When 1992 Fleer baseball cards first appeared, if felt like they were dropped from hobby heaven.

After all, the 1991 Fleer set was a yellow abomination that caused more sea sickness and eye injuries than a corkscrew plane ride shared with a loose cargo load of Fiskars.

The ’92s, though … glossy fronts, cool color fades, solid photography on front and back. They were fresh and neato and actually sought after for a good part of the season.

Of course …

The years have taught us that 1992 Fleer was overproduced, just like about everything else from the Junk Wax Era, and you can buy most cards for almost nothing when you target raw copies.

But if you’re looking for something a little more stout — say, PSA 9 specimens — then certain cards stack up a little better.

What follows, then, are eleven 1992 Fleer baseball cards that sit at the top of the set in terms of value. None will break the bank, but recent eBay sales figures suggest you can expect to pay $10-15 for each one in PSA 9 condition.

1992 Fleer Jim Thome Rookie Card (#125)

1992 Fleer Jim Thome

There aren’t many rookie cards on this list, which is one reason the 1992 Fleer set doesn’t hold more sway with collectors today.

And even this Jim Thome card might not really be considered an RC since he appeared in a few 1991 issues, including Upper Deck.

But this is Thome’s first base Fleer issue, and it’s one of the more valuable cards in the set. It can even touch $20 at times.

Not unexpected for a Hall of Famer with 600+ home runs who emerged from the steroid era pretty much unscathed by scandal.

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1992 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. (#279)

1992 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr

Griffey was still busy becoming the superstar everyone thought he’d be when this 1992 Fleer card first hit collectors’ hands.

It would be a few years yet before everything would gel and elevate Junior to a status as a guy with one of the greatest sustained peaks of all-time.

And, even though the decline was steep when Griffey went “home” to Cincinnati, the overall resume still leaves him on the periphery of conversations around “greatest player ever.”

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1992 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. (#26)

1992 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr

Ripken was pretty much at the pinnacle of his hobby popularity when this card debuted, having just come off an American League MVP season in 1991 (his second).

That stellar performance quieted most critics who charged that Rip was paying too much attention to his consecutive games-played streak at the expense of overall performance — and his Baltimore Orioles teammates.

Of course, Cal would scale even new heights a few years later when he helped the game recover from an ugly player’s strike by breaking Lou Gehrig‘s record of 2130 straight games played in 1995.

A living legend, Ripken will appear in lists like this for just about every set where his card appears.

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1992 Fleer Barry Bonds (#550)

1992 Fleer Barry Bonds

In 1992, Bonds resumed his MVP-winning ways by nabbing his second in three years for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back then, he was still a slender five-tool dude who honestly didn’t light up the hobby all that much.

Part of that was an already surly attitude.

More of it, though, could be laid at the feet of the middling power numbers he put up. Sure, he was considered by many to be the best all-around player in the game, but 30 homers or so didn’t move the cardboard needle much.

A free agent signing with the San Francicso Giants before the 1993 season changed Bonds’ trajectory completely, though, setting him up for epic home run battles with Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron.

And, of course, for epic battles with all corners of the baseball establishment.

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1992 Fleer Roger Clemens (#37)

1992 Fleer Roger Clemens

The story for Clemens is pretty much the same as that for Bonds, except replace “home runs” with “wins” and “MVP” with “Cy Young.”

As in, Clemens had just just won his third American League Cy Young Award in 1991, en route to a late-career push that would net him four more.

Like Bonds, Clemens ran afoul of the PED smell test, and the concomitant indignant public outrage that followed, on his way to becoming one of the best handful of pitchers ever.

Whether either man ever makes the Cooperstwon cut or not, both will almost always appear on these sorts of “most valuable” lists.

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1992 Fleer Frank Thomas (#100)

1992 Fleer Frank Thomas

In 1991, Frank Thomas displayed the sort of power and patience that the game hadn’t really seen since the heyday of Ted Williams.

And, with 32 home runs, 138 walks, and a .318 batting average, the Big Hurt served notice that a new era was dawning in baseball.

In fact, his offensive profile is just the sort that Sabermetric folks love — three true outcomes (his 112 strikeouts representing the third).

Thomas would rein in the Ks in subsequent seasons and string together a run of offensive lines that would make even the Splendid Splinter take notice. Along the way, Frank’s cardboard became some of the most popular in the hobby, and his cards retain a lot of that glow even today.

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1992 Fleer Tony Gwynn (#605)

1992 Fleer Tony Gwynn

As 1992 dawned, Tony Gwynn had fallen on hard times, having posted consecutive batting averages of just .309 and .317. Another .317 in 1992 left us all thinking that the batting title days were behind Mr. Padre.

Then, in 1993, Gwynn ripped off a run that included .358, .394, .368, .353, and .372.

Those last four all amounted to batting titles for Gwynn, who won eight crowns in all.

And his 3100+ hits were just further cement for the legend of the late San Diego great who was maybe the most analytical hitter of the last 50 years.

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1992 Fleer Wade Boggs (#32)

1992 Fleer Wade Boggs

Boggs was an almost exact contemporary of Gwynn, and the American League counterpart for most of Gwynn’s exploits.

And, while Boggs ended with “just” 3010 hits and five AL batting titles, he juiced enough power and Gold Glove goodness into his overall game to best his San Diego counterpart by 20+ WAR over their careers.

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1992 Fleer Rickey Henderson (#258)

1992 Fleer Rickey Henderson

Henderson, like Ripken above, enjoyed an incredible run of popularity in the game and the hobby in the early 1990s.

In particular, Rickey won his only Most Valuable Player award in 1990 with the World Series-bound Oakland A’s, and then broke Lou Brock‘s all-time stolen base record early in the 1991 season.

Though his overall production slid back a bit in 1992, Henderson would play in the Majors through 2003, and his cards never really lost their swagger.

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1992 Fleer Kirby Puckett (#217)

1992 Fleer Kirby Puckett

In the spring of 1992, Puckett was coming off his second World Series championship with the Minnesota Twins in five seasons.

He was also a perennial threat for the batting title and a fan favorite all across the game.

Even though health problems limited him to just 12 years in the Majors and eventually claimed his life at just 45 years of age, Puck is still popular in just about every corner of the sport and hobby.

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1992 Fleer Nolan Ryan (#320)

1992 Fleer Nolan  Ryan

The Ryan Express completed the trio of veteran players who set the hobby on fire in the early 1990s (with Ripken and Henderson).

Already a pitching legend, Ryan rocketed to otherworldly levels when he hooked up with the Texas Rangers for the 1989 season and set about an end-of-career streak that would see him soar past 5000 strikeouts and lock down his 7th no-hitter.

Even today, Nolan sits near the top of every set where his card appears.

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