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1987 Oddball Baseball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

Here's our look at the the unusual (or "oddball") sets of baseball cards for 1987. Regular sets can be found here. This was the year Fleer went nuts with small boxed sets - creating no less than nine sets!

1987 Oddballs at a Glance
A second annual set of 10 All-Pro panels (2 cards each for 20 cards) was produced by MSA for Burger King in 1987. They are no more popular than their predecessors.
Read more about the Classic Game set here.
Game Time, Ltd. produced their first update set in 1987, featuring this Bonds rookie. Read more about Classic cards here.
Donruss produced their third and last set of Highlights in 1987. The boxed 56 card set sported a design very similar to the '87 Donruss set but with blue borders.
Learn more about Donruss' Opening Day 272 card set here.
Read more about the Donruss' The Rookies set here.
While this was Drake's 7th straight set, it was only the second straight to be printed on boxes of their baked goodies. The designs were once again by Topps with backs very similar to their '87 cards. The set was difficult to complete as there were no back door deals made with distributors.
Fleer distributed one of 12 All Stars into wax packs of their regular cards.

Fleer also produced a six card set of "Headliners" distributed in rack packs.

Fleer produced a boxed 44 card set for 7-Eleven called Award Winners. As with most small boxed sets of 1987, they had busy fronts, were overproduced, and no one wants them now.
Fleer produced this boxed set of 44 cards for Ben Franklin stores. Perhaps running out of names for the small sets, it was simply called "Fleer Baseball All-Stars." The fact that guys like Scott Bradley, Rob Deer and Andres Thomas hadn't been any closer to playing in an All-Star game than Debbie Gibson seemed to matter little. Overproduction, a lack of good rookies, and a lack of aesthetic qualities leave no reason to recommend it.
Fleer was relentless and also produced this 44 card set called "Fleer Exciting Stars" for Cumberland Farm stores. Perhaps I wouldn't be so cynical if it weren't for the words "Limited Edition" appearing on all these set's boxes.
Fleer produced a boxed 44 card set of Game Winners for distribution at stores such as Bi-Mart, Mott's and Pay 'n Save. Here's hoping you are not hoarding these.
Fleer did produce one notable 44 card boxed set in 1987. The Hottest Stars set was made for Revco and featured a Barry Bonds rookie. That card alone is worth more than all the other '87 Fleer 44 card sets put together.
Fleer produced this 44 card boxed set of League Leaders for Walgreens, who apparently were jealous that Revco had their own Fleer set. Unfortunately the unattractive set had nothing more than a Jose Canseco to recommend it 
Not content to merely flood the market with superfluous small boxed sets, but seemingly hell bent on setting records for such things, Fleer happily produced this unremarkable 44 card boxed Limited Edition set for McCrory's.
Fleer was back in '87 with a second 120 card boxed Classic Miniatures set. The small 1 13/16 x 2 9/16 cards were very similar to the '87 Fleer set, but with different photography. As this set has no Bonds, it has very little value and can be purchased today for a fraction of its 1987 value.
Fleer wasn't done producing ubiquitous and unnecessary sets of the same 44 guys. The Record Setters boxed set was made for Eckerd's Drug stores and could still be found on their shelves after Christmas.
McCrory's and similar stores had the honor of selling Fleer's final 44 card boxed set of the year, the  Baseball's Best Sluggers/Pitchers. It is slightly more popular than the other non-Revco Fleer 44 card sets, but is missing the Bonds card that would have made it worth keeping.
Fleer's Star Stickers once again show that they understood how to market stickers to card collectors (unlike Topps). These standard sized cards happen to also be stickers, but have backs with complete stats that look like real cards. If it were not for the busy design, you might mistake the 132 sticker card set for the real thing.
A second yearly set of 33 boxed glossy cards for Kay Bee toy stores was produced by Topps in 1987. It was called Superstars of Baseball this time, dropping the "young" from last year's set. This reflected the fact that it wasn't a collection of Oddibe and Roger McDowell's, but included all the best players in the game. The cards were once again printed in Northern Ireland.
After a five year hiatus, K-Mart was back with another unnecessary boxed set of stars from both the present and the past. Why the lapse? Perhaps the company had finally sold the last of the ubiquitous 1982 K-Mart sets. Those were perhaps the most overproduced 33 card boxed set in the history of humankind. This unremarkable set, which celebrated the discount retailer's 25th anniversary, settled for merely being plentiful.
Kraft Food printed pairs of cards on their macaroni products during the 1987 season. The set - called Home Plate Heroes - was only available as printed on the boxes and was difficult to collect. It would be their last set until 1993.
Mars Candy also distributed cards in pairs in 1987. Their M&M's Star Lineup set of 24 cards (12 panels) was produced by MSA.
Ralston Purina distributed their first of what they promised would be annual sets in 1984. Overproduction led to disinterest on the part of collectors. They finally released a second set in 1987. The 15 card set was distributed three at a time in specially marked boxes of the Honey Graham Chex and Cookie Crisp cereals. You could also get a complete uncut sheet through a mail-in offer.
7-Eleven produced five regional sets of Slurpee discs/coins in 1987 - their final set of the Awesome80s. You can read more about the history of Slurpee coins here.
Sportflics produced five sets of "Magic Motion cards in 1987, the most innovative is the Team Preview set. Each of the 26 cards in the Team Preview set features pictures of 12 players on the front (four at a time) and has a three paragraph preview of how the team might fare in 1987.
The explosion of minor league sets continued in 1987. Key sets include the Bellingham Mariners (Ken Griffey Jr.), Gastonia Rangers (Sammy Sosa), Greensboro Red Sox (Curt Schilling), Calgary Cannons (Edgar Martinez), Wichita Pilots (Sandy and Robert Alomar), Columbus Clippers (Roberto Kelly, Jay Buhner), Nashville Sounds (Chris Sabo), Stockton Ports (Gary Sheffield), Pawtucket Red Sox (Ellis Burks, Sam Horn), Jacksonville Expos (Randy Johnson), Oneonta Yankees (Bernie Williams), and Gastonia (Juan Gonzalez).
Our checklist of '87 O-Pee-Chee is here.
Another year, another set of Topps All-Star Glossies inserted into rack packs. Nothing new here.
Another year, another set of Topps Send-In Glossies available through and offer in wax packs. Nothing new here. The Bonds card, however, is a classic.
Both Fleer (see above) and, inexcusably, Topps seemed to miss the point regarding the collector interest in the 1975 mini set. It was a complete set of 660 cards and had limited distribution. Neither was true of this second attempt by Topps to push an unattractive small (in both ways) set on us collectors.
And what better way to end our look at 1987 oddball cards than another 33 card boxed set? Kay Bee toy stores produced their second set of cards this year, so you-know-who had to have one too. Topps came to the rescue with this set, which at least has a colorful and valuable Bonds rookie. The Toys 'R' Us Rookies set looks like something out of the Super70s!

Other Sets

Donruss once again produced a set of Pop-Ups featuring last year's starting All-Stars and managers. Sportflics produced their second major set in addition to a Team Preview and some boxed rookie sets.



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Image courtesy of Donruss

'87 Sets!
'87 Singles!
'87 Unopened Packs!
'87 Lots!
'87 Cases!

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