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.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan Bulls Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered1985 Topps 1984 Usa Baseball Team #401 Mark Mcgwire Rookie Rc Psa 10 Gem Mint1979 Topps Earl Campbell Oilers Rc Rookie Hof "great Investment" Psa 10 Centered1984 Topps Football #123 Dan Marino Dolphins Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem MintPete Rose 1963 63 Topps #537 Rc Rookie Stars Cincinnati Reds Psa 5 Ex1993 Sp Foil #279 Derek Jeter New York Yankees Rc Rookie Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint 1983 Topps #482 Tony Gwynn Padres Rookie Rc Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint CenteredFine 1969 Topps Baseball Card Complete Set (664) Nice! Reggie Rookie Mantle Ryan1967 Topps #581 Tom Seaver Rookie Card Rc Mets Psa 9 Mint (st)1966 Philadelphia Gale Sayers Bears Rc Rookie Hof Psa 8.5 "looks Mint" CenteredOutstanding 1975 Topps Baseball Card Complete Set (660) Nice! Brett Yount Rookie1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan New York Mets Rookie Rc Hof Ex Condition1983 Topps #498 Wade Boggs Red Sox Rookie Rc Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered1934 Goudey #62 Hank Greenberg Hof Rc Rookie Psa 3.5 Vg+ " Strong Eye Appeal "1965 Topps #477 Steve Carlton Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint "looks Gem" Centered1975 Topps #228 George Brett Kansas City Royals Rc Rookie Hof Bvg 8.5 Nm-mt+1973 Topps #615 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies Rookie Rc Hof Psa 7 NmMike Trout 2009 Donruss Elite Rc Rookie Aspirations Autograph Sp Auto #074/1001948 R346 Jackie Robinson "rookie Baseball Card Psa Authentic Super Rare Card"1983 Topps #83 Ryne Sandberg Chicago Cubs Rookie Rc Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered2011 Topps Update Series Us175 Mike Trout Rookie Card Angels Non Auto1948 Bowman #18 Warren Spahn Rc Rookie Hof Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+ " Looks Undergraded " 2008 Bowman Chrome Buster Posey Rookie Autograph Auto San Francisco Giants1968 68 Topps Nolan Ryan #177 Psa Dna Auto Rookie Rc Autograph Signed Certified1954 54 Topps #128 Hank Aaron Rc Rookie Bvg 2 Good2011 Topps Update Silver Diamond Anniversary #us175 Rookie Mike Trout 1976 Topps Complete Baseball Card Set Great Condition With Pages Binder Rookie 2011 Topps Update Wal-mart Blue Border #us175 Rookie Mike Trout 1981 Topps Football #216 Joe Montana Rc Rookie Hof 49ers Psa 9 Mint Centered2014 Topps Chrome Superfractor 1/1 Xander Boegarts Rookie Card - Boston RedsocksClayton Kershaw 2008 Topps Update Chrome Refractor Rc Rookie Ultra Rare!!!!!!2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor /500 Clayton Kershaw #dp84 Psa 10 Rookie Auto1983 Topps #83 Ryne Sandberg Cubs Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint1991 Topps Desert Shield #333 Chipper Jones Rc Rookie Bgs 8.5 Nm-mt+ W 9.5 1975 Topps #228 George Brett *rookie* Psa 8 Nm-mt Kc Royals1954 Topps #128 Hank Aaron Milwaukee Braves Rc Rookie Hof Bvg 2.5 G-vg 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Pack Mint, Eckersley Rookie On Front Carew On Back RareMickey Mantle 1952 Topps Reprint Graded Vg 3 Rookie #311 (see Description)2014 Finest Rookie Autograph Superfractor Jose Abreu1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Rookie Stars Bvg 7.5 Nm+1975 Topps Mini Complete 660 Card Set In Plastic Brett, Yount Carter Rookie 1973 Topps #615 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies Rookie Rc Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Rookie Stars Bvg 5.5 Ex+1960 Topps Setbreak #148 Rookie Star Carl Yastrzemski Hof Rc Rookie Psa 7 NmJackie Robinson 1948 Sport Thrills ** Psa Authentic ** Rookie Year Card2014 Leaf Metal Draft Clint Frazier *gold Superfractor* Rookie/rc Auto #1/1 2008 Bowman Chrome Buster Posey Refractor Rookie Auto 198/500 Bgs 9.5Mike Trout /25 $1200+ Angels Rookie On Card Auto Rainbow Sp 2012 Topps Five StarPsa 10 Bo Jackson 1986 Topps Traded # 50t Rookie Rc Royals1993 Fleer Procards. Derek Jeter "rookie Card"Mike Trout 2011 Topps Update Rc Rookie Card1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card #123 Psa4 Brooklyn Dodgers HofCarlos Correa 2013 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto Bgs 10 Pristine Rc Rookie Astros2011 Topps Update #us175 Mike Trout Angels Rc Rookie Psa 10 Gem Mint1992 Front Row Draft Pick Gold Derek Jeter #55 Psa 9 Rookie Yankees Hof1951 Bowman Willie Mays Rc Card #305 Rookie Baseball Card Poor Condition2014 Immaculate Oscar Taveras Patch Auto Rookie Card Rc 36/991975 Topps Unopened Cello Pack -- George Brett Rookie On Top -- Gai 9.51993 Upper Deck Sp Foil #279 Derek Jeter Rookie Rc Hof Bgs 9 Mint! Yankees2014 Kris Bryant Bowman Chrome Refractor Rc Rookie Auto /500 Bgs 9.5 / 10

Recent News: Rookie Baseball Cards

Source: Google News

The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for October 24, 2014
The Cardboard Connection, October 24th

2014 Panini Playbook Football - Panini has a new high-end, book card-focused set out today. See the checklist and more. Andrew Wiggins Rookie Card Guide - As the number one overall pick, Andrew Wiggins has been on the collecting radar for some time...Read more

NFL Three & Out: Percy Harvin, Akeem Ayers try to rebuild reputation in new home
The Express-Times - lehighvalleylive.com, October 23rd

A limited version of his Bowman rookie card from that year, which maybe fetched a dollar or two as recently as the start of training camp, steadily gained steam through the season's first few weeks and topped $60 on eBay following St. Louis' win over...Read more

Chat with Dan Rafael
ESPN, October 22nd

Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com's boxing writer, Dan Rafael, will log on to take your questions on all the latest news and notes from inside and outside the ring. Rafael began writing for ESPN.com in March 2005 after working for five years...Read more

2014-15 Panini Hoops Hot List
The Cardboard Connection, October 22nd

Although it can be overlooked by many collectors because of the low-end focus, 2014-15 Panini Hoops has come out of the gate hot based on several contributing factors. Hobby boxes promise two total autographs, one relic card, several parallels and a ...Read more

MLB: Remembering the Kansas City Royals' Fort Myers years
Naples Daily News, October 18th

The Kansas City Royals were a major league baseball powerhouse, appearing in the playoffs 7 out of 10 seasons from 1976 to 1985, including one World Series championship and another pennant, led by stars such as third baseman George Brett, pictured ...Read more

The Card Beat: Sports Collectibles News for October 17, 2014
The Cardboard Connection, October 17th

2014 MLB World Series Collecting Guide - The 2014 MLB season is down to the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. Check out the top collecting options, complete visual card gallery for each World Series team, as well as basic rookie card...Read more

Vintage baseball card scammer sentenced to nearly 3 years in federal prison ...
The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com, September 30th

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said the Norris brothers operated the fraudulent scheme from 2006 through 2012, offering collectible baseball cards on eBay, including Mickey Mantle's 1952 rookie card, and several 1933 Babe Ruth cards. But the Norrises ...Read more

Autographed baseball from Yankees captain Derek Jeter's youth goes up for ...
New York Daily News, September 24th

“For people who think outside the box, this is an opportunity to get something really unique,” said Robert Edward Auctions president Rob Lifson. “A lot of people have Jeter's rookie card, but only one person can have this item from his very humble...Read more