The 1990 Topps baseball card set is considered one of the most iconic issues from the late 1980s and early 1990s. While not the most valuable set from that era overall, it featured several highly sought after rookie cards and stars of the day. Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout cards collectors still love from the 792-card 1990 Topps issue.

Frank Thomas Rookie Card #1 – Arguably the most coveted card from the set is the rookie card of Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Known as the “Big Hurt,” Thomas went on to have a Hall of Fame career and was the centerpiece of many dominant White Sox teams in the 1990s. His rookie card shows him in the familiar White Sox uniform with a serious expression on his face. In pristine mint condition, this card can fetch over $1,000 due to its significance as one of the first looks at the future star.

Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card #221 – While it may not be his most valuable rookie as the upper deck issue is more scarce, Griffey’s Topps rookie remains a highly sought after card. It pictures “The Kid” in his Seattle Mariners uniform, foreshadowing a decade of brilliance with that club. Copies in near-mint to mint condition have sold for over $500 in recent years. This was many collector’s first glimpse of one of the most talented players of the 1990s.


Nolan Ryan #91 – Arguably the greatest power pitcher of all-time, Nolan Ryan’s 1990 Topps card remains popular for collectors due to his iconic status. Having just signed a record-breaking free agent deal with the Texas Rangers, it shows him in their home whites. Still pitching effectively in his late 30s, Ryan was a legend by this point. High-grade versions can reach $100-200 based on his name recognition alone.

Rickey Henderson #234 – The all-time stolen base king, Rickey Henderson’s 1990 issue pictures him as a member of the Oakland Athletics. By this point, he had shattered numerous stolen base records and was one of the most dynamic players in baseball. Even well-worn copies hold value north of $20 due to his Hall of Fame career and popularity amongst collectors.

Barry Bonds #249 – Arguably a controversial figure now but one of the game’s all-time greats during his playing days, Barry Bonds’ 1990 Topps card as a Pittsburgh Pirate is a classic. It features the five-time MVP in the early stages of his surefire Cooperstown career. Near-mint copies can reach $50-75 based on his huge power numbers and status as one of the best to ever play.


Roger Clemens #342 – The Rocket’s 1990 issue shows him as a member of the Boston Red Sox, on the verge of winning the AL Cy Young award. Clemens went on to have a legendary career with over 4,000 strikeouts and seven Cy Youngs between Boston and the Yankees. Mint condition versions regularly sell for $30-50 due to his dominance as a pitcher.

Cal Ripken Jr. #582 – While not his most valuable due to condition issues, Ripken’s 1990 Topps card holds significance as it was issued during his record-breaking streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. It pictures “The Iron Man” in an Orioles uniform, a run that helped cement his legendary status. Even well-worn copies maintain a minimum $10 value.

Kirby Puckett #661 – A key member of World Series champion Twins teams, Kirby Puckett’s 1990 card shows him giving his familiar smile in a Minnesota uniform. “Puck” was one of the most popular players of the late 80s/early 90s and his cards remain popular. Near-mint copies can reach $30-50 based on his all-star caliber career.

Ozzie Smith #710 – As a member of the 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds, Ozzie Smith’s defensive wizardry made him a fan favorite. His 1990 Topps issue depicts him making an acrobatic play at shortstop, highlighting why he earned the nickname “The Wizard.” Higher grade versions regularly sell in the $15-25 range.


Ken Griffey Sr. #772 – While not as heralded as his son Ken Jr., Griffey Sr. had a long, productive career that included over 1,000 RBI. His 1990 card is one of the more recognizable from his playing days, showing him as a member of the Seattle Mariners like his son would become famous for. Near-mint copies can reach $10-15 for collectors looking to add a piece of baseball history.

While production numbers may have been higher for other 1980s/1990s sets, the 1990 Topps baseball issue remains a classic for its rookie cards of Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr. as well as stars of the day like Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Condition is always key, but even well-worn copies of the players highlighted maintain value for any baseball card collection. The combination of stars, prospects and historical significance make it a set that continues to captivate collectors today.

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