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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Timm Rosenbach guiding Adams State Grizzlies, who know "this guy has done it all"The Denver Post, August 29th
But it wasn't until Andrade walked into an office inside the football building in Alamosa just last week, and saw Rosenbach's rookie card with the Phoenix Cardinals sitting on a desk, that he began to truly appreciate his coach's football odyssey. "I...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
Top 10 things I should have known yesterday — what's on your list?Belleville News-Democrat, August 29th
Don't clip your Bob Gibson rookie card onto the spokes of your bike to make it sound like a motorcycle. Jose Canseco would have been a better choice. 10. Punchlines stick with you. Jokes don't. I remember laughing my socks off when someone said, “Or do ...Read more
Yard sales: Deals to be had, a few bucks to be madeThe Keene Sentinel, August 29th
O ne person's trash is another person's new kitchen appliance, children's wardrobe or a complete tool set. At a time when people are more buyer-savvy than ever, more skilled at stretching their dollars, yard sales have become a sort of weekend summer...Read more
Mets Morning News: Mets pull off another comeback, Murphy and Torres land on ...Amazin' Avenue, August 28th
a major league game for ESPN. Torres wasn't the only pitcher who made a ridiculous play at first base yesterday. Madison Bumgarner joined the fun with an acrobatic putout. Ken Griffey Jr. dressed up as his rookie card for the new Macklemore music...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
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