The best of The Thriller Years, Part 1

In previous polls, we have debated the best baseball card designs of the 1970s and the 1960s.  This was the heart of the Topps Era, when there was only one card set to worry about so we were ranking 10 sets per decade.

To tackle the 1980s, I decided to mix it up.  First of all, there were 31 cards sets in the decade, and I did not really want to ask you to ponder whether the 1983 Donruss deserves to slot ahead of the 1989 Score set in 27th place.  Check that: I did not really want to ask myself to do that.  So instead, we will start out by picking the best card set of each year.  We will skip 1980 for the moment (Topps was the only set).

Reviewing the rules:  Please, I beg you, do not vote for the set that had the best rookies, or the best update set, or the best retail value.  All those things being equal, if you look at 25 random cards from each year which are the most attractive? The End.

We are just going to do five years now, and finish up next week.

So, first review the photos below, and then vote.  The link is at the bottom.

1981

Steve-Garvey-(Surpassed-21-HR-on-card-back)  83-56aBk

s-l225  84-640aBk

1981to3  wpeE5

1982

s-l225 (1)  87-34Bk

s-l225 (2)  Robin-Yount

s-l225 (3)  89-390Bk

1983

$_58  download (1)

92-601Fr  92-601Bk

83-topps-last-card-ripken  download

1984

s-l225 (4) 95-151Bkmurphy-84f  96-186Bk

100_2721  25513-510Bk

1985

s-l225 (5) - Copy  100-222Bk - Copy

carew - Copy  101-297Bk

43648c5c004c7bf68b09711b4d8d9cd3  download (2)

OK, now go vote!

Author: Mark Armour

Long-time SABR member, co-chair of the Baseball Cards Committee, founder and past chairman (2002-2016) of the Biography Project, author of several books and dozens of articles on baseball. See mark-armour.net.

3 thoughts on “The best of The Thriller Years, Part 1”

  1. Coming here from Twitter where I can’t wait for next week and getting Score and Upper Deck into the mix.

    Since we were discussing the oddball sets that we aren’t voting on, off the top of my head and kind of grouped in buckets.

    Oddballs which feel like distinct sets:
    1989 Bowman
    1988–89 Topps Big
    1987–89 Classic Major League Baseball Game
    1986–89 Sportflics
    1981–89 Fleer Star Stickers

    Oddballs which sort of riff off of each year’s flagship sets:
    Topps Mini Leaders
    Donruss Highlights
    Donruss the Rookies

    Oddballs which don’t change from year to year:
    Topps Glossy All Stars (rack pack version)
    Topps Glossy All Stars (mail-in version)
    Topps Glossy Rookies

    And I’m not sure what to make of the Topps Double Headers and Topps 3D sets

    Like

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