By the time collectors got our hands on 1987 Topps Traded baseball cards for the first time that fall, we pretty much knew what to expect — this was the seventh year in a row that Topps had graced us with a 132-card box set to carry us into the winter, after all.

So, we eagerly tore through the set looking for 1) cards of veterans with their new teams, 2) the creamier, more consistent, premium cardstock the traded sets offered over the yearly base sets, and, of course 3) loads and loads of rookie cards that would be worth a fortune someday.

The 1987 year-end set delivered on two of those three promises, but the rookie crop found it hard to live up to both the 1986 Topps Traded set and the breathtaking run of RCs that had fueled the 1987 Topps base set all summer long.

So we took what we could get and tried to shrug away the disappointment of a weak rookie-card class, hoping someone might emerge from the muck … someday.

As it turns out, there were indeed a few first-year gems hidden among the commons, even if it took a few years for them to make themselves known, and for us to “discover” them.

All along the way, of course, 1987 Topps Traded offered up the same iconic woodgrain borders that made the base set an instant hobby classic, love them or hate them. It was always a good day to flip back through them, looking for those breakouts.

Today, the most valuable 1987 Topps Traded baseball cards don’t look like much of a whiff at all. Here, see for yourself …

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed. Values reflect actual selling prices for cards in PSA 9 condition.)

1987 Topps Traded Steve Carlton (#19T)

1987 Topps Traded Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton played for 38 different teams between the end of his Phillies tenure in 1986 and the end of available clubs in 1988.

OK, maybe 38 isn’t quite right, but it’s not far off – Lefty hung on and on and on.

Here, he’s hanging on with the Indians, which looks weird, but not as heart-rending sad as that one Giants monstrosity.

Value: $7-9

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1987 Topps Traded Ellis Burks (#14T)

1987 Topps Traded Ellis Burks

Ellis Burks didn’t come to the major leagues with the hype of a Jose Canseco or Ruben Sierra, and he didn’t put up the sorts of monster numbers that grabbed all the headlines in 1987.

But the Red Sox centerfielder managed to sort of quietly mash 20 home runs in that rookie season, establishing himself alongside Mike Greenwell as a promising young core for Boston.

As Burks slow-burned his way to an excellent 18-year career, his 1987 Topps Traded ratcheted steadily up in value to take its rightful place among this group.

Value: $8-10

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1987 Topps Traded Andre Dawson (#27T)

1987 Topps Traded Andre Dawson

For as mundane as the headshot of Andre Dawson is, this card stands as a sort of historical milepost.

The Hawk had infamously found no takers during free agency heading into the 1987 season, a situation which was later found to be collusion, so he handed the Cubs a blank contract in Spring Training.

They filled in a bargain-basement price, and Dawson took his frustration out on National League pitchers to the tune of a league-leading 49 home runs.

No doubt this was a turning point in Dawson’s march to Cooperstown, and this was the first Topps card to show the Chicago legend in his new duds.

Value: $7-12

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1987 Topps Traded Reggie Jackson (#52T)

1987 Topps Traded Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson came “home” for one final season in 1987, returning to the Oakland A’s, with whom he had begun his Hall of Fame career back in 1967 (when they played in Kansas City).

And, even though everyone knew the 41-year-old was done when the ‘87 season was, Topps broke their usual protocol and issued one final Reggie card.

Bully for us

Value: $10-12

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1987 Topps Traded Matt Williams (#129T)

1987 Topps Traded Matt Williams

Entering the 1987 season, Matt Williams had played all of 72 professional baseball games, none above the Single-A level.

But the Giants brought the third overall pick of the 1986 draft (UNLV) to the majors in April of 1987 anyway, and, though he earned a July demotion, he was back up for the September pennant drive.

Overall, Williams’ rookie showing was pretty anemic – .188 with eight home runs and 21 RBI – but it was enough to land him his first Topps card.

And that card would become a lot more interesting when Williams finally claimed the Giants’ third base job as his own in 1989 and started hitting taters by the bushelful.

Value: $10-15

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1987 Topps Traded David Cone (#24T)

1987 Topps Traded David Cone

It took David Cone most of six seasons to make his way through the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system, and then, no sooner did he finally make it to the majors, when … BOOM! They traded him to the New York Mets in March of 1987.

Cone would spend most of 1987 with the Metropolitans, establishing himself in the rotation and earning a slot in Topps’ year-end set.

That Cone rookie was one of the first 1987 Traded cards to see much action the next year when the righty notched his first 20-win season.

Value: $10-15

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1987 Topps Traded Fred McGriff (#74T)

1987 Topps Traded Fred McGriff

Donruss saw enough potential in Fred McGriff to make him a Rated Rookie in their 1986 set, while Topps and Fleer sat back and giggled as such frivolity.

And, after playing only three games with the Blue Jays that season, the future Crime Dog did little to make Donruss look like geniuses.

Fast forward to the end of the 1987 season, though, and that RR was making some hobby waves after McGriff recorded his first 20-homer campaign.

Fleer and Topps (with this card) finally joined the party with their year-end sets.

Value: $10-15

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1987 Topps Traded Terry Steinbach (#117T)

1987 Topps Traded Terry Steinbach

Though both Fleer and Donruss (Rated Rookie) thought enough of Terry Steinbach’s prospect status to include him in their base 1987 sets after a six-game cup of coffee in 1986, Topps took a pass.

After he put up 16 home runs in 122 games (107 at catcher) for the burgeoning Bash Brothers, though, the new Oakland A’s backstop was impossible to ignore.

So, a year after Jose Canseco made his Topps debut, and months after Mark McGwire made his Topps A’s debut (not to be confused with his 1985 Topps Olympic card), their teammate got his own moment in The Real One sun.

Value: $10-20

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1987 Topps Traded Kevin Mitchell (#81T)

1987 Topps Traded Kevin Mitchell

After playing a key but understated role for the 1986 Mets as a rookie, Kevin Mitchell found himself on the move that winter, traded to the San Diego Padres in an eight-player December deal that sent Kevin McReynolds to the Mets.

Alas, that was too late for Topps’ planners, and Mitchell appeared as a Met in the base woodgrain set.

The next year, all that new blood didn’t do much for the Padres’ fortunes, and they found themselves mired deep in the standings as the summer got hot. On July 5, they sent Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, and Craig Lefferts to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Chris Brown, Keith Comstock, Mark Davis, and Mark Grant.

Dravecky and Lefferts both contributed ERAs of about 3.20 down the stretch, while Mitchell cranked out 15 home runs and added 3.0 WAR to San Fran’s bottom line – fourth on the team behind Will Clark (4.2), Mike Aldrete (3.4), Bob Brenly (3.2), and Jose Uribe (3.0, percentage points ahead).

The Giants lost a tight seven-game National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals that October, but they’d be back in 1989, when Mitchell was the NL MVP.

In between, he landed on his first Giants card, including this up-close shot of the pensive young slugger … who never did get a Topps Padres card.

Value: $15-25

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1987 Topps Traded Greg Maddux (#70T)

1987 Topps Traded Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux wasn’t the kind of prospect that made collectors hungry for his rookie cards to hit the market, not in the way that, say, Jose Canseco or Ben McDonald was.

It didn’t help any that he posted a 2-4 record in his big league debut in 1986, then followed it up with a 6-14 mark in 1987.

Throw in that mascara-drawn “mustache,” and it’s no wonder Maddux wasn’t able to generate any excitement for the 1987 Topps Traded set.

Things changed in a hurry in 1988, though, when he went 18-8, his first real step toward becoming one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen.

And, just like that, Maddux’s first Topps card rocketed from unknown to top of the heap.

Condition: https://www.psacard.com/auctionprices/baseball-cards/1987-topps-traded/51246#g=9

Value: $20-30

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End Date: Wednesday 08/24/2022 00:29:40 EDT
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