It may sound ridiculous now, but 1983 Fleer baseball cards sort of shook up the hobby that year.

See, after a first set (in 1981) that looked OK but was riddled with errors and print problems, Fleer grunted out a 1982 turd that didn’t look OK, was riddled with errors and print problems, and featured photos that would make your optometrist cringe.

In 1983, though, Fleer cleaned up the photos and errors, gave us an understated design that featured gray/beige borders, and even added photos on card backs.

1983 Fleer Cello Pack Wade Boggs

Holy 1971 Topps, Batman! These things were something different, and something good.

As you’ll see below, Fleer also hit on the summer’s big rookie card while the other two card companies slept.

Today, thanks to how various careers played out and the general overall excellence of 1983 Topps, the third Fleer set is an afterthought most of the time.

But these most valuable 1983 Fleer cards (according to recent eBay sales for PSA 9 copies) are still popular with collectors and will take you back in an instant.

So, step up to the plate, and let’s get started …

1983 Fleer Tony Gwynn Rookie Card (#360)

1983 Fleer Tony Gwynn Rookie Card

It took Gwynn another year after this card was issued to start gaining national attention, but he turned on his hitting jets at just the right time.

As he stormed through the summer of 1984 toward his first National League batting title, his San Diego Padres did the same on their way to their first-ever division title … and National League pennant.

Only the juggernaut 1984 Detroit Tigers kept Gwynn from a ring, but that Olympic year set in motion a hobby love affair with Mr. Padre that continues today.

Expect to pay $25 or more for a Fleer Gwynn rookie card in PSA 9 condition.

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1983 Fleer Wade Boggs Rookie Card (#179)

1983 Fleer Wade Boggs Rookie Card

Boggs got a year’s head start on Gwynn in the batting title department, hitting a scorching .361 for the Red Sox in 1983 to pace the American League.

That summer, collectors were pulling Boggs’ rookie cards from fresh wax packs, so they’d already found their way into plastic sheets and top-loaders across the land by the time we started drooling over Gwynn.

Today, Boggs’ 1983 Fleer RC is a $20 card in graded MINT condition.

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1983 Fleer Ryne Sandberg Rookie Card (#507)

1983 Fleer Ryne Sandberg Rookie Card

Like Gwynn, Sandberg was a 1984 breakout star who helped lead his team to the playoffs. Because that team was the Chicago Cubs, Ryno garnered even more attention than his San Diego counterpart.

In fact, Sandberg won the NL MVP award in his second full season with the Cubs, and the race was on to rescue his 1983 rookie cards from the monster boxes where forgotten prospects go to gather dust.

Over the next 15 seasons or so, Ryno established himself as a future Hall of Famer, and his rookie card sits at about $20 in PSA 9 today.

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1983 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. (#70)

1983 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr

By the spring of 1983, everyone figured Ripken was going to be a superstar … because he already was!

Indeed, Ripken had won the 1982 AL Rookie of the Year award on the strength of 28 home runs and 93 RBI.

He followed that up with an MVP season in 1983 that helped the Orioles win the World Series, and he also played in 162 games for the first time.

That, of course, set him on a path toward Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive games-played record and Cooperstown, and solidified his place in the hobby.

Iron Cal lines up here at $10+ in PSA 9.

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1983 Fleer Nolan Ryan (#463)

1983 Fleer Nolan Ryan

In 1983, Nolan Ryan broke Walter Johnson‘s all-time strikeout record … and then lost that record to Steve Carlton by season’s end.

(Gaylord Perry also passed the Big Train that summer.)

It was a nice milestone for the 36-year-old Ryan, and he could wrap up his career over the next few seasons and then see if the Veterans Committee would throw him a bone somewhere down the line.

Yeah, right!

The Ryan Express, of course, turned on the afterburners, played for another ten seasons, and just continued to pile up the wins, strikeouts, no-hitters, and awe.

This card from one of Ryan’s record-breaking summers hammers down for about $10 in PSA 9.

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1983 Fleer Rickey Henderson (#519)

1983 Fleer Rickey Henderson

Speaking of record breakers, Henderson topped Lou Brock‘s single-season stolen base record in 1982 by nabbing an otherworldly 130.

Rickey also stole 100 in 1980 and would pilfer 108 more in 1983. Within a few years, he had established himself as the greatest leadoff hitter ever, and he eventually broke Brock’s career steals mark.

This still-early Henderson is a $10 buy in PSA 9.

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1983 Fleer Pete Rose (#171)

1983 Fleer Pete Rose

Rose was heading into his final season with the Phillies when this card was issued, and he made the most of it.

Not only did Philadelphia win the National League pennant, but Rose combined to go 11-for-32 in the NLCS and World Series to cap off his postseason career in style.

From there, it was on to the Montreal Expos (?) and then back home to the Reds for a run as player-manager and an assault on Ty Cobb‘s all-time hits record.

Despite his banishment from baseball, Rose remains a hobby heavyweight and pushes $10 with his 1983 Fleer card (PSA 9).

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1983 Fleer Mike Schmidt (#173)

1983 Fleer Mike Schmidt

If it hadn’t been for Dale Murphy and his part in pushing the Atlanta Braves to a division title in 1982, Mike Schmidt would have been a three-time defending NL MVP winner when this card was issued.

As it was, Schmidt had to settle for the 1980 and 1981 awards for the time being before nabbing a third MVP in 1986.

And, you know an easy romp into the Hall of Fame and the unofficial title of “Greatest Third Baseman Ever.”

Oh, and a $5 card on this list.

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1983 Fleer Reggie Jackson (#93)

1983 Fleer Reggie Jackson

In 1982, Reggie Jackson took his old-man talents to Anaheim and led the American League with 39 home runs as the California Angels took home the AL West title.

Though Reggie got an Angels card in the 1982 Topps Traded set, all his other cards were with the Yankees that year, so this pasteboard is something of a historical piece.

Today, this Reggie sells for about $5 in slabbed MINT condition.

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1983 Fleer Ron Kittle Rookie Card (#241)

1983 Fleer Ron Kittle Rookie Card

While Darryl Strawberry was tearing up the National League as a rookie in the summer of 1983, Kittle was smashing bombs on Chicago’s south side.

But, while Strawberry’s Mets were an afterthought in the standings, Kittle and the White Sox powered to a division title before bowing out to the O’s in the ALCS.

And there was another key difference … collectors had to wait until the Topps Traded set was issued that November to get a look at Strawberry on a baseball card.

Kittle, though, was right there with us all summer long thanks to this 1983 rookie card that we could “chase” in real live wax packs right through the pennant race.

This card may be only a $5 buy (PSA 9) today, but it’s an important part of hobby history.

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1983 Fleer Baseball Card Complete Set. NM-MT

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WADE BOGGS 1983 FLEER ROOKIE CARD #179 NM

$4.00
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(2) 1983 Fleer Baseball Cello Packs

$11.99
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1983 Fleer Baseball Sealed Cello Pack BOGGS SANDBERG GWYNN ROOKIE CARDS One Pack

$8.50
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