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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1954 Topps Setbreak Hank Aaron Rookie Rc #128 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1951 Bowman Willie Mays Rookie Rc #305 Bvg 8.5 Nm-mt+ (pwcc)Jacob Degrom 2014 Topps Update Sp Photo Variation Auto 1/5 Rookie Autograph Mets1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson Rookie Rc #50 Bvg 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1949 Bowman Satchel Paige Rookie Rc #224 Bvg 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1954 Topps Setbreak Ernie Banks Rookie Rc #94 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1954 Topps Setbreak Al Kaline Rookie Rc #201 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1960 Topps Setbreak Carl Yastrzemski Rookie Rc #148 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Ken Griffey Jr Signed 1989 Upper Deck Rookie Signature Series Card Set Mariners1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan Bulls Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint CenteredClayton Kershaw 2006 Bowman Chrome Rc Rookie Refractor Auto Sp Mint #/500 $10001982 Topps Traded #98t Cal Ripken Jr. Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint CenteredMike Trout /5 $4000+ Auto Rookie 2011 Jersey Logo Patch Rc Sp National Treasures1978 Topps #36 Eddie Murray Hof Rc Rookie Orioles Psa 9 Mint Centered1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith Rc Rookie Hof Padres Psa 9 Mint Centered1997 Topps Rookie Of The Year Autograph Derek Jeter Signed Yankees (nm/mt) *06911989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr #1 Psa 10 Gem Mint Bgs 10 Pristine Rc Rookie1989 Topps Tiffany #647 Randy Johnson Expos Rc Rookie Psa 10 Gem MintClayton Kershaw On-card Rc Auto #120/199 2008 Ud Sweet Spot Beginnings Rookie2014 Bowman Chrome Prospect Kris Bryant Rc Rookie Signed Bgs 9.5 Mint W/ 10 AutoMike Trout /199 $300+ Mint Rookie Jumbo Patch Jersey Rc 2010 10 Topps Pro Debut1960 Topps Setbreak Willie Mccovey Rookie Rc #316 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1962 Topps #387 Lou Brock All-star Rookie Psa 81976 Topps Setbreak Dennis Eckersley Rookie Rc #98 Psa 9 Mint (pwcc)1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Topps #177 Rookie Bvg 6.5Pete Rose 1963 63 Topps #537 Rc Rookie Stars Cincinnati Reds Psa 5 Ex1993 Derek Jeter Topps Stadium Club #117 Sp Rookie Bgs Gem Mint 9.5 Yankees RcFine 1969 Topps Baseball Card Complete Set (664) Nice! Reggie Rookie Mantle Ryan1993 Sp Derek Jeter #279 Autographed Rookie Card!!!1985 Topps 1984 Usa Baseball Team #401 Mark Mcgwire Rookie Rc Psa 10 Gem Mint1938 Goudey #288 Bob Feller Rookie Rc Psa Graded 2.5 Look!! Much Nicer Re-grade1965 Topps #477 Steve Carlton Cardinals Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint Centered 1926-1929 Exhibits Jimmy Foxx Rare Rc Rookie Hof Psa 4 Vg-ex Postcard Back2001 Topps Finest Autograph Albert Pujols Rc Rookie Card #fa-ap Super Rare Auto!Austin Meadows 2013 Bowman Chrome Rc Rookie Refractor Autograph Sp Auto $1501968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan New York Mets Rookie Rc Hof Ex-mt Psa 6 Nice!!1993 Sp Foil Derek Jeter #279 Psa 8.5 Rookie Yankees Hof Tough Card Close To A 91980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 Bvg Bgs 8.5 Rookie As Yankees Hof1986 Donruss Rookies Barry Bonds Pittsburgh Pirates Rc Rookie Psa 10 Gem Mint1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson Rc Rookie A's Hof Psa 9 Mint Centered1975 Topps Football Joe Theismann Redskins Rc Rookie Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered2008 Bowman Sterling Buster Posey Autograph Auto Rc Rookie Card #bsp-bp Giants1969 Topps #260 Reggie Jackson Rookie Card Oakland Athletics (nice Card)!!!Eric Hosmer Auto Rookie Jersey From Topps Triple Threads / Topps Finest /50 2006 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor Alex Gordon Rc Rookie Auto 30/50 Psa 102010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Miguel Sano Rc Rookie Twins Bgs 9 Mint W/ 10 Auto1967 Topps Rod Carew/hank Allen #569 Al Rookie Stars Hof Rc Psa 8Mickey Mantle 1951 Bowman Rookie Card 1967 Topps #569 A.l. Rookies Rod Carew Rc Rookie Hof Twins Psa 7.5 Nm+ CenteredKris Bryant On Card Base Auto 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Rc Sp2012 Bowman Chrome Refractor Joey Gallo Rc Rookie Auto Texas Rangers2012 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractor Bryce Harper Rc Rookie 24/75 Bgs 10 PristineDerek Jeter 1993 Sp Rookie Card #279 Upper Deck Yankees Rc Premier ProspectsJason Heyward 2008 Bowman Chrome Rc Rookie Refractor Autograph Sp Auto #/500 $801983 Topps #482 Tony Gwynn Padres Rookie Rc Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered2013 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Rc Rookie Auto Bowman Inception Mint2014 Topps Chrome Superfractor 1/1 Xander Boegarts Rookie Card - Boston RedsocksFlawless 1993 Upper Deck Sp Derek Jeter 279 Foil Premier Prospects Rookie Card1962 Topps #594 Bob Uecker Rookie Braves Psa 7 *4862481992 1993 Stadium Murphy Dome Factory Sealed Set- Derek Jeter Rookie Card !!

Recent News: Rookie Baseball Cards

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