The 2005 baseball card season featured some of the most iconic rookies and talented veterans from that year. While every year produces memorable rookie cards, 2005 stood out due to the depth of young talent that made their MLB debuts. Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy baseball cards from 2005 releases by the major manufacturers – Topps, Upper Deck, and Fleer.
Perhaps the most coveted rookie card from 2005 is that of Ryan Howard from Topps. Howard exploded onto the scene by winning the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year award and finishing fourth in the MVP voting after slamming 22 home runs in just 358 at-bats for the Philadelphia Phillies. His iconic smile and powerful left-handed swing made him an instant fan favorite. The Topps Howard rookie has become one of the most valuable from the 2000s, regularly fetching hundreds of dollars in near-mint condition.
Another hugely valuable 2005 rookie is that of Albert Pujols from Upper Deck. While Pujols was not technically a rookie after playing parts of 2000-2001 seasons, 2005 was the first year he appeared on baseball cards as a established superstar. Fresh off winning his first NL MVP in 2004, Pujols continued dominating with a .330 average, 41 home runs and 117 RBI. The Ultra Premium Upper Deck Pujols parallel autograph card numbered to only 25 copies is the true holy grail, valued at over $10,000 in gem mint.
Staying in St. Louis, the Matt Holliday rookie from Topps is also a highly sought after card from 2005. Holliday made his debut halfway through 2004 but it was in 2005 where he broke out with a .306 average, 26 home runs and 102 RBI – a sign of the perennial All-Star he would become. While not as valuable as the Howard or Pujols, the Holliday still routinely fetches over $100 in top condition.
In the American League, another slugging first baseman was making his rookie splash. That would be none other than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Howie Kendrick. Though overshadowed by bigger names at the time, Kendrick put together a solid campaign with a .290 average, 8 home runs and 55 RBI in his first full season. While not expensive now, the Kendrick Topps rookie could appreciate over time as his career numbers grow.
Moving to the pitching side of things, the Huston Street rookie card stands out from 2005. As the 9th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Street quickly emerged as the Oakland Athletics’ closer – saving 23 games with an ERA under 3 his rookie year. The Street Topps RC remains a key piece for A’s collectors to this day. Another rookie hurler who debuted in 2005 but had his first baseball cards was Jonathan Papelbon from the Boston Red Sox. Papelbon took over closing duties mid-season and was dominant with a 1.85 ERA and 13 saves in only 39 innings of work. Both the Street and Papelbon rookies remain steady performers on the secondary market.
For veteran collectors, 2005 offered several chase cards featuring baseball’s biggest stars of that era. The flagship parallel printing plate autograph card from Topps featuring Vladimir Guerrero is considered the true holy grail from the 2005 Topps set. Numbered to only 5 copies, the 1/1 plate sold for over $10,000 at auction. The ’05 Topps Update parallel auto of Albert Pujols is also an iconic parallel, limited to only 10 copies with each serial numbered and signed. Upper Deck’s ’05 Ultimate Collection parallel auto of Barry Bonds also holds value due to the rarity factor at only 10 copies produced.
The 2005 season gave collectors a deep pool of rookies to chase, headlined by future stars like Ryan Howard, Matt Holliday and Jonathan Papelbon. At the same time, parallel autographs from the games biggest veterans like Guerrero, Pujols and Bonds gave high-end collectors true one-of-a-kind chase cards. Whether targeting rookies or parallels, the 2005 baseball card season had memorable cardboard for collectors of all levels. While the rookie class has yet to fully mature in terms of long-term value, cards like Howard and Street have already proven to be sound long term investments for savvy collectors.