Few things elicit the adrenaline rush of snagging a legend’s rookie card. The player’s innocence, his untapped potential, and the invariably youthful image all combine to make rookie cards extremely collectible. Plus, everyone loves firsts.
Rookie cards of superstars are especially coveted. Jackie Robinson first appeared on 1948-49 Leaf and Hank Aaron debuted on a 1954 Topps. Roberto Clemente’s first baseball card was also a Topps, printed a year later in 1955.
Collectors have various reasons for obtaining rookie cards. One, no doubt, is an untarnished love of the game or adoration for a particular player, but in recent years, a major motivation has been pure speculation. Some people deliberately invest in the rookie cards of unproven players, hoping they will become stars one day and that their card will skyrocket in value. The most dramatic example of this occurred in the summer of 2010 with the escalation of prices for Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s cards. Before Strasburg had thrown his first major-league pitch, his cards were selling on eBay for thousands of dollars.
Rookie cards tend to be a player’s most valuable baseball cards, but that isn’t always the case. For example, Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card is widely considered more sought-after than his 1951 Bowman rookie card. Nor is Babe Ruth’s 1915 M101-5 Sporting News rookie card his most desired. In recent years, the historical preoccupation among collectors for rookie cards has been further eroded by the advent of specialty cards, such as game-used-jersey or game-used-bat cards, as well as autographed cards.
Some stars never had rookie cards. Lou Gehrig, for one, debuted in the big leagues in 1923 but did not have a baseball card until a 1932 U.S. Caramel card. Some collectors consider a player’s first card his rookie card—for them, that ’32 U.S. Caramel is Gehrig’s rookie card—while others believe a player’s rookie card must be released during his first season.
In 2006 there was a minor clamor to standardize what constituted a rookie card—card companies complied. Now, no player is eligible to have a rookie card until he is a member of his team’s 40-man roster (as a footnote, a player can still be in the minor leagues and on a 40-man roster at the same time). Once a player achieves this milestone, his first card is given a rookie logo on the front. As for minor league players, they get “first year cards” which mark a player’s pro debut, albeit in the minors.
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Excitement builds for release of Connor McDavid's NHL rookie cardThe Globe and Mail, September 2nd
There is speculation Mr. McDavid's rookie card will be worth $250 to $300 straight out of the pack. Mr. Carlin says the buzz is beyond anything the company experienced with Sidney Crosby. “Connor is not just attracting interest from hockey, he is...Read more
A Game of RiskMD Magazine, September 1st
Lottery tickets When I recently wrote about risk here, I mentioned the generally inverse relationship between risk and return, and cautioned that a portfolio without risk will also be generally devoid of potential return. Now I want to look at some non...Read more
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's newest track anticipates fall releaseBoston Globe, August 30th
(The song's video also has a split-second cameo from former baseball superstar Ken Griffey Jr., who re-creates the pose he struck on his 1989 Upper Deck rookie card.) “Downtown” is a twisty, lengthy bid for a hit, but its old-school charm and utter...Read more
Bob Short is a baseball card collector for lifeSunHerald.com, August 29th
There are a lot of Hall of Famers whose rookie card was devalued because of the mass production." Mahmood said widespread Internet availability also has changed the market. "What things like eBay have done is create a market for sports memorabilia that ...Read more
Ken Griffey Jr. honors famous 1989 Mariners rookie card in Macklemore's new ...The Seattle Times, August 27th
Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. made a cameo in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' music video for “Downtown,” released Aug. 27, 2015. In this scene, Junior dressed like his famous 1989 Upper Deck rookie baseball card. (Seattle Times photo illustration)...Read more
NBA rookie photo shoot: SI.com writer lives out his basketball card dreamsSI.com, August 21st
FLORHAM PARK, N.J./TARRYTOWN, N.Y.—When the NBA asked if SI.com wanted to take part in the 2015 Panini NBA rookie photo shoot—complete with jersey, rookie card and everything—it took me all of five seconds to say yes. This was my long ...Read more
Charged Up: A Moment With the NBA's 2015 Rookie ClassEBONY.com, August 11th
“I get my own rookie card, how cool is that?” The mood of the photo-shoot was very relaxed, as it became apparent that most of the players have known each other for years, coming up through the AAU, high school and college ranks together. Schools like ...Read more
Mickey Mantle's Rookie Card Sets Record In AuctionForbes, August 7th
The latest National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago closed with a bang, literally. As dealers were packing up in the final hours of the five-day show a storm raged just outside. The microburst ripped off billboards from their stands and flung...Read more