Why your rookie card might not be a rookie card...
Rookie cards. We all treasure them...the first card of a player wearing a Major League uniform. Until 2006. In 2006, things changed...a player had to have Major League experience to have a rookie card. It was part of the reforms made to the hobby by the MLBPA. Most helped card collecting. But this was uncalled for. The confusion that has ensued ever since has broken a few hearts, caused a few scams, and just got people asking "is this his REAL rookie card?"
In 2001, Upper Deck released a set called Future Gems. It featured no MLB players, but rather draft picks and very young prospects in Major League uniforms. Well, this got the ball rolling. The MLBPA was angry with Upper Deck, and started complaining about the set. I'm not sure what they threatened to do if UD didn't dial it back, but it would've hurt UD. So, what happened was that the "Future Gems" cards were deemed XRC's like the Topps Traded and Donruss Rookies sets of the 1980's. The two further Future Gems sets were also premium issues. The MLBPA (Players' Union) came to an agreement with the card companies in 2003 that no all-prospect sets would be produced. Topps and Upper Deck managed to get around the XRC designation by mixing prospects in with update sets in the case of Upper Deck and in with both Bowman and Topps Traded sets in the case of Topps. That satisfied everyone in the hobby. But not in the MLBPA.
In 2005, they said Topps and Bowman could no longer call its prospects "rookies" because they didn't have sufficient Major League time. Topps countered by calling the cards "first year cards." But the MLBPA was determined to extinguish early rookie cards. So in 2006, they A) blocked everything that wasn't an insert set from containing a guy who hadn't had sufficient playing time and B) demanded that all 2005 and 2006 rookies, even if they had prior rookie cards, have the new logo on them. Those with two "rookie cards" have the second MLBPA RC referred to as a (RC), or "parenth-RC." There are some guys that did have true rookie cards in 2006-2007, though.
But Topps countered with their Bowman brands and released prospects that were considered inserts. Bizarrely, these aren't considered ANYTHING. They should, I guess, be considered XRC's. However, there is currently no hobby designation for them. Because they sell like rookie cards and are treated like them by the average hobbyist, I generally go with the definition "Hobbyist Rookie Card" for most of these cards (guys like Tyler Clippard and Kendry Morales would be exempted for prior cards...although Hunter Pence and Yovani Gallardo had Donruss cards, these cards portrayed them in Minor League uniforms, and the cards seemingly go for the same amount of money). To compound matters however, when a guy gets his MLBPA rookie card and has no prior card aside from the Bowman...that's considered a true rookie card, not a Parenth-RC! Alex Gordon, Carlos Gomez, and Alejandro de Aza are three examples of this. Yet, all three of those guys' 2006 Bowman-type cards sell for more than their "rookie cards," and their 2007 cards are not widely accepted as rookie cards or viewed that way by the average hobbyist. Hopefully, the Bowman-type cards will be given XRC designations to clear up the confusion, but that's nowhere in sight as of now.
All I can say is that I do not approve of the changes made forcibly to the hobby (in fact, I don't know ANYONE who does), but will do my best to explain them. They're likely to stay around...the MLBPA's catch phrase about the logos branded so ugly on 2006-and-later cards is "You don't have a rookie card until we say you do." If you want a list of who has true rookie cards that are also first year cards...hobbyist rookie cards, if you will...and who doesn't, then please, feel free to PM me or ask on this thread.
"They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
-Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.