Everything You Need To Know About 1987 Topps Errors

November 3, 2023

Every long-time baseball collector is familiar with the 1987 Topps Baseball set, with its wood grain border. The set was a true cultural phenomenon and still captures the attention of collectors to this day.

However, aside from its undeniable significance in the hobby, the 1987 Topps baseball card set has an impressive reputation that’s flown under the radar for a while now.

Usually, junk wax era sets are characterized by dozens of errors and hundreds of variations. However, the 1987 Topps Baseball is recognized for its exceptionally low number of error cards. While the controversy surrounding the 1987 Barry Bond’s “error card” has ensured it’s the most well-known in this set, it’s not even an error card.

This article shall consider the error cards in the 1987 Topps baseball set. We shall also discuss the stories behind several of these cards and their value in today’s market.

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The 1987 Topps Baseball Card Set

Every baseball collector best remembers the 1987 Topps baseball for its iconic woodgrain borders. One collector referred to it as the “the manliest of all baseball card backgrounds.”

With a 792 cards checklist, this set had an impressive variety of subsets, which included;

  • Record Breakers
  • Future Stars
  • Turn Back the Clock
  • All-Stars

Aside from its extensive checklist and impressive subsets, this set was packed with several notable stars and rookies. These included;

  • Barry Bonds RC #320
  • Barry Larkin RC #648
  • Mark McGwire #366
  • Rafael Palmeiro RC #634
  • Bo Jackson #170
  • Jose Canseco #620

Additionally, the set included manager cards with team checklists featured on the back of the cards. The Mark McGwire card commanded much attention, as some people considered it his rookie card. However, while he was pictured with an Olympic uniform, the 1987 Topps Mack McGwire card is not his rookie card.

Concerning card design, the 1987 Topps Baseball has an impressive and clean design. According to Susan Lulgjuraj, former Topps employee and head of editorial for Goldin Auctions, the woodgrain border was modeled after the 1962 offering.

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“It was essentially an homage to that set, on the 25-year anniversary of that set. ” “They gave it this updated look. Of course, it’s updated for the 1980s, which for us now doesn’t feel so updated.”

Nolan Ryan 1987 Topps
BASEBALL LOT-51 by Supportcaringllc is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Desaturated from original)

The player’s photo box is cut off at the top-left corner, where the team logo is displayed in a circle. Likewise, the bottom-right corner of the card is cut off, giving space for the rectangular nameplate.

Top 1987 Topps error cards

Let’s consider the top 1987 Topps error cards. However, it’s a sparingly scarce list to walk through, as this set contains so few errors.

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1987 Topps #92 Urbano Lugo

Venezuelan professional Rafael Urbano Lugo Colina pitched in MLB from 1985 to 1990. He began his career with the California Angels, later playing for the Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers.

Lugo had a decent rookie season with a 3-4 record, a 3.69 ERA, and 42 strikeouts but saw limited MLB action after that, spending time in the majors and minors, including a stint with the Charros de Jalisco and subsequently managing the team in 1994. The error on his 1987 Topps card was a missing trademark symbol next to the Angels logo.

Topps quickly corrected the error by junk wax era standards. There are two variations of the card;

  • Urbano Lugo No Trademark on Front          
  • Urbano Lugo Trademark on Front

However, millions of copies had already been printed before this correction. Hence, this card has little monetary value in today’s market. The Urbano Lugo Trademark on Front version is the most valuable of both versions, and PSA 9 copies sell for around $6, while PSA 10 fetches up to $30.

The more common No Trademark on Front version sells for $0.90 to $2, depending on its grade.

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Urbano Lugo 1987 Topps

1987 Topps #344 Joe Niekro

Joe Niekro is often overshadowed by Phil, his more famous brother. However, Joe Niekro enjoyed a remarkable 21-year career in the MLB. He’s best remembered for his durability and versatility. With a lifetime record of 220-203,

Joe continued to perform at impressive heights well above his 35-year-old season. Joe began his journey with the Chicago Cubs in 1967, followed by stints with the San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers. He was at the center of the infamous “Emery Board Incident” in 1987 while playing for the Minnesota Twins.

Joe realized his dream of playing in a World Series in 1987 with the Twins. The Twins clinched the championship, making Joe and Phil the only brother combination in MLB history to reach a combined 539 wins.

The error on his 1987 Topps card is the varying placement of the copyright tag. It’s an error card that was immediately corrected. There are two variations of the card;

  • Joe Niekro #344 (Copyright Outside)
  • Joe Niekro #344 (Copyright Inside)

The copyright tag can be found inside or outside the right-hand border on the back of the card. Like most 1987 Topps cards, this card doesn’t hold much monetary value despite being an error card. Additionally, there’s very little difference in price between both versions.

The Copyright Outside variant sells for $1.99 to $14, depending on its grade. The Copyright Inside variant sells for $5 to $19.

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1987 Topps Joe Niekro

1987 Topps 603 Dwight Gooden

Dwight “Doc” Gooden was undoubtedly one of baseball’s biggest stars of the 1980s. However, he’s also one of the game’s most prominent cautionary figures from the period. Dwight’s journey into baseball began with a deep connection to his father, who shared his passion for the game.

His professional career kicked off in the low minors, with his early success earning him swift promotions. In 1984, at 19 years old, Gooden made his major league debut for the New York Mets and quickly established himself as one of the game’s brightest talents.

He won the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award, made four All-Star appearances, won the NL Cy Young Award, and achieved the pitching Triple Crown in 1985.

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dwight gooden 1987 topps error

However, Gooden’s career was marred by addiction struggles, particularly cocaine and alcohol. After a series of difficult seasons and suspensions, he found redemption with the New York Yankees in 1996, pitching a no-hitter and contributing to a World Series championship. Despite some attempts to resurrect his career, Gooden never recaptured the glory of his early years.

Just like Urbano’s card, the error on his 1987 Topps card is a missing trademark symbol on the Mets logo. The error was corrected, so there are two variations of the card;

  • 1987 Topps 603 Dwight Gooden No Trademark On Front
  • 1987 Topps 603 Dwight Gooden Trademark On Front

The Trademark on Front version of the card holds slightly more value than the No Trademark on Front card. A PSA 10 of cards without the trademark symbol costs between $70 to $90, while similar grades of cards with the trademark sell for as high as $107.

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All 1987 Topps Error cards and variation

Player NameError Type
1987 Topps #4 Dave Lopes RBRPD affecting the copyright line on the back. Up to three variants exist.
1987 Topps #92 Urbano LugoThere is no trademark symbol on the front. Was corrected
1987 Topps #97 Glenn WilsonThere is an incomplete circle around the Phillies logo on the front. Was corrected
1987 Topps #99 Darryl MotleyRPD “NOW WI” on front. It was corrected version reads “NOW WITH BRAVES” on the front
1987 Topps #104 Billy SampleRPD missing border, upper left corner. Was corrected
1987 Topps #128 Checklist  Up to four variations on the woodgrain borders
1987 Topps #170 Bo JacksonMissing top of R in FUTURE STARS on front. Was corrected
1987 Topps #191 Cardinals TL  Black line through the word CAR on front. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #208 John ShelbyBlack line through the Orioles logo on the front. Was corrected
1987 Topps #216 B.J. SurhoffMissing portion of black ink in FUTURE STARS on front. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #226 Max VenableThere is a green blotch at the bottom left of the photo. Was corrected
1987 Topps #256 Royals TL / BrettRPD blue squiggle above number. Was corrected
1987 Topps #259 Mike GreenwellWhite scratch over the chest. Was corrected
1987 Topps #311 Rickey Henderson TBCYellow date on the front. Was corrected. Corrected versions have a white date on the front
1987 Topps #312 Reggie Jackson TBCYellow date on the front. Was corrected. Corrected versions have a white date on the front
1987 Topps # 313 Roberto Clemente TBCblack name on the front – no blue. Some copies have black and blue name on the front
1987 Topps # 320 Barry BondsFaint black slash by name on the front. It was corrected, and the mark was removed.
1987 Topps # 344 Joe NiekroCopyright inside stat box. It was corrected, and some copies have the copyright outside the stat box
1987 Topps # 368 John McNamaraThere is a black line on the lower left border. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #393 Pete Rose MGRThick blue vertical strip down the back of the card. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #448 Chris BosioRed line on the sleeve. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #499 Bruce RuffinBlack line on shoulder. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #506 Orioles TL / DempseyFull green blotch over Dempsey. It was corrected twice, and there are three variants of this card. One with the blotch partially airbrushed and another with no blotch visible.
1987 Topps #512 Dave Magadan  Missing top of R in FUTURE STARS on front. Was corrected
1987 Topps #603 Dwight Gooden ASNo trademark symbol on the front. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #606 Don Mattingly ASNo trademark symbol on the front. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #606 – 616 A.L. All-Star SubjectsMissing portions of black ink in the Eagle wing logo. Was corrected with the eagle wing logo correctly printed.
1987 Topps #671 Ray SoffMissing D* before copyright line. Was corrected.
1987 Topps #685 Jerry HairstonIncomplete border around White Sox logo. Corrected*
1987 Topps #768 Dennis LampBlurred face in the photo. Was corrected.
Errors were compiled thanks to Junk Wax Gems and the Trading Card Database.

The 1987 Topps baseball set is one of its era’s most meticulously produced sets.

It had an exceptionally low rate of error cards, with the errors all being minor errors such as printing defects or missing letters. In a time when mass production led to the death of quality control measures, the 1987 Topps set stands out.

Additionally, Topps swiftly corrected even the minor errors that sneaked through. Topps corrected all errors spotted down to missing portions of ink and errant lines.

The significance of the 1987 Topps baseball set

The 1987 Topps baseball card set holds a special and enduring significance in the baseball card collecting hobby. It’s not the rarest and far from the most valuable set.

However, its importance transcends monetary worth. Several key factors contribute to the lasting impact and cultural significance of the 1987 Topps set.

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Memorable design

First and foremost, the set’s design is instantly recognizable and deeply nostalgic for many collectors. The distinctive woodgrain border surrounding each card is an iconic hallmark of the 1980s, evoking memories of an era when baseball cards were a cherished part of childhood.

The design perfectly captures the spirit of the times, and for many, it serves as a powerful time capsule.

Great checklist

The extensive checklist of players featured in the 1987 Topps set is another crucial aspect of its significance.

This checklist is a perfect crossroads of retiring legends such as Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, and Steve Carlton, among others, and the start of many of the day’s superstars such as Mark McGwire, Greg Maddux, and Rafael Palmiero.


The 1987 Topps set also holds a special place in the hearts of collectors because it marks the beginning of their collecting journey. For many, these cards were their introduction to the hobby, igniting a lifelong passion for collecting sports cards.

Aside from that, the set represents the primary line of demarcation between two hobby eras. It’s the boundary between what the hobby was and what it was set to become.

It’s a valuable historical document of the hobby’s evolution. This sentimental value is immeasurable and contributes to the set’s enduring importance.

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Demand and value of 1987 Topps error cards in today’s market

Nostalgia and the iconic status of the 1987 Topps baseball card set have ensured its cards have ample demand in today’s market. Error cards from the set are especially highly sought-after.

However, these error cards have very little monetary value due to just how massively produced this set was.

According to Rich Klein, a longtime collector and former Beckett employee for 19 years,

“I think the number of sheer cards they produced in 1987 would floor you. I think it would floor you with the hundreds of millions, maybe 200 or 300 million cards…That’s an exaggeration, but it’s not far off. There’s still no shortage of 1987 Topps.”

Aside from being massively overproduced, the error cards lack the major factors that make an error card hold massive value. All errors in this set are minor, and all occur on cards of less famous players.

However, this modest monetary value adds even more charm to the already-loved 1987 Topps set. You can still get an entire 36-pack box for less than $50 and still enjoy seeing all the favorite players you loved as a teenager.

Final thoughts on error cards from 1987 Topps

The 1987 Topps set is considered to be one of the most nostalgic baseball card sets of all time. Sadly, while few in number, the 1987 Topps baseball error cards don’t hold much monetary value.

You wouldn’t find any thousand-dollar error card in this set; however, this set is highly iconic and an important part of the hobby’s history. The significance of these error cards goes beyond their monetary value.

While the error cards from the set are not necessarily a “must-have” for all collectors. They are a nice novelty and they’re reasonably priced. So if you are interested in these cards, there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t add them to your collection.

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