$0.00 0

No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping
$0.00 0

No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping

What Are The Most Valuable 1988 Topps Error Cards?

1988 topps al leiter error card

The 1988 Topps Baseball set is renowned for being one of Topps’ blandest sets of the era. However, it is simple, “classic,” and straightforward design features a lot of great action photography.

Released at the dawn of the junk wax era, the 1988 Topps Baseball card set, like most sets of the time, was subject to several errors during printing. As a result, there’s a considerable number of 1988 Topps error cards.

These errors range from simple misprints, such as misspelling a player’s name or listing incorrect statistics, to more significant errors, such as cards printed with wrong player photographs.

This article shall take a close look at the 1988 Topps error cards, examining the notable cards, their value, and their significance to collectors.

Shop for 1988 Topps error cards on eBay

1988 Topps set

The 1988 Topps baseball card set consisted of 792 baseball cards. Its design was one of the company’s simplest. Large player photos have a thin-colored frame, which gives way to a white border. The player’s name is in block letters in a diagonal strip at the bottom-right of the card.

The team’s name stands out at the top of the card, hovering behind the player’s image. Card backs are orange and have complete player stats. Many cards also have a caption called “This Way to the Clubhouse,” which explains how the player came to join the pictured team.

Beyond the impressive lineup of players, the 1988 Topps Baseball card set features a few attractive subsets and inserts. These include:

  • Record Breakers (1-7)
  • All-Stars (386-407)
  • Turn Back the Clock (661-665)
  • Team Leaders (scattered throughout the set).

The manager cards also double as team checklists. Key rookies in the set included: Ellis Burks, Ken Caminiti, Tom Glavine, and Matt Williams.

Shop for 1988 Topps sets on eBay

1988 Topps Baseball card errors

Like most junk wax cards, the 1988 Topps set is notorious for containing a relatively high number of error cards. One reason for the high number of error cards in the 1988 Topps set is the sheer volume of cards produced.

This allowed mistakes to easily go unnoticed during the production process. This large production volume also led to a more hurried printing process, ultimately leading to even more errors.

The error cards in this set range from simple misprints, such as misspelling a player’s name to more significant errors, such as cards printed with wrong player photographs.

Shop for 1988 Topps error cards on eBay

Notable 1988 Topps error cards

1988 Topps Mark McGwire error card – #3 Record Breaker

Though his reputation has fallen off a bit today, Mark McGwire was undoubtedly one of the game’s most exciting players during his era. At first glance, one would miss the error on this card. However, early copies of card #3 have a white “triangle” next to Mark McGwire’s left foot and were quickly corrected.

McGwire’s trading cards command great demand even today. Hence, this card is one of this set’s most valuable cards. Depending on the card’s condition, its value ranges from $3 to $300.

Shop for Mark McGwire 1988 Topps error card on eBay

1988 Topps Bo Jackson #750

Bo Jackson was one of the most famous athletes in the world during the late 1980s. Famous for playing both football and baseball, this two-sport superstar is one of the most collected cards in the hobby. The Y in the Royals is streaked with white in most Bo Jackson 1988 Topps card.

This “error” is insignificant enough to be overlooked. However, this is one of those cases where the value of a baseball error card is primarily due to the player depicted rather than the error itself.

Bo’s reputation has ensured this card is worth quite a lot, with prices ranging from $1 to $15.

Shop for 1988 Topps Bo Jackson error cards on eBay

1988 Topps Keith Comstock #778 with white Padres letters

Keith Comstock is more famous for his “a ball to the crotch” trading card than any exploit on the pitch. This error card is one of the most popular from the 1988 Topps set. In the most common version of this error card, Keith Comstock’s team name (PADRES) is shown in white lettering rather than blue.

There’s also a third variety with Keith’s name printed in yellow rather than white. The third variety is the rarest of the lot and can sell for impressive figures. The value of the White Padre variation ranges from $1 to $5.

1988 Topps Eddie Murray #4

Hall of Famer Steady Eddie had more runs batted in the 1980s than any other player. He was Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman and designated hitter. Murphy ranks fourth in team history in both games played and hits.

Early copies of his 1988 Topps card have a block of text on the front that’s missing on other Record Breakers subset cards. Topps quickly corrected this, increasing the value for copies with the caption in the box on the front.

1988 Topps Al Leiter #18

The Mets announcement that Al Leiter would be inducted into their Hall of Fame has boosted the value of his trading cards. Born into a baseball-oriented family, Leiter was drafted by New York Yankees in the 1984 MLB draft and made his MLB debut as the starting pitcher for the Yankees on September 15, 1987.

By the time his 1988 Topps card was released, fans familiar with how he looked were left surprised. Earlier copies of his 1988 Topps card had a photo of Steve George instead of Al Leiter.

Of course, Topps quickly issued a corrected version of the card. While this is quite a significant error, it is not valued much. The value of this card ranges from $1 to $5, depending on the card’s condition.

All 1988 Topps error cards

1988 Topps #3 Mark McGwire   White area behind left foot  
1988 Topps #4 Eddie Murray   Caption in a box on the front
1988 Topps #6 Nolan RyanYellow, white, or no line where the hand meets the border
1988 Topps #18 Al Leiter  Wrong picture. The photo is actually Steve George 
1988 Topps #34 Ricky HortonA red line above “CARDINALS” on front
1988 Topps #37 Ed RomeroYellow name
1988 Topps #5 Baltimore Orioles Team LeadersSingle-toned back
1988 Topps #179 Puleo CharlieE in Braves incomplete was corrected
1988 Topps #190 Candy MaldonadoA white line at the lower left of the photo/border
1988 Topps #211 Dipino FrankB in Cubs incomplete was corrected
1988 Topps #229 Jeff MusselmanTwo different-sized white spots by trophy. There’s a variation with only one spot and one without any spot.
1988 Topps #230 Pat TablerYellow or red dugout bench due to variations in printing
1988 Topps #231 Pittsburgh PiratesYellow spot on Bonilla’s cap. Was corrected
1988 Topps #260 Vince ColemanWrong date of birth. He was born in 1961, not 1960
1988 Topps #269 Ellis BurksThe name touches the trophy on the front, and the name moves away from the trophy
1988 Topps #295 Bert Blyleven  There’s a crack in the wall behind Bert. Earlier versions have the crack in black, while corrected versions have the crack airbrushed white.
1988 Topps #330   Ed WhitsonGreen mark on thigh and mark airbrushed away
1988 Topps #338 Brian HoltonWrong stats on the reverse side. ’87 ERA should be 3.89, not .389
1988 Topps #348 Jim EisenreichLarge white scratch on his arm on the front. The line has been filled in with blue, red, green, or a combination of those colors. In total, there were six different versions of this card
1988 Topps #374 Doc EdwardsPink, blue, or NO ink outside of the name triangle
1988 Topps #381 California Angels TL featuring Wally Joyner1″ long vertical magenta slash down   Joyner’s arm.
1988 Topps #405 Dwight Gooden All-StarMissing blue ink at the top of R in STAR. The second variation is filled in with pale blue. The final version has solid blue and is the most common
1988 Topps #416 Keith MorelandCUBS lettering at bat unfilled and filled-in blue
1988 Topps #444 Cal Sr  Two copyrights
1988 Topps #447 Jeff MontgomeryTwo different-sized blotches over shoulder types
1988 Topps #492 Doyle AlexanderWrong date of birth. September 4, not September 5
1988 Topps #493 Mike GreenwellRookie trophy printed over the lettering in his name or touching his name
1988 Topps #497 Kevin MitchellGray, Green, and Blue colored jersey
1988 Topps #500 Dawson AndreUnfilled “U” in CUBS on the front, Filled “U” in CUBS on front
1988 Topps #528 Checklist 397-528 455 Steve Carlton COR: 455 Shawn Hillegas
1988 Topps #544 Jim TraberBat tip in the top border
1988 Topps #571 Mark WilliamsonBottom of ORIOLES yellow at hat
1988 Topps #580 Mark McGwireDark green stripe in the top right border
1988 Topps #619 Mike Dunne  The black name on the front should be white
1988 Topps 628 Dave HendersonBlack mark on lip and mark airbrushed
1988 Topps #629 Kelly Downs1984 Statline shows as “4.”
1988 Topps #637 Bell JayPurple on 2nd N in Indians is incomplete. Corrected. Many versions exist
1988 Topps #640 Garry TempletonThe green border should be brown. Topps Tiffany is yellow. Also, the birthplace should be Lockney, not Lockey
1988 Topps #658 Tim ConroyThe name is in white; it should be in black
1988 Topps #663 Ron BlombergThree versions. Line in the right border, line through the name on the front, and line through both areas.
1988 Topps #692 Mike BirkbeckWrong stats. Should be 0 saves in 84, rather than 2
1988 Topps #716 Lenn Sakata Incorrect date of birth, Born in ’54, not ’53
1988 Topps #725 Boddicker MikeBottom of “R” in ORIOLES colored white or yellow
1988 Topps #739 Daryl BostonA green line along the bat
1988 Topps #754 Mike Lacoss1/4 pink circle in the upper right of the photo
1988 Topps #759 Athletics LeadersUER double copyrights
1988 Topps #767 Jose LindYellow, white, or blue “shadow” behind the Topps logo on the front or without any shadow at all
1988 Topps #778 Keith Comstock“Padres” in white or blue
1988 Topps #786 Joe PriceOrange team name should be yellow
1988 Topps #792 John TudorThe second A in “Cardinals” is incomplete
198 Topps #NNO Glossy All-Stars Offer InsertMay have “Cards not included”, black arrow, a black arrow with some “cards not included” showing, or nothing at all
Special thanks to the YouTube channel HungryMan97 for compiling quite a comprehensive list of the 1988 Topps error cards.

Value of 1988 Topps error cards

Even amongst junk wax era sets, the 1988 Topps baseball set is considered one of the more common and widely available. With millions of copies printed, even the rarest error card in this set is readily available in considerable amounts.

This has placed a very low ceiling on the value of 1988 Topps error cards. You won’t get any impressive return on interest investing in 1988 Topps error cards.

However, while 1988 Topps error cards aren’t particularly valuable, they remain a popular collectible set amongst collectors. One reason for this is the nostalgic factor that this set embodies. 

Shop for 1988 Topps error cards on eBay

1988 Topps Tiffany

Between 1984 and 1991, Topps offered collectors a relatively limited number of factory sets with improved production values. The secondary values of these Topps Tiffany cards are much stronger than their regular Topps counterparts.

1988 Topps Tiffany has the same error cards as the base set. However, with its incredibly low print run (25,000) for the junk wax era, Tiffany error cards are priced higher than error cards from the base set.

Generally, those more limited cards sell for about 8 – 10 times more than their base counterparts. One way to identify Tiffany cards is through the glossy coating on the front.

Shop for Topps Tiffany error cards on eBay

1988 Topps Blackless

Another variation of the 1988 Topps set is the 1988 Topps Blackless. We can find several cards from the 1988 Topps without the black ink on the reverse of the cards.

According to Junk Wax Gems, which explores error cards from the junk wax era.

“Several cards from 1988 Topps can be found without the black ink on the reverse of their cards, because of this, these are not “blank backs,” which are more common flaws. In my time collecting, I have only seen about 3-dozen examples pop up. A handful of stars (Clemens, etc.) but otherwise all commons.”

While not especially valuable, these cards are an interesting variation and of interest to several collectors.

Shop for 1988 Topps Blackless cards on eBay

1988 Topps Cloth Card

The 1988 Topps Cloth set is a 121-card set that parallels the regular 1988 Topps set. According to experts, it was an experimental/test set produced by Topps and never intended to reach the market.

However, it was backdoored into the collectors’ market albeit in a limited way. The set features color player head photos printed on a thin gauze fabric which supposedly expands into a sponge when submerged in water. The backs of the 1988 Topps Cloth cards are blank.

Shop for 1988 Topps Cloth cards on eBay.

Cards from the 1988 Topps Cloth sets are especially valuable, with cards selling for roughly $15 to $20. Some of them, such as Mark McGwire, Tom Glavine, and Ozzie Smith, can go for over $50 and even $200.

1988 Topps Cloth card checklist

  1. Rick Aguilera             
  2. Andy Allanson                       
  3. Tony Armas               
  4. Keith Atherton                       
  5. Steve Balboni             
  6. Bill Bean                    
  7. Steve Bedrosian         
  8. George Bell    
  9. Bruce Benedict
  10. Dave Bergman           
  11. Mike Bielecki             
  12. Tim Birtsas                
  13. Bruce Bochy              
  14. Wade Boggs   
  15. Rod Booker                
  16. Oil Can Boyd             
  17. Tom Browning                       
  18. Carmen Castillo         
  19. Rick Cerone               
  20. Jack Clark      
  21. Mark Clear                 
  22. Roger Clemens           
  23. Pat Clements              
  24. Keith Comstock         
  25. Cecil Cooper              
  26. Joey Cora                   
  27. Ed Correa                   
  28. Mark Davidson          
  29. Mark Davis                
  30. Jeff Dedmon              
  31. Jim Dwyer                 
  32. Doc Edwards             
  33. John Farrell                
  34. Mike Felder               
  35. Curt Ford                   
  36. Bob Forsch                 
  37. Damaso Garcia           
  38. Tom Glavine              
  39. Mark Grant                
  40. Tony Gwynn  
  41. Drew Hall                  
  42. Jeff Hamilton             
  43. Mike Hart                  
  44. Andy Hawkins                       
  45. Ed Hearn                    
  46. Tom Henke    
  47. Whitey Herzog           
  48. Shawn Hillegas          
  49. Kent Hrbek                
  50. Charles Hudson         
  51. Dave Johnson             
  52. Ron Karkovice                       
  53. Pat Keedy                  
  54. Jimmy Key    
  55. Steve Kiefer               
  56. Bob Kipper                
  57. Les Lancaster             
  58. Ken Landreaux          
  59. Craig Lefferts            
  60. Jim Leyland   
  61. Jose Lind                   
  62. Gary Lucas                 
  63. Frank Lucchesi           
  64. Barry Lyons               
  65. John Marzano             
  66. Gary Matthews          
  67. Don Mattingly
  68. Len Matuszek            
  69. Kirk McCaskill                       
  70. Fred McGriff             
  71. Mark McGwire                      
  72. Joey Meyer                 
  73. John Mitchell             
  74. Jeff Montgomery       
  75. Jack Morris                 
  76. John Moses                
  77. Dale Murphy              
  78. Tom Nieto                  
  79. Matt Nokes                
  80. Charlie O’Brien          
  81. Paul O’Neill               
  82. Ed Olwine                  
  83. Steve Ontiveros         
  84. Pat Pacillo                  
  85. Tom Pagnozzi            
  86. Jim Pankovits             
  87. Bill Pecota                 
  88. Geno Petralli              
  89. Eric Plunk                  
  90. Gus Polidor                
  91. Dennis Powell            
  92. Terry Puhl      
  93. Charlie Puleo             
  94. Shane Rawley
  95. Rick Rodriguez          
  96. Gary Roenicke           
  97. Pete Rose                   
  98. Lenn Sakata               
  99.  Joe Sambito               
  100. Juan Samuel   
  101. Rafael Santana           
  102. Dan Schatzeder          
  103. Pat Sheridan               
  104. Tommy Shields          
  105. Nelson Simmons        
  106. Doug Sisk                  
  107. Joel Skinner               
  108. Ozzie Smith   
  109. Chris Speier               
  110. Jim Sundberg             
  111. Don Sutton                
  112. Chuck Tanner             
  113. Mickey Tettleton       
  114. Tim Teufel                 
  115. Gary Thurman            
  116. Alex Trevino              
  117. Mike Trujillo              
  118. Tim Wallach  
  119. Frank Williams           
  120. Dave Winfield
  121. Butch Wynega

Bottomline of the 1988 Topps error cards

The 1988 Topps baseball card set is quite infamous among baseball collectors. While the bland design and massive print run have ensured its error cards are not as valuable as most sets, collectors still love several cards from the set.

Cards such as the Tom Glavine rookie card and cards from the Record Breakers subset are still valuable today. While its error cards might not be worth a premium, the 1988 Topps set is a significant part of baseball card collecting history. Some of these cards would make an excellent addition to any collector’s stash.

John Bassey

John Bassey

John is a freelance writer and founder of WordCraft Consult, a consultancy that provides expert writing services and enhances youth engagement in reading. With six years of writing experience and over 300 clients, He has made significant contributions as a content writer for several brands, such as Tech Triangle, KBO Bikes, Dolls Magazine, and, more recently, Cardlines.

John has a Bachelor's degree in Statistics and an enduring passion for creating content.  He is  currently dedicated to nurturing WordCraft while advancing appreciation for collectibles and literature through highly informative articles. 
When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


Keep up on CardLines articles, and receive exclusive content with expert analysis of hobby trends.

Related »

More in Stories »

© Copyright 2024 - All rights reserved Cardlines.com / Media Techs LLC

Important: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.