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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1987 Donruss Baseball CardsThe Cardboard Connection, May 21st
While it may not be worth much today, 1987 Donruss Baseball is one of the brand's stronger releases from both a checklist and a design perspective. The 660-card set is highlighted by rookie cards of a couple of Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux and Barry ...Read more
NFL Releases Marcus Peters Rookie Trading Card on FacebookKCChiefs.com, May 20th
and gold on the card. As noted this week, Peters will not be in attendance for Chiefs OTAs due to NFL regulations that disallow rookies to participate in offseason workouts until their class graduates. Access the full rookie card album via Facebook...Read more
For these Rangers fans, autograph collectibles are more than a hobbyThe San Luis Obispo Tribune, May 20th
Have is rookie card? They want to get it signed. "I love doing it, but the thing is when you're trying to sign, you're trying to give somebody that hasn't gotten your signature a chance to get it but you can't because the same people keep coming to the...Read more
Gast column: Frustrating trip back into timeGreen Bay Press Gazette, May 19th
They were being sold on speculation by the carton or case (and maybe still are today) in the hopes that they could be mined later for a valuable rookie card. I never got around to the mining. It wasn't the same as a 12-year-old opening one or two packs...Read more
Arizona Diamondbacks pitch and catch with ... Brad Zieglerazcentral.com, May 14th
Whereas if you're looking for a rookie card from the 1950s or 1960s, it's a lot harder to track down and get an authentic one, especially one that's in good condition. Q: So where do you get your cards? A: eBay. I haven't bought a lot recently where I...Read more
Rare 1993 Derek Jeter Upper Deck card, massive cash stash stolen in heist of ...New York Daily News, April 29th
The safety-deposit box, belonging to a Bensonhurst resident, also held a rare Topps 1957 Yogi Berra card, worth $135, and a dual Larry Bird/Magic Johnson rookie card, valued at $900, the source said. “They were valuable enough to me,” card owner ...Read more
Bud Dupree's rookie card features Jalen Whitlowkentucky.247sports.com, April 27th
It must be cool for an NFL Draft prospect to see himself on his first rookie card. It's probably not very cool when your card features a picture of another player. That was the case for Kentucky defensive end Bud Dupree, whose Upper Deck rookie card...Read more
Kris Bryant Rookie Card Already Worth $90kSportsGrid, April 7th
Forget the rock-hard gum stick that crumbled in your hand (and mouth if you dared to eat it), it was all about nabbing a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card, trading with friends and spending time looking up the values of your cards. Well, baseball card values...Read more