The ROOKIES Page!
1975 Topps Mini #228 George Brett RC 1975 O-Pee-Chee #622 Rookie Outfielders (Fred Lynn)
Welcome to Nowbatting19's Rookies Page! On this page we will feature some key rookie cards of some of baseball's all-time greats. Maybe even some rookie cards of "not-so-great" players too.
Who cares! It's all good! Enjoy!
1936 World Wide Gum #51 Joe DiMaggio 1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams
Rookie cards. The term "rookie card" refers to a player's first regular issued baseball card. In the old days, there were not as many card manufacturers as today. You had your tobacco cards, Caramel cards, Bowman and Topps cards.
Today you have several card manufacturers, so you are going to have to get multiple rookie cards for your favorite players. Rookie cards go back to the first baseball cards; players appearing for the first time on cardboard in a major
release are considered "rookie cards" even though the player may already have played a few seasons before the card was issued. An example of this would be Stan Musial. He started playing in 1941 (his first full season was 1942) but there
were no major card releases during World War II. So Musial's first appearance in a major baseball card set was 1948 Bowman #36 and 1948-49 Leaf #4. This was the first year in which Bowman and Leaf issued sets (oddly Leaf did not
issue another major set until 1960). Rookie cards usually carry a premium, as it is the players first card. And while rookie cards are usually more valuable then later cards, this does not necessarily mean it is the player's most expensive card.
Other factors need to be considered, such as rarity, demand, etc. For instance, Ted Williams 1939 Play Ball #92 is considered his "rookie card," but it is valued less than some of Williams' other issues like 1954 Bowman #66 (short printed)
and 1954 Wilson Franks (scarce regional issue) in the same condition.
Speaking of the 1939 Play Ball #92 Ted Williams rookie card, here it is (above right). Play Ball cards were issued by Gum Incorporated from 1939-1941. The 1939 and 1940 Play Ball were issued in black and white, while the 1941
cards were "colorized" photos of the previous 1940 issue. These cards are very popular as they were the only major releases during those years, and they featured not only the stars of the day but all-time greats like Honus Wagner and
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, which were included in the 1940 Play Ball set. The Ted Williams card is truly his rookie card as his first season with Boston was in 1939. This card is very popular and lists for $1000 in ungraded Excellent (EX)
The above 1936 World Wide Gum (also referred to as "Canadian Goudey") #51 Joe DiMaggio (above left) can be considered his rookie card as it was his first appearance as a big leaguer on a major set (albeit in Canada).
DiMaggio was also featured in the 1937 O-Pee-Chee set which was also issued in Canada. Joe DiMaggio's first regular cards in the United States were the two different cards issued in the 1938 Goudey (cards #250 and #274). So those can
be considered his rookie cards as well, even though the World Wide Gum DiMaggio was issued 2 years prior. But DiMaggio's very first appearance on a baseball card was probably in 1935 and 1936 as a member of the Pacific Coast
League San Francisco Seals in the popular Zeenut minor league series. Of all these cards, the Zeenut cards (two different poses) are the rarest, followed by the 1936 World Wide Gum, 1937 O-Pee-Chee and 1938 Goudey issues. Regardless,
any early Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams card is not going to be cheap. The above 1936 World Wide Gum #51 Joe DiMaggio lists for a whopping $7000 in ungraded EX condition!
|1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle 1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays
Many collectors think that Mickey Mantle's rookie card is the 1952 Topps #311 issue. While the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle card is his first TOPPS card and his most expensive card, Mantle's true rookie card was included in the
1951 Bowman series (card #253, above left) along with Willie Mays rookie card (#305). Both cards were included in the scarce high numbered series so that adds even more value to these cards (as if they need it) as they are scarce
to begin with.
1948-49 Leaf #79 Jackie Robinson 1948 Bowman #36 Stan Musial 1952 Topps #407 Ed Mathews
In 1948 Bowman and Leaf (some speculate the Leaf cards were issued in 1949 but we will go with 1948-49) issued the first major baseball card issues since World War II. Bowman issued a small black and white set while Leaf chose "colorized" cards (Bowman was to colorize their cards starting
in 1949) and the set was "skip numbered," probably to get kids to buy more gum looking for non-existent numbers. The Leaf set included many short printed cards which are very scarce today. The Leaf cards also featured some All-Time Greats like Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Among the rookies
included in the 1948-49 Leaf set was Larry Doby, Stan Musial, Satchel Paige and the guy who started it all, Jackie Robinson. This 1948-49 Leaf #79 Jackie Robinson (above, left) is considered his true rookie card. The 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson is also considered his rookie card but I
believe this card pre-dates the Bowman card.
Because there were no major card releases from 1942-1947, some key players "rookie cards" were not issued until 1948. The first Bowman Gum baseball set included "rookie" cards of Ralph Kiner, Stan Musial (above center) and Enos Slaughter, even though these players had already been
playing for some time.
This 1952 Topps #407 Ed "Eddie" Mathews baseball card (above, right) has a lot going for it. Number one, it is the rookie card of Hall of Fame third baseman Ed Mathews. Second, it was included in the very first TOPPS set, which is considered a "classic" today as Topps went on to
become the biggest name in baseball cards. Third, it was included in the scarce high number series so this card is not as easy to obtain than cards in the other series. Fourth, this card was the very last card in the set; hence, along with the first card in the set, both cards were more susceptible to wear
and tear. This is because kids back then would sort cards in number order, put a rubber band around them and keep them in a shoe box. As they added and traded for more cards naturally the first and last cards on the deck would get the brunt of the handling. So you have a scarce high numbered
rookie card that is very hard to acquire, even more difficult to acquire in high grades! This card lists for $10,000 in ungraded Near Mint (NM) condition; $3600 in EX. Ouch. By the way, note Mathews' Braves cap. Mathews was the only Braves player to play with Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.
1954 Topps #94 Ernie Banks 1954 Topps #128 Henry "Hank" Aaron 1954 Topps #201 Al Kaline
The beautiful 1954 Topps baseball card set included 3 major rookie cards: Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, and Al Kaline. These colorful cards are extremely popular and to acquire the rookie cards of "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks, All-Time Home
Run King Hank Aaron, and 3000 hit club member Al Kaline you are going to have to cough up some serious dough. Expect to pay around $300 for Mr. Banks, $500 for Mr. Aaron, and $200 for Mr. Kaline in ungraded EX condition. The 1954
Topps baseball set also included the rookie card of Tom Lasorda.
|1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax 1955 Topps #124 Harmon Killebrew
1955 Topps #152 Harry Agganis 1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente
Another fantastic rookie crop was included in the 1955 Topps set! You have major Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Harmon "Killer" Killebrew, and Roberto Clemente. Also you have the rookie card (and only Topps card) of Boston
sports legend Harry Agganis ("The Golden Greek") who died suddenly in 1955. The Agganis and Clemente were included in the scarcer high number series so they are a bit tougher to find than the Koufax or Killebrew rookie. Regardless a
terrific bunch of rookie cards! Also included in the '55 Topps set was the rookie card of All Star third baseman Ken Boyer.
1957 Topps #18 Don Drysdale 1957 Topps #35 Frank Robinson 1957 Topps #328 Brooks Robinson
The 1957 Topps baseball set featured rookie cards of Don Drysdale, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Bill Mazeroski (not pictured)... all Hall Of Famers. The Brooks Robinson is probably the most expensive of the lot as it
was included in the scarce 2nd series.
|1958 Topps #47 Roger Maris 1958 Topps #343 Orlando Cepeda 1958 Topps #464 Curt Flood
|This 1958 Topps #47 Roger Maris is the key rookie card in the 1958 Topps set. Not a Hall of Famer but Roger Maris might as well be (and I think he should be in the Hall of Fame). Maris did the impossible and broke the cherished single
season HR record set by Babe Ruth. Maris bashed 61 home runs in 1961 to surpass the Babe's "unreachable" 60. Not even Mickey Mantle could do it. Here is this guy from Fargo North Dakota, who comes to New York and breaks a
record no one wants him to break (they would have preferred Mantle). With today's game being so offensive (and yes it sometimes is) minded, Roger Maris' 61 HR's may not seem like a big deal but back in 1961 it was daily news. Roger
Maris today is remembered as a true star of his era, winning back to back MVP Awards and leading his teams (Yankees, Cardinals) to 7 World Series. He was also a devoted family man. You didn't hear about Maris carrying concealed
weapons, have his name mentioned with steroids or drugs. They guy went out and played hard the way the game was meant to be played. For more on Roger Maris see our ROGER MARIS PAGE!
The 1958 Topps set also included the rookie card of Hall of Fame slugger Orlando Cepeda (above center) and lesser known rookie cards of Vada Pinson (not pictured) and Curt Flood (above right). Curt Flood was the first player to
challenge Baseball's Reserve Clause when he was abruptly traded by the Cardinals after 10 seasons with them. Flood felt that his 10 years of service to the Cardinals should have allowed him a little respect. He had a family he had rooted in
St. Louis and now without any say so he was traded to another city in another state. So Flood did something no one had done at this point and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. Flood got little support from the big stars of the day; no
one wanted to "rock the boat." Former big leaguers did support Flood, notably Jackie Robinson and Joe Garagiola, as well as Marvin Miller of the Player's Union, but Flood lost his case and was essentially "black-listed" from baseball. He
never played again. Just a few years later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith and both were allowed to become "free agents." This of course led to players being able to go to teams they
agreed too or they could also agree to not go to certain clubs after 5 years of service to a club. And with free agency, there was also the little matter of money. It went from players making a thousands to players making MILLIONS. I can go
on and on about the pros and cons of free agency but the important thing is that one man stood up to a huge corporation (MLB) to fight for what he believed in. For this, Curt Flood deserved better.
The 1959 Topps set included special "The Sporting News Rookie Stars Of 1959" including rookie cards of Bob Allison, Johnny Callison, and Ron Fairly (above left). Interestingly, The Sporting News did not include special cards for Norm
Cash (center) and Bob Gibson (above right) even though Cash was to become a star slugger for the Tigers and Gibson was to pitch his way to the Hall of Fame. Both the Norm Cash and Bob Gibson cards were also included in the high
numbered series, making them even tougher to acquire. Expect to pay about $50 for a nice Cash example and $250 for Gibson. For more on Gibby and other great pitchers see our PITCHER PERFECT PAGE!
1960 Topps #148 Carl Yastrzemski Rookie Star 1960 Topps #316 Willie McCovey
In 1960, Topps included a run of "Sport Magazine 1960 Rookie Star" cards. While some, like Frank Howard and Jim Kaat did go on to have great careers, there was one guy who was a real standout. That player? Carl Yastrzemski
(above left). Yaz had all the pressure of the world on him. He signed a huge bonus with the Red Sox plus he had to take the place of retired Ted Williams in left field. Not only did Yaz become a better fielder than Williams, he won 3 Batting
Crowns, won the Triple Crown and MVP in 1967, was a clutch hitter and he also set many Red Sox hitting records of his own by the time he hung them up. For more on Yaz see our Carl Yastrzemski Page!
Another great rookie card in 1960 is card #316, Willie McCovey (above right). McCovey started out with a bang and was 4 for 4 in his first big league game against Hall of Famer pitcher Robin Roberts. He is a member of the (once)
exclusive 500 Home Run Club which has since been tainted with numerous "juiced" sluggers. But McCovey was the real deal. Topps also issued a All-Star card of McCovey in the high number series.
1962 Topps #387 Lou Brock
While some fans knows that Lou Brock is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (as a Cardinal) with over 3000 hits and a ton of stolen bases (938 to be exact), there are some
who don't know that Lou Brock was originally a Cub. In one of the worst trades ever, the Chicago Cubs traded Lou Brock to the Cardinals for essentially Ernie Broglio, who was
to have a very short career. Brock, on the other hand enjoyed a very long career with the Cardinals, leading them to 2 World Series (1967, 1968). Not to mention the 3000 hits
and all time stolen base record (since broken by Rickey Henderson). The Cubs would like to forget that trade but we have here, thanks to Topps Chewing Gum Inc. a very young
Lou Brock in a Cubs uniform. Oh what could have been... The 1962 Topps set also featured a "Rookie Parade" series in the scarce high numbered series. Included was this 1962
Topps #592 Rookie Parade Pitchers card which features Bo Belinsky and Jim Bouton (above right). Belinsky made a name for himself by throwing a no-hitter his rookie
season, but mostly by his antics off the field which included dating celebrity bomb-shells, hustling at the pool hall, drinking, carousing and conducting pool-side interviews. Jim
Bouton was a great young pitcher for the New York Yankees who would throw so hard his cap would fall off. Bouton had some early success but blew out his pitching arm and
later became a semi-successful knuckle ball pitcher. But he was to really gain fame for writing the classic "Ball Four" which ticked off a lot of players, including Yankees legend
Mickey Mantle. Bouton also invented "Big League Chew," shredded bubble gum that came in a resealable package (similar to tobacco chew). Very clever fellow, that Jim Bouton.
1963 Topps #228 Rookie Stars Tony Oliva RC 1963 Topps #537 Rookie Stars Pete Rose RC 1963 Topps #553 Rookie Stars Willie Stargell RC
The 1963 Topps baseball set was very colorful and popular and is considered to be one of the best looking sets from the 1960's. Key rookie cards include #228 Pedro "Tony" Oliva (left) and #553 Willie Stargell (right). But the KEY rookie
from the set is that of "Charlie Hustle," Pete Rose (card #537; center). The Rose card, like the Stargell was included in the scarcer high numbered series. However the Pete Rose card is without a doubt the most expensive card from the 1963
set. It is also the most expensive and desirable rookie card of the 1960's, topping stars like Carl Yastrzemski (1960), Tom Seaver (1967), Johnny Bench (1968), Nolan Ryan (1968), and Reggie Jackson (1969). Beware of counterfeit Rose rookie
1965 Topps #477 Cardinals Rookie Stars (Steve Carlton)
1965 Topps #526 Athletics Rookies (Jim Hunter) 1965 Topps NL Rookie Stars (Tony Perez)
Here is a major rookie class from the 1965 Topps set. First you have Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton (above left) of the Cardinals & Phillies. In 1972 the Cards made a horrible trade (as the Cubs did with Lou Brock above), trading
Carlton to Philadelphia for Rick Wise. Carlton of course went on to win over 300 games and at one time was the All-Time Strikeout Leader. Also included in the 1965 high numbered series are two more Hall of Famers: Jim "Catfish"
Hunter and Tony Perez. The Hunter rookie card is an uncorrected error (UER) card; on the back he is called "Tim" Hunter. Hunter was a big game pitcher and one of the first to enjoy big salaries thanks to free agency. Perez was one of the
key RBI men of the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine." But you already know that. Also another major rookie in the set is that of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan (not pictured).
1967 Topps #559 AL Rookie Stars (Rod Carew, Hank Allen) 1967 Topps #581 Mets Rookie Stars (Bill Denehy, Tom Seaver)
Included in the high number series of the 1967 Topps set are rookie cards of Rod Carew and Tom "Terrific" Seaver. While both cards are expensive, the Seaver stands out as one of the most expensive rookie cards of the 1960's. Part of
that has to do with the fact that the card is a tough high number. Add to that Seaver's accomplishments on the pitching mound, including leading the Mets to their first World's Championship in 1969 ("The Miracle At Coogan's Bluff"). Playing
for a high profile team, striking out 19 batters in a game (including 10 in a row), winning Cy Young Awards, throwing a no-hitter and winning over 300 games you can being to see why this card is so important (and expensive). Rod Carew of
course is a member of the 3000 hit club and won several batting titles but he played most of his career with a small market team (the Twins) and never got to appear in a World Series. So there is quite a difference in price for these cards. The
Carew lists for $250 in a PSA 7 NM holder, while the Seaver rookie card lists for $475. Life just isn't fair...
1968 O-Pee-Chee #177 Mets Rookie Stars (Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan) 1968 Venezuela Topps #247 Reds Rookie Stars (Johnny Bench)
There was probably a time when this 1968 #177 Mets Rookie Stars card (above left) was considered Jerry Koosman's rookie card. Koosman was a terrific pitcher for the Mets and later the Twins and he enjoyed a fine career. Nolan Ryan
showed signs of promise as a Met but he really put it together once the Mets traded him to the Angels. And the rest is history. So know this card is referred to as "Nolan Ryan's rookie card" but remember Koosman was no slouch. Together these
two pitchers won 546 ballgames (Koosman 222 wins, Ryan 324)! This card has come down in value over the last several years but it is still one of the major rookie cards of the 1960's. Note that the above example is an "O-Pee-Chee" card,
which is a Topps card printed for the Canadian market. The O-Pee-Chee card would have a modest premium attached to it compared to a regular Topps card because the OPC cards are not as plentiful here in the States as the regular Topps
cards. Another key rookie card in the 1968 Topps baseball set is 1968 Reds Rookie Stars #247 Johnny Bench. Topps also issued cards in Venezuela in 1968 and both the Ryan and Bench (above right) rookie cards were included. The
Venezuela Topps cards are RARE, and low grade examples are the norm; they were usually pasted into scrapbooks or albums. Expect to pay a significant premium for the Venezuela Topps cards.
|1969 Topps #260 Reggie Jackson 1970 Topps #189 Yankees Rookie Stars (Thurman Munson) 1971 Topps #26 Bert Blyleven
|The key rookie card in the 1969 Topps baseball set is without a doubt, Reggie Jackson (card #260, above left). He was one of the key players of Oakland A's, who won the World Series in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Jackson also won the NL MVP Award in 1973. And he was just
getting started. After playing briefly for the Orioles, Reggie was signed by the Yankees as a free agent. And did he pay dividends. The Yankees went to the World Series in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1981, winning 2 more rings in '77 and '78. So Reggie has 5 World Series rings. Another
Yankee star, Graig Nettles, is also included for the first time in the 1969 Topps set. Another key part of the Yankees success in the 1970's was their captain, Thurman Munson. Munson won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1970, was a clutch .300 hitter for most of his career, was a Gold
Glove backstop and appeared in 3 consecutive World Series with the Yankees (1976-78). Yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. I really don't understand that one because his career was cut short by a tragic plane accident. Regardless, Thurman Munson was a Hall of Fame player and a fan
favorite. This 1970 Topps #189 Thurman Munson baseball card (above center) is the key rookie card from that set. Rookie cards of Vida Blue, Bill Buckner, Bill "The Spaceman" Lee and Darrell Evans are also included in the 1970 set. The black bordered 1971 Topps set featured
rookie cards of Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ted Simmons, and all three of those players should be enshrined in Cooperstown. But the biggest omission is Bert Blyleven who won nearly 300 games despite playing for the Twins for most of his career. This 1971 Topps #26 Bert
Blyleven (above right) is his "rookie card" and is very difficult to find in high grade (NM-MT or better). Even in a PSA 7 holder, the 71 Blyleven card sells for around $45-$55 (it lists in PSA's Sports Market Report for $35 in a PSA 7 NM). The Concepcion, Garvey and Simmons rookie
cards are very inexpensive (and undervalued in my opinion). For more on these players check out our own HALL OF FAME Page! Another great rookie card in the 1971 Topps set is card #709 which features Rookie Outfielders Dusty Baker and Don Baylor (not pictured).
1972 Topps #79 Red Sox Rookie Stars (Carlton Fisk)
The key rookie card from the 1972 Topps set is this "Red Sox Rookie Stars" which pictures Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk. Also featured on the card is Cecil Cooper, who became a star with both Boston and the Milwaukee Brewers.
But the big name is Fisk, who hit that memorable game winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (vs. the Reds). Fisk also won AL Rookie of the Year (1972) and led the league in triples his first season. He also went on to
become the all-time HR leader among catchers (since broken by Mike Piazza), passing the great Yogi Berra. This Fisk rookie card was once an easy $100 card, but today you can pick up a nice NM graded copy for $25-$45. A real
bargain! Other rookie cards of note in the 1972 Topps baseball set is Jeff Burroughs ('74 NL MVP), Ron Cey, Toby Harrah, Dave Kingman, and J.R. Richard.
1973 Topps #614 Rookie Outfielders (Dwight Evans) 1973 Topps #615 Rookie Third Baseman (Mike Schmidt)
The 1973 Topps set was the last to be issued in "series." Included in the high numbered series are the rookie cards of Bob Boone, Dave Lopes, Dwight Evans, and Mike Schmidt. Dwight Evans was a fixture in the Red Sox outfield from
1973-1990 and his uniform number (#24) should have been retired by the Red Sox. "Dewey" hit nearly 400 home runs (387) and won 8 Gold Gloves in the outfield. Evans' rookie card (card #614; above left) is very affordable for about $20
in graded NM condition. The key rookie card from the 1973 set is this "Rookie Third Baseman" card featuring Mike Schmidt (card #615; above right). Ron Cey is also on this card but it is not his rookie card as he was included in the
1972 Topps set. Schmidt is arguably the greatest third baseman ever, combing power and fielding. Schmidt hit 548 career HRs, won 3 NL MVP Awards, 10 Gold Glove Awards, 8 Home Run Crowns and was a key part of the Phillies 1980
World Championship team. This is easily the most expensive card in the set, selling for about $125 in graded NM condition. Another key rookie card in the '73 Topps baseball set is that of Hall of Fame relief pitcher, Rich "Goose" Gossage
(card #174; not pictured).
Check back for more rookie cards soon! If you enjoyed this page please be sure to check out ALL the action-packed pages at www.Nowbatting19.com. To see our
Table of Contents, go to our HOME PAGE and scroll down to the bottom of the page to view all of our exciting pages! Thanks for visiting! Tim Pulcifer
1975 Topps #622 Tim Pulcifer Rookie card (Ultra-rare!)
The 1975 Topps set featured a good crop of rookie cards. You have Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter and Bosox slugger Jim Rice (above right), plus superstars like Keith Hernandez, Ron LeFlore and Fred Lynn (A.L. Rookie of the Year
AND MVP in '75!). But the KEY rookie cards of the set are of Hall of Famers George Brett and Robin Yount (see above). Both players started and ended their careers at roughly the same time and both got 3,000 in the same season. Yount
never batted .390 like Brett did in 1980; however Yount won 2 AL MVP Awards and should have gotten more attention then he did. Regardless they were both terrific players and we have these cardboard treasures to remember them by.
Topps issued a "mini" version of their regular 1975 cards as a "test issue." These cards were available in limited areas and are not quite as common as the regular Topps cards. You can see the difference in size by comparing the two
examples above. The Brett rookie is the "Mini" version, while the Yount and Rice rookie cards are the larger "regular" Topps issue.
1977 O-Pee-Chee #115 Mark Fidrych 1977 Topps #473 Rookie OF (Andre Dawson) 1977 Topps #476 Rookie Catchers (Dale Murphy)
The 1977 Topps baseball set featured the rookie cards of Hall of Famers Andre Dawson (above center) and Bruce Sutter, plus stars like Jack Clark, Dennis Martinez, and Dale Murphy (above right). But the card to get in 1977 was
1977 Topps #265 Mark Fidrych. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych had just had a phenomenal rookie season in 1976, winning 19 games (against only 9 losses) for the Detroit Tigers. He pitched an incredible 24 complete games. Can
you imagine a rookie pitcher today pitching even half that amount? Nicknamed "The Bird" because of his resemblance to "Sesame Street's" Big Bird, Fidrych was a throwback; a character who seemed to be having the time of his life out
there. He would tell the baseball where to go, do his own grounds keeping and win ballgames. This made Mark Fidrych an instant celebrity. The Detroit fans loved him and even when the Tigers would play on the road they would sell
out regularly when "The Bird" pitched. Unfortunately for Fidrych he hurt his arm and while he tried to make a comeback, he was to win only 10 more big league games. He was out of baseball by 1980. The 1977 Topps Mark Fidrych
rookie card is notorious for bad centering; hence a MINT example is a real treasure. Note that the above Fidrych rookie card is not Topps but O-Pee-Chee, which is even tougher to find. 1977 O-Pee-Chee cards were printed on different
card stock, have different card numbers, and have text in both English and French on the card backs. The '77 O-Pee-Chee cards also do not have "AL or NL All Star" notations on the card fronts as the Topps cards have (Fidrych's Topps
card says "AL All Star" in a red box near the bottom border). Regardless, a terrific reminder of the fantastic Mark Fidrych. R.I.P.
1957 Topps #138 John Unitas
Other notable Rookie Cards (Basketball)
|1965 Topps #122 Joe Namath 1984 Topps #123 Dan Marino
1966-67 Topps Hockey USA Test #35 Bobby Orr
1962 Topps #592 Rookie Parade Pitchers (Bo Belinsky, Jim Bouton rookie card)
1957 Topps # Bill Russell 1970 Topps #123 Pete Maravich 1972 Topps #195 Julius Erving
1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan
1980 Topps Larry Bird/ Julius Erving/ Magic Johnson
Other notable Rookie Cards (Football)
1991 Topps Stadium Club #94 Brett Favre (UER)
Other notable Rookie Cards (Hockey)
|1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky
Basketball cards were not as popular as baseball or football cards. Topps began producing baseball and football cards in the
early 1950's while they didn't start a basketball set until 1957. Then there were no more Topps basketball cards until 1969. In
fact, Topps stopped producing basketball cards again after their 1981 Topps set. They started again in 1992 and have been
producing them ever since as basketball became big money like baseball and football. Here is a sampling of some key rookie
cards issued by Topps beginning with their 1957 effort. It should be noted that Fleer produced an early basketball set in 1961
and this set featured rookie cards of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West to name a couple. Fleer must have felt the same way
Topps did because they didn't produce another basketball set until their classic 1986 issue which featured many rookie cards
including Michael Jordan (below). Berk Ross in 1951 also produced a variety of sports cards with their "Hit Parade Of
Champions" series and included was a very early Bob Cousey card. Personally my favorite basketball rookie card is this
1980 Topps Larry Bird/ Magic Johnson card (left). It is considered Bird and Magic's rookie card plus you have a
Scoring Leader card of Julius "Dr. J" Erving sandwiched in the middle. This rookie card of two of the NBA's greatest players is,
to me, the best basketball card ever produced.
National Chicle produced a classic football set in 1935 featuring Gridiron Greats. But World War II put a damper on baseball card production and football cards
also took a hit until about 1948. That year Bowman and Leaf produced football cards and while Leaf's last football issue was 1949, Bowman continued to produce
football cards until they were bought out by Topps in 1955. Topps produced some college football cards in the early 1950's but really made a mark with it's 1955
Topps All-American set. Starting in 1956 Topps began producing football cards every year. The 1957 Topps was a big hit with rookie cards of Bart Starr and
Johnny Unitas (above left). Jim Brown's rookie card was included in the 1958 Topps football set. Another key rookie is that of Fran Tarkenton in the 1962 Topps set.
But the biggest rookie of the 1960's was that of "Broadway" Joe Namath (1965 Topps; above center). To make that card even more desirable it was short printed
and it is one of the most expensive football cards of the 1960's. The 1970's featured key rookie cards of O.J. Simpson (1970), Terry Bradshaw (1971), Roger Staubach
(1972) and Walter Payton (1976). The 1981 Topps set featured the rookie card of Joe Montana, while the 1984 Topps set boasted the rookie cards of two future Hall
of Fame quarterbacks in John Elway and Dan Marino (above right). Other key rookies of the 1980's include Steve Young (1984 Topps USFL) and Jerry Rice (1986).
The sportscard hobby exploded in the 1980's and early 1990's to the point that they simply made too many cards. Not only did you have hobby mainstays like Topps,
but you had several new card companies producing millions of cards including Pro Set, Score, Stadium Club, Leaf and just too many others to list. Because the newer
cards were so widely produced, most cards of that time are not very valuable (price wise). They are not rare by any means and you can find them in MINT condition,
much unlike vintage football cards (pre-1980's). With the emergence of new stars like Peyton & Eli Manning, Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, etc., football
cards are enjoying a renewed success.
In 1991 Topps produced it's inaugural "Stadium Club" set. These high quality cards were probably Topps' response to the premium Upper Deck issues that began in
1989. The Topps Stadium Club featured glossy high quality photographs and pictured the player's Topps "Rookie Card" on back. Also available were mail in offers
for special "Members Only" cards. The 1991 Topps Stadium Club regular Football set featured the rookie card of gunslinging quarterback Brett Favre
(misspelled "Farve" on front; see left) who is still throwing TD passes, interceptions, and pictures of his penis in 2010 at the age of 41. What a guy! Interestingly, the
1992 Stadium Club Brett Favre 2nd year card is just as valuable as his 1991 rookie card. Why? Because the 1992 Stadium Club cards had a smaller print run than
the '91 cards. Either way, it's a cool card of the one of the All-Time Great Quarterbacks.
Hockey cards have been around since the early 1900's. Rookie cards of hockey greats like Art Ross, Georges Vezina, Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, etc., are very expensive today because not only are they tough to find, they are tough to
find in nice shape. Parkhurst began producing mainstream hockey cards in 1951 and included in that set was the rookie card of "Mr. Hockey," Gordie Howe. Topps began their hockey cards starting in 1954 and also began issuing cards in
Canada (under the name "O-Pee-Chee") in 1968. The key rookie of the 1960's is that of Bobby Orr (1966 Topps). The card is extremely popular and expensive. Even rarer is the 1966 Topps USA Test issue card of Bobby Orr (above left).
For the price of that card you could buy a house. The 1970's featured rookie cards of stars like Ken Dryden, Guy LaFleur and Marcel Dionne (all three were featured in the classic 1971 O-Pee-Chee set), but THE hockey card to own is that of
Wayne Gretzky (1979 O-Pee-Chee and Topps). The O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card (above right) is the more expensive of the two as it was issued in smaller numbers in Canada but with either O-Pee-Chee or Topps you can't go wrong.
Be aware that the Gretzky rookie was counterfeited and being that it is an expensive card, it might be prudent to purchase one graded by a reputable grading service. The 1980's featured rookie cards of Mario Lemieux (both 1985
O-Pee-Chee and Topps) and as with the most hockey cards, the O-Pee-Chee is the most desired card. As mentioned above, the sports card hobby exploded in the 1980's and 1990's to the point of where you can't even give some cards
away. They are just too plentiful. So collecting vintage hockey cards is a challenge especially if hunting for high grade examples.
1953 Topps #258 Jim Gilliam 1953 Topps #263 John Podres
While the 1953 Bowman Color set is considered by some to be the most beautiful card sets (due to it's Kodachrome photographs), it did not include any major rookie cards. The 1953 Topps set however, did include some key rookie cards
of a couple of Brooklyn Dodgers who were to become important figures in the Dodgers only World Championship (1955). Included in the high numbered series were the rookie cards of Jim "Junior" Gilliam and John Podres. Each of the
1953 Topps cards were hand painted by an artist from original photographs.
|The 1956 Topps set was similar in design to the 1955 Topps set, maybe an improvement with the colored action scenes taken from actual photographs. The key rookie card in the set is that of Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio
(card #292; above) and Hall of Fame Dodger Manager Walt Alston (not pictured). The 1956 Topps set also included the rookie card of American League pitching ace Herb Score, who was on his way to becoming an All Time great.
A line drive off his eye off the bat of Gil McDougald and consequent arm injury ended his promising career.
|1959 Topps #125 Ron Fairly 1959 Topps #509 Norm Cash 1959 Topps #514 Bob Gibson
|1961 Topps #35 Ron Santo 1961 Topps #141 Billy Williams
|These two Chicago Cubs greats made their debut in the 1961 Topps set. For the first time Topps used a special "Topps 1960 All-Star Rookie" designation on this terrific Ron Santo card (above left). While Ron Santo is not in the Hall of
Fame, many (myself included) think he should be. Billy Williams of course, is in the Hall of Fame. His rookie card has a special "1961 Rookie" Gold Star on the card front (see above, right). Carl Yastrzemski's card also has the "1961
Rookie" gold star as well, but that is his 2nd year card (Yastrzemski's rookie is 1960 Topps #148). Combined, Ron Santo and Billy Williams hit a total of 768 home runs (342 for Santo, 426 for Williams) and that is not even including
teammate Ernie Banks (512 all by himself)! You can pick up both of these rookie cards in nice EX (mid-grade) shape for around $25 each. For more on the Cubs see our new CHICAGO CUBS PAGE!
1964 Topps Red Sox Rookie Stars (Tony Conigliaro)
The 1964 Topps set did not included any Hall of Fame rookie cards, but did include rookie cards of Tommy John, Wes
Parker, Lou Pinella, and Jim Wynn; all of whom went on to have stellar major league careers. Another rookie card of note is
1964 Topps Red Sox Rookie Stars #287 (Tony Conigliaro, Bill Spanswick; left). Tony C was an local kid
who made good; he hit a HR in his first game at Fenway Park and in just his 2nd big league season led the AL in HRs with
32. At one time he was the youngest player to reach 100 career home runs. In 1967 the Red Sox were on their way to the
"Impossible Dream" pennant and Tony C was going full guns. He had hit 20 HRs with 67 RBI in just 95 games and had
been selected as an All-Star. On August 18, 1967 vs. California, Tony Conigliaro was hit by a Jack Hamilton fastball that
ended his 1967 and 1968 season. While Tony C managed to make a remarkable comeback in 1969 (20 HRs, 82 RBIs)
and had one more good season (36 HRs, 116 RBIs in 1970) for Boston, his career was over by the age of 26 in 1971
(with California). Tony made a short comeback with Boston in 1975 but he hit .123 with just 2 HRs and 9 RBIs in 57 at
bats. He was just 30 years old. Over a 162 game schedule Conigliaro would have averaged 31 HRs and 95 RBIs per
season! But it was not to be. So with Tony C we are left wondering "what could have been" for this promising kid from
Revere Massachusetts. Tony C died at the young age of 45 in 1990 but is still beloved by fans who saw him play and by
some who never saw him play. For more on Tony Conigliaro, check out our TONY C PAGE!
| 1975 Topps Mini #228 George Brett 1975 Topps #223 Robin Yount 1975 Topps #616 Rookie OF (Jim Rice)
1974 Topps #252 Dave Parker 1974 Topps #456 Dave Winfield (Back view)
1976 Topps #98 Dennis Eckersley 1976 Topps #599 Rookie Pitchers (Ron Guidry)
The 1974 Topps set featured rookie cards of stars Ken Griffey, Bill Madlock, Dave Parker (above left) and Frank Tanana. The key rookie however is that of Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield (above
center; right). Winfield was an imposing player at the plate (6'-6," 220 lbs.) and had a murderous swing. Just ask the seagull that Winfield killed off a vicious line drive when he was with the Yankees. And
when bat hit ball, ball went a long way. Just picture a larger Gary Sheffield without steroids. Winfield started his career with the San Diego Padres but later became a free agent for the Bronx Bombers. He
finished his career with 3,110 hits, 465 HRs, and 1833 RBIs. He was a 12 time All-Star. This 1974 Topps # Dave Winfield rookie card is a bargain at around $25 in graded NM condition.
1976 Topps baseball included rookie cards of Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley (above left), and two notable Yankee stars: Ron Guidry (above right) & Willie Randolph (not pictured). Of note is the rookie card of Lyman
Bostock who was an up and coming star for the Twins and Angels when he was killed in a drive-by shooting. The 1976 Topps #98 Dennis Eckersley rookie lists for about $25 in NM graded condition and the 1976 Topps
#599 Rookie Pitchers Ron Guidry for about $10. O-Pee-Chee issued their yearly set in Canada as well and Eckersley is featured in that set as well.
1978 Topps #707 Rookie Shortstops 1978 Topps #36 Eddie Murray 1978 Topps #703 Rookie Pitchers (Jack Morris)
The key rookie card in the 1978 Topps set is card #36 Eddie Murray (above center). The fabulous switch hitter had over 3,000 hits and 500 HRs in his Hall of Fame career. Another great rookie card from the '78 Topps baseball set
is card #707 Rookie Shortstops (above left), which is the rookie card of another 3,000 hit club member, Paul Molitor. As if this card needed a bonus, it also includes Detroit Tigers All Star shortstop Alan Trammell, who some
feel may get into the Hall of Fame himself. If he does, this card would be the first vintage (pre-1980) rookie card to feature two rookies who went on to the Hall of Fame! Another great rookie card in this set is card #703 Rookie Pitchers
(above right), which features another guy who should be in the HOF, Jack Morris. 1978 Topps #708 Rookie Catchers (not pictured) features the rookie card of Lance Parrish and also the 2nd year card of Dale Murphy, who's rookie
card was included in the 1977 set (see above).
| 1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith (Back view)
The key rookie card from '79 is 1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith (above). Most remember Ozzie from his St. Louis Cardinals days, but the "Wizard of Oz" actually started with the San Diego Padres. His first card as a Cardinal was
included in the 1982 Topps Traded set (more on Traded sets below). This 1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith card is notorious for centering problems; even the above example is off center somewhat, but I've seen worse. Expect to pay a
premium for high grade examples (MINT or above by a reputable grading service). The 1979 O-Pee-Chee baseball set also includes an Ozzie rookie card.
1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson
The 1980 Topps baseball set included the first card of speed demon Rickey Henderson (card #482, above). Henderson of course is the All-Time Stolen Base Leader and he would have been a terror in any era. Probably the greatest
lead off hitter ever. Not only did he have over 3,000 hits, but he also would take a walk, which was just the same as a double or triple. So Rickey could run, hit and score runs. Rickey is also the All-Time Leader in Lead Off Home Runs! At
one time (at the height of the card collecting frenzy of the 1980's) this rookie was quite expensive, even ungraded. But with the growth of Professional Grading Services, it became clear that this is a tough card in high grade (Mint or better
by a reputable grading service). So while you can pick up a Rickey Henderson rookie in NM for pretty cheap (even graded), a true MINT copy will set you at least 3 figures. Go Rickey, GO!!!
| 1981 Topps #315 Kirk Gibson 1981 Topps #302 Dodgers Future Stars (Scioscia, Valenzuela) 1981 Topps Traded #850 Fernando Valenzuela
By 1980, the baseball card "hobby" was becoming a business. Because of skyrocketing prices paid for some of the key cards of the hobby (notably the T206 White Border Honus Wagner and 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle) the prices of
cards dramatically increased due to "speculation," especially with "rookie cards." It was pretty much like the stock market; the hot player at the time was the hot baseball card at the time. So around the time of "Fernando-Mania," this 1981
Topps #302 Dodgers Future Stars (Mike Scioscia, Fernando Valenzuela; above center) became THE card to get in 1981. Not only did Topps release it's regular baseball set, but it also issued a small boxed set of "Traded"
cards. These cards included players who had been traded and rookie cards as well. Included in the 1981 Topps Traded set were new cards of Reggie Jackson, Don Sutton, Rollie Fingers; all with their new teams. And the set also included a
Fernando Valenzuela card (1981 Topps Traded #850; above right), which was gobbled up by collectors. The trend continues today where "collectors" (I call them IDIOTS) spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the newest "rookie"
phenom. Do the names Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Rafael Palmiero (all linked to steroids) and pitchers like Steven Strasburg (injured this season), Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Todd Van Poppel,
etc. ring a bell? At one time they were THE hottest cards on the market. But due to injuries or PEDs, these players both dropped in popularity and/or card prices. Back to the cards; the 1981 Topps regular baseball set did not feature any key
Hall of Fame players but did include the popular Fernando card (along with popular Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia, current manager of the Angels), DH extrordinaire Harold Baines, and World Series HERO Kirk Gibson (card #315, above
left) who belted key HRs for both the Detroit Tigers (1984) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1988).
To many this is the ultimate basketball rookie card, 1986-87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan. Certainly one of the most expensive modern era rookie cards in any sport. The 1986 Fleer Basketball cards were the first regular issue since
Topps' last effort in 1981. The Fleer cards had a red, blue, and white borders and some cool photography (as seen in this Jordan rookie card above). The set was produced in limited numbers compared to most card manufacturers of the
time and featured a slew of rookie cards including Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dominique Wilkins, James Worthy and more. The key rookie is of course Jordan, which sells easily for over a thousand
bucks in graded MINT condition (by a reputable grading service). This card has been extensively counterfeited because of this, so be careful!!!
1956 Topps #292 Luis Aparicio (Back view)
Minor League Cards & Other Assorted "Pre-Rookie" Cards
1947 Signal Gasoline PCL Gus "Dutch" Zernial (Hollywood Stars, PCL)
Minor League cards have been around as since the beginning of baseball cards (late 1800's through early 1900's). Same of the most expensive baseball cards on the planet are Minor League cards.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson appeared on an early minor league card, as well as Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio appeared in a couple early 1930's Zeenut issues as a member of the Pacific Coast League San Francisco
Seals. These are far less common than their regular "rookie cards" and command some serious prices. Way out of my price range. Regardless I am going to use this rookies page as a place to post some
terrific minor league and other assorted "pre-rookie" cards.
I am not sure exactly which issue is considered Gus Zernial's rookie card, but I imagine it was probably an early Bowman Gum card (1949 or 1950 perhaps). But this 1947 Signal Gasoline
Pacific Coast League Gus "Dutch" Zernial card would definitely be considered a minor league or "pre-rookie" card. These large cards features an artist drawing of the player, along with smaller
"cartoon" highlights of the respective players (& announcers). They have biographies on the back along with advertising for Signal Gasoline, the "gasoline that goes farther." Gus Zernial played for
the PCL Hollywood Stars who played here in Los Angeles back in the day and later became one of the premier sluggers in the American League, mostly for the Philadelphia Athletics. Zernial once hit 5
consecutive Home Runs and was right up there with the great Mickey Mantle in most HRs in the 1950's. I picked up this card on eBay recently along with another card of Oakland Oaks sportscaster
1948 Signal Gasoline Oakland Oaks Billy Martin (Back view)
Another Signal Gasoline PCL issue, this time from 1948. These cards feature simple color photographs and no borders; quite beautiful and ahead of it's time. Most cards around this time were black & white
or "colorized" photographs like the 1948 Bowman Baseball issues (Bowman also issued a PCL set in 1948) or 1948 Leaf set. It wasn't until 1953 that Bowman used Kodachrome photos on their cards, so this
set was kind of ahead of it's time. This 1948 Signal Gasoline Oakland Oaks card features a young "Kid" named "Alfred Manuel Martin," or Billy Martin. Martin also appeared on Remar Bread &
Smith's Clothing Oakland Oaks cards, and these are great cards as well (though they are black & white; I"ll picture one shortly). Martin's Oakland Oaks Manager? Casey Stengel. Both would reunite with the
New York Yankees and win several pennants and World Championships in the 1950's. Martin's rookie card is considered to be included in the 1952 Topps set and these are quite expensive; expect to pay
around $100-$150 for a decent "collector" grade card (about VG or VG-EX) and a few hundred or more for a NM example. I picked up this mid-grade 1948 Signal Gasoline Oakland Oaks Martin (PSA 5
EX) for about $100 and bought one ungraded for about $35. Either way I think these are a bargain, if you can find them! By the way, there are 2 versions of this card. One has his birth year as "1921," the
other "1928." Martin was actually born in 1928 so the other card could be considered an "error" card as well.
Personally, I think it is a real shame Billy Martin is NOT in the Hall of Fame as a Manager! For more on Billy "the Kid" check out our own "HALL OF FAME PAGE!"
Our neighbors to the north, Canada, also produced some terrific minor league cards. In 1952 Parkhurst (makers of
"Frostade," which was similar to our Popcicle frozen treats) issued these small black & white cards featuring players from
the Montreal Royals. The Royals were at the time the top Dodger farm club, and most of those 1940's -1950's Brooklyn
Dodger players at one time played for Montreal (including the great Jackie Robinson and Montreal also had a young
Roberto Clemente who was later taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates). This 1952 Parkhurst card features a young John Podres,
who was later to become "Johnny" Podres, winning pitcher of the 1955 WORLD CHAMPION (at last) Brooklyn Dodger
team. Podres' rookie card is considered to be 1953 Topps #263 and it was short printed as well, which translates to an
expensive piece of cardboard. I got this 1952 Parkhurst Podres card for much less and these are much tougher to find than
even the short printed 1953 Topps rookie card!
There are a couple of other Montreal Royals issue in the 1950's including Canadian Exhibit cards featuring "Pre-Rookie"
cards of Tommy Lasorda & Walt Alson. Lasorda's first and only Topps card as a player was included in the 1954 Topps
set. Alston's first Topps card (and hence "rookie card") was in the 1956 Topps set.