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Here is a quick list of cards you should check for in the 1980's.
Baseball - 1980 Rickey Henderson rookie card (Topps), 1982 Cal Ripken, 1983 Tony Gwynn, Ryne Sandberg, Wade Boggs, Julio Franco 1984 Don Mattingly, Joe Carter (Donruss) 1985 Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Mark Mcgwire (Topps) 1986 Jose Canseco (Donruss, Fleer) Fred McGriff (Donruss) 1987 Greg Maddux (Donruss), Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Larkin 1988 Mark Grace, Tom Glavine, Roberto Alomar 1989 Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio
1984 Topps has a Don Mattingly rookie card (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) in it, #8 in the set and that is a great card to own for New York Yankee fans as well as true baseball card collectors. It is a great card and there will be a picture and article added for it soon.
Basketball - Any 1980's rookies (basketball from Star Company 1983-86 and Fleer 1986-89 is rare and highly sought after)
Football - 1981 Joe Montana, 1982 Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott 1983 Marcus Allen, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary 1984 (big year) Dan Marino, John Elway, Howie Long, Darrell Green, Jackie Slater, Eric Dickerson 1985 Warren Moon, Richard Dent, Irving Fryar 1986 (big year) Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Bruce Smith, Boomer Esiason, Reggie White 1987 Doug Flutie, Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly 1988 Vinny Testaverde, Bo Jackson 1989 (Score is rare this year and highly valued) Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, Cris Carter, Sterling Sharpe, Michael Irvin, Thurman Thomas