1985 Baseball Card Investment Analysis

I wanted to start buying cards that I couldn’t afford or never found in packs I bought as a kid. I remember seeing these cards at shows and just wondering what it would be like to have these cards. Now I can. Unleash the crakken! 

But I don’t just want to buy willy nilly, which is what I typically do. Which cards are better than other with regards to investment.

My initial thoughts were Donruss would be harder and more expensive to get a PSA 10 because of their black borders. The Topps Tiffany are really really expensive and have a low PSA 10 population. I took a look at the main rookies Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, and Mark Mcgwire (only in 85 topps). I also took a look at Don Mattingly and Nolan Ryan since they both seem to be the next most expensive cards in a PSA 10. The chart below will show you their Population Report, Current Average Price, 5 year Avg price, and 10 year average price to show how the prices have trended up of down. 

This chart goes by brand and the thing that really popped out was the fact that there was less than 1% of a total of 44,404 cards submitted graded as a PSA 10 for the Topps Mark Mcgwire Rookie card! That is insane. Which is why the price is so high. But looking at all of this really didn’t give me any clear path as to what to buy. I sorted by % of total PSA 10 compared to the total amount of graded cards and it didn’t give me any information I could use. 

So, I then did the price percentage comparing the 5 year price to current price and 10 year price to current. The graph below is sorted by the high to low of the 5 year price to current pricing. 

On the 5 year graph the 2nd to last column on the right is what we are looking at. For some reason the 1985 Fleer Don Mattingly has gone up dramatically. Why? I don’t know. But everything that went up 50% or more had a PSA 10 pop % of 6.36 and lower. Scarcity is what is driving the prices to go up. Surprised that the Topps Mcgwire isn’t higher. I believe this indicates that it is slightly undervalued. But let’s look at the 10 year graph below to get a better idea of what is going on.

The 10 year %, the last column to the right, makes it more obvious what you should do. If you had bought all of these cards at the average price 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have lost money today. Outside of the Fleer Kirby Puckett the worst you would have done is around 23%. Not bad! What this is showing is that Topps and Topps Tiffany reign supreme. While scarcity is a factor it’s not the driving force. Brand is what drives these prices with Topps Tiffany holding the 3 out of 5 spots and out of the top 10 topps or topps tiffany are in 8 out of 10 spots. But again nothing is screaming buy me outside of the 1985 Topps Mark Mcgwire Card. His Tiffany cards has gone up 76%, but his regular Topps card has only gone up 42%. Not a terrible return.


So, what should you do? What I take out of this is that you should have bought them all. Yes, you heard me right. How would you be able to truly predict which card will be the most valuable? Not one of these cards lost value over the last 10 years. If you had bought one card of each at a total value of $3,375.25 and then sold them after 10 years at their average price, it would come out to $12,530.00. That would be a rate of return of 37%! This would be an amazing return on any investment, especially mid 80’s junk era cards. I am still a firm believer in scarcity in a card, but their are other factors involved which we can’t predict. But by buying a portfolio of cards you are reducing risk and minimizing your losses.

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