Tag Archives: rookies


The 1993 Leaf Gold rookie card set featured some true star power among the first year players in that season. While it may be too early to tell the whole career impacts of some of the rookies from that year, there were certainly those that immediately shone and went on to great careers in professional baseball.

One of the biggest standouts from that rookie class that appears on Leaf Gold cards was catcher Javy López. Loepz had an incredible rookie season with the Baltimore Orioles, batting .235 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in only 325 at bats as he shared catching duties. Those power numbers as a rookie catcher were eye-popping. López would go on to have a stellar 16 year MLB career, making 3 All-Star teams and playing until he was 38 years old while racking up 258 home runs and 854 RBI. He remains one of the most prolific offensive catchers of all-time. His 1993 Leaf Gold rookie is one of the key standalone cards from that set.

Another gigantic name from that rookie crop was pitcher Pedro Martínez. While he pitched only 10 games in relief for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993, posting a 4.08 ERA, his talent was immediately apparent. Martínez would explode as a starter over the next several seasons, winning three Cy Young Awards between 1997-2000 while leading the league in ERA four times and strikeouts five times during his peak years with the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox. In total, Martínez went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3154 strikeouts over his 18 year career. His electrifying stuff and dominance made his 1993 Leaf Gold one of the most desired rookie cards long before anyone knew his full potential.

Shortstop Derek Jeter also had his rookie season in 1993, playing 117 games for the New York Yankees and batting .259 with 10 stolen bases and 38 RBI in his first exposure to the Majors at age 19. While he wouldn’t break out offensively until the following season, Jeter established himself as the future face of the Yankees franchise and one of the game’s premier stars over a 20 year Hall of Fame career spent entirely in the Bronx. His combination of leadership, clutch hitting, and five World Series titles made Jeter one of the most beloved players ever. His rookie card from Leaf Gold is a true icon of the set as one of the sport’s defining players.

Another stellar offensive catcher rookie in 1993 was Mike Piazza with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In just 61 games that year, Piazza blasted 35 extra base hits including 35 doubles and 16 home runs while batting .318. His prodigious power from the catcher position foretold an incredible career that would see Piazza slug 427 homers and drive in 1,335 runs over 16 seasons. He was an All-Star in 12 of his full seasons and won 10 Silver Slugger Awards. Piazza’s memorable 1993 Leaf Gold card gained additional notoriety due to speculation about whether he was using performance enhancing drugs during his career.

Pitcher Jim Abbott had one of the most inspiring personal stories in all of professional sports as the only one-handed pitcher to ever reach the Major Leagues. After being drafted in the 1st round by the California Angels in 1988, Abbott made his MLB debut in 1993, starting 29 games and compiling a 4-9 record with a 4.15 ERA. While he was never an All-Star, Abbott enjoyed a solid 10 year career, going 87-108 overall with four different teams. His will and determination to reach the hightest level of baseball against all odds made the story behind his 1993 Leaf Gold rookie one of the most memorable in the entire set.

Those were surely the biggest star performers and most impactful rookies captured in the 1993 Leaf Gold set based on careers that followed. While some other solid players like outfielder Moises Alou, reliever Armando Benítez, and pitcher Orel Hershiser also had rookie cards that year, none could match what Javy López, Pedro Martínez, Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, and Jim Abbott went on to accomplish in Major League Baseball after their initial appearances on those iconic rookie cards with Topps’ competitor Leaf. Their individual tales of success made some of the most historically significant rookies ever, greatly adding to the revered status of the 1993 Leaf Gold set among collectors today.

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One of the biggest rookie cards featured in the 1987 Topps baseball set was Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Bell on card #88. Bell had just come off a phenomenal rookie season in 1986 where he batted .273 with 27 home runs and 87 RBI. He would go on to win the American League MVP award in 1987, batting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI. The 1987 Topps rookie card of George Bell is one of the all-time iconic rookie cards from the 1980s and remains a highly sought after card by collectors today.

Another highly valuable rookie card from 1987 Topps was Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Teddy Higuera on card #456. Higuera broke out in 1987 with a record of 15-9 and an ERA of 2.96 in 31 starts. While he did not win Rookie of the Year, Higuera established himself as an elite pitcher in the league. He would go on to three straight All-Star selections from 1987-1989. The error-filled 1987 Topps Higuera rookie is one of the most desired Brewers cards from the late 1980s.

One of the most anticipated rookie cards in 1987 Topps was Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine on card #480. Glavine made his MLB debut in 1987 and had a very solid season, going 13-8 with a 3.68 ERA in 31 starts. While he lost out on Rookie of the Year honors to Cardinals catcher Todd Zeile, Glavine established himself as a future ace. He would go on to win two Cy Young Awards and help the Braves win the 1995 World Series. Glavine’s sharp rookie card is highly sought after by both Braves and baseball card collectors.

Another notable rookie in the 1987 Topps set was California Angels pitcher Chuck Finley on card #210. Finley made his MLB debut in 1987 after being selected 5th overall by the Angels in the 1984 draft. In his first full season, Finley went 11-11 with a 3.68 ERA in 30 starts. He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. Finley went on to become one of the top left-handed starters in the American League throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. His well-centered 1987 Topps rookie card is a key piece for Angels collectors.

One of the standout shortstop rookies featured in 1987 Topps was Oakland A’s prospect Walt Weiss on card #256. Weiss made his big league debut in 1987 and batted .268 in 105 games as Oakland’s regular shortstop. He finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting. While he never developed into a superstar, Weiss had a long, respectable career spanning 19 seasons in the majors. His 1987 rookie card is an important piece in any A’s or shortstop collection.

Another notable rookie card in the 1987 Topps set belonged to Chicago White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk on card #340. “Pudge” was in his early 30s but was still performing at an All-Star level for Chicago when Topps included his rookie card in the 1987 set in error. While not truly a rookie card, Fisk’s 1987 issue is still highly coveted by both White Sox and Hall of Fame collectors alike due to the rarity of the error.

The 1987 Topps baseball card set featured the debut cards of several future all-time greats like Tom Glavine and standout rookie seasons from George Bell, Chuck Finley and Teddy Higuera. More modest debuts from Walt Weiss and others are also keys for team collectors. Cardinals fans eagerly await the return of the rookie card error starring Carlton Fisk to lists of collectibles. The rookie class of 1987 produced many memorable players and their debut cards remain highly valuable in the hobby today.


The 1986 Donruss baseball card set is one of the most iconic and valuable sets in the history of the hobby. While the base set contains the standard portrait and statistic cards of players, one of the most popular subsets from the ’86 Donruss release was titled ‘The Rookies’. This parallel insert set showcased the first card appearances of many future Hall of Famers and superstar players who were just starting out in the big leagues.

Some key details and facts about the 1986 Donruss The Rookies subset:

The set contains cards for 30 rookie players from the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Each card has the same vertical format design with a headshot on the left side and stats/accolades on the right.

Perhaps the most famous and valuable card in the set is the rookie of Toronto Blue Jays star shortstop Aldo Junior. Griffey Jr. went on to have a Hall of Fame career and is widely considered one of the greatest players ever. His ’86 Donruss Rookie card in near-mint condition can fetch over $10,000 today.

Other notable rookie cards include Frank Thomas, Barry Larkin, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. All of these players would go on to have excellent careers punctuated by Hall of Fame inductions. Their Rookie cards remain some of the most popular from the 1980s.

While Griffey Jr. and Thomas cards command the highest prices due to their superstar careers, there are also plenty of values to be found amongst recognizable names who did not quite live up to the hype, such as Domingo Jean and Oddibe McDowell.

The horizontal design marked a shift for Donruss baseball cards away from the typical vertical format that had been used for several previous releases. This change helped make the ’86 release stand out amidst competitors like Topps.

When the cards were initially released in 1986, of course no one knew which rookies profiled would become future Hall of Famers. Sets were sold mainly to dealers as packs or in factory boxes. Few collectors knew to hold onto cards like Griffey Jr. for decades.

In the ensuing years after 1986, the hobby of sportscard collecting exploded in popularity. Sets like ’86 Donruss gained immense collector interest as young fans from the late 80s/early 90s hunted to complete their childhood collections, fueling renewed demand.

The 1980s era is seen by many as the “Golden Age” of the baseball card hobby. Iconic Donruss and Topps sets moved in the millions of units and exposed the sport to a massive new youth audience. This helps explain why ’86 Donruss cards remain so iconic today.

In mint/near-mint condition, even lesser names from the ’86 Donruss Rookies set can sell for $50-100 due to connections to childhood memories and the popularity of the 1980s vintage cardboard boom. But elite talents can fetch over $1,000 for true high-grade specimens.

While the 1980s got kids hooked on collecting, the sports card boom was not without issues – most notably the infamous junk wax era of the late 80s/early 90s when an overproduction of sets severely hurt long-term collectability and values.

Still, ’86 Donruss remained a favorite even through the bust that followed. Today vintage wax from the 80s Golden Age enjoys immense nostalgia, which drives renewed interest in unopened boxes, packs and individual cards from iconic releases like the ’86 Rookies subset.

The 1986 Donruss The Rookies insert set earned legendary status due its mix of future Hall of Famers, fun 1980s designs and connections to the sports card industry’s most popular era. While only a hobby at the time, this subset contains rookie cards that prove you never know when a child’s pastime purchase could become a source of future value and memories.


The 1986 Donruss The Rookies baseball card set was highly anticipated and remained very popular years after its initial release due to the star power of the rookie class it featured. Containing 100 total cards, the 1986 Donruss set showcased many future Hall of Famers and all-time greats just starting out in their MLB careers.

The headliners of the ’86 rookie class were slugging outfielders Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, who would both go on to break the single season home run record and hit over 500 home runs in their legendary careers. Both Bonds and McGwire received prime placement near the front of the set, with Bonds occupying the coveted #1 slot. Other future standouts featured early in the set included slugging first baseman Will Clark at #5, power pitching Rob Dibble at #6, and dominant knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield at #7.

While Bonds and McGwire drew the most attention initially, the 1986 Donruss set also showcased many other stars who would enjoy long and distinguished MLB careers. Future Hall of Fame starting pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were included at #21 and #51 respectively. Shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., who holds the record for consecutive games played, could be found at #33. Closer Dennis Eckersley, who won both the Cy Young and MVP awards during his career, was featured at #41. Outfielder and solid hitter Darren Daulton rounded out some of the bigger names at #74.

Beyond the future stars and legends, the 1986 Donruss set also highlighted many solid role players and role players who enjoyed long MLB tenures. Pitchers Scott Bankhead at #8, John Dopson at #18, and Dave Stieb at #62 all played over a decade in the majors. Infielders Mickey Tettleton at #12, Domingo Cedeno at #38, and Scott Fletcher at #52 all enjoyed careers spanning almost a decade or more. Even relievers Bryan Hickerson at #42 and Gene Nelson at #93 managed to carve out lengthy major league careers despite their niche roles.

From a production and popularity standpoint, the 1986 Donruss The Rookies set remains one of the most significant in baseball card history. Not only did it introduce legendary players like Bonds, McGwire, Maddux, and Ripken who dominated the sport for generations, but it also included tremendous star power from top to bottom. Many of the cards from ’86 rookie season are still widely collected and command high prices today. In particular, the Bonds, McGwire, Maddux, and Ripken cards are among the most valuable modern era MLB rookies on the secondary market.

Beyond just star names, the entire 1986 Donruss set possesses a nostalgic allure that resonates with collectors to this day. The simple yet classic black border design remains iconic in the industry. For fans and collectors who remember the excitement of the ’86 rookie class coming up, the cards serve as a valuable slice of sports memorabilia linking them to that bygone era. Even for younger collectors just learning the history, cards from this seminal set capture the mystical draw of baseball nostalgia.

While gaudy prospect cards released today may draw initial fanfare, very few modern rookie classes can match the sustained legend and collector interest created by Donruss’ 1986 showcase of Bonds, McGwire, Maddux, Ripken, Glavine and more. The sheer depth of talent and star power featured has rarely been matched in the baseball card industry since. For both collectors and fans of the players, cards from the iconic 1986 The Rookies set remain relevant touchstones to some of the greatest careers the sport has ever seen over 35 years later.


The 2002 Topps baseball card set featured many exciting rookie cards that captured the beginning of careers for players who would go on to have tremendous success in Major League Baseball. This was a vintage year for rookie cards as it included stars like Zach Greinke, Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis who all made their Topps rookie card debuts. The set had a total of 712 cards and highlighted some of the best young rising talents in the game at the time.

One of the most noteworthy rookies from 2002 was Cardinals pitcher Zach Greinke. As the sixth overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft, Greinke had huge expectations coming into the big leagues. His Topps rookie card showed those expectations as Topps featured him prominently on the front. Despite some ups and downs early on, Greinke would go on to have a great career winning the AL Cy Young award in 2009. His rookie card from 2002 remains one of the most sought after from that year’s set.

Another standout rookie was Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera. Even in his first season in 2003, Cabrera showed off his prodigious power and hit .268 with 14 home runs. His smooth left-handed swing was on full display on his rookie Topps card which hinted at the Hall of Fame caliber career that was ahead. Cabrera is now widely considered one of the best hitters of his generation and his 2002 Topps RC remains a key piece in any serious baseball card collection.

Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis also made his rookie card debut in 2002 Topps. After being drafted in the 7th round in 2002, Willis rose through the minors quickly with his unique pitching motion and array of off-speed pitches. His rookie card picture fittingly showed his high leg kick and three-quarters arm angle. Willis would go on to win the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2003 and become a 22-game winner in 2005 cementing his status as a Marlins ace. While injuries hindered his career longevity, Willis’ rookie card endures as a trophy for collectors.

Another highly touted rookie in 2002 was Cubs pitcher Mark Prior. Drafted second overall behind Bryan Bullington, Prior was considered a can’t-miss pitching prospect. This hype was evident on his rookie card as Topps featured him prominently. Prior enjoyed early success including an 18-win season in 2003 but arm injuries derailed what seemed to be a surefire Hall of Fame bound career. Still, his rookie card remains a key piece for Cubs followers and collectors of the 2002 set.

In addition to these star players, the 2002 Topps set included rookie cards for other notable talents like Diamondbacks outfielder Carl Crawford, Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez, Expos pitcher Livan Hernandez, Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells and Pirates outfielder Brian Giles. While not all of these players turned into superstars, they each made important contributions during successful MLB careers. Their rookie cards remain a reminder of the depth of young talent that was breaking into the majors during the 2002 season.

The 2002 Topps baseball set proved to be a true vintage year for rookie cards. It featured the debuts of future Hall of Famers like Cabrera as well as other stars and noteworthy players. The design aesthetic of the set also remains a favorite of collectors. With its classic black border format and understated yet appealing photography, the 2002 Topps rookies hold up extremely well even decades later. For collectors looking to invest in the early careers of all-time greats, iconic rookie cards like Cabrera, Greinke and Willis from this set are a highly recommended purchase.


The 1991 Donruss baseball set is most notable for its “The Rookies” subset which featured rookie cards of future Hall of Famers Chuck Knoblauch, Tom Glavine, and David Justice. While not the flagship issue from Donruss that year (that distinction belonged to the main 556 card set), The Rookies subset gained incredible popularity and scarcity over the years due to featuring some of the biggest names to break into the majors during that season.

Released late in the 1990 season to capitalize on the hype around that year’s rookie class, The Rookies subset stood out with its black and white photography and a clean minimalist design. It contained 36 cards total, with two cards per team distributed at random in factory sets and packs alongside the main Donruss release. Some of the more notable rookies included in the subset beyond the headliners of Knoblauch, Glavine, and Justice were Billy Ripken, Steve Avery, Juan Gonzalez, Bobby Munoz, Roberto Hernandez, and Gregg Jefferies.

Chuck Knoblauch had one of the best rookie seasons of anyone featured in the 1991 set. The second baseman for the Minnesota Twins batted .281 with 7 home runs, 58 RBI, and 25 stolen bases, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. He would go on to become a 4-time All-Star and help the Yankees win 4 World Series titles in the late 90s. His card from The Rookies set is one of the more valuable from the subset today, routinely fetching over $100 in top-graded Gem Mint condition.

Tom Glavine was a rookie pitcher for the Atlanta Braves who didn’t put up huge stats in his first season but showed promise. He went 11-11 with a 4.56 ERA in 29 starts. Of course, Glavine would develop into a future Hall of Famer, 305-game winner, and 2-time Cy Young award winner. Like Knoblauch, his rookie card holds significant value given his accomplishments. PSA 10 examples can sell for well over $200.

David Justice played his first MLB season with the Atlanta Braves in 1991 as well. He batted .250 with 8 homers and 39 RBI in 87 games primarily as a rookie outfielder and designated hitter. Justice became a two-time All-Star and World Series champion during his career. His rookie card, while not as expensive as Knoblauch or Glavine’s, still typically fetches $50-75 in top condition.

Beyond the headliners, cards of Juan Gonzalez and Billy Ripken also carry collector demand. “Billy Ripken’s F-Bomb” card from the main Donruss set with the profanity written on his bat is one of the most infamous error cards ever produced. Roberto Hernandez had a solid 16 year career as a pitcher and his card can be found for under $10. Gregg Jefferies was once a top prospect but did not live up to expectations – his card is quite affordable. Steve Avery flashed promise in his rookie year for the Braves but injuries derailed his career early on.

In the years since its original release, the scarcity and storyline of The Rookies subset has made it extremely popular with collectors. Many complete ungraded factory sets have sold for well over $1000 due to the high-end rookie cards included. Even relatively common players hold value since it was such a small printed subset. The black and white photography gives the cards a classic, understated look that differs from the brightly colored designs of other contemporary baseball issues. The 1991 Donruss The Rookies subset is considered one of the most iconic rookie card releases of the modern baseball card era due to the star power and future success of Knoblauch, Glavine, and Justice. It remains a highly sought after piece of cardboard for collectors.


The 1994 Topps baseball card set featured many star rookies who went on to have impressive Major League Baseball careers. The rookie class of 1994 produced several future Hall of Famers and many impact players. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top rookies from the 1994 Topps set.

Perhaps the most notable rookie in the 1994 Topps set was Mike Piazza. Piazza was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft but did not sign. He played college ball at Miami Dade College and was drafted again in the 62nd round in 1989 by the Dodgers, this time signing. Piazza made his MLB debut in 1992 but was included in the 1994 Topps set as a rookie since he had less than 130 at-bats in 1993. Piazza went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a catcher, known for his powerful bat. He slugged 427 career home runs and had a career .308 batting average. Piazza was a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger award winner.

Another star catcher rookie in the 1994 Topps set was Charles Johnson. Johnson was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1st round of the 1991 amateur draft. He debuted in the majors in 1993 and was considered a rookie by Topps standards in 1994. Johnson spent the bulk of his career with the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, batting .257 in over 11 seasons. He was a versatile defensive catcher known for his arm strength and was a 1-time Gold Glove winner.

On the pitching side, one of the top rookie cards in 1994 Topps was Kevin Brown. Brown was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 10th round of the 1986 amateur draft. After debuting in the majors in 1987, Brown spent parts of 3 seasons in the minors, returning to the Rangers in 1991. He established himself as a frontline starter in 1992-93 but was still rookie-eligible by Topps in 1994. Brown went on to have an All-Star caliber career with a 134-114 record and 3.28 ERA over 16 seasons, winning the NL Cy Young award in 1998 with the Florida Marlins.

One of the rising superstars in the game in 1994 was Nomar Garciaparra. Garciaparra was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round of the 1994 amateur draft and called up late that season. As a rookie, he batted .264 in 54 games and showed slick fielding skills at shortstop. Garciaparra went on to have a stellar career, making the All-Star team 6 times while batting over .300 for his career with the Red Sox. He finished with a .313 average, 185 home runs, and 795 RBIs in 11 seasons. Injuries cut his career short but Garciaparra established himself as one of the game’s premier offensive shortstops.

Another future Hall of Famer who appeared as a rookie in 1994 Topps was Randy Johnson. “The Big Unit” was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 2nd round of the 1985 amateur draft. After debuting in the majors in 1988, Johnson bounced around a bit, playing for the Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees before establishing himself as an ace. With Seattle in 1993-94, Johnson emerged as one of the top left-handed pitchers in baseball. For his career, Johnson went 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA and struck out 4,875 batters – second all-time. He won the Cy Young award 5 times and helped lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001.

Other notable rookies from 1994 Topps include Kenny Lofton, who debuted in 1991 but played a full season in 1993 to qualify as a rookie for Topps. Lofton was a 6-time All-Star and 6-time Gold Glove winner known for his speed and defense in center field. Starting pitchers Rodrigo Lopez and Kenny Rogers also appeared as rookies, with Rogers winning 20 games three times in his career that spanned over 20 seasons. Outfielder Moises Alou debuted in 1992 but had his rookie card in 1994 Topps after playing just 33 games the prior season. Alou went on to be a 3-time All-Star with a career .303 batting average.

The 1994 Topps baseball card set featured a who’s who of future Hall of Famers and impact major leaguers. Stars like Piazza, Garciaparra, Johnson, and Brown established themselves as rookie stars, while veterans like Kenny Lofton and Charles Johnson continued strong careers. The rookie class of 1994 produced long-lasting talent at multiple positions that stood the test of time in the majors. This great vintage of rookies remains a highlight of the entire 1994 Topps set.


The 1991 Score baseball set featured some of the most notable rookie cards in the modern baseball card era. While rookie cards from the late 1980s are often highly coveted by collectors, the class of rookies featured in 1991 Score went on to have tremendous major league success and their rookie cards remain quite valuable to this day.

Two future Hall of Famers had their rookie cards in the 1991 Score set – shortstop Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and third baseman Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Considered by many to be two of the greatest players of their generation, demand for their rookie cards has always been extremely high. Jeter’s card could fetch over $1000 in top graded gem mint condition while a PSA 10 version of Chipper Jones’ rookie sold for over $2600 in early 2020.

Another superstar from the 1991 Score rookie class was pitcher Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs. Maddux would go on to win four Cy Young Awards and is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball history based on his incredible control and command. While not quite at the legendary status of Jeter or Jones, Maddux’s rookie card still holds significant value in the collecting market. Pricing tends to be in the $200-500 range depending on condition.

Rounding out the absolute elite talents from the 1991 Score rookie crop was third baseman Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Though primarily known as a catcher, Piazza established himself as possibly the greatest hitting backstop ever. His rookie card found new popularity in recent years after rumors surfaced that Piazza may have taken steroids, though he has denied such allegations. Still, a PSA 10 Piazza rookie can now fetch $1000-1500 on the open market.

A few other notable rookies from 1991 Score include pitchers Alex Fernandez of the Chicago White Sox and Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox. Fernandez had three excellent seasons for Chicago in the early 90s before injuring his shoulder. A solid talent, his rookie nonetheless carries a more modest price tag of around $50-100 graded. Clemens, of course, went on to become one of the most decorated pitchers in history, winning 354 career games and seven Cy Young Awards between the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. High grade Clemens rookies tend to sell in the few hundred dollar range.

While the superstars attracted the biggest money, there were several other solid players that had their rookie cards debut in 1991 Score as well. Shortstop Walt Weiss of the Athletics, first basemen Todd Helton of the Rockies, and pitchers Scott Erickson of the Twins and John Burkett of the Padres all went on to have lengthy big league careers after being featured in Score that year. Their rookie cards hold more niche appeal and value today for collectors of those particular franchises.

For investors and enthusiasts of the hobby, 1991 Score rookie cards proved to be an excellent long term investment. Featuring so many future Hall of Famers and all-time great talents has ensured strong residual demand for the high-end cards even decades later. While it took some time for recognition and appreciation to fully set in,1991 is now regarded as one of the best and most valuable rookie classes in the modern era of sports cards. Serious collectors are always on the lookout to add graded copies of stars like Jeter, Jones, Maddux and Piazza to their collections. The magical allure of their early career accomplishments as captured in cardboard continues to enthral fans and drive marketplace prices even after 30 years.


The 1987 Donruss baseball card set is one of the most iconic releases in the history of the hobby. While it may not be the flashiest or most aesthetically pleasing design compared to some other years, the 1987 Donruss set stands out most for the quality of the rookie cards it featured. Chief among them was the group labeled as “Rated Rookies,” highlighting some true future superstars just starting their MLB careers. This crop of rookies helped propel the 1987 Donruss set to legendary status among collectors and enthusiasts.

Some key context – 1987 was right in the middle of the baseball card boom of the late 1980s. Donruss had emerged as one of the top brands alongside Topps. Their designs were starting to get a bit busy and lose some of the classic simplicity of earlier years. They made up for it by really focusing on rookie cards and new players. The “Rated Rookies” subset was Donruss’ way of drawing extra attention to the top prospects. They selected 12 rookies to include in the subset and gave each a “rating” from 50-80 based on their potential.

Some of the names in that 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies subset would go on to have incredible Hall of Fame careers: Ken Griffey Jr. (rated 80), Barry Larkin (rated 75), Mark McGwire (rated 75), and Tom Glavine (rated 70). But it wasn’t just those headliners – the entire group proved to be an extremely talented collection of future all-stars. Gregg Olson, Scott Cooper, Jeff Treadway, and Jeff Gray had solid MLB tenures. Even players like Darren Daulton and Dave Martinez who didn’t post huge numbers were effective major leaguers for many years.

For collectors and investors, these rated rookies took on immense popularity and value. Griffey and McGwire in particular seemed to be destined for stardom very early on. Their rookie cards quickly became among the most coveted and expensive in the hobby. Even secondary players like Olson and Cooper gained value as interest in the full set increased. The designs were cleanly illustrated and photo centered, letting the players’ faces and talents shine through.

In the decades since, the 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies have only grown further in esteem. Griffey and McGwire lived up to their potential by putting together two of the greatest power-hitting careers ever. Barry Larkin proved himself as perhaps the best shortstop of his generation. Glavine won over 300 games and two Cy Young awards as one of the best pitchers of the 1990s. The subset has become synonymous with identifying true superstar talent at the earliest stages.

Grading and preservation has also played a major role in the 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies increased popularity. More carefully stored and maintained copies have achieved gem mint grades like MT-10 that accentuate the brilliant colors and sharpness of the original designs. These high-grade examples have reached auction prices over $10,000 USD for the headliner rookies. Even secondary players like Cooper and Gray can sell for thousands in top condition.

While other vintage sets may have flashier artwork or more memorable designs, few can match the 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies for identifying true future baseball legends in their earliest professional seasons. The subset combines iconic players, attractive yet understated designs, and sharp focus on top prospects. Nearly 35 years later, it remains one of the most valuable and desirable rookie card releases in the entire hobby. Whether for collecting, investing or just reminiscing about the great players of that era, the 1987 Donruss Rated Rookies will always have a cherished place in the history of baseball cards.


The 1991 Topps baseball card set is notable for featuring some of the greatest rookie cards of all time. The 1991 rookie class included future Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome as well as All-Stars Moises Alou, Darren Daulton, and Mike Sweeney. This incredible group of rookies has led the 1991 Topps set to retain great collecting interest over the past 30 years.

One of the most coveted 1991 Topps rookie cards is Chipper Jones #450. As the number one overall draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 1990 out of Ball High School in Burlington, North Carolina, expectations were extremely high for Jones entering his rookie season in 1991. He did not disappoint, batting .299 with 14 home runs and 70 RBIs in 139 games. Jones went on to have a Hall of Fame career consisting of over 2,700 hits, 468 home runs, and 8 career All-Star appearances while cementing his status as a Braves legend. The Chipper Jones #450 rookie card has maintained tremendous value over the decades, now routinely grading and selling for well over $1,000 in near-mint condition.

Another rookie card from the 1991 Topps set that has proven to be an outstanding long-term investment is Jim Thome #646. Despite being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1989, Thome began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1991. In 102 games, he hit .283 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs. While establishing himself as one of the game’s top power hitters, Thome went on to bash 612 career home runs, placing him 5th on the all-time list. Like Jones, Thome was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018, further adding to the prestige and value of his rookie card. High-grade Thome rookies now sell for thousands.

In addition to Jones and Thome, the 1991 Topps set featured several other players who went on to have outstanding careers, making their rookie cards valuable as well. Moises Alou #411 debuted in 1991 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .265 with 5 home runs in 62 games. While never achieving superstardom, Alou enjoyed a very solid 19-year career primarily known for his outstanding batting eye and durability. Darren Daulton #608 launched his 14-year career as catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1991, displaying excellent leadership and power as evidenced by his 24 home runs and 87 RBIs. His career was cut short by injuries but Daulton cemented his place in Phillies history. Mike Sweeney #684 spent his entire 15-year career with the Kansas City Royals after debuting in 1991. While injury-plagued at times, Sweeney was a skilled hitter who slammed 205 career home runs and made five All-Star teams.

Beyond the star rookies, the 1991 Topps set contains several other notable rookie cards of players who had productive if not huge careers such as Dave Martinez #422, Kenny Lofton #586, Tom Pagnozzi #700, and David Wells #759. Lofton in particular put together a 17-year career as a stellar leadoff hitter and six-time All-Star with excellent speed. His career spans teams like the Indians, Braves, Cubs, and Yankees. While not achieving the fame of the Jones or Thome rookies, cards of Lofton, Martinez, Pagnozzi, and Wells retain collector interest and sell for $20-$100 depending on condition for popular teams like the Indians, Cubs, and Yankees.

The depth of rookie talent in the 1991 Topps baseball card set has ensured its place among the most beloved issues from the junk wax era. Future Hall of Famers Jones and Thome anchor an extremely strong rookie class that contains several other productive multi-year veterans as well. Combined with the classic Topps design and photography of the early 1990s, the 1991s maintain a very strong collectible market. The star rookies routinely sell for hundreds to thousands, while common players remain affordable options for team and player collectors. For both investments and nostalgia, the 1991 Topps rookie class stands out as one of the greatest in the modern era.