Darryl Strawberry rookie cards were hobby superstars before they ever even existed.

Say what?

Well …

When the New York Mets‘ prospect burst onto the National League scene as a rookie during the summer of 1983, everyone in the game sat up and took notice. And collectors? We started licking our chops, just dying for our first glimpse at some Darryl Strawberry baseball cards.

We didn’t have to wait all that long, thanks to the 1983 Topps Traded set that sold like hotcakes late that fall. And then the next spring, we finally got what we were really waiting for — Darryl Strawberry in our wax packs!

But, as much as the chase for those first Straw cards fueled the early 1984 market, there’s a lot more to the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year’s rookie card story than just a handful of regular-issue pasteboards.

In fact, depending on how you look at things, and on how picky you are in your definitions, you could count more than thirty(!) cards among Strawberry’s RCs.

Don’t believe me?

Well, then, read on for a complete rundown of every card of The Straw Man issued in 1984 or before.

Ready? Alright, then … lock your gaze on the ball. Get your leg cocked and ready to kick. And let’s take a big, sweet, left-handed swing at the glory of Darryl Strawberry rookie cards.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed. Except where noted, prices listed are for cards in PSA 10 condition, based on actual recent selling prices. )

Intro paragraph

Baseball Cards

1983 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card (#108T)

1983 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card

This was the most eagerly awaited “traded” card up to that point, and it remained so all the way to … well, to the next year (1984), when Strawberry’s teammate Dwight Gooden put together an almost mythical season on the mound as a teenager.

But this 1983 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry really made traded sets “stick” and ensured their viability and popularity for years to come.

Sure, that 1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken, Jr., rookie card was gathering fans like pawpaws as Cal followed up his own Rookie of the Year campaign with an MVP performance in 1983. But Ripken already had a 1982 Topps rookie card, in the base set.

And the other big-bopping first-year man gave us something to chase all summer long, courtesy of the 1983 Fleer Ron Kittle rookie card.

We had to wait on Darryl, though, and he and Topps rewarded us handsomely.

Value: $400-450

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1984 Donruss Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card (#68)

1984 Donruss Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card

The 1984 Donruss Darryl Strawberry rookie card was not his most popular or valuable RC out of the pack, at least not at the beginning of the card-collecting season. Indeed, we all pretty much entered that spring counting on Donruss to continue trundling along with sort of blah cards, the worst among the three manufacturers.

That’s the way it had been through their three-year presence in baseball cards, after all.

There was a definite stigma around Donruss in the hobby.

But when we saw the clean, classic design and improved photography, our perceptions began to change. And then we started to notice that Donruss cards were not all that easy to find.

And then … Don Mattingly.

All of those factors swirled together into a hobby tempest that lifted the entire boat and, before long, the 1984 Donruss version was the most expensive among all of his from-pack RCs.

Some things never change.

Value: $250-300

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1984 Fleer Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card (#599)

1984 Fleer Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card

Fleer had made their initial step up in quality in 1983 after a couple of pretty rough issues in 1981 and 1982. So their1984 set was pretty eagerly awaited, and it delivered in an understated sort of way.

Right off the bat, of course, this smiling shot of Strawberry became the toast of the set.

It didn’t take too long for collectors to realize that 1984 Fleer packs weren’t all that easy to come by, either, and the Straw RC card climbed in price right along with Mattingly and all the rest.

Today, the Fleer set has fallen behind Topps and Donruss in overall popularity, but this is still an iconic card.

Value: $150-200

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1984 Topps Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card (#182)

1984 Topps Darryl Strawberry Rookie Card

If there’s one Darryl Strawberry card that’s indelibly etched onto the heart and soul of every 1980s collector, it’s this 1984 Topps rookie card.

Entire collections were traded on the playground just to get ‘hold of one of these beauties, featuring the young slugger in the followthrough of that powerful, graceful swing that was going to rewrite the record books.

If you ever popped one of these from a “live” wax pack – or hoped to – a mere glimpse of this card makes your heart flutter even today.

You had some choices in just how you picked up your 1984 Topps Darryl Strawberry, too. Down below, you’ll find a couple of parallels, and 1984 was also the first year that Topps issued their super glossy, premium Tiffany set.

Those were available only as factory sets, sold exclusively through hobby dealers. In all, Topps made 10,000 Tiffany sets in 1984, and you can expect to pay about four times the prices below for a glossy Strawberry RC in PSA 10 condition … if you ever run into one, that is!

Value: $200-225

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1982 TCMA Jackson Mets Darryl Strawberry (#21)

1982 TCMA Jackson Mets Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry took a pretty conventional route to the majors, starting out in rookie ball after going to the Mets with the #1 overall pick in the 1980 June MLB Draft.

He graduated to Single-A in 1981, then spent all of 1982 with the Double-A Jackson Mets. And it was there that Strawberry landed on his first professional baseball card, courtesy of the TCMA-issued team set.

The photo quality and card design are nothing to write home about, but you can’t argue with the subject matter.

And you also usually can’t find one in PSA 10, so be prepared to pay if you do.

Value: $1000-1500

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1983 TCMA Tidewater Tides Darryl Strawberry (#28)

1983 TCMA Tidewater Tides Darryl Strawberry

Another season, another rung up the minor league ladder for Strawberry, who began the 1983 campaign with the Triple-A Tidewater Tides. Of course, that assignment lasted all of 16 games before the Mets called up Strawberry to the Big Apple start terrorizing National League pitchers.

That was long enough for TCMA to include him in their 1983 Tidewater team issue, though, giving collectors a then-current Strawberry card to hunt down at card shops and cards shows

This is a tough one to find in top shape today, with PSA having graded just nine 9s and two 10s as of this writing. Those top-flight samples almost never show up on the market, so prices below are for PSA 8 cards.

Condition: PSA 8

Value: $100-150

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1984 7-11 Slurpee Coin Darryl Strawberry (#XVII)

1984 7-11 Slurpee Coin Darryl Strawberry

In the fourth year of a more competitive landscape after Fleer and Donruss had crashed Topps’ monopoly in 1981, the hobby was really starting to percolate in 1984.

Collectors from all walks of life got bit by the cardboard bug, some discovering our little corner of the world for the first time, some returning after an adulthood-induced hiatus.

Suddenly, there was a lot of interest – and money – focused on the hobby. And where there’s money, there always will be plenty of folks trying to get their share.

All of which is to say, new baseball cards were everywhere in 1984 … including on the bottom of your favorite artificially-flavored toilet-bowl-cake-consistency frozen drink. Yes, if you were lucky enough to have a 7-Eleven in your neighborhood (or on the way home, as the slogan went, though it may not have been theirs), you could stop in for a Slurpee and a plastic-coated, lenticular baseball “coin” attached to the bottom of the cup.

It was Magic Motion years before we had any clue what a Sportflics was, and it came with a glucose-slamming mainline of summer treat bliss.

And, yes, there was a Darryl Strawberry RC (Rookie Coin) among the offerings, at least in the “East” series.

So … you up for a Strawberry Slurpee??

Condition: raw

Value: $5-20

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1984 All-Star Game Program Insert (handcut) Darryl Strawberry (#)

1984 All-Star Game Program Insert (handcut) Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry didn’t debut for the Mets until May 6, 1983, and he wouldn’t hit his fourth home run of the season until June 22, by which point his batting average stood at a forehead-slapping .189.

No surprise he didn’t make the All-Star cut that rookie season, even though he caught fire in the second half.

That Rookie-of-the-Year push got his name front and center for 1984, though, and he was the National League’s starting right fielder in the Midsummer Classic held at Candlestick Park less than three weeks before the beginning of the Olympics in Los Angeles.

Back in those days, the All-Star program contained a center pullout that featured little images of all the guys on the ballot, and collectors have taken to cutting those into individual “cards” over the years.

You might have a tough time finding a graded copy of the Strawberry “rookie” from this set, but nice raw copies are floating around out there at a generally reasonable rate.

Condition: raw

Value: $5-10

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1984 Drake’s Big Hitters Darryl Strawberry (#29)

1984 Drake's Big Hitters Darryl Strawberry

One of the nods Topps made to its competition beginning in 1981 was to partner up with big corporate names to issue branded baseball cards.

Think 1981 Coke and 1982 Kmart.

It was a model Topps had exploited on their own in the late 1970s with their Burger King issues, and the pressure from Donruss and Fleer only made them seem to double down on the tactic.

One of the most endearing and enduring of those partnerships began in 1981 with the first set of Drake’s Big Hitters, a 33-card issue featuring, yes, some of the best hitters in the game.

Strawberry crashed the Drake’s party in 1984 with a follow-through that tells you he just hit *something* hard.

Value: $150-300

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1984 Fleer Stickers Darryl Strawberry (#104)

1984 Fleer Stickers Darryl Strawberry

Fleer sort of danced all around their sticky products in the 1980s, alternately releasing card-sized Super Star Stickers, lickable stamps with albums, and non-lickable (though you could lick them, I suppose) stickers with albums.

The 1984 offering was of the latter variety – a set of 126 diminutive, stiff stickers featuring beige borders. The Strawberry “rookie sticker” shows the slugger in a classic kneeling shot, though you may need to fire up the microfiche machine to verify that.

Value: $100-200

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1984 New York Mets MVP Club (perforated) Darryl Strawberry (#7)

1984 New York Mets MVP Club (perforated) Darryl Strawberry

In 1984, Mets fans (kids) could join the “Most Valuable Person” club, which came complete with a sheet of eight player cards and one membership card that listed special events at Shea Stadium throughout the summer – Helmet Day, Shirt Day … Strawberry Sunday.

Straw was the main draw of the card sheet, no doubt, but the full perforated-border checklist was pretty impressive:

1 Davey Johnson

2 Ron Darling

3 George Foster

4 Keith Hernandez

5 Jesse Orosco

6 Rusty Staub

7 Darryl Strawberry

8 Mookie Wilson

Membership Card

Condition: PSA 6

Value: $25-50

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1984 O-Pee-Chee Darryl Strawberry (#182)

1984 O-Pee-Chee Darryl Strawberry

Pretty much everything that goes for Strawberry’s Topps rookie card applies here to his O-Pee-Chee near-parallel, too – it’s a great looking card that’s been popular with collectors forever.

But, though the two Strawberry cards share the same number (#182), the Canadian checklist overall is just half of its counterpart at 396 total cards. The OPC cards are tougher to come by, too, which is reflected in card prices at the top of the heap … like the Darryl Strawberry rookie.

Value: $650-700

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1984 O-Pee-Chee Stickers Darryl Strawberry (#385)

1984 O-Pee-Chee Stickers Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry didn’t have an All-Star card in the 1984 Topps or O-Pee-Chee set, but he did have this star-spangled entry in both the O-Pee-Chee and Topps sticker sets to keep collectors company during his initial visit to the Midsummer Classic.

Flimsy and diminutive as always, the OPC has never been super popular but is still an apt reminder of golden moments gone by.

Condition: raw

Value: $5-20

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1984 Smokey Bear Mets Alumni Darryl Strawberry (#)

1984 Smokey Bear Mets Alumni Darryl Strawberry

Issued in conjunction with the Jackson Mets, the Smokey Bear Mets Alumni set featured former members of the minor league team who were in the majors during the 1984 season.

Strawberry is and was the cream of the crop, though he’s joined in the set by several other recognizable names:

Neil Allen

Wally Backman

Hubie Brooks

Jody Davis

Brian Giles

Tim Leary

Lee Mazzilli

Jesse Orosco

Jeff Reardon

Doug Sisk

Mookie Wilson

Marvell Wynne

Ned Yost

Davey Johnson

A pretty stellar group, but all still miles behind Strawberry when it comes to star power (though Mookie has his diehards).

Value: $???-???

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1984 Star Company Darryl Strawberry (#)

1984 Star Company Darryl Strawberry

As the hobby exploded during the 1980s, Star emerged and found their own niche – extensive single-player sets of some of the biggest names in the game. Rickey Henederson, Dale Murphy, Mike Schmidt, and Roger Clemens were among the names who eventually got the Star treatment, but Strawberry was among the first of all of them.

This 12-card issue showcased the Mets’ superstar in various situations and, though they feel sort of like something your industrial arts teacher might have printed off in the backroom, they’re still fun period pieces today.

Condition: raw

Value: $5-10

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1984 Topps Glossy Send-In All-Stars Darryl Strawberry (#29)

1984 Topps Glossy Send-In All-Stars Darryl Strawberry

For the second year in a row, Topps wax packs in 1984 included a game piece that potentially allowed you to win baseball-related prizes … including a trip to the World Series (are YOU the one who won??).

And if you didn’t win anything in a particular pack, you still got some number of “runs” on each game card. Collect 25 runs, and you could send in the cards plus 50 cents in order to receive one of eight runs of super glossy cards picturing All-Star players.

Strawberry comes in at #29 in the overall set of 40, and, like the others in these sets, this card is one of the best looking the slugger ever had. The photography is great and clear, the design is minimal, and the cardstock is thick and premium.

These were the cards we all wanted Topps to make as their base set, and they’re the ones that helped inspire the premium movement that lay ahead (Upper Deck can thank Topps now…again).

Value: $60-75

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1984 Topps Nestlé (handcut) Darryl Strawberry (#182)

1984 Topps Nestlé (handcut) Darryl Strawberry

As part of their collaboration with Nestlé in 1984, Topps produced a full parallel of its base set, with the only one change – they said “Nestlé” instead of “Topps” on front.

The catch was, you could only get them one sheet (of 132) cards at a time, and only by sending in five Nestlé wrappers and five bucks (OK, $4.95). Since there were six different sheets, it would have cost you about $30, plus countless visits to the dentist to complete the set.

The good news is, there were “only” 5000 of each sheet produced, a tiny number by the standards of the day.

A nicely cut Strawberry rookie card is tough to come by today, but it won’t command much of a premium (if any) over the Topps base RC.

Value: $175-225

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1984 Topps Rubdowns Darryl Strawberry (#)

1984 Topps Rubdowns Darryl Strawberry

The 1984 Topps Rubdowns set was a throwback to the sort of cheesy test issues and one-offs that the company rolled out in the 1960s when they were the lone wolf of the hobby.

In 1984, though, and facing ever-escalating competition, Topps brought these non-card press-on thingamajigs to bear, gracing us with three players on each sheet.

Rookie Darryl Strawberry shared his sheet with Tom Brunansky and Pedro Guerrero, but you have to figure a fair number of Straws are fused to old, discarded locker doors in landfills and forgotten storerooms across the land.

Condition: PSA 9

Value: $20-30

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1984 Topps Stickers Darryl Strawberry (#385)

1984 Topps Stickers Darryl Strawberry

If you didn’t have the rubdown skills to transfer an image of Darryl Strawberry onto the side of your mom’s favorite soup tureen, you could opt for the more straightforward option – his 1984 Topps sticker.

Sure, it was tiny and flimsy, but it sure looked good stuck in an album or on the TV screen, or – if you were hardcore about it – in a top-loader.

Condition: PSA 9

Value: $35-45

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1984 Topps Super Darryl Strawberry (#12)

1984 Topps Super Darryl Strawberry

The 1984 Topps Darryl Strawberry rookie card was one of the most iconic out-of-the-pack pasteboards ever produced to that point in time.

Everyone wanted one, and we’d trade all our Andy Van Slykes and a couple of 1983 Super Veterans to get it.

So, why wouldn’t Topps milk that iconography for all it was worth? Right, no reason.

Hence, this supersize version that was the whole reason for the existence of the entire 30-card run of 1984 Topps Supers.

Condition: PSA 9

Value: $35-45

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1984 Topps #182 Darryl Strawberry Rookie RC EX-NM

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