8 Great Baseball Sets for Under $8
by Paul Angilly
May 31, 2005
After getting a recent bill, I realized how easy it is to spend a lot of money in a short time by
combining eBay's "buy it now" option with a credit card. So for everyone like me who'd like
to cut down their trading card spending and still have fun, I thought it would be good to compile a
list of eight great baseball card sets that could be bought on eBay for less than $8 delivered.
Following is the list of sets I found listed on eBay during a typical mid-May day. Included is the
total price for the set, including "buy it now" bid and shipping.
1993 Hostess "Baseballs" 32-card set ($4): From 1975 to 1979, the Hostess snack
food company printed baseball cards on boxes of its snack cakes such as Twinkies - and what could
be more fun for a young boy than enjoying some baseball cards with a Twinkie?
In 1993, the company introduced a new snack cake called "Baseballs," golden creme-filled
cupcakes with frosting that resembled a baseball.
Boxes of the new product included a pack of three baseball cards of star players (such as Cal Ripken
Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr.), issued in two
series of 16 cards each.
A complete near-mint to mint set was offered for $3, plus $1 shipping.
1996 Denny's 28-card set ($4.25): Produced by Pinnacle Brands, this set features full-motion
hologram technology. The set was not well-received by many collectors due to the difficulty of viewing
the image, but when done properly, it's possible to view up to four seconds of full-color, 3-D action.
Originally, the set was only available in packs of two cards for 49 cents at Denny's restaurants, but
in the years following the promotion, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of boxes of the cards were dumped
into the hobby, eliminating any real value the cards may have once had. But if you have the patience
to view the cards properly, you could have a lot of fun with the set for less than $5.
1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Baseball Heroes 10-card insert set ($5.99): This is a true piece
of hobby history, available for less than the price of two packs of most products released these days.
Put simply and with no exaggeration, this was the set that put the "chase" into the term
These cards were randomly inserted into high-number packs of Upper Deck cards. While the real chase was
for the personally-autographed Jackson card, still valued at about $100, this insert set marks the
beginning of the limited-edition insert craze that continues to this day.
1984 Drake's "Big Hitters" 33-card set ($5.99): After Hostess abandoned card collectors
looking for a sugar rush after the 1979 season, Drake's Bakeries picked up the slack in 1981 by producing
the first of eight consecutive card sets. The first five were made by Topps and came inside boxes of the
snack foods, while the last three (1986-1988) were printed on the boxes themselves.
The 1984 edition features players such as Cal Ripken Jr., Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, George
Brett, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Eddie Murray, Robin Yount, Dave Winfield and Dale Murphy. Although originally
issued one card per box, countless thousands of sets from all five of the Topps-produced years (1981-1985)
were later released into the hobby, driving down prices. Still, they are very attractive sets full of future
Hall-of-Famers for a small price.
1990 Starline Long John Silver's 40-card set ($6): Starline, best known for making licensed sports
posters of star athletes, threw a bit of a scare into the baseball card hobby in the late 1980s with reports
that it was attempting to sign Major League Baseball's top players to exclusive trading card contracts that
would have kept those players out of sets made by Fleer, Donruss, Score and Upper Deck. But in the end,
all that came of it was a very attractive one-time set given away in five-card packs with the purchase of
a meal at Long John Silver fish restaurants.
The fronts of the cards look like small posters and the backs are well-designed and colorful. Among the
players included are Don Mattingly, Mark Grace, Eric Davis, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Alan Trammell
and Nolan Ryan.
1981 Topps Super Boston Red Sox 12-card set ($6.45): After introducing a popular set of 60
attractive, 5x7-inch glossy photo cards in 1980, Topps followed it up with a series of similarly-styled
regional issues in 1981. In all, 102 cards were issued in seven regions, with another 15 cards issued
Available for a $3.95 "buy it now" price plus $2.50 for shipping, the Red Sox regional issue
includes four Hall-of-Famers - Tony Perez, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk and Dennis Eckersley - along
with Frank Tanana, Dave Stapleton, Bob Stanley, Jim Rice, Carney Lansford, Glenn Hoffman, Dwight Evans
and Tom Burgmeier.
1993 Pinnacle "Cooperstown" 30-card set ($6.99): During the early- to mid-'90s,
Pinnacle produced several boxed sets for direct distribution through hobby channels. This 12-year-old
set was true to its title, picturing 12 then-current players who have since been inducted into the
Hall of Fame: Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Ryne Sandberg,
Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor and Eddie Murray. It also includes
three more sure-fire future Hall-of-Famers - Cal Ripken Jr., Roger Clemens and Tony Gwynn - along with
potential inductees Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.
1989-90 Topps Senior Professional Baseball League 132-card set ($7.49): A noble experiment that
fell flat, the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball League brought together many former Major League
players in a Florida-based league for players aged 35 and up that played during the winter months. A popular
idea at first, attendance dwindled to just a few dozen spectators per game by the time the league folded
midway through its second season.
The Topps set was one of four made during or immediately after the league's first season (Pacific, T&M and
Elite were the others), all featuring familiar names such as Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Fergie Jenkins and
Al Oliver. The nostalgia value of this set makes it worth the price.
About the author
Paul Angilly is a sports reporter for The Bristol Press in Connecticut, and
has been collecting sports cards and memorabilia for 30 years. He is not a
dealer, nor does he make a profit from buying and selling cards. His weekly
sports card and memorabilia collecting column appears each week in The
Bristol Press and several other
daily newspapers in
All hobby articles...