometimes polarizing) fan favorite.

And, though his final seasonal numbers were hardly ever of the eye-popping variety, Clark gained a foothold with collectors through his old-school consistency and, later, his strong anti-steroid stance. His 1986 Topps Traded rookie is a hobby classic that still sees strong sales today.

Value: $15-25

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2) 1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson Rookie Card (#50T)

1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson Rookie Card

In contrast to Barry Bonds, who took awhile to gain habby favor, Bo Jackson was a phenom even before he hit the Major Leagues, and his 1986 Topps Traded card was hot right away.

More than 35 years later, it maintains collector appeal despite Jackson’s career being cut short by injury.

Value: $35-45

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1) 1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds Rookie Card (#11T)

1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds Rookie Card

Bonds was an all-around threat when he debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the mid-1980s, but his moderate power stroke tempered his card values for several years. By the time he was winning MVP awards in the 1990s, though, and especially when he was smashing home run marks in the 2000s, his rookie cards were as hot as anyone’s.

This Topps Traded card was near the top of that leaderboard, and it’s still the gem of all Topps cards issued in 1986 (or at least fighting hard for that title).

Value: $40-50

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