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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O say can you see? The 'Star-Spangled Banner' in sports: Not far by carThe Patriot-News - PennLive.com, August 27th
"Our prize possession is Babe Ruth's rookie card," Gibbons said. It was printed by the Baltimore News in 1914, in red and blue, with his photo on the front and the Orioles International League schedule on the back. The museum's is one of only ten known...Read more
Why a mysterious collector chased a run-of-the-mill 1964 Curt Flood baseball cardESPN, August 26th
Very few, though, have sought out multiple copies of a single card. Reggie Jackson is rumored to have tried to buy every copy of his own rookie card; one anonymous collector owns more than 300 of the 1,000 copies of Albert Pujols' 2001 Donruss Elite card...Read more
Morphy to auction 554 unclaimed items for state Treasury Dept. this weekendLancasterOnline, August 25th
Notable items to be sold include a platinum filigree ring with diamonds, an eagle gold piece, a Tiffany gold and platinum diamond-encrusted crescent pin, and a 1968 Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan rookie card. All of the Treasury Department items have ...Read more
Does 2013-14 National Treasures Have the Best Rookie Cards of the Year?The Cardboard Connection, August 22nd
Towards the end of the basketball card season, some truly high-end rookie cards hit the market. Kicking that off, and likely leading the way, are the 2013-14 Panini National Treasures Basketball rookie cards. Ever since Panini landed the exclusive NBA ...Read more
Upper Deck Releases Evgeny Kuznetsov's NHL Rookie CardRussian Machine Never Breaks, August 19th
For all you Evgeny Kuznetsov superfans, here's some good news. Upper Deck has released the Russian's first NHL trading card as part of the 2014-15 MVP set. They hit eBay last week. In the photo, Kuzya wears a white Caps' away jersey and is in mid...Read more
2014 Basketball Hall of Fame Rookie Card Collecting GuideThe Cardboard Connection, August 8th
Ten new members are joining the Basketball Hall of Fame. The 2014 Hall of Fame class is headlined by former NBA All-Stars Mitch Richmond and Alonzo Mourning. Previous NBA commissioner David Stern also joins the lineup, as does esteemed coaches ...Read more
2014-15 NBA Rookie Card Collecting GuideThe Cardboard Connection, August 4th
Fueling the most anticipation for basketball rookie collectors in recent memory, the 2014 NBA Draft class enters their inaugural season with much excitement and fanfare. Although their first official pack-pulled cards in 2014-15 NBA products are still...Read more
NBA Rookie Card Photo ShootLEX18 Lexington KY News, August 3rd
NBA Rookie Card Photo Shoot. Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers) and James Young (Boston Celtics) were two of 38 rookies in New York on Sunday for an NBA Rookie Card photo shoot. After a day of posing, dunking and goofing around with other rookies, ...Read more