15 Most Valuable 1987 Fleer Baseball Cards

Unopened Box of 1987 Fleer Baseball Cards

Whether you love them or hate them, there is one thing I think we can all agree on when it comes to 1987 Fleer baseball cards:

Those two-tone blue borders are instantly recognizable…

You could hide the player images, names, team affiliations, etc. and leave nothing showing but the borders and still be able to identify this set.

And, I think that counts for something.

While most of these cards’ values have suffered over time due to massive printing and market saturation, some are still worth a respectable amount.

And, in this guide, I’ll go through the fifteen most valuable.

Let’s jump right in!

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Ross Uitts

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Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1987 Donruss and Topps sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

1987 Fleer #604 Barry Bonds Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $175

Long before the PED allegations began making headlines, Barry Bonds was racking up MVP awards, Gold Gloves, and Silver Sluggers.

Rarely had Major League Baseball seen such incredible five-tool talent wrapped into one player, seemingly on an unstoppable path towards Cooperstown.

But, the PED allegations did come, and Hall of Fame voters haven't forgotten, keeping the door shut for the time being.

Despite the controversy surrounding him, most of his rookie cards can still be quite valuable in high grade, including this one.

While he spent the bulk of his career with the Giants, I loved watching Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy Van Slyke with those solid Pittsburgh teams of the early 90s.

And, how about those old Pirates uniforms?

From the striped hats to the cartoonish pirate logo, those uniforms are retro classics.

1987 Fleer #604 Barry Bonds Rookie Card

1987 Fleer #369 Bo Jackson Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $100

Some may say there is too much blue occurring on this card because of how those old Royals uniforms mesh with the blue borders.

But, who cares? It's a Bo Jackson rookie card...

Jackson was one of the biggest names in sports during the late 80s and early 90s because of his ability to play baseball and football at the highest levels.

As a testament to his talents, Jackson was named both an MLB All-Star and NFL Pro Bowler at different points in his career.

Sadly, his greatness was derailed when he suffered a hip injury during a game against the Bengals in 1991.

However, his popularity among hobbyists certainly has not been derailed at all, as both his baseball and football cards remain desirable to those who grew up watching him.

Count me in as one of those Bo Jackson fans.

1987 Fleer #369 Bo Jackson Rookie Card

1987 Fleer Update #68 Greg Maddux Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $75

Though it's technically part of the 1987 Fleer Update set, I decided to toss in the Greg Maddux rookie, as well as a few others from the Update set on this list.

During his first full season as a starter in 1987, Maddux went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA.

Clearly, he was still getting his feet wet in the Majors.

From that point on, however, he wouldn't have another losing record until nearly twenty years later in 2005 when he went 13-15 at the age of 39.

That speaks to both his consistency and longevity.

While he wasn't overpowering, Maddux is one of the pitchers I most enjoyed watching as his precision and pitching IQ were off the charts.

1987 Fleer Update #U68 Greg Maddux Rookie Card

1987 Fleer #204 Barry Larkin Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $70

Born and raised in Cincinnati, it seems only fitting that Larkin would spend his entire 19-year career in a Cincinnati Reds uniform.

One of the best of his era on both sides of the ball, Larkin would collect nine Silver Slugger and three Gold Glove awards during his Hall of Fame career.

He was particularly fantastic during the 1995 season when he batted .319 with 51 stolen bases, picking up an All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and an MVP award for his efforts.

It was the first time in over three decades that a shortstop earned MVP honors since Maury Wills did so in 1962.

One of my most vivid memories of Larkin was watching the Reds and him unexpectedly sweep the Oakland Athletics during the 1990 World Series.

1987 Fleer #204 Barry Larkin Rookie Card

1987 Fleer Update #76 Mark McGwire Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $55

Thanks to the ESPN documentary Long Gone Summer, which followed the home run battle between Sammy Sosa and McGwire during the 1998 season, McGwire's rookie cards have recently seen a resurgence in price.

Long before that season, though, McGwire was already achieving extraordinary things during his rookie year in 1987.

That season, he set the record for most home runs by a rookie with 49, which stood for thirty years until Aaron Judge belted 52 as a rookie in 2017.

We now know that many of McGwire's home runs throughout his career came at the aid of PEDs, but that might not have been the case during his rookie campaign in 1987.

McGwire has since said he didn't start dabbling in PEDs until 1989.

Who knows?

Regardless, there is no question that McGwire's reputation was that of a home run hitter.

1987 Fleer Update #U76 Mark McGwire Rookie Card

1987 Fleer #269 Will Clark Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

Early in his career, Will "The Thrill" Clark seemed like he was on a surefire Hall of Fame trajectory as he finished in the top five for MVP voting four times in his first six seasons.

A solid hitter with a good glove, Clark's rookie cards quickly became quite popular among collectors's of the era.

Unfortunately, injuries nagged at him throughout the 1990s during his time with both the Giants and Rangers, preventing him from putting up the home run and RBI totals to which fans had grown accustomed.

After receiving only 4.4% of the Hall of Fame vote in 2006, his name was withdrawn from future ballots as he didn't quite clear the 5% threshold needed to remain under consideration.

Still, Will Clark was one of the greatest players of his era.

1987 Fleer #269 Will Clark Rookie Card

1987 Fleer #67 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $35

While he failed to do so during his previous seven seasons with the Astros, Nolan Ryan again led the league in strikeouts with 270 during the 1987 season.

"Fail" is not a word you typically see associated with Nolan Ryan.

But, after leading the American League in strikeouts seven out of ten seasons in the 1970s, expectations were that he would likely do so with Astros in the National League, too.

However, guys like Steve Carlton, Dwight Gooden, and even teammate Mike Scott kept getting in his way throughout most of the 1980s.

Regardless, nobody struck out more hitters over his career than Nolan Ryan, nor could they match his longevity.

1987 Fleer #67 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1987 Fleer #104 Don Mattingly

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

Not many players were hotter in the hobby during the late 80s than Don Mattingly.

Heading into his fourth full season in 1987, Mattingly already had a batting title, MVP, three All-Star selections, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers to his name.

The guy was on fire.

However, the 1987 season would be the last time he hit 30 or more home runs or had a slugging percentage over .500.

Although he still produced at a level worthy enough of two more All-Star selections in 1988 and 1989, his power just wasn't the same.

Mattingly was still a Gold Glover for multiple years after that but, unfortunately, the injury bug caught up to him and threw off his offensive production enough to dampen his Hall of Fame hopes.

1987 Fleer #104 Don Mattingly Baseball Card

1987 Fleer #549 Kirby Puckett

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

From 1986 until his retirement in 1995, Kirby Puckett was on an absolute tear during those ten seasons.

Not only was he a solid hitter, but he was also tough on defense, proving to be one of the best all-around players of his era.

Named an All-Star each year, Puckett picked up six Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers, a batting title, two World Series rings, and finished in the top-seven for MVP voting seven times.

He was brilliant.

Puckett's 1984 Fleer Update rookie card remains a hobby icon, but this one in top condition is still popular among collectors as well.

1987 Fleer #549 Kirby Puckett Baseball Card

1987 Fleer #101 Rickey Henderson

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

During the 1980s, Rickey Henderson led the American League in stolen bases every year except one.

Which year was that?

You guessed it: 1987.

It's worth noting, though, Henderson played in only 95 games that season and he still managed to finish fifth in the American League in stolen bases with 41.

Like Ryan, Henderson is one of those guys whose cards manage to be among the most desirable set in which he appeared.

That's what happens when you're the game's all-time leader in two major statistical categories: runs scored and stolen bases.

1987 Fleer #101 Rickey Henderson Baseball Card

1987 Fleer #478 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

Though Ripken's batting average dipped uncharacteristically to .252 in 1987, he would finish the year with 27 home runs, 98 RBI, and 97 runs scored.

That was pretty much the type of steady offensive production that was expected of him year after year.

Then again, consistency in baseball knows few better models than Ripken, as he showed up game after game, eventually setting the record for most consecutive games played with a stunning (and likely unbreakable) 2,632-game streak.

His status as one of the greatest shortstops ever keeps his cards atop many collectors' want lists.

1987 Fleer #478 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1987 Fleer Update #75 Fred McGriff Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

After ten unsuccessful attempts, Fred McGriff's time on the Hall of Fame ballot came to an end in 2019 when he received 39.8% of the vote, his highest percentage ever.

Sadly, that was still well short of the 75% needed for election to Cooperstown.

I think it's a shame he didn't get in because the numbers are certainly there, and his name never came up in the PED scandals like so many players of his era.

Maybe the votes were low because McGriff lacked a strong glove, bounced around from team to team so frequently, or because he never seemed to stick out as the most dominant first baseman in any given year.

The reason he never stuck out, though, was likely because of the lack of steroid use, making McGriff one of the most significant casualties of the steroid era.

Like Ripken, McGriff was incredibly steady year after year and seemingly always good for around 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

The Crime Dog was always fun to watch and has one of the greatest nicknames ever.

I sincerely hope he gets elected as part of the Modern Era ballot when he's eligible in 2022.

1987 Fleer Update #U75 Fred McGriff Rookie Card

1987 Fleer Update #129 Matt Williams Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

Before the strike ended the 1994 season prematurely, I remember seeing highlights of Matt Williams on ESPN's SportsCenter belting home run after home run.

Many thought he had a chance of breaking Roger Maris's then single-season home run record as he finished with 43 home runs through 112 games.

We'll never know what might have been.

Williams was a solid baseball player, as demonstrated by his five All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers.

After receiving less than 5% of the Hall of Fame vote in 2009, he fell off future balloting.

Many consider him to be a borderline Hall of Famer by the numbers.

The likely reason for the lack of more substantial voting support is that his name was among those mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report forever linking him to steroid use.

1987 Fleer Update #U129 Matt Williams Rookie Card

1987 Fleer #366 George Brett

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $15

Like the Bo Jackson card earlier on this list, George Brett's card is noticeably covered in blue.

It's not his fault that Fleer chose to go with border colors that closely resemble those old baby blue Kansas City Royals uniforms.

Regardless, it's still a great-looking card with strong eye appeal as it's one of the few on this list to feature a player in action instead of posing for the camera.

George Brett was a phenomenal baseball player, an intense competitor, and one of the greatest third basemen of all-time.

One of my favorite things about Brett wasn't so much about any of his incredible stats or accomplishments but rather what he said when interviewed during his last season.

When the interviewer asked Brett what he would like his last at-bat in the Majors to look like, Brett responded, "I want to hit a really hard ground ball to the second baseman and run as hard as I can to first so all the young players understand how the game is supposed to be played.''

Now that's awesome...

1987 Fleer #366 George Brett Baseball Card

1987 Fleer #389 Jose Canseco Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $15

Last on our list is one of the biggest names of the "junk wax" era: Jose Canseco.

The 1986 Rookie of the Year, Canseco burst onto the scene that year when he belted 33 home runs and drove in 117 RBI.

That reputation for power stuck with him over the next several seasons as he and Oakland teammate, Mark McGwire, teamed up to form the prolific home run hitting duo known as the Bash Brothers.

Like McGwire, though, we all know now that his use of PEDs assisted much of Canseco's home run hitting success.

Regardless, Canseco certainly has his place in hobby history as kids growing up in the late 80s and early 90s were always hoping Canseco would be one of the cards they'd pull from packs.

1987 Fleer #389 Jose Canseco Rookie Card

1987 Fleer Baseball Cards In Review

Looking back through the 1987 Fleer set, it's fun to reminisce about that era of the hobby as it brings back so many memories of the great players who were a part of it.

The set, featuring 660 cards in total, is every bit as instantly recognizable as its Donruss and Topps counterparts.

Each of them had unique designs, but those blue borders arguably made the Fleer set the warmest and brightest of the three.

The checklist also included a few subsets:

  • SuperStar Specials (#625 - 643)
  • Major League Prospects (#644 - 653)
  • Checklists (#654 - 660)

Inserts included:

  • All-Stars (#1 - 12)
  • Headliners (#1 - 6)
  • World Series (#1 - 12)
  • Team Stickers

While many had written off this set as junk, collectors of that era searching for a bit of nostalgia are starting to show interest again.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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