The baseball card market continued to thrive in 2019 with collectors spending big money on vintage cards and modern rookie cards alike. As in years past, classic cards of legendary players like Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr topped sales charts. However, 2019 also saw huge demand and record prices paid for stars just beginning their careers like Ronald Acuña Jr and Pete Alonso.

Leading the way as the highest selling baseball card of 2019 was a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in pristine near-mint to mint condition. This iconic Mantle rookie card garnered a winning bid of $2.88 million through Goldin Auctions in January. While it didn’t set a new record, it once again proved Mantle’s cards as the most coveted and valuable in the hobby. Collectors are willing to pay top dollar for the chance to own one of the approximately 50-100 PSA/BGS graded examples in existence of The Mick’s classic rookie.

In at number two was a 1991 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr rookie card that changed hands for $350,000 through PWCC Marketplace in November. The card received strong marks of PSA Gem Mint 10, the highest possible grade. Griffey was a fan favorite during his playing career and his rookie cards from 1989-90 remain exceedingly popular with collectors to this day. The high price paid is indicative of enduring demand for superb conditioned copies of Jr’s seminal rookie issue.

The number three spot on the top selling baseball cards list went to an autographed 2001 Bowman Chrome Vladimir Guerrero rookie card for $249,500. Guerrero produced one of the finest careers of any player in the early 2000s. His popularity in Montreal translated well to cards and this rare on-card autograph added desirable scarcity to an already elite rookie. The card sold through Goldin Auctions in April.


Moving into present-day players, a record for a living player was set by a 2018 Bowman Chrome Ronald Acuña Jr rookie auto-patch card that went for $150,000 in February. Acuña erupted onto the scene in 2018 with Atlanta and became an immediate fan favorite with his power, speed and flair. The 21-year old continues to develop into a true five-tool superstar. The 1/1 serial numbered card proved Acuña’s star power extends into the collectibles realm as well.

Finishing off the top five was a 1978 Topps Cal Ripken Jr rookie card in PSA 8 condition selling for $123,168 through Goldin Auctions in June. While not his true rookie card debut, Cal Ripken’s enduring iron man legacy and status as a Baltimore icon translated to strong demand for high grade copies of his early baseball cards. The PSA 8 condition represented exceptional eye appeal for such an historic rookie issue from Ripken’s MVP career.

Down the list at number six was a record-setting sale that perfectly encapsulated the frenzy for Pete Alonso’s 2019 rookie cards. A PSA 10 Example of Alonso’s Topps Supplemental Photo Variation card rocketed to $90,000 through Heritage Auctions in November. Alonso’s 53 home run rookie campaign for the Mets, which included winning the 2019 Home Run Derby and NL Rookie of the Year Award, had collectors chasing his cards all season long. This perfect gem mint copy illustrated how rookie phenoms in the hobby can turn cardboard into gold.


Slotting in at seventh on the leaderboard was a 1988 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr rookie card in PSA 8 condition that changed hands privately for $80,000 through Goldin Auctions in July. Griffey’s legendary 1989 Upper Deck rookie gets most of the attention, but his 1988 Traded issue debut is also a highly coveted card within the Griffey collection community. The strong eight grade allowed buyers a shot at this historically significant Griffey issue in excellent condition without breaking the bank.

The eighth highest selling baseball card of 2019 was a 1996 SP Derek Jeter rookie card in PSA 10 Gem Mint that swapped hands for $65,000 at auction in February. Jeter’s career and Yankees fandom translated into eternal demand for his rookie cards from 1996, though the high grade SP issue stands apart for its colorful design and rarity in pristine condition. Much like Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey Jr before him, Jeter’s cards represent one of the most popular collections for hobbyists and investors alike.

The ninth slot went to a pristine 1998 Bowman’s Best Refractor Ken Griffey Jr. card that pulled in $51,000 this past June. Griffey’s spectacular rookie years on the Mariners made any of his 1990s inserts and parallels highly collectible. But the 1998 Bowman’s Best stand out for their true-to-the-name “best” selection of photography and on-card refractor technology that pops in the protective case. Near-perfect grades bring out big bucks for what remains a modern masterpiece from Jr’s prime.


Rounding out the list at number ten was a 1998 Bowman Chrome Mike Piazza Refractor Rookie/Star rookie card in BGS 9.5/10 condition fetching $48,000 in August. Piazza was one of the top offensive catchers of all time and his star power shined through with collectors of 90s cards. The 1998 Bowman Chrome set featured some of the first refractors in modern cardboard collecting. In a gem quality BGS slab, this Piazza stands out as an elite rookie to own for fans of vintage 90s inserts and stars of that era.

The baseball card market entered new territory in 2019 with record sales in the multi-million, quarter-million, and hundred-thousand dollar ranges. While vintage stars like Mantle, Griffey, and Ripken maintained their status atop the charts, modern rookies proved their cardboard can carry value too through Acuña and Alonso’s rise. Tied closely to performance on the field and condition under the plastic, the highest selling baseball cards each year provide an exclusive view of the game’s most prized collectibles.

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