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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2014 Topps Finest Baseball Rookie Autograph Redemptions RevealedThe Cardboard Connection, September 18th
The Sandy Koufax autographed card honors the the upcoming 60th anniversary of his 1955 Topps rookie card. While they may not carry the same hype as other names that were speculated, two current rookies complete the checklist. Jacob deGrom has ...Read more
When Choo Choo Coleman's Baseball Card Beats Babe Ruth's Or Mickey Mantle'sForbes, September 16th
When Edmunds, who works in the microbiology department of a local hospital first set up at shows he put in his display case four 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps, his valuable rookie card; six of the Braves' slugger Eddie Matthews, another expensive rookie...Read more
LeSean McCoy's 20-cent tip receipt selling for close to 100K on eBay -- and is ...The Star-Ledger, September 16th
The close to $100,000 asking price for the receipt is easily the most expensive item on eBay involving McCoy, as the closest item is a $6,999 rookie card signed by the running back. It is worth noting, however, that just because the asking price has...Read more
MLB rundown: Who's set to clinch a playoff spot, who's fading fast and who's ...The Star-Ledger, September 16th
For some teams, the playoffs are now a near certainty, while other teams are fighting for their playoff lives. Meanwhile, almost half of the league is already looking ahead to next season. Here's a look at the current playoff picture and some of the...Read more
10 Degrees: Measuring baseball's graybeards by more than their ageYahoo Sports, September 14th
Scott Atchison, the only middle reliever in baseball with a parody Twitter account (@NottAtchison), the man who uses ink and quill on his crossword puzzles, the hero whose rookie card came in a pack of smokes. Though Atchison wears the digs with a...Read more
MINT State Sells Joe Namath's 1965 Rookie CardDigitalJournal.com, September 8th
Elburn, IL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/08/2014 -- MINT State, a collectibles dealer specializing in high-grade sports cards, based in Elburn, Illinois has sold a 1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath rookie card for $60,000. One of the most recognizable sports cards...Read more
Nolan Ryan rookie card, other collectibles the Pennsylvania Treasury's hawkingThe Express-Times - lehighvalleylive.com, August 29th
Morphy Auctions is auctioning off unclaimed property on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 and Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. A Nolan Ryan rookie card, a Germantown parade hat, a carved erotic stone penis (not pictured), a ship letter from President Martin Van Buren, ...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