As most know, the 80s weren’t the best time to be a baseball card collector, unless you were ahead of the game and buying up vintage at crazy low prices. For starters, the baseball card market was watered down by new arrivals, Donruss & Fleer. These two companies actually had to take Topps to court and spent nearly a decade batting to break up the baseball card monopoly. Unfortunately, their early efforts fell flat and didn’t add much to the hobby. Then of course, card popularity went through the roof and the Junk Wax era began around 1987. It was just a rough time to be a collector.
Due to the money that manufacturers, retailers, and dealers were able to make, even rookie and early year cards of Hall of Famers and superstars tend to be worth less than what it costs to fill up your gas tank. It wasn’t until grading became popular that cards from the 80s hit their revival and made early investors rich. To put it into perspective, think of perhaps the most famous card from the 80s, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Today, you can buy a raw copy for around $40-$60. It really doesn’t get much better than that unless you take your card, get it graded and it comes back with a high grade.
There is however one card from the 80s, produced by Topps Company, that is as rare as it gets. In fact, it is hands down the most rare baseball card produced by a major manufacturer from the entire decade of the 80s. It was produced in 1985 featuring MLB logos and Topps’ 1984 flagship design. The card features actor, Michael O’Keefe, as fictional character, Darryl Palmer, from the film The Slugger’s Wife. According to multiple sources, only 100 of these Topps cards exist, which makes it the most rare single baseball card produced until at least 1997, when Pinnacle Brands & Flair introduced the 1/1.
The thing is, the card is relatively unknown because “Card Bros” are too young to care and the film the card is based off was a critical and box office disaster, not to mention O’Keefe, who was a hot commodity after starring in Caddyshack, never really lived up to even the tiniest expectation. In the late-80s, these cards appeared in baseball card price guides in mail-order advertisements selling for $50 a piece. It’s easy to imagine someone from the film sold off the cards to a collector who then in turn attempted to get rich. There’s no way to know how many actually sold and how many ended up in a dumpster.
One thing is for sure, the card today is more rare than it ever has been. It almost never hits eBay but if one ever does in an auction, I can imagine it will go for upwards of $500, easily. The problem is considering the card is nearly 4 decades old and still has a dubious backstory, there is a chance it may go extinct from the secondary market. I would imagine not even O’Keefe’s celebrity status will help elevate this card to prominence unless Michael does something completely nuts and reaches some level of notoriety in his golden years. Until then, here is a scan of a card you will likely never see in your lifetime.
If you have a copy, I’m buying …