It's the set that doesn't garner much attention from collectors, because almost all of the rookie star power appears in the 1986 Topps Traded set. (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Andres Galarraga, Bo Jackson, Wally Joyner, Kevin Mitchell, wow.)
For many collectors, this leaves poor Cecil Fielder pretty much all by himself as the rookie draw in the standard set.
I'd also give honorable mentions to Ozzie Guillen (#254), Teddy Higuera (#347), Vince Coleman (#370), Mariano Duncan (#602), and Harold Reynolds (#769).
Regardless, it's really a shame that the set is overlooked, because the photography, although not spectacular, is a bit underrated.
Same goes for the design itself. Look at Cecil Fielder's card again.
The thick color-matched team name placed on top of the even thicker black color bar really does catch the eye. Combine that with the remaining white border and you get a card design that works very well for just about any team, as you'll see in many of the images here.
In addition, the first few cards in the set commemorate one of the all-time achievements in baseball history: Pete Rose's career hit record.
There's a nice little write-up on the back of each card, documenting some of Rose's highlights from each year featured on the front.
And there's even one more positive attribute of 1986 Topps:
Because it's often overlooked (and undervalued), it's quite easy to assemble the entire set of 792 cards. You can find numerous collectors who'd be happy to give you a tall stack of them. And if you want the "original experience", wax packs are still available and affordable. You can buy a few, open them, and add some cards to your set that way. 1986 fun at near-1986 prices!
Now that we've got some good energy going, let's flip through a bunch of the grade-A cards in the set:
You still have your share of classic posed shots, of course.
Some of the game-action shots are excellent.
As are some of the candid shots.
The Team Leader cards are quite attractive, too.
And the catchers? You'd be hard pressed to find six images like these in any other set of the era.
Here are some fun shots, because baseball is fun.
And finally, a peculiar shot that features John Wathan putting his morning bagel on a baseball bat for some reason. I think one day I might try eating a bagel this way.
Here's an example of a card back. Note the Talkin' Baseball factoid that runs across the bottom (when space allows).
Want an example of a solid design effort? There are six different Talkin' Baseball cartoon guys. Along with the one above, here are the other five:
And here's the Spring Fever Baseball game piece that was inserted in each wax pack.
So you see? 1986 Topps Baseball isn't so bad. It has its detractors, and that's fine, especially when you consider what the set could have been if Topps had managed to squeeze in some of those star rookies. But it's still a good set, and I'm happy to have finally completed it.
What are your thoughts on the 1986 Topps set? Share in the comment section.
And thanks for reading.