Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Rookie Card Challenge

I was organizing my binders (which are finally done) when a card caught my eye. It wasn’t a jersey card. It didn’t have an autograph. Hell, it wasn’t even a Yankee.
A 2005 Topps Ryan Howard/Cole Hamels rookie card. I had forgotten that I owned this card (I actually own two copies) and I was thrilled to find it. But why though? I generally dislike the Phillies, especially living in central Jersey with all their obnoxious fans. I don’t necessarily like Howard’s massive strikeout numbers or his shaky defense at first. Hamels, well, he needs to do a lot to revive his career. So you ask again, why?

It represents a nostalgic feel of simpler times in the world of baseball cards. No one was after the newest autographed swatch, the card numbered to 10, or the six game-piece book. Rookie cards were, quite frankly, the sh*t up until the start of the 2000 decade. How many of the most famous cards are rookies? A 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card still goes for a nice chunk of cash. I would have to sell my kidney to get my hands on a 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle. Before the rise of memorabilia cards, rookie cards were the most sought out pieces of wax. Now there aren’t nearly as valuable as they were.

Also, I do appreciate the backgrounds. You can clearly tell these photos were taken in spring training. Spring training represents the transition between a long, cold winter into a beautiful spring with baseball nipping at your nose. A lot of people love spring training because it gives them a chance to see their favorite players and teams up close and personal without the $10 beer and hot dogs getting in the way. And for memorabilia collectors, autographs come in waves. Its fun to see the players interact with the fans, because once the season starts, it’s pretty much closed doors until October.

Another reason I do enjoy this piece of wax is because of the multiple players on the same prospect card. It’s another fond memory of the rookie cards of old where there were up to three players at once on the same card. Up until 2006, Topps featured team prospect cards for almost every club in baseball in the base set of their flagship. The 2005 set has notable rookies like Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain, and Jeff Francouer. But the best one in the set is the Howard/Hamels rookie card, which still books five bucks. Not bad for a card that doesn’t sparkle or stick out. Unfortunately, Topps has gone a different route with their rookie cards and we probably won’t see the multiple players on the same prospect card again. It makes me cherish these cards even more and protect them much better than any of my newer rookies.

Now this rookie card talk is leading me to bestow a challenge to my (oh so few) readers and other members of the baseball card blogosphere. Your challenge is to have a post featuring your favorite rookie card and why it is special to you. The post should include a scan of your favorite rookie card and a nice write-up explaining why it is your choice. It could be because they’re your favorite player, part of your favorite team, or there’s an interesting story behind how you obtained it.

But here’s the catch. The rookie card CANNOT be autographed, numbered, a parallel or contain any memorabilia. It also must be a card that you own. Not your friend’s, not your brother’s, and especially not a copy from the internet. You will not be penalized if it’s not a multiple-player card or if it’s a newer card. The contest will end at the end of July, and whatever rookie card and write-up I feel was better than the rest will receive a prize based on their favorite team and/or player.

Before I go, I’m sure you’re wondering what my favorite rookie card is.

1998 Topps #264
Not only is he my favorite player, but it represents everything I love about a rookie card. Since this card is older than a decade, it’s fun to see the other prospects and know how their careers panned out. Fuentes had a few successful seasons with the Rockies and Angels, and is considered one of the better lefty relievers in the game. Clement, on the other hand, hasn’t pitched since 2006. And you know how Halladay’s career turned out. It will be fun to look back on my multiple-player rookie cards in a few years from now and see how each prospect turned out. I can’t do that with my 2010 Topps cards, that’s for sure.

Good luck!


  1. do you just comment here to enter?

  2. You need to make a post about your favorite rookie card to enter. You don't need to comment here to be able to post though.

  3. Ok. Check out mine then on my blog.

  4. I just found this today (lol two months later), and I love the idea! I'll try to post my favorite rookie card by the end of today. Whenever I get it done, I'll post it here so you can see it!

  5. Here ya go:

  6. Just saw this today on SpastikMooss's blog. Always great to see a Yankee fan on the blogs! And I like the design ;)

    Here is my entry:

  7. How about Mickey Klutts' rookie CARDS! Yes, two of 'em. 1977 - also with Bill Almon, Tommy MacMillan and Mark Wagner. In 1978 - with UL Washington (sans toothpick?) and some losers named Molitor and Trammell.

  8. I'm in with a 78 Topps Eddie Murray rc,

  9. Count me in also.

  10. This is a great blog topic... thanks for motivating me to write about my favorite player, my favorite set, and of course... my favorite rookie card!