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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The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for April 22, 2014The Cardboard Connection, April 22nd
Includes rookie card info, checklist, buying guide and more. Wilt Chamberlain Cards and Autographed Memorabilia Guide - Wilt Chamberlain was larger than life and is one of the top basketball players of all-time. View our comprehensive guide, including...Read more
Get Your MAC NFL Rookie Cards On Amazon Today!Hustle Belt (blog), April 22nd
We've all heard the stories of someone buying a pack of trading cards when they're young, only to find out 15 years later that one of those meaningless cards from the $2 pack turned out to be the rookie card of [Insert Budding NFL Hall of Famer Here]...Read more
Asher Roth on finding a way to winESPN (blog), April 22nd
"I was born with a Jerry Rice jersey and a Willie Mays rookie card," he says. But when it comes down to it, baseball is his game. And what he likes about the game is that success doesn't automatically fall to the strongest or fastest person on the field...Read more
The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for April 21, 2014The Cardboard Connection, April 21st
Nathan MacKinnon Rookie Card Guide - While he's been hot all year, Nathan MacKinnon has been on a tear to start the playoffs. Get an updated look at all of his rookie cards. Johnny Manziel Rookie Cards, Key Early Cards and Autographed Memorabilia ...Read more
Hall of Fame giving rockie card a boostWSB Radio, April 21st
Cox's playing career was so short, he had just one Topps baseball card as a player, his 1969 rookie card as a Yankees third baseman. A short time ago, it was just a common card, meaning it was worth just a buck or two, but now a mint condition card of...Read more
Upper Deck gives CSU fan battling cancer his own rookie cardThe Coloradoan, April 17th
Not everyone has to cheer for CSU, but how can you not root for the Rams' biggest little fan? In August, we brought you the story of 8-year-old Jack Miller, a Colorado State University fan from Louisville battling brain cancer. He's a kid who's been...Read more
Chase is on for SVSU alum Jeff Janis rookie football trading cards from recent ...Bay City Times, April 17th
Football fans shopping at their local big box store, or visiting a trading card shop have the opportunity of pulling the former Saginaw Valley State University wide receiver's rookie card out of packs in recent releases from Leaf and Upper Deck. As a...Read more
Upper Deck Produces a Rookie Card for Capitals Emergency Goaltender Brett ...Russian Machine Never Breaks, April 1st
The 31-year-old video coach has suited up twice for the Washington Capitals on an emergency basis. His NHL debut occurred on December 12, 2008, when the Capitals hosted the Ottawa Senators. With Jose Theodore gone down that morning with a hip ...Read more