Boxed Set Boom: Fleer Record Setters Baseball Cards of the 1980s

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It was all the fun of baseball card collecting without the hassle of opening packs and wondering who you were going to pull. All right, so maybe it’s not hard to see why they fell by the wayside…

Still, while most of those sets hold little value these days as a result of mass production, they make the perfect oddball addition for single player or team collectors, not to mention the nostalgia factor.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the memorable boxed set series of that era, and up next are the Fleer Record Setters Baseball sets.

Along with the Fleer flagship and Fleer Update sets, the Fleer company also released an overwhelming number of boxed sets in the late 1980s. All told, there were 10 different boxed sets produced by Fleer in 1987, with the “Record Setters” set added to the mix for the first time that year.

The Record Setters boxed set was released exclusively in Eckerd drug stores, which were based in Largo, Florida. The company was purchased by J.C. Penney in 1996, then broken off and sold to CVS Corporation in 2004.

1987 Fleer Record Setters

Cards: 44
Hall of Famers: 8

Despite the name of the set being “record setters” there was no specific mention of records that were broken by the players included. The checklist was, instead, more of a simple rundown of the game’s biggest stars.

George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Tim Raines, Mike Schmidt, Don Sutton and Alan Trammell were the eight Hall of Famers included in the set. Niekro wrapped up his career in ‘87, Sutton hung it up after ‘88, and Schmidt played his final game in ‘89, so those three were coming down the homestretch of their careers. 

As for obscure additions, Montreal Expos right-hander Floyd Youmans made the cut after going 13-12 with a 3.53 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 219 innings, though he also walked an NL-leading 118 batters. He won just 13 more games over the next three seasons before his MLB career ended.

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1988 Fleer Record Setters

Cards: 44
Hall of Famers: 10

Fleer reworked the design for the 1988 set, moving the “Fleer Record Setters” banner from the bottom of the card to the top, while going with a brighter yellow, blue and red color scheme after the dark blue and while look the previous year.

The only returning Hall of Famer from the previous year’s checklist were Tim Raines, Mike Schmidt and Alan Trammell, and they were joined by seven legendary newcomers in Wade Boggs, Andre Dawson, Tony Gwynn, Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith.

A young Mark McGwire, Darryl Strawberry and 1987 NL Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe were among the other notable newcomers.

The most outside-the-box name in the set was Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Mike Dunne, who finished runner-up in 1987 NL Rookie of the Year voting by going 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 163.1 innings.

Despite its brief run and rather bland design, the set is still a logical target for collectors who PC any of a number of 1980s stars.

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Joel Reuter

Joel is a National MLB Columnist at Bleacher Report who has spent the last decade as a full-time MLB writer. A lifelong Cubs fan and Chicago resident, nostalgia drives his card-collecting focus. He is currently working on assembling the entire base catalogs of four of his all-time favorites—Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

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1 comment

  1. Matt Maldre 24 January, 2022 at 11:15

    Cards featuring “Record Setters”, but nothing mentioned about records being set. How bizarre. I seem to recall encountering these cards in the 80s. At the time they confirmed my bias against Fleer, so I continued to not buy Fleer packs.

    Although I did enjoy the fact that there was a variety of card manufacturers which made collecting individual players more fun. I do have Fleer cards in my player sets, and I really enjoy those. I just wouldn’t crack open Fleer packs.

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