If you’ve read anything about the hobby over the last 30 years, you might have gotten the impression that 1989 Fleer baseball cards are all about the Billy Ripken obscenity fiasco.

But, while that card — those cards — will probably always land among the most valuable cards from the set, there is more to this gray-and-pinstripe set than FF.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 most valuable 1989 Fleer baseball cards, Billy the Kid included.

(Check out our other posts about baseball card values here.)

1989 Fleer Gary Sheffield Rookie Card (#196)

1989 fleer gary sheffield

Sheffield was the big-stick-swinging shortstop who also happened to be Dwight Gooden’s nephew and was going to make everyone forget about Ernie Banks.

Sheffield ended up at third base and then the outfield in the Major Leagues, and the only person he made folks forget was Dave Magadan.

Still, he swatted more than 500 home runs and should probably garner more Hall of Fame consideration than he has to this point, PEDs or not.

Sheffield has rookie cards across the board in the 1989 sets, and this Fleer generally sells for under a buck raw, up to about $40 in PSA 10.

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1989 Fleer Barry Bonds (#202)

1989 fleer Barry Bonds

You can’t have a discussion about any late 1980s baseball card set and not include Barry Bonds. The all-time home run leader is still the slender, base-stealing Barry many purists claim to prefer on this card, so what’s not to like?

And, with 762 home runs — the all-time record — and scads of other ridiculous numbers, Bonds seems like a good bet to eventually overcome his tarnished reputation enough to eventually gain enshrinement to Cooperstown.

As it is, this 1989 Fleer card brings less than $35 in PSA 9 but can climb into the $20s for PSA 10 copies.

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1989 Fleer Nolan Ryan (#368)

1989 fleer Nolan Ryan

In 1989, Nolan Ryan joined the Texas Rangers to begin the final push of his legendary career. It was a magical five-year run that would include more no-hitters, more strikeouts, more wins, and a daddy-whooping of Robin Ventura when the young Chicago White Sox charged the mound.

If Ryan cards weren’t already hot before, The Express’s stint in Arlington pushed his cardboard into supernova status.

A lot of that glow remains today, and even this overproduced issue — the last Fleer card to show Ryan with the Houston Astros — can fetch up to $50 or so in PSA 10.

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1989 Fleer Craig Biggio Rookie Card (#353)

1989 fleer Craig Biggio

Young players can take a while to find their lot in Major League life, just as with Gary Sheffield above.

For Craig Biggio, that searching included a minor league career and a handful of Big League seasons toiling as a catcher before moving to his forever home at second base for the Houston Astros.

Amazingly, Biggio became an All-Star behind the plate before moving to the other side of the pitcher, but we’re all better off for the wear-and-tear that position switch saved on the eventual Hall of Famer.

Biggio made an appearance in a couple of year-end sets in 1988, but this was his first base Fleer card. As such, it brings in around $1 ungraded and $30-40 in perfect graded condition.

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1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie Card (#381)

1989 fleer Randy Johnson

In 1989, Randy Johnson was still a *ahem* huge enigma.

Would he ever be able to harness the (sorry) enormous potential in his left arm, or would his outsized (ugh!) walk rates continue to eat him up?

The only way to be sure, it seemed, was to trade him to the Seattle Mariners where his profile seemed a bit more modest in the shadow of the Space Needle.

All puns aside (never!), the Big Unit developed into one of the most dominating starters of a generation and an all-time great who took his rightful place in Cooperstown in 2015.

Johnson’s 1989 Fleer rookie card is not quite as monstrous but does offer an interesting variation — the background of the card can be found with a Marlboro ad on the scoreboard behind Randy or with a blacked-out version of said ad. Or with some half-hearted in-between attempt. Sorta reminds me of another 1989 Fleer card. Hmmm …

Anyway, there seem to be tons of variations here, depending on the degree of Fleer’s contrition for advertising cigarettes to minors at any given moment.

In general, you’ll find listings ranging from a $1 for raw copies to nearly $200 for various ad-blocked versions of the card in PSA 10.

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1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#548)

1989 fleer Ken Griffey Jr

Look … this is a Ken Griffey, Jr., rookie card, so you know it has to land near the top of the value mountain for whatever set it appears in.

That’s just what happens when you’re one of the dozen or so greatest players of all time.

In this case, you’re generally looking at maybe a few dollars for nice raw copies, up to $200 or so for a perfect graded “10.”

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1989 Fleer John Smoltz Rookie Card (#602)

1989 fleer John Smoltz

Smoltz did most of his starting and finishing with the vaunted pitching staffs of the Altanta Braves in the 1990s and 2000s, and he joined rotation mates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown in 2015.

Like many others on this list, the fireballer’s 1989 Fleer rookie card checks in at a buck or so ungraded, and maybe $35 in PSA 10.

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1989 Fleer Billy Ripken White Out (#616)

1989 fleer Billy Ripken White Out

You know the basic story here, right?

Billy Ripken showed up on his 1989 Fleer card with an obscenity on the knob of his bat. When collectors started pulling the card, the hobby freaked out.

Then Fleer freaked out and tried about 74 different ways to fix the thing — scribbles, black boxes, alien abduction, witness protection, whiteout.

In the end, the two varieties which seem to resonate most with collectors, and which seem to be hardest to come by, are the whiteout version and the so-called FF version. I’m just showing the whiteout version here because I don’t really feel like dropping the F-bomb in this space.

Think of the children.

I will list pricing for the FFs below, though.

For the whiteout thing, you’re probably looking at $20-$50 in ungraded condition.

For a PSA 8-10 copy, expect to pay well into three figures, maybe four.

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1989 Fleer Billy Ripken FF (#616)

If you like your Billy Ripken a bit more bawdy, then the FF version is definitely for you.

The good news is that you can usually find this saucy cardboard for $10-20 raw, with even PSA 8s coming in at less than $50 or so. PSA 10s can run north of $300.

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1989 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr.(#617)

1989 fleer Cal Ripken Jr

Cal Ripken and the Orioles went through a tough year in 1988 — among the toughest ever, in fact — but the Iron Man was still a beloved hobby figure.

Still is, courtesy of 3000+ hits, the 1983 American League Rookie of the Year award, two AL MVP awards, and The Streak heard ’round the world.

This 1989 Fleer card wasn’t Cal’s greatest hunk of cardboard ever, but it can still fetch close to $40 in PSA 10 condition.

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1989 Fleer Joe Girardi (#644)

1989 fleer Joe Girardi

Before Joe Girardi became a good manager for the Florida Marlins and a maybe-great manager for the New York Yankees, he was a pretty darn good catcher for the Yanks, the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, and the St. Louis Cardinals over the course of a 15-year Major League career.

And, though Girardi is still on the sidelines as of this writing, he’s young enough and respected enough to expect he’ll be back in the dugout before long. With Mike Scioscia announcing his retirement from the Los Angeles Angels recently, that opportunity may come sooner rather than later for Girardi.

Here, the former Yanks skipper shares his 1989 Fleer rookie card with Rolando Roomes, and the duo can bring $10-15 on PSA 10. Ungraded copies will cost a more modest — stop me if you’ve heard this before — $1 or so.

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Bonus Footage … Goose Gossage (#425)

So, Gossage isn’t among the most valuable 1989 Fleer cards, but if you’ve read this far, you might enjoy an “in-action” look at one of the few cards of the intimidator with the Chicago Cubs

You can find other fun/silly/trivial baseball card vids on my YouTube channel, too.

(Check out our other posts about baseball card values here.)


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