Recently, I put out an article showcasing my Jose Canseco Top 10 game used / autographed cards in my collection, and it was a blast to really sit down and show them / describe what I like about them. For this article, I’m going to show my top 10 80s cards. As a Canseco Super Collector, this list may change from time to time, but here is what my top favorites are at the time of this writing. This isn’t going to be your usual 1986 Donruss Rated Rookies / 1987 Topps Rookie Cup / list at all … Much of this list is going to be stuff that you probably have never heard of, and will never see anywhere else except for this website.
Canseco Super Collector Top 10 Cards of the 1980s
1987 Topps Mini Color Key 1/1 (signed)
Everyone knows the 1987 Topps Rookie Cup card. It is, after all, Jose’s most famous Topps baseball card, ever. Topps made a smaller print run (both in quantity and dimension) called the 1987 Topps mini set. The picture was taken moments away from the famous 1987 Topps rookie cup card, and used for the mini. This color key was used in the production of the rookie cup’s little brother, and Jose signed it.
1987 Topps Glossy Rookies 4 Color Mask Negative 1/1
Inserted at a rate of 1 per 101 card jumbo pack, the glossy rookie set has a significantly lower print run than the regular Topps set. The 4 color mask negative makes my list, because it was used to create one of the most highly sought after Topps releases of 1987.
1989 Score Sample
This card has evaded hardcore collectors for years and years. In fact, only about 3 have surfaced in the past 10+ years. A few have popped up recently. These were apparently distributed to a few dealers. While the fronts are identical to the regular issue, the back shows a light green border instead of white.
1988 Topps Cloth Test Issue Team Leaders w/McGwire
The first Topps card to feature the Bash Brothers. It doesn’t get much better than this. Well, yes it does. Topps decided to do a test run on a sheet of 1988 Topps cards on cloth. The sheets have words printed directly on the mentioning they are not for sale. Topps decided to not run with this idea, and it is estimated that fewer than 50 of this nearly 30 year old issue exist. Who knows how many are still out there today? This is a TRUE holy grail card for collectors. This was actually given to me by a big time collector!
1988 Topps Blue Proof Team Leaders w/McGwire 1/1
How do you top the above card? By having the same as a blue proof 1/1! It carries none of the mystique that the cloth test card does because very few people know about it, but it definitely makes the list of one of my favorites from the 80s.
1989 Leaf Blue Chip
A true “white whale”, this card was produced as a test in SUPER limited quantities. I was able to speak with someone who worked at Donruss for clarification. This was apparently created to compete in the high end market, but ultimately was scrapped in favor of making Leaf its own baseball card brand in 1990. This too, was given to me by the same collector that gave me the 1988 Topps cloth.
1986 Donruss Highlights White Letter Variation
This rookie card is ridiculously rare. Normally, you would find these with the word “Highlights” in yellow. A true hard to find variation, and is his absolute rarest of rare rookie cards ever. Fun fact: Only 1 has ever been graded at PSA!
1989 Topps All Star Gold Border
1989 Topps gave us Jose’s first Topps All Star card. Very little is known about the gold border release – in fact, I’ve only seen 1 or 2 other 89 Topps gold borders and never another Canseco. It has always excited me to own what might be the only copy of a variation of a card that was printed millions of times.
1987 Topps 4 Color Mask Negative 1/1
This was used to produce the first card I remember pulling from a pack, and started me on a journey of collecting Canseco. The 1987 Topps rookie cup card has a lot of sentimental value to me.
1982 Topps File Card
This is kind of cheating, because this is not a baseball card (as you can see). It is, however, a file card. It is the earliest Jose Canseco Topps artifact in existence. In 1982 (the same year Jose graduated high school) Jose signed some sort of contract with Topps in the amount of $5…as a 5 year payment. Yes, Topps paid him $1/yr! Topps would do this from time to time with young players years before they got to the majors. I have only seen a few other examples like this, where Topps signed some other stars years before they stepped into the MLB spotlight.
If I’m being completely honest, I would say I’m not ready to set each and every one of these in stone in terms of placement on the list. Nevertheless, these are my top 10 cards from the 80s!