If you’ve read anything about the hobby over the last 30 years or, you might have gotten the impression that 1989 Fleer baseball cards are all about the Billy Ripken obscenity fiasco.

But, while that card — those cards — will probably always land among the most valuable cards from the set, there is more to this gray-and-pinstripe issue than FF.

So, without further ado, here are the 20 most valuable 1989 Fleer baseball cards, Billy the Kid included, based on actual recent selling prices of specimens in graded PSA 10 condition. We’ll start at the bottom of the pile and work our way up to the most valuable.

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

1989 Fleer Wade Boggs (#81)

1989 Fleer Wade Boggs

Boggs hit .366 in 1988 to win his fourth straight American League batting title, and it seemed like he might hold onto the crown forever. As it turned out, he would never again lead the league in hitting, which is pretty hard to imagine looking back now.

The next eleven seasons still brought plenty of hits, doubles, Gold Gloves, and other accolades, though, as Boggs cemented his Hall of Fame case.

This junk wax gem stands as a last look at title-winning Boggs, and it’s picked up in popularity over recent years.

Value: $20-25

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1989 Fleer Roger Clemens (#85)

1989 Fleer Roger Clemens

Clemens “slumped” to 18-12 in 1988 and would slide all the way to 17-11 in 1989 before rejoining the 20-win club to christen the 1990s. Even so, Rocket was among the best pitchers in the American League during that (for him) down stretch.

That all paled in comparison to his amazing work over the last decade-plus of his career, of course, but this ’89 Fleer card gives us a shot of Clemens before his epic fall from grace.

Value: $20-25

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1989 Fleer Gary Sheffield Rookie Card (#196)

1989 fleer gary sheffield

Sheffield was the big-stick-swinging shortstop who also happened to be Dwight Gooden’s nephew and was going to make everyone forget about Ernie Banks.

Sheffield ended up at third base and then the outfield in the Major Leagues, and the only person he made folks forget was Dave Magadan.

Still, he swatted more than 500 home runs and should probably garner more Hall of Fame consideration than he has to this point, PEDs or not.

Sheffield has rookie cards across the board in the 1989 sets, and this Fleer generally sells for under a buck raw, up to a bunch more in PSA 10.

Value: $20-25

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1989 Fleer John Smoltz Rookie Card (#602)

1989 fleer John Smoltz

Smoltz did most of his starting and finishing with the vaunted pitching staffs of the Altanta Braves in the 1990s and 2000s, and he joined rotation mates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown in 2015.

Like many others on this list, the fireballer’s 1989 Fleer rookie card checks in at a buck or so ungraded, and a bit more in PSA 10.

Value: $20-25

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1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie Card (#381)

1989 fleer Randy Johnson

In 1989, Randy Johnson was still a *ahem* huge enigma.

Would he ever be able to harness the (sorry) enormous potential in his left arm, or would his outsized (ugh!) walk rates continue to eat him up?

The only way to be sure, it seemed, was to trade him to the Seattle Mariners, where his profile seemed a bit more modest in the shadow of the Space Needle.

All puns aside (never!), the Big Unit developed into one of the most dominating starters of a generation and an all-time great who took his rightful place in Cooperstown in 2015.

Johnson’s 1989 Fleer rookie card is not quite as monstrous but does offer an interesting variation — the background of the card can be found with a Marlboro ad on the scoreboard behind Randy or with a blacked-out version of said ad. Or with some half-hearted in-between attempt. Sorta reminds me of another 1989 Fleer card. Hmmm …

Anyway, there seem to be tons of variations here, depending on the degree of Fleer’s contrition for advertising cigarettes to minors at any given moment.

In general, you’ll find listings ranging from a $1 for raw copies to … much more, depending on the specific variation (more on that later).

Value: $20-30

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1989 Fleer Mike Schmidt (#582)

1989 Fleer Mike Schmidt

With injuries piling up, Schmidt abruptly announced his retirement early in the 1989 season, while this card was still pack-fresh all across the land.

That put the finishing touches on the greatest all-around career by a third baseman and set up his cards to maintain — and augment — their lofty hobby perch for decades to come.

For fans of Schmitty, this is a bittersweet last look at a baseball legend.

Value: $20-30

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1989 Fleer Craig Biggio Rookie Card (#353)

1989 fleer Craig Biggio

Young players can take a while to find their lot in Major League life, just as with Gary Sheffield above.

For Craig Biggio, that searching included a minor league career and a handful of Big League seasons toiling as a catcher before moving to his forever home at second base for the Houston Astros.

Amazingly, Biggio became an All-Star behind the plate before moving to the other side of the pitcher, but we’re all better off for the wear-and-tear that position switch saved on the eventual Hall of Famer.

Biggio made an appearance in a couple of year-end sets in 1988, but this was his first base Fleer card.

Value: $25-30

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1989 Fleer Greg Maddux (#431)

1989 Fleer Greg Maddux

After a couple seasons of really ugly numbers in the majors, Maddux broke out for the Cubs in 1988, going 18-8 with a 3.18 ERA to garner his first All-Star selection. The future Proessor was just getting warmed up, of course, and those earl returns were just a prelude to the mastery to come — the Cy Young Awards, the Gold Gloves, the victories, the Hall of Fame plaque.

And this card gives us an early look at an all-time great.

Value: $25-30

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1989 Fleer Barry Bonds (#202)

1989 fleer Barry Bonds

You can’t have a discussion about any late 1980s baseball card set and not include Barry Bonds. The all-time home run leader is still the slender, base-stealing Barry many purists claim to prefer on this card, so what’s not to like?

And, with 762 home runs — the all-time record — and scads of other ridiculous numbers, Bonds seems like a good bet to eventually overcome his tarnished reputation enough to gain enshrinement to Cooperstown. Right?

Value: $25-35

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1989 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr.(#617)

1989 fleer Cal Ripken Jr

Cal Ripken and the Orioles went through a tough year in 1988 — among the toughest ever, in fact — but the Iron Man was still a beloved hobby figure.

Still is, courtesy of 3000+ hits, the 1983 American League Rookie of the Year award, two AL MVP awards, and The Streak heard ’round the world.

This 1989 Fleer card wasn’t Cal’s greatest hunk of cardboard ever, but it still has some fans out there.

Value: $25-35

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1989 Fleer Tony Gwynn (#305)

1989 Fleer Tony Gwynn

Gwynn “slumped” to a .313 batting average in 1988, but that was still good enough to win his third batting title in what turned out to be a scaled down “Year of the Pitcher” — bats weren’t quite as feeble as they had been in 1968, but they were pretty darn anemic compared to what we saw during the home run explosion in 1987.

Mr. Padre would win another crown in 1989 at the age of 29, and then the well ran dry … until 1994, that is. Already a near-lock for the Hall of Fame, Gwynn reeled off four straight batting titles from ’94-’97 and cemented his status as one of the great pure hitters of all time.

No surprise that all his cards, including this sun-kissed 1989 Fleer entry, still command solid collector interest decades later.

Value: $30-35

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1989 Fleer George Brett (#277)

1989 Fleer George Brett

These things are subjective, of course, but this isn’t the greatest looking George Brett baseball card ever produced. Still, there’s plenty late-80s Royals flavor to partake of, and Brett’s weathered face hints at the storied diamond battles that had built his legend.

And the card back tells the story of a grizzled baseball lifer who had battled his way back to full-time status in 1988 after two years of injury woes, also cresting .300 for the first time since 1985.

Mullet would face another tough year in 1989 before winning a third batting crown in 1990, forever cementing his grit, Cooperstown cred, and hobby legend.

Value: $35-40

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1989 Fleer Bo Jackson (#285)

1989 Fleer Bo Jackson

When this card was young and fresh (pack-fresh, that is), Bo was a phenom, yet still a curiosity.

Would he choose baseball or football? Or would he continue trying to do both? Would he ever fulfill even part of his vast potential?

That summer, Superman started to answer those questions, garnering his first American League All-Star selection and serving notice that he had the power/speed potential to stick: 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 26 stolen bases even got him some MVP votes.

The 1990 season saw less playing time, and then came the devastating hip injury suffered in January 1991 during and NFL playoff game with the Los Angeles Raiders.

Bo would never suit up for the Royals or in the NFL again, though he did make it back to the diamond … but he was never the same.

Still and all, collectors still know Bo — love Bo — after all these years, and his cards were some of the most active during the pandemic boom. They haven’t lost much of that sheen as we’ve shifted to our “new normal.”

Value: $35-45

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1989 Fleer Nolan Ryan (#368)

1989 fleer Nolan Ryan

In 1989, Nolan Ryan joined the Texas Rangers to begin the final push of his legendary career. It was a magical five-year run that would include more no-hitters, more strikeouts, more wins, and a daddy-whooping of Robin Ventura when the young Chicago White Sox charged the mound.

If Ryan cards weren’t already hot before, The Express’s stint in Arlington pushed his cardboard into supernova status.

A lot of that glow remains today, and even this overproduced issue — the last Fleer card to show Ryan with the Houston Astros — can fetch decent prices in PSA 10 condition.

Value: $35-45

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1989 Fleer Rickey Henderson (#254)

If you were a Rickey or Yankees fan hoping for an artful or dramatic baseball card to mark the end of the Hot Dog’s tenure in the Bronx, well, this 1989 Fleer entry probably didn’t quite flick your Bic.

Here we get the backside of one of baseball’s greatest players as he, I guess, stands on top of the plate, in front of B.J. Surhoff or Charlie Moore or Bill Schroeder.

Oh well — Rickey’s 1989 Fleer Update would look a lot better, and this one still ranks high among the gray-stripes.

Value: $40-45

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1989 Fleer Kirby Puckett (#124)

1989 Fleer Kirby Puckett

After breaking out in 1986 and leading the Twins to a World Series title in 1987, Puckett amped up his game even further in 1988 — .356 average, 24 home runs, 121 RBI, 109 runs scored, MLB-leading 358 total bases.

And that infectious smile and unbreakably affable attitude.

Collectors loved him, and we pretty much still do after all these years.

Value: $40-45

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1989 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#548)

1989 fleer Ken Griffey Jr

Look … this is a Ken Griffey, Jr., rookie card, so you know it has to land near the top of the value mountain for whatever set it appears in.

That’s just what happens when you’re one of the dozen or so greatest players of all time.

In this case, you’re generally looking at maybe a few dollars for nice raw copies, up into another stratosphere or so for a perfect graded “10.”

Value: $120-125

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1989 Fleer Billy Ripken White Out (#616)

1989 fleer Billy Ripken White Out

You know the basic story here, right?

Billy Ripken showed up on his 1989 Fleer card with an obscenity on the knob of his bat. When collectors started pulling the card, the hobby freaked out.

Then Fleer freaked out and tried about 74 different ways to fix the thing — scribbles, black boxes, alien abduction, witness protection, whiteout.

In the end, the two varieties which seem to resonate most with collectors, and which seem to be hardest to come by, are the whiteout version and the so-called FF version. I’m just showing the whiteout version here because I don’t really feel like dropping the F-bomb in this space.

Think of the children.

I will list pricing for the FFs below, though.

For the whiteout thing, you’re probably looking at $20-$50 in ungraded condition.

For a PSA 10 copy? Open the wallet, buddy …

Value: $900-??

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1989 Fleer Billy Ripken FF (#616)

If you like your Billy Ripken a bit more bawdy, then the FF version is definitely for you.

The good news is that you can usually find this saucy cardboard for $10-20 raw, with even PSA 8s coming in at less than $50 or so. PSA 10s can run north of $400, though.

For complete details on the whole Billy Ripken FF debacle, see our complete guide, which includes updated values for the various and sundry versions of this, the most recognizable of all 1989 Fleer baseball cards.

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1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie Card w/Marlboro Ad (#381)

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie Card Marlboro Ad

In a saga straight out of the old Honus-Wagner-didn’t-want-to-encourage-kids-to-use-tobacco T206 schtick, Fleer originally issued their 1989 Randy Johnson rookie card with a big old Marlboro ad visible on the outfield wall behind the future Big Unit.

They then promenaded through a litany of correction attempts, eventually yielding the blacked-out version discussed above.

Today, though, it’s the fully monty Marlboro version that keeps collector interest and dollars flowing.

Indeed, it’s the most valuable of all 1989 Fleer baseball cards.

Value: $1200-1400

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Bonus Skipper …

1989 Fleer Joe Girardi (#644)

1989 fleer Joe Girardi

Betcha didn’t expect to see Rolando Roomes on our list of most valuable 1989 Fleer baseball cards, huh?

Well, here’s the story, Skippy …

Before Joe Girardi became a good manager for the Florida Marlins, a maybe-great manager for the New York Yankees, and a quick-out manager for the Philadelphia Phillies, he was a pretty darn good catcher for the Yanks, the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, and the St. Louis Cardinals over the course of a 15-year Major League career.

And, though Girardi is back on the sidelines as of this writing, he’s young enough and respected enough to expect he’ll be back in the dugout before long.

Here, the former Yanks skipper shares his 1989 Fleer rookie card with Roomes, and, though the duo can brings a more modest buck or so ungraded, it’s a bit more stout in PSA 10.

Value: $10-15

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Bonus Footage … Goose Gossage (#425)

So, Gossage isn’t among the most valuable 1989 Fleer baseball cards, but if you’ve read this far, you might enjoy an “in-action” look at one of the few cards of the intimidator with the Chicago Cubs

You can find other fun/silly/trivial baseball card vids on my YouTube channel, too.

(Check out our other posts about baseball card values here.)

Want to see a video version of this article? Check out 1989 Fleer baseball cards “in action”:

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100 Random 1989 Topps Baseball Cards

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End Date: Monday 12/26/2022 06:45:03 EST
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