One-Off Baseball Card Box Sets of the 1980s – Box Set Boom


Remember the boxed set boom of the 1980s and early 1990s?

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.

After months digging into some forgotten oddball sets of decades past, we’re officially wrapping up this series this week with a quick rundown of some of the one-off sets of the 1980s that have not yet been highlighted.

Next week, we’ll shift the attention of our Friday column to 1990s insert sets. For now, let’s take one more stroll down boxed-set memory lane.

1986 Topps Baseball Champion Superstars

Cards: 33
Hall of Famers: 10

The Topps Woolworth’s sets were one of the longest-running boxed products of the era, released each year from 1987 through 1991. However, before they were outwardly Woolworth’s branded, there was the Topps Baseball Champion Superstars set that precluded them in 1986 and was sold exclusively at Woolworth’s stores.

The cards simply said “Topps Collectors’ Series” along the top with a bright yellow border and an extremely 1980s “Superstar” logo in the bottom right corner.

The 33-card checklist is loaded with Hall of Famers as Wade Boggs, George Brett, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Mike Schmidt and Dave Winfield all made the cut.

With one of the more original designs of the boxed set boom and a great checklist, this is an underrated set and a great target for single-player collectors.

Buy on:

1987 Topps Boardwalk and Baseball

Cards: 33
Hall of Famers: 14

Boardwalk and Baseball was not just a fun name for a boxed set, it was a full-blown theme park that opened in April 1987 near Haines City, Florida.

The park replaced “Circus World” and brought with it a baseball theme, with relics from Cooperstown on display and the Kansas City Royals calling Baseball City Stadium their home during spring training.

ESPN taped the Boardwalk and Baseball Super Bowl of Sports Trivia there for two seasons, with Chris Berman serving as host for a single-elimination sports trivia tournament made up of participants from colleges around the country.

The park closed in early 1990.

During its inaugural season, Topps released a baseball card set in conjunction with the park, featuring a checklist of the biggest stars of the day. An impressive 14 Hall of Famers are part of the 33-card checklist.

The set also has two variations, one with and one without a “/” between the “B” and “B” on the front of the card. Neither carries any additional value, but it does double the number of targets for player and team collectors.

Buy on:

1989 Score Scoremasters

Cards: 42
Hall of Famers: 14

From a visual standpoint, the 1989 Scoremasters set has to be considered one of the best of the era, and until recently it was largely overlooked in today’s market.

However, thanks to the enduring popularity of Ken Griffey Jr. and the recent nostalgia boom, the set has seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity over the past few years.

While not a Rookie Card, the Griffey card in the set is from the same year and it has become a sought-after target. The book value jumped up to $25 when the market surged, and it is still holding strong.

No other card in the set has a book value of more than $1, but the checklist is littered with Hall of Famers and a great early card of Bo Jackson during his time with the Kansas City Royals.

In much the same way the Diamond Kings cards are still among the best-looking of the 1980s, the Scoremasters design has stood the test of time in the three-plus decades since it was released.

Buy on:


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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