There was a day when baseball card collecting was a huge thing. Those days are long gone now but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still a big business. Twenty years ago there was a card shop on every corner and the competition was extremely high.
Those shops are all gone now and the best place to find good cards are at shows and conventions. Any fan of the game that goes to one of these will certainly see a bunch of cards that they think are valued high. This could be because they have sentimental value to the collector or they heard or saw a lot of great things from them on the field. However, that doesn’t always translate to high valued cards, as you’ll find out here today.
Any baseball fan knows who Mark McGwire is. He set the baseball world on fire for a few years back in the late '90s. A casual collector might think his cards have a very high value attached to them. As you’ll find out shortly, that collector would be wrong.
The same could be said for Jeff Bagwell. Here was a guy who played the right way and put up solid numbers year after year. When you do this and are enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame, you would think that player’s cards would have an extremely high value to them. The truth is you can find Bagwell’s rookie cards for as low as $4.99.
Read on to find out more players who you would think have extremely high valued cards, but actually don’t.
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20 Mariano Rivera, 1992 Bowman #302
Mariano Rivera didn’t play for the Yankees until 1995 and he didn’t get his first save until 1996. That was the start of a fabulous career though and if you were to get your hands on his Bowman rookie card in mint condition you might think you were well off.
He finished his illustrious career in 2013 with a record of 82-60 with an amazing 652 saves. He should be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame next year so you would think this card would be worth a bit more than the $72 you can pick it up for on eBay.
19 1985 Mark McGwire, 1985 Topps #401
Mark McGwire is a player who is on that slippery slope. He certainly gave us a lot of entertainment on the field and he had that three-year stretch from 1997-99 where he blasted a home run in what seemed like every single at-bat.
The truth eventually came out and his performance lost a lot of value just as happened with many players after him. You can’t question his entertainment value but as far as his 1985 Topps card is concerned, they can run as high as a grand but you can also fetch one for as low as $10 on Sportslots.
18 Darryl Strawberry, 1984 Topps #182
Darryl Strawberry joined the major leagues with the Mets and became an instant star. We all know the story of the troubles he had off of the field and you might be a bit surprised to realize that he actually put together a 17-year career. Can you imagine the numbers he could have put up if he would have stayed sober?
If you get your hands on his Topps 1984 Rookie card you might think you hit the jackpot but think again. While some can run as high as seventy bucks on eBay, you can still get one on there for as low as $12.99.
17 Jose Canseco, 1986 Donruss #39
Jose Canseco was just as entertaining as his “Bash Brother” Mark McGwire. He didn’t quite reach the heights that Mark did but Canceso was a superstar in his own right.
Once he started opening his mouth though, his personal value started to plummet. When that happened his card took a major hit as well. It’s a bit surprising that this card can still fetch anywhere from $129.99 up to $395 on eBay. While the low price is still a bit much for the average card collector, it’s still much less than you might think it would be worth. Sometimes fanfare doesn’t equate to high priced cards.
16 Jeff Bagwell, 1991 Bowman #183
Jeff Bagwell was unfortunate enough to play in an era of baseball where a lot of players cheated. We didn’t know it then and over the course of time player after player came forward and admitted to it. Even those who we thought did it the right way eventually came out and admitted to taking some kind of PED. Jeff Bagwell however, is not one of those players.
He put up solid numbers his entire career and the only thing he did wrong was break into the major leagues at the wrong time. He did it right and was finally rewarded with a Hall of Fame induction in 2017.
Still, his card isn’t worth what you might think it would be. It can be found on eBay for as little $4.99 and only as high as $85 on the other end.
15 Jose Canseco, 1987 Topps #620
Jose Canseco was just as entertaining when his career was finished as he was when he was bashing home run after home run. When he stopped playing ball he started talking to people and wrote a book that basically ratted out anyone who he had dirt on.
He made a lot of enemies and suddenly the public didn’t think as highly of him as they once did. This (along with the cheating) led to his cards values to drop drastically and while his 1986 Donruss card hasn’t quite hit rock bottom, the same can’t be said for his official rookie card, the 1987 Topps #620.
On the high end it’s only $39.99 on eBay and on the low end it can be had for just $17.99.
14 Mike Piazza, 1992 Fleer #U-92
Mike Piazza had a very solid career and was part of some very memorable moments in baseball history. Remember when Roger Clemens threw the bat at him in 200 World Series? Or that famous home run he hit at Shea Stadium when baseball returned following the tragic events on September 11, 2001.
You might think that his rookie card, the 1992 Fleer #U-92, would be worth a lot more than it actually is today. A look on eBay says you can actually pick this card up for as low as $82.95 and on the high end it can go for as much as $299.99. Still, you would expect this card to be worth a lot more than that.
13 Willie Mays, 1951 Bowman #305
Every card collector knows a good card when they see it. There are certain names from the past that you just know have a ton of value with their baseball cards. However, there are a lot of factors that you have to pay attention to. The Willie Mays rookie card, 1951 Bowman # 305, is a perfect example.
If you get your hands on this one you might just think you hit the jackpot of a lifetime. Some of these cards go for $10,000 all the way up to $80,000 on eBay. But you have to be very careful.
There are a lot of reprints of this card on the market. If you get your hands on one of these reprints it would be worth around three bucks or so.
12 Roger Clemens, 1984 Fleer #U-27
Roger Clemens had a great career and didn’t really have any issues until he retired. Once he stepped away from the field he was involved in scandal after scandal. His baseball card once had an extremely high value but it has taken a pretty good hit because of all of those scandals. However, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap, it’s just not worth what you might initially think.
It can be found on eBay on the high end for around $750 bucks, which is still a bit steep for the average collector, but nowhere near what you might think it would be. However, with a little research on that same site, you can find the card for as low as $149.
11 Tony Gwynn, 1983 Topps #482
A very strong argument can be made that Tony Gwynn is the best hitter that the game has ever seen. If he had played for a team on the east coast the argument wouldn’t need to be had as often as it is. This card has some value but given all the variables involved, you would think it would be valued at a lot more than it actually is.
On the high end, you can find this on eBay for around five grand. On the other hand, there is a certified autographed card (same year, company and #) that is going for only $140. This might be the steal of the century right there if it’s real.
10 Randy Johnson, 1989 Fleer #381
Randy Johnson was one of the most dominant pitchers of his time. Not a lot of people remember that he got started with the Montreal Expos so the card has some value simply because of the uniform he is wearing. However, there are several versions of this 1989 Fleer #381 card.
Some versions have a Marlboro advertisement over his left shoulder and some have just a black box. Others are red or green and some people say there are actually eight different versions of this card on the market. Either way, none of them will fetch you the kind of value that you might think it will.
It can be found on eBay for as little as twenty bucks and only as high as $275.
9 Jerry Koosman/Nolan Ryan, 1968 Topps #177
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on the Jerry Koosman/Nolan Ryan card from the 1968 Topps collection (#177) you might think you have hit the big time. You just might have as this is widely recognized as the official rookie card for legend Nolan Ryan. There is a lot to factor in though.
If the card is absolutely perfect it can net you $75,000 on eBay. However, those are extremely rare to find. The more common cards found are worth as low as $500 on the website because they aren’t in perfect mint condition. Five hundred bucks isn’t really worthless but it’s a far cry from seventy-five grand.
8 Kirby Puckett, 1984 Fleer #U-93
The older cards get the more value they hold. This goes for even most common cards. As the years go by cards get ruined or accidentally thrown away. The condition and the sheer number of cards available go a long way in dictating the value.
The Kirby Puckett rookie card (1984 Fleer, #U-93) is worth more sentimentally to most people than it has monetary value on it. This leads a lot of people to think they got a very high valued card when they get one of these but the fact is that’s it’s just a little better than the average common card.
You can find these cards on eBay for between $179.00 and $199.99. Sure he was a great player but the fact of the matter is that his cards are worth more to people in the Minnesota region than they are anywhere else.
7 Cal Ripken, 1982 Donruss #405
Cal Ripken was known as a man of consistency. The iron man played an amazing number of games in a row and put up solid numbers each and every season. He was as much a part of everyday baseball in Baltimore as the logo on the Orioles cap. His 1982 Donruss rookie card #405 however, can’t say the same.
On eBay, it can go as high as $2,850 but if you do a little searching you can find it as low as fifty bucks. This inconsistency can probably be due to the condition of the cards so you have to be careful when getting this one. If you aren’t you might think you got a great card that is actually worth zip.
6 Sammy Sosa, 1990 Leaf #220
When you’re a professional athlete, the numbers you put up are important. In a lot of cases, they are directly tied to what your legacy will be. However, if you tarnish that legacy by doing stupid things off the field, or cheating while on it, well, the results can be not very kind.
Everyone loved Sammy Sosa and during his time in Chicago with the Cubs, he was a living legend as he blasted home run after home run out of Wrigley Field. Then his bat broke one day and the jig was up. His cheating has become his legacy and his card, which at first thought you might think has great value, actually doesn’t.
You can find one on eBay in perfect condition that’s going for $2,500 but you can also find another one in near mint condition going for just $11.99.
5 Jim Thome, 1991 Bowman #68
If you find a baseball card of a guy who’s in the Hall of Fame, you think you have a pretty good valued card. If you couple that with it being a Bowman, you might think you have an outstanding card. That’s because Bowman is widely known as the official rookie card company and a lot of their cards have great value to them. For some reason, this Jim Thome 1991 Bowman rookie card #68 doesn’t fall into that category.
There really isn’t any reason for the lack of value that anyone can figure out but you can find it on eBay for as high as only $79.99. You can grab it for as low as $59.99 if you look hard enough on there.
4 Ken Griffey Jr., 1989 Upper Deck #1
Anyone who collects baseball cards knows about and wants to grab a Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck #1. If you are lucky enough to find an absolutely perfect one you might be able to get around four grand for it, but those are extremely rare.
A very high number of the cards have a factory wrinkle on the back that lowers the value drastically. If you spend a minute on eBay you can actually find these cards for as low as $28.99.
As time goes by the perfect ones will gain even better value but they are so few and far between you have to be very careful if you buy one.
3 Barry Bonds, 1986 Topps #11T
Some people consider Barry Bonds to be the best home run hitter of all time. He certainly does but most of society doesn’t agree with him. When you cheat your numbers just can’t be taken seriously.
There is no question though that he was in the spotlight for a very long time and he was actually a very good player before he started cheating. His legacy isn’t what the official record books all-time home run king should be though.
His rookie card, 1986 Topps #11T, can go for as high as $1,000 on eBay and as low as just $119. Even the one grand for the card isn’t what it should be for the man baseball considers its all-time home run king. Sorry, Barry.
2 Barry Larkin, 1987 Topps #648
Barry Larkin is living proof that being in the Hall of Fame doesn’t guarantee a high valued rookie card. This guy had an awesome career and is more than deserving to be in the HoF. His value on this field was extremely high but for some reason that hasn’t carried over to his rookie card (1987 Topps #648).
On the high end you can find the card on eBay for only $149.99 and on the low end, the card can be had for just $14.99. If you want to talk about no respect there you have it. Maybe over time it will climb, but as for now, don’t get too excited if you find this one.
1 Pedro Martinez, 1991 Upper Deck #2F
If you want to talk about having no respect for a rookie card, just look at Pedro Martinez. He was one of the most dominant pitchers of his time and his rookie card (1991 Upper Deck #2F) is virtually worthless.
If you can find a perfect mint condition card you’ll only have to pay around $250 for it. For a Hall of Fame pitcher, that’s way too low. But if you look deeper on eBay you can actually find great copies of the card for only $9.99.
If you find this card it might be your first reaction to get excited about it. Don’t be though. You’ll just be wasting your time.