Matthew Higgins, CBS Local
Baseball card collecting has changed dramatically from the late 1980s and early 1990s. The time of leaving middle school to go to the local store to get a pack of cards with the stick of gum for a buck are long-gone. Nowadays packs can run up to $5 with all the specialty cards that are included.
Growing up in the 90s, there were certain cards every collector wanted. In no particular order, are the 13 of the most sought-after cards collectors of the 1990s always wanted.
1985 Mark McGwire Topps
This was the card du-jour that collectors wanted while McGwire was going on his home run tear during. The 1985 Topps Olympic card sold — at some points — for hundreds of dollars. But after he was found to have taken performance enhancing drugs after breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record in 1998, the value of the card plummeted. The card now sells anywhere from $15 to $20.
1986 Jose Canseco Donruss
Everyone wanted this card in the early 1990s when Canseco was — at the time — one of the greatest ballplayers in the world. Canseco’s Donruss Rated Rookie card was nearly as popular as him, with some sellers asking at the time for well over $100. But the card fell back to earth when Canseco’s career did. It now sells for around $20.
1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck
This was THE card every collector wanted. It seemed perfect in every way. The future Hall-of-Famer flashing that signature smile with his bat over his shoulder on a glossy white card. It was absolutely beautiful. Griffey’s Upper Deck rookie card used to be valued well over $100, but now you can get it for around $50.
1989 Billy Ripken Fleer
His brother might have been the better ballplayer, but Billy Ripken had the better card. Ripken’s 1989 Fleer card became famous — or infamous — after the card company printed the card with the words “F*** Face” written on the knob of his bat. In later runs, Fleer used black and white boxes to remove the swear word on the bat.
1990 Bo Jackson Score
It might not be worth much in value, but it is one sweet-looking card. Every child collector wanted this Bo Jackson Score card, just for the coolness factor. Jackson was one of the greatest athletes of our time, playing both baseball and football simultaneously before a hip injury derailed both careers. Despite what happened, this card reminds us of the greatness of Jackson.
1990 Frank Thomas Leaf
This was the Frank Thomas rookie card every collector wanted to have. The 1990 Leaf series was pretty pricey in the early 90s, as collectors drooled over this card. The Thomas card used to sell for over $100, but like with many of his counterparts, the card has come back down. It sells for around $40 nowadays.
1990 Frank Thomas Topps No-Name
The “no-name” card is one of the rarest to find. For some reason, Thomas’ name doesn’t show up on the front of the card. It’s still popular to collectors nowadays, as it can retail for upwards of $1,000.
1991 Michael Jordan Upper Deck
This was a must-have for collectors — Jordan taking batting practice with the Chicago White Sox during spring training in 1991. It became real though in 1994 when he left basketball to play baseball for a year. This card sells for around $20 nowadays.
1991 Nolan Ryan Pacific
It might not go for much, but the card is still money. Who didn’t want a card with Nolan Ryan still pitching while blood was dripping from his lip onto his uniform?
1991 Chipper Jones O-Pee-Chee
This was the Chipper Jones rookie card to have in 1991. It’s one of the shorter print cards that was run of Jones that year. The O-Pee-Chee rookie card can still fetch $50 today.
1992 Jeff Bagwell Fleer Rookie Sensation
It’s relatively priced nowadays for a few bucks, but this Jeff Bagwell Fleer Rookie Sensation card was very popular among collectors in the early 1990s. Maybe the card will go up a few bucks if Bagwell finally gets into the Hall of Fame.
1993 Derek Jeter Upper Deck SP
This is the priciest of the Derek Jeter rookie cards. Graded SP rookie cards of Jeter can sell in the thousands.
1994 Alex Rodriguez Upper Deck SP
Before becoming embroiled in controversy, collectors seemed to want to hoard any and all A-Rod rookie cards. This one used to be the highlight of the Rodriguez rookie cards, but can now sell for around $30 to $40 ungraded.
What cards would you add?