If you look up “Fulton’s Folly” in any old hobby tome, you’re like as not to find an exposition of 1986 Sportflics baseball cards.

You know the story, right?

  • Someone gets a big idea.
  • Sees a way to make money while advancing his field.
  • Brings forth innovations that many say won’t work or aren’t needed.
  • Generates great excitement among an open-minded few, derision from others.
  • Runs into tough times.
  • Sees said innovations become industry standards at the hands of others.

In the case of Sporflics, they stirred the the hobby pot in 1985, when, as OptiGraphics, they announced they were bringing a new, high-end set of “Magic Motion” cards to the market in 1986. Excitement ensued for those who remembered the 3D magic of Kellogg’s baseball cards.

At least a bit of derision followed from those who didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for new cards and who thought that three card companies was more than enough.

Still, it was pretty exciting overall to think about a new player in the market, the first one since 1981, when Donruss and Fleer crashed Topps’ monopoly.

And, it was pretty cool the next spring when 1986 Sportflics baseball cards debuted in their Mylar packs and with their own triple-motion magic and their super thick cardstock and their really bright and colorful card backs.

And their 65-cents-for-three-cards price gouging.

We squinted hard and tried to love the cards and make it all work, but … I mean, those card fronts were pretty much mud. Are three photos better than one if you can’t see any of them? And if their ribbed plastic covering cracks when you breathe?

We pretty much collectively said, “no.”

Oh, Sporflics kept at it for years, but they never really found a sweetspot with most collectors.

But some of their “stuff” did.

Like when Upper Deck claimed Mylar for their own.

Or when Topps lifted the basic Sporflics back motif for their Stadium Club “super premium” set in 1991.

Or when everyone started charging double-digit-cents for their new cards.

No, 1986 Sportflics baseball cards didn’t make the big splash they were supposed to, but then, they also very much did … and a few of them are even still somewhat desirable today.

What follows, then, is the list of the most valuable 1986 Sportflics baseball cards, as determined by recent sales for PSA 10 copies. We’ll start at the least expensive of the bunch and work our way up.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed.)

1986 Sportflics Wade Boggs (#3)

1986 Sportflics Wade Boggs

Boggs had to watch from the low-rent district in 1984 as Yankees teammates Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly waged a season-long battle for the American League batting title.

Ugh, even mere mortals could hit .325, right?

Boggs came out slashing with a vengeance in 1985, though, winning his second batting title with a fairly ridiculous .368 average. He also just happened to lead the majors with 240 hits, 758 plate appearances, and a .450 on–base percentage.

Add in 42 doubles, 78 RBI, and 107 runs scored, and you have a 9.1-WAR season (via Baseball Reference) that was second behind only Rickey Henderson’s 9.9 among position players.

That rebound, along with a deep postseason run with the Red Sox, had Boggs’ hobby temperature on the rise, making even his new cards collector favorites.

Yeah, *even* his 1986 Sportflics card.

Value: $20-22

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1986 Sportflics Dale Murphy (#5)

1986 Sportflics Dale Murphy

Murphy followed up back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1982 and 1983 with back-to-back National League home run crowns in 1984 and 1985.

He tagged more than 100 RBI, pilfered double-digit bases, won a Gold Glove, made the All-Star team, and won a Silver Slugger in each of those seasons, to boot.

Murph, in his prime, was about as complete a player as you could ever hope to find, and he seemed to be universally liked and respected by fans, media, managers, and fellow players.

There was nothing that could stop his march to the Hall of Fame, and his cards were among the most popular in the hobby, in the same sort of steady-burn way that Murphy himself was exciting on the field.

Then, in 1986, his homer total dropped below 30 (29) for the first time since 1981, and his OPS (not that anybody looked at such measures then) deflated by 103 points (from .927 to .824).

It turned out to be the first salvo from father time, who would decimate Murphy’s career quickly after a brief flame-up in 1987 (44 home runs, 157 OPS+).

We didn’t know that in 1986, though, and this first Sportflics Murphy card was among the most desired cards in the set.

Time has done little to diminish its standing in that regard.

Value: $15-30

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1986 Sportflics Tom Seaver (#25)

1986 Sportflics Tom Seaver

Seaver entered 1986 with absolutely nothing left to prove, but after recording his 300th victory in 1985, he still looked like he might have something left in the tank.

And, while his 7-13 record between the White Sox and Red Sox in the new season doesn’t look great in any light, that combined 4.03 ERA looks downright solid by today’s standards.

Even so, Seaver was staring 42 in the face (November) and missed the Red Sox mostly magical postseason with a knee injury. When nothing was rosier by midseason in 1987, Tom Terrific hung up his spikes.

Seaver walked away as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game, and his 1967 Topps rookie card was one of the hobby’s most valuable pieces. That combo helped buoy all of the man’s cards, including this 1986 Sportflics issue.

Exactly none of that has changed, even if it’s been awhile since that Seaver RC set any landspeed records.

Value: $20-25

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1986 Sportflics Rickey Henderson (#6)

1986 Sportflics Rickey Henderson

Don Mattingly may have won the American League MVP award in 1985, but Henderson had a pretty good claim to the title, too. Probably even better than The Hit Man’s claim.

Indeed, Henderson was better than pretty much every other player in the game, as evidenced by his .314 batting average, 24 home runs, 72 RBI, 146 runs scored, and 80 stolen bases.

That all added up to 9.9 WAR, which was the best in the bigs, Non-Dwight Gooden Division.

Collectors took notice of all that all-around offensive prowess, and Rickey’s 1980 Topps rookie card saw its first big surge of the 80s card boom. There would be plenty more to come as Henderson chased down Lou Brock’s career stolen base record (and then some).

And, beyond that storied RC, it was/is always a great day to pull a Rickey Henderson baseball card, even if it was a murky Sportflics one.

Value: $20-25

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1986 Sportflics Mike Schmidt (#44)

1986 Sportflics Mike Schmidt

After winning the National League MVP Award in both 1980 and 1981, then leading the National League in home runs in both 1983 and 1984, Mike Schmidt found himself in the dumps in 1985.

That summer, manager John Felske moved Schmidt to first base for two-thirds (or so) of the Phillies schedule, handing third to 23-year-old heir apparent Rick Schu.

Schu hit .252 with seven homers and (gasp!) 24 RBI in 112 games, while Shmitty slid all the way to 33 dingers. That marked the first time since 1978 that Schmidt hadn’t clubbed at least 35 or won a homer crown, or both.

Entering his age-36 season, it looked like the Philly legend might be on the decline.

But …

With nothing to lose but a few ticks in the loss column after a 75-87 season, the Phils put their rock back at the hot corner, and the old man delivered: 37 home runs, 119 RBI, 153 OPS+ … National League MVP, for the third time.

All of which is to say, what started out as a sort of somber “just made it to the new set before the reaper appeared” Sportflics card became something of a thick-backed, plastic-coated triumphant rise from the ashy fields where lumbering sluggers go to get fat.

Value: $20-30

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1986 Sportflics Pete Rose (#50)

1986 Sportflics Pete Rose

By 1986, the mad rush to stock up on Rose cards as he approached Ty Cobb’s record for career hits was over. But just because number 4191 was in the books, that didn’t mean the hobby had lost our affinity for Charlie Hustle.

Far from it!

Not only was Rose still taking the field, at least on occasion, for the Cincinnati Reds in order to both pad his hit total and stretch towards other records (runs scored, doubles, etc.), but he looked like he had the Reds on a winning track … finally!

So, card makers loaded up their 1986 sets with Rose baubles, ranging from record breakers to manager cards to player-manager cards to … Magic Motion!

This was one of the more popular Sportflic pulls right out of the Mylar, and it’s still on the “most valuable” list today.

Value: $25-40

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1986 Sportflics George Brett (#1)

1986 Sportflics George Brett

Not only was Brett one of the most beloved and respected players in the game throughout the 1980s, he entered 1986 as a World Series champion!

Indeed, it’s highly unlikely the Kansas City Royals would have nabbed victory in the thrilling 1985 Fall Classic without their leader, who not only paced the majors in slugging and OPS (.585/1.022) during the regular season but was also the MVP of the American League Championship Series.

Oh yeah, Brett also hit .370 in the World Series while playing in all seven games.

So, Sportflics could hardly have picked a more fitting leadoff hitter for their inaugural issue, and this one still resonates with collectors today.

And, hey, if nothing else, among all 1986 Sportflics baseball cards this is definitely the … first.

Value: $30-35

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1986 Sportflics Don Mattingly (#2)

1986 Sportflics Don Mattingly

Coming off a batting title in 1984 and an American League MVP Award in 1985, Don Mattingly was undoubtedly the hottest name in the hobby entering 1986.

And he claimed that title even in the face of scorching youngsters like Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Vince Coleman, and even with the Jose Canseco hype machine revving up over the winter.

Those guys were amazing, and their cards were on fire, but Mattingly was the next in a long line of great Yankees: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson … Don Mattingly!

Not only that, but Mattingly and his 1984 Donruss rookie card had completely rewritten all the hobby rules when it came to rookie cards and RC prices and our expectations around fresh-from-the-pack riches. Indeed, the mania that surrounded Donnie Baseball and his baseball cards as he pursued teammate Dave Winfield and a batting title in that magical summer of 1984 changed the hobby forever.

So, yeah, with Mattingly still smack dab in the middle of his prime, his first Sportflics card was at least a minor hobby event of its own.

Value: $30-35

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1986 Sportflics Kirby Puckett (#93)

1986 Sportflics Kirby Puckett

Puckett debuted for the Twins in 1984 and in baseball card sets in 1985, but he was still pretty much an unknown entering the 1986 season.

Toiling for a losing team in a cold-weather city and wrapped inside the Baggie Dome didn’t help his exposure, but neither did his sub-.300 batting averages with little power.

Puckett was garnering at least *some* attention, though, as his third place finish in 1984 American League Rookie of the Year voting and down-ballot support in the ‘85 MVP voting attest.

Then, the Minnesota spark plug broke out in a big way in 1986, hitting .328 with 31 home runs, 37 doubles, 20 stolen bases, 96 RBI, and 119 runs scored.

Suddenly, Puckett’s rookie cards from the year before were hot stuff, and so was this brand new card in the brand new whiz-bang Sportflics set. The Twinkies World Series championship in 1987 only added fuel to the fire, and Puck’s cards have alternated between a steady simmer and a raging flare-up ever since.

Value: $45-60

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1986 Sportflics Nolan Ryan (#43)

1986 Sportflics Nolan Ryan

This wasn’t the most popular card in the hobby in 1986, but then, neither were any of Ryan’s cards, really.

Sure, back then, the “old” righthander was already the all-time strikeout leader, having joined Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry in surpassing Walter Johnson during the 1983 season. K-Lord retired that fall, and then Ryan put Carlton in his rearview for good in 1984.

Still, most fans and collectors regarded Ryan as a one-dimensional pitcher who could saw off hitter’s bats for a full game but who did little else beyond bringing that heat.

And, like I said, he was old. Nearly done in the majors.

Except … he wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

As Ryan went about tossing no-hitters and winning 300 games and pushing the strikeout record into the stratosphere and becoming a Texas Rangers legend over the next near-decade, the hobby embraced him like we have few athletes, ever.

And that love affair continues today, even for messy, indecipherable cards like this 1986 Sportflics number.

Value: $50-60

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So, did your favorite among 1986 Sportflics baseball cards make this list? Do you even have a favorite? Love to hear your thoughts!

1986 Sportflics Baseball Singles You Pick Your Cards

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End Date: Thursday 06/20/2024 21:19:59 EDT
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