The 1990 Upper Deck baseball card set is considered one of the most valuable sets from the junk wax era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. While the majority of cards from sets during this time period are worth just pennies, there are a select few cards that have maintained or increased significantly in value. Let’s take a look at some of the most valuable and desirable cards from the 1990 Upper Deck set.

Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card (#1)
Widely considered the crown jewel of the 1990 Upper Deck set, the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card is arguably the most iconic and valuable baseball card of the junk wax era. Griffey would go on to have a Hall of Fame career and was one of the most exciting players of his generation. His smooth left-handed swing and highlight reel catches in center field made him a fan favorite. Not surprisingly, demand for his rookie card skyrocketed over the years. In PSA 10 Gem Mint condition, Griffey’s rookie currently fetches upwards of $10,000-$15,000. Even in lower grades of PSA 8-9, it can sell for $1,000-$4,000. The Griffey rookie remains the one card collectors are always on the hunt for from the 1990 Upper Deck set.

Frank Thomas Rookie Card (#258)
While not quite as heralded as the Griffey rookie, the Frank Thomas rookie is certainly the second most desirable card from the 1990 Upper Deck set. Like Griffey, Thomas enjoyed a superb career that should land him in the Hall of Fame. His rookie card saw a steady rise in demand and value over the years as “The Big Hurt” put up huge power numbers as one of the game’s top sluggers in the 1990s. A PSA 10 Gem Mint Thomas rookie can sell for $3,000-$5,000 currently. In a PSA 9 grade it is worth $500-1500, while a PSA 8 will sell for $200-$500.


Roberto Alomar Rookie Card (#223)
The third most valuable rookie card from 1990 Upper Deck is Blue Jays’ second baseman Roberto Alomar, whose slick fielding and timely hitting was a big part of Toronto’s World Series championship teams. Alomar was a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner whose career was Hall of Fame worthy. While not as sought after as the Griffey and Thomas rookies, the Alomar rookie still holds value in the hobby. A PSA 10 will sell for around $1,000, with an SGC or BGS Black Label potentially selling for double that. A PSA 9 is worth $200-$400, with a PSA 8 around $100.

Barry Bonds (#122)
While not a rookie card, Barry Bonds’ 1990 Upper Deck card is one of the most iconic and valuable non-rookie cards from the set. Bonds would go on to have one of the greatest careers in baseball history and smash the all-time home run record. His dominance and records are tainted for many fans due to PED usage later in his career, but there is no denying his talent and impact on the game. In pristine PSA 10 or BGS/SGC Black Label condition, the Bonds card can sell for well over $1,000. PSA 9s go for $300-600, while a PSA 8 holds a value of $100-200.

Sandy Koufax (#80)
Legendary Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax is one of the rare veterans featured on 1990 Upper Deck cards that holds immense value. Koufax’s illustrious but short career that saw him win three Cy Young awards and one MVP in his nine seasons cemented his status as one of the best pitchers ever. He is also one of just two left-handed pitchers in the Hall of Fame. With such a small checklist of career cards, demand remains high for any Koufax issue like his highly coveted 1990 Upper Deck. In PSA 10 condition, it can sell for $800-$1,200. A PSA 9 goes for $300-$500, and a PSA 8 is worth around $150.


Nolan Ryan (#87)
“The Ryan Express” was winding down his legendary 27-year career with the Rangers in 1990 but still possessed one of the most overpowering fastballs the game has ever seen. His no-hitter record, 5,714 strikeouts, and intimidating 100 mph heat make him one of baseball’s most revered players. Like Koufax, Ryan only has a limited number of cards in collectors’ hands. His 1990 Upper Deck card has earned icon status as one of the better veteran cards from the set. In a PSA 10, you’ll pay $600-800 for it. PSA 9s go for $200-400, while a PSA 8 holds a value of $100-200.

Ozzie Smith (#23)
While most focuse on young stars and power hitters, collectors also place value on defense, and few were better than “The Wizard” Ozzie Smith. His highlight reel plays at shortstop for the Cardinals were works of art. Despite never hitting for much power, Smith was one of his generation’s most popular players and a deserving Hall of Famer. His 1990 Upper Deck issue remains one of the most sought after cards for vintage Cardinals and defensive specialists. A PSA 10 Ozzie rates $500-700. PSA 9s go from $150-300, with PSA 8s in the $75-125 range.


Rickey Henderson (#155)
By the time 1990 arrived, Rickey Henderson had already authored one of the most decorated careers in baseball history. His 1990 was his age 31 season but he was still a terror on the basepaths, leading the AL with 65 stolen bases. Henderson holds the career records for runs scored and stolen bases and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. High-grade versions of his 1990 Upper Deck card have climbed nicely, with a PSA 10 selling between $400-600. PSA 9s fetch $150-300, while a PSA 8 should sell in the $75-150 range.

Tom Glavine (#301)
Outside the big three position player rookies, no 1990 Upper Deck rookie holds more value than Braves’ ace Tom Glavine. The crafty left-hander would win 305 career games and two Cy Young awards over a dominant 22-year career spent mostly with Atlanta. While not a superstar name, Glavine developed into one of the premier control pitchers of his generation. His rookie is a coveted piece for Braves PC builders and set collectors alike. A PSA 10 Glavine rates $300-450, with PSA 9s at $100-200 and PSA 8s around $50-100.

So in conclusion, while most of the 1990 Upper Deck set holds little monetary worth, there are still some true gems that have significant collector value, led by the ultra-iconic Griffey and Thomas rookies, as well as star veterans like Bonds, Koufax and Henderson. Top-graded examples of these valuable standouts can still fetch impressive prices despite being produced at the height of the junk wax era overproduction. For set builders and investors, it’s these choice few cards that make completing a 1990 Upper Deck masterpiece so worthwhile and historic.

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