The 10 Most Expensive Sports Cards Of The 80s (Updated 2024)

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The most expensive sports cards of the 80s is the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Signed card (#57), and there are some other great and expensive cards from the era, which I’ve covered below.

The sports card hobby saw the beginning of the Junk Wax Era towards the end of the 1980s, a period where the overproduction of cards led to a sharp decrease in values.

Having said that, are there any sports cards from the 1980s that are worth a lot of money today? The answer is yes, some of the hobby’s most beloved and important cards are from that decade, and some are worth big money.

There’s a good mix of sports on the list below, of the 10 most valuable cards from the decade, with Basketball, Baseball, Football and Hockey all getting an appearance, with some of the most iconic sporting names.

Table of Contents

The Most Valuable Sports Cards From The 1980s

1. 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Signed #57 (BGS 8.5)

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Signed #57 (BGS 8.5)

The most valuable sports card of all the 1980s is the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card. It’s not only from an iconic name, but it’s also one of the most iconic rookie cards of all time.

It’s an instantly recognizable card, with the red, blue and white border, and image of Jordan heading for the hoop. The card isn’t just one of the hobby’s gems, it’s also a piece of pop culture history.

While the unsigned version has sold for well over half a million dollars in the past, the record sale comes from 1 of the 23 (21/23) that were signed by Jordan, when it became the only sports card from the 80s to sell for over $1m.

Upper Deck purchased 23 of the Fleer Jordan rookie cards, and had them not only signed by Michael Jordan, but also serial-numbered by hand – They then randomly inserted them into packs 2006-07 Fleer basketball, as part of a promotion, but the cards were still from the original release from the 1980s.

Record Sale: June 2022 – The card sold for $1,008,000 in BGS 8.5 grade.

2. 1980 Topps Scoring Leader Bird, Erving, Johnson (PSA 10)

1980 Topps Scoring Leader Bird, Erving, Johnson (PSA 10)

The second most valuable sports card of the 80s is another that features some of the stars of the NBA – The pairing of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson makes for one of the best and most desirable rookie cards the hobby has ever seen.

This one is a three-player card, but is significant for being the key rookie card for both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two of the most popular basketball players of their era, and both Hall of Famers.

The card is notoriously hard to find perfectly centered, which perhaps contributed to the huge $861k record price that the card sold for in a perfect PSA 10 grade.

Record Sale: July 2021 – The card sold for $861,000 in PSA 10 grade.

3. 1984 Star Michael Jordan #101 (PSA 9)

1984 Star Michael Jordan Rookie Card #101

There’s some debate about whether this 1984 Star card can be considered Michael Jordan’s true rookie card, and while it’s not generally as popular as his iconic Fleer rookie, it’s still one of the most expensive sports cards of the 1980s.

PSA didn’t grade the card from the early 90s to 2022 because of issues with the legitimacy of reprinted copies that were made to appear as originals.

That means the population of PSA graded copies is lower than you’d expect, which helps increase the value of those that do exist.

Record Sale: September 2022 – The card sold for $444,000 in PSA 9 grade.

4. 1986 Fleer Stickers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 (PSA 10)

1986 Fleer Stickers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #1 (PSA 10)

Next on the list is another Hall of Fame basketball player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and another Fleer product from 1986-87, although this one is a sticker insert.

Stickers are much harder to keep in good condition compared to a cardboard stock card, because they’re less rigid and more prone to peeling and damage, so it’s no surprise that it’s almost impossible to find this Abdul-Jabbar 1986 Fleer sticker in Gem Mint condition; When one does surface in top grade, they usually sell at a premium.

Record Sale: July 2022 – The card sold for $266,400 in PSA 10 grade.

5. 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 (PSA 10)

1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 (PSA 10)

The first, and only, baseball card on the list of the 10 most expensive sports cards from the 80s, is this 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson rookie card.

Some collectors argue that the 1980 Topps set signaled the end of the vintage era of baseball cards, which adds to the significance of this big-name card.

This one has become a hugely important card in the hobby, and values skyrocketed around the 2021 sports card boom – It’s very hard to find in top condition, which contributes to the $180,100 that a PSA 10 fetched for its record sale.

Record Sale: February 2021 – The card sold for £180,100 in PSA 10 grade.

6. 1986 Topps Jerry Rice #161 (PSA 10)

1986 Topps Jerry Rice #161 (PSA 10)

A first entry onto the list from a football card, the only rookie card of the NFL’s greatest ever wide receiver, Jerry Rice.

The green and white striped border of the 1986 Topps card stands out, and makes for a recognizable card, but it’s another which is hard to find in top condition, because it’s so prone to damage.

Record Sale: February 2021 – The card sold for $125,655 in PSA 10 grade.

7. 1986 Topps Steve Young #374 (PSA 10)

1986 Topps Steve Young #374 (PSA 10)

Number 7 of the most valuable sports cards of the 1980s is another football card from 1986 Topps, this time it’s Steve Young’s rookie.

The quarterback took a while to establish himself in the football card collecting hobby, but these days it’s one of the key cards of its era.

Like the Jerry Rice rookie card from the same set, this one is tough to find in top condition, which adds to the value when one does surface.

Record Sale: March 2022 – The card sold for $120,000 in PSA 10 grade.

8. 1981 Topps Football Joe Montana #216 (PSA 10)

1981 Topps Football Joe Montana #216 (PSA 10)

With football cards from Jerry Rice and Steve Young on this list already, it’s only natural to expect one from Joe Montana – one of the greatest NFL players of all time, and a longtime hobby favorite.

His rookie card from 1981 Topps, and only rookie, is one of the key football cards from the 80s, and is highly-desirable.

While it’s not a rare card, only a small percentage achieve the highest grade, so there’s a big premium on those.

Record Sale: March 2022 – The card sold for $103,200 in PSA 10 grade.

9. 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9 (PSA 10)

1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9 (PSA 10)

Next is an entry from one of the NHL’s greatest, the 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux rookie card.

Lemieux has both O-Pee-Chee and Topps rookie cards which look identical, but this O-Pee-Chee card commands a lot more value.

It’s another card which isn’t easy to find in top condition, so the scarcity of the card in the highest grade adds to its value.

Record Sale: January 2021 – The card sold for $80,100 in PSA 10 grade.

10. 1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky #250 (PSA 10)

1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky #250 (PSA 10)

Another card from one of the NHL’s greats, this one is a second-year card from Wayne Gretzky – The 1980 O-Pee-Chee card.

Like Mario Lemieux, Gretzky also had an identical Topps card from the same year, but it sells for much less on the secondary market.

Record Sale: March 2021 – The card sold for $60,400 in PSA 10 grade.

The Most Expensive Cards Of The 80s By Sport

Football

1986 Topps Jerry Rice #161 (PSA 10)

1986 Topps Jerry Rice #161 (PSA 10)

Record Sale: February 2021 – The card sold for $125,655 in PSA 10 grade.

Basketball

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Signed #57 (BGS 8.5)

1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Signed #57 (BGS 8.5)

Record Sale: June 2022 – The card sold for $1,008,000 in BGS 8.5 grade.

Baseball

1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 (PSA 10)

1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 (PSA 10)

Record Sale: February 2021 – The card sold for £180,100 in PSA 10 grade.

Hockey

1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9 (PSA 10)

1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9 (PSA 10)

Record Sale: January 2021 – The card sold for $80,100 in PSA 10 grade.

Boxing

1986 Panini Supersport Italian Mike Tyson #153 (BGS 9.5)

1986 Panini Supersport Italian Mike Tyson #153 (BGS 9.5)

Record Sale: January 2021 – The card sold for $46,800 in BGS 9.5 grade.

Jason Clarke

Jason Clarke

Jason is a lifelong sports fanatic and a huge fan of the NBA and NFL. He's long been a collector of sports cards - For over 20 years in fact. He collects various different sports, as well as some non-sport cards. He has a particular soft spot for 90s basketball inserts. Find Jason on X (Twitter): @jason_clarke91.
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