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Why your rookie card might not be a rookie card...

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  • 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.

  • Gary Dunaier
    replied
    I agree... Topps Now is a great concept but the're just too expensive. $9.99 for one card. They're cheaper if you buy multiples, but still... if I want to "own the moment" I'll make a screen capture from the actual broadcast, as accessed via mlb.tv.

    Leave a comment:


  • PatNYM
    replied
    I have completely lost interest in cards. I thought the Daily Topps stuff were cool, bought a few of those last year, but even that got old quick.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gary Dunaier
    replied
    Originally posted by PatNYM View Post
    The Stassburg is a different story as it was 1 card, so the guy had the only one.
    Yeah, it was a 1-of-1, but still... sixteen thousand dollars for a card of a minor leaguer?

    Originally posted by PatNYM View Post
    I remember reading about how Johnny Bench had 1 rookie Card. George Brett had 1 rookie card. Dwight Gooden had 2-5 (depending on the person's opinion of the traded and update sets), and Albert Pujols had something like 35, and only 2 were worth the cardboard on which they were printed.
    These days the only baseball card brands I have an interest in are the regular Topps set, the Topps "Opening Day" set (which is the same as the regular set except for some subtle differences - and they're less expensive), and the Topps Heritage, which puts today's stars in the design of 49 years ago. Even then, I just buy a few packs when they come out. So all the other high-end and high-roller and high-you-must-be-to-pay-that-much-for-a-pack-of-new-cards sets are pretty much off my radar.

    Leave a comment:


  • PatNYM
    replied
    Originally posted by Gary Dunaier View Post

    I remember the controversy over whether cards from Traded sets should be considered as "legitimate" rookie cards, since they were not available in packs but only from dealers, and in complete sets only. For a while Beckett was designating such cards as "XRC," which I think meant 'extended rookie card' or something like that. For a generation accustomed to getting cards only through packs, the idea of Topps producing a hobby-only set was a big culture shock.



    That's nothing compared to the 2010 Bowman Steven Strasburg superfractor, a 1-of-1 card that sold at auction for over $16,000 - before Strasburg ever threw a pitch in the Majors. (Link)

    strasburgsuper1.jpg

    But wait, there's more! The guy who bought the card sold it a month later... for $25,000! (Link)
    Yeah, I didn't even know about the Traded or Fleer Update sets until late 1986 after I moved to LI and actually visited a card shop.

    The Stassburg is a different story as it was 1 card, so the guy had the only one. Me? I also laugh at that, as I would simply make my own in photoshop, frame it and call it a day. But, at least with that I can understand.

    I remember reading about how Johnny Bench had 1 rookie Card. George Brett had 1 rookie card. Dwight Gooden had 2-5 (depending on the person's opinion of the traded and update sets), and Albert Pujols had something like 35, and only 2 were worth the cardboard on which they were printed.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gary Dunaier
    replied
    Originally posted by PatNYM View Post
    When I think of rookie cards, I think of the card after their rookie year. Darryl Strawberry was NL ROY in 1983. His "rookie cards" were the 84 sets. Yes, some considered the 83 Topps Traded or Fleer Update as his true rookie, but those were so rare and I knew very few people who cared about the Topps Traded or Fleer Update cards.
    I remember the controversy over whether cards from Traded sets should be considered as "legitimate" rookie cards, since they were not available in packs but only from dealers, and in complete sets only. For a while Beckett was designating such cards as "XRC," which I think meant 'extended rookie card' or something like that. For a generation accustomed to getting cards only through packs, the idea of Topps producing a hobby-only set was a big culture shock.

    Originally posted by PatNYM View Post
    IWhat turned me off was a rookie card of a player that hadn't played yet. In early 1992 ,I was about 15 maybe already 16, I walked into a card store in my town. Saw they had a Brien Taylor rookie for $25. I asked the guy working there and he tried to sell me on how it will be worth $50 by the end of the year. I said, "$25 for a card of someone who has never even thrown a pitch in the pros?" He even showed me the price guide and it was listed for $30. I walked out of the store and I was done with cards.
    That's nothing compared to the 2010 Bowman Steven Strasburg superfractor, a 1-of-1 card that sold at auction for over $16,000 - before Strasburg ever threw a pitch in the Majors. (Link)

    strasburgsuper1.jpg

    But wait, there's more! The guy who bought the card sold it a month later... for $25,000! (Link)

    Leave a comment:


  • mybaseballcardspace
    replied
    It is all about popularity of the card in my opinion. Values are not necessarily tied to a first year card anymore, sometimes second year cards can be worth even more. For example the 2004-05 Topps Chrome LeBron James second year card is worth more than many of his regular rookie cards.

    Leave a comment:


  • PatNYM
    replied
    I know I am very late to the party on this one, and I no longer collect cards. What turned me off was a rookie card of a player that hadn't played yet. In early 1992 ,I was about 15 maybe already 16, I walked into a card store in my town. Saw they had a Brien Taylor rookie for $25. I asked the guy working there and he tried to sell me on how it will be worth $50 by the end of the year. I said, "$25 for a card of someone who has never even thrown a pitch in the pros?" He even showed me the price guide and it was listed for $30. I walked out of the store and I was done with cards.

    When I think of rookie cards, I think of the card after their rookie year. Darryl Strawberry was NL ROY in 1983. His "rookie cards" were the 84 sets. Yes, some considered the 83 Topps Traded or Fleer Update as his true rookie, but those were so rare and I knew very few people who cared about the Topps Traded or Fleer Update cards.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ben Grimm
    replied
    I remember first reading about the RC notation to be used on cards. I was a big collector of Bowman cards since I was more into prospects, and many of them held a strong value simply becuse they premiered their players once signed - often 2-3 years before those players actually got into a Topps, Donruss, Fleer, UD, product.

    But the good thing the RC designation did, I guess, was to eliminate confusion as there was so much product in the 00's.

    Unfortunately, after 6 boxes I wasn't able to find the Pujols chrome Eventually prices got so ridiculous, it just got too out of hand to even try.

    Although I did get luck and got an auto'd '02 or '03 Bowman Heritage which was a nice pull. Sold it that night as auto's aren't my thing.

    @ greenbay63 - I feel your pain. One thing to know is that cards in the 80's were massively overproduced. The best of the best are only worth a few dollars on the market. It's somewhat why SPs returned along with set chase cards that were limited but needed to put the set together. The 90s turned into almost a lottery when you opened a pack. Game used stuff was highly soughted after for a few years. And pretty much any player from the 80s thru current - once they retire, the price goes down. There's no shot for them to achieve any more records and such, so those cards drop like a brick once retirement is announced.

    Leave a comment:


  • Allie Fox
    replied
    Originally posted by greenbay63 View Post
    I don't know how typical this is but here is some quick research from some various Beckett publications.

    Earlier this year, my 1985 Topps #536 Kirby Puckett was worth $10
    In 1994, it was worth $18 (one year from retirement)
    in 1988, it was worth $6

    I pulled it from a pack so it was a good investment for me. (There is part of me that says it's only a good investment if you eventually sell it for more $$$)

    I guess my point is if I had known in 1988 that he would be in the HOF and I spent $6 on the card I'd be disappointed that I had made only four dollars if I didn't sell it at the end of his career.

    At that point in the 1980s, Topps, Fleer and Donruss were going strong so we had three (debatable) rookie cards.
    By the 1990s and into today, there are so many cards produced its hard to keep up. If you are collector of vintage cards you probably are OK. The values have gone up or stabilized. I guess in the long run my point is that a 1952 Mickey Mantle isn't going to happen again. Heck, unless there is a short print or error card nothing is going to be that high.

    Here is a some of others from vintage Topps. Both were pulled from packs.

    George Brett 1975 was worth $37.50 in 1988
    $225 in 1994
    $80 in 2008

    Dave Winfield 1974
    $18 in 1988
    $225 in 1994 (I actually sold that one)
    $50 in 2008 (I bought it again because I regretted selling it even though I needed cash)

    In my 1994 Beckett (Michael Jordan on the cover, wow that seems like another lifetime)

    Tim Salmon was one of the hot guys

    1993 Fleer Ultra was listed as $3.50
    The card is not listed in 2008 unless you look at common rookie 30 cents or rookie semistar 50 cents.

    Are we at that place today.
    The Phil Hughes 2007 Ultra card was priced at $12. Hopefully, no one paid that much for it.
    Just a few moments ago the cheapest price (by it now) for the card on ebay was $3.99 with $2.75 shipping. Total $6.74. That's almost half off and I suspect it's not going any higher.
    A friend of mine owns a card and comic shop. He's said that if the card and comic boom of the early ninties had lasted for eight to ten years, he could have retired a millionaire. Yet today he sits in his store everyday peddling new comics, coins and NASCAR stuff.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalkowski110
    replied
    "I am hopeful that the excitement in them returns to feverish, as well as price increases commensurate with increased demand."

    I'm not. All it's done is made high grade Minor League cards and Bowman cards go up in price. MLBPA RC's unless they are indeed the player's first card, have an autograph, or are extreme shortprints price as commons.

    Leave a comment:


  • mybaseballcardspace
    replied
    The definition of a rookie card was the same for many years until it changed in the 1990's and moved more and more away from the player's first year in the big leagues. Now, it is fairly clear that the card company's and Major League Baseball want to go back to the way rookie cards were before, which I think is the right move. I am hopeful that the excitement in them returns to feverish, as well as price increases commensurate with increased demand.

    Leave a comment:


  • joelsabi
    replied
    Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    I would exempt the cards that came with the Starting Lineup figurines because they're not the primary baseball product being sold. I would not exempt the cards that come with cereal, gum, candy, etc. because they are the primary baseball item being sold.

    like you argument. thanks and good luck with all your projects.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dalkowski110
    replied
    I would exempt the cards that came with the Starting Lineup figurines because they're not the primary baseball product being sold. I would not exempt the cards that come with cereal, gum, candy, etc. because they are the primary baseball item being sold.

    Leave a comment:


  • joelsabi
    replied
    Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    Sure. A basic card is any card that is...
    1) Part of a base set OR an insert set that outnumbers or features the same number of cards as the base set (a la Bowman Prospects or Bowman Chrome Prospects)
    2) Not autographed or serial-numbered and does not contain a game-used bat, jersey, patch, ball, etc.
    3) Not in any way short-printed.
    4) Not a parallel of a base card set or insert card set that outnumbers or features the same numbers of cards as the base set.

    My definition of the term is quite similar to base card, as you can see, but if it isn't QUITE what you had in mind, then feel free to scrap it.
    thanks dalkowski110,

    would starting lineup cards or food premiums be included?

    Leave a comment:

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