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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Brooks Robinson auctioning cherished memorabilia for charityBaltimore Sun, October 7th
But he spoke with just as much excitement about some of the less glitzy items in the collection — Robinson's personal copy of his 1957 Topps rookie card, his rookie contract and a scrapbook containing his original birth certificate. Not included in...Read more
How to fix your struggling fantasy football teamNFL.com, October 6th
Perhaps they want your signed Peyton Manning rookie card. If that's the case, what's more valuable to you -- material goods, or living forever as a fantasy champion? If the answer is the latter, than do whatever it takes to follow the slogan of the...Read more
UK ON EBAY | Jared Lorenzen rookie card, Antoine Walker bobbleheadcn|2, September 27th
THE INTERWEB — Antoine Walker and Jared Lorenzen cemented their Kentucky legacies this weekend by joining five other former Wildcats as 2015 inductees into the UK Hall of Fame. Big Blue Nation honored the Wildcat stars during halftime of Kentucky ...Read more
Is The Baseball Card & Memorabilia Market Still Bullish?Forbes, September 17th
For example, if you had bought a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps Rookie card in near mint-to mint condition last winter and sold it at the National, you would have enjoyed a $125,000 return on your investment; the card has almost doubled in value to $400,000...Read more
Phillies honor Pope Francis with rookie cardPhiladelphia Sun Times, September 16th
Pope Francis' impending arrival has impacted seemingly every facet of life in Philadelphia, from the traffic to the mail to the police presence. Now, he's infiltrating Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies released a Pope Francis rookie card on ...Read more
Phillies celebrate Pope Francis visit with baseball rookie cardAllentown Morning Call (blog), September 16th
The front of the rookie card of Pope Francis the Phillies will give away Wednesday. The front of the rookie card of Pope Francis the Phillies will give away Wednesday. (Stephen Gross). Stephen GrossContact ReporterOf The Morning Call. What does the ...Read more
Ken Griffey Jr. dressed as his rookie card and catching a fish is all that ...SB Nation, August 27th
Ken Griffey Jr. dressed as his rookie card and catching a fish is all that matters about Macklemore's new video. By Michael Katz @KatzM on Aug 27, 2015, 2:43p 5 · Tweet Share on Twitter (330) Share Share on Facebook Pin Pinterest 5 Comments...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