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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Recent News: Rookie Baseball Cards
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The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for March 7, 2014The Cardboard Connection, March 7th
Franco Harris Cards, Rookie Card and Autographed Memorabilia Guide - Franco Harris was a key ingredient to Pittsburgh's four Super Bowls in a six-year stretch. Find out about his key cards and autographed memorabilia. 2013-14 In the Game Heroes and ...Read more
Ken Griffey Jr., Linda Cohn Interview Is Painfully Awkward (Video)Newsmax.com, March 7th
Ken Griffey Jr. appeared to promote the 25th anniversary of Upper Deck, the company that issued Junior's coveted rookie card in 1989, which is currently a hot commodity in the collector's market, according to Sports Illustrated. Griffey Jr. gave Cohn...Read more
The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for March 6, 2014The Cardboard Connection, March 6th
Tony Dorsett Cards, Rookie Card and Autographed Memorabilia Guide - A key part of the franchise in the late 1970s through the mid-80s, Tony Dorsett is one of the most beloved Dallas Cowboys of all-time. Find out about his rookie card, other key cards, ...Read more
From the Sideline Sports Column: It's in the cardsSiskiyou Daily News, March 6th
I got a 1983 Fleer Wade Boggs and 1983 Fleer Tony Gwynn rookie card for one measly little 1986 Fleer Michel Jordan basketball card. Let's just say I did not come out on top, to put it mildly. The Jordan card is now one of the more sought after cards...Read more
Julia Rommel: 'The Little Match Stick'New York Times, March 6th
In the small “Cal Ripken Jr. (Rookie Card),” the central midnight-blue plane is slightly askew, revealing flashes of mint green that once formed the edge of the canvas. Look closely, and you'll also see other stretch marks within the monochrome. The...Read more
Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card awkward interview [VIDEO]: Former Seattle ...Sports World News, March 6th
Griffey, who joined the veteran anchor on the show in an appearance for Upper Deck, the company responsible for his famous rookie card that is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, seemed lifeless and lethargic as Cohn interviewed him on the program...Read more
Rare Georges Vezina Rookie Card for Sale on eBaySI.com, February 12th
A rare 1911 C55 Georges Vezina rookie card has come up for sale on eBay, an item described by Sports Collectors Daily as one of the “Holy Grails” of card collecting. Vezina served as the Montreal Canadiens goaltender from 1910 until his death in 1926, ...Read more
Ken Griffey Jr. Says Upper Deck Rookie Card Was PhotoshoppedNewsmax.com, February 7th
Copy Shortlink. Future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. told the Sporting News this week that the photograph on his famous Upper Deck rookie card was completely Photoshopped. Griffey made the comment when asked about his favorite baseball cards...Read more