Dwight Gooden was the face that launched 132 baseball cards, with an assist from a certain teammate.

I mean …

After watching from the sidelines with the rest of the world as Darryl Strawberry took the baseball world by storm in 1983, Fleer also watched from the sidelines that fall as Topps issued the only (to that point) Strawberry rookie card (yes, I know the semantics are wrong).

It helped a bit that Fleer had included a Ron Kittle RC in their 1983 base set, the only card maker to do so. Collectors had spent the summer chasing Fleer packs as Kittle smashed baseballs in the American League, after all.

But Fleer couldn’t count on striking gold on a 25-year-old slugger to win a Rookie of the Year award and carry their demand every season.

And they couldn’t let Topps get over on them at the end of the year.

And, when a teenage pitcher swooped onto the baseball scene like some cloak-of-night superhero to turn the sport on its ear in the summer of 1984, Fleer had their blueprint, and their marching orders: issue a Dwight Gooden rookie card, posthaste.

The 1984 Fleer Update set was thusly born, with the primary purpose in life of delivering that Gooden RC (#U-43) to collectors:

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Though no one was positive at first that the hobby was ready for a second “traded” set, Fleer Update proved to be a hit, driven by Gooden, Pete Rose in an Expos uniform, and a purportedly limited print run.

That cocktail would send prices spiraling upward in 1985 as Gooden put together a Cy Young season for the ages, and as Rose chased Ty Cobb.

And, a few years later, as Gooden settled into mere superstar territory, as opposed to his superhuman beginnings, and as Rose settled into managerhood and then banishment, Kirby Puckett had already zoomed into his prime to further bolster 1984 Fleer Update’s hobby profile.

In between all that, though, a young man stepped in to begin an ascent in the sport that would assure 1984 Fleer Update its perpetual place in hobby history.

Because, in the summer of 1986, Roger Clemens — won 14 games in a row … struck out 20 batters in a game … crafted a 24-4 record with a 2.48 ERA … won the American League Cy Young Award … won the American League MVP Award … helped the Boston Red Sox play until the very last possible day before bowing out in Game 7 of a thrilling World Series.

Oh, and he lit up that ‘84 Fleer Update set all over again, with his #U-27 threatening to burn the joint down.

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Of course, things would only get hotter for The Rocket and his cards over the ensuing 20 years or so, as he established himself as maybe the greatest pitcher of the post-War era, and certainly among the top handful of all-time.

Until the PED Armageddon struck, that is.

But even today, with Clemens having fallen off the Hall of Fame ballot after his tenth and final go at election, and even with all the backlash he has invited onto himself, his 1984 Fleer Update card remains a hobby classic.

It’s not just nostalgia for the “good old days” when we were all young and innocent, either — Clemens still sits at the top of the value heap in this set, by far.

As of this writing, his First Fleer Card *still* trades for around $450 in PSA 9 condition and more than two grand in “perfect” 10 shape.

Both of those figures check in about double the prices garnered for cards of runner-up Puckett.

And if Clemens ever does make the Hall of Fame cut, but dint of some future Veterans Committee?

Well, you can expect the gap to widen even further.

Until then, there’s no doubt that his 1984 Fleer Update rookie card (sticking with that) is a hobby Hall of Famer.

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Want to know which Clemens cards are bringing in the biggest bucks on the open market? Check out our YouTube rundown of top Rocket sales on eBay for the fourth quarter of 2021:

1984 Fleer Update #U-102 Pete Rose Montreal Expos PSA 9 MINT

$13.50 (5 Bids)
End Date: Monday 08/22/2022 23:08:00 EDT
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1984 Fleer #358 Joe Simpson

$0.99
End Date: Monday 09/05/2022 17:39:45 EDT
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1984 Fleer Star Stickers - Baseball Card Pick one

$1.00
End Date: Thursday 09/01/2022 22:13:42 EDT
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1984 Fleer Ozzie Smith San Diego Padres St. Louis Cardinals

$1.05 (2 Bids)
End Date: Friday 08/19/2022 08:36:45 EDT
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1984 Fleer #616 Spike Owen RC MARINERS NR-MINT *500

$0.17 (2 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday 08/23/2022 17:14:24 EDT
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