While the baseball card industry has seen its share of ups and downs since the days of overproduction, the same has been kind to the New York Yankees.
For a big-market team with a rich history and tradition of victory, cardboard boasting ballplayers donned in pinstripes can fetch a pretty penny.
In this slideshow, I will highlight seven rookie cards of active Yankees players that fans and collectors should invest in now before prices skyrocket.
As a caveat, please understand this list is not all-encompassing, for each ballplayer has several rookie cards. The cards revealed in this show are popular rookie cards that will not obliterate a blue-collar worker’s pocketbook.
Source of baseball card values (in mint condition): Beckett Baseball Card Magazine (June 2012 edition).
With 608 career saves, a 2.21 ERA and enough postseason memories to last a lifetime, Mariano Rivera is hands-down the best closer in big league history.
Rivera’s 1992 Bowman (No. 302) rookie card is one of the most popular baseball cards among collectors. Its current value is $50.00 in mint condition.
But this card is sure to rise. I see two different scenarios where this will happen.
First, should Rivera return from injury like a lion and help the Yankees to a World Series, the value of this card will skyrocket.
Second, should Rivera not be able to come back and has to retire, it may still climb because of his legacy.
Either way, the value of this card will not decline, so snatch it at a fairly decent price while you still can.
Andy Pettitte looks like a new man for the Yankees.
At the tender age of 39, Pettitte is fresh off a 10-strikeout, two-hit performance against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since Pettitte’s return from retirement, he is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA. He has 32 strikeouts to just seven walks and a 1.01 ERA.
Looking at Pettitte’s whole career, he is 243-140 with 2,283 strikeouts and a 3.87 ERA. Pettitte also has 19 postseason wins, which is the most in big-league history.
Yet for all Pettitte's greatness, his 1993 Bowman rookie card (No. 103) is worth just $8.00 in mint condition.
Sad how the baseball card market works sometimes.
But good news for investors: Should Pettitte continue on the tear he has been on, his rookie card may also find a second wind. Like Rivera’s rookie card, Pettitte’s has nowhere to go but up.
Hence, right now would be a great time to snag up as many of his rookie cards as possible before they start climbing.
Shortstop Derek Jeter has written a storybook career many aspiring baseball players can only dream of.
During his 18-year career, Jeter has treated the Big Apple to spectacular defensive plays, game-winning hits and the euphoric taste of five World Series championships.
A fan favorite no matter the zip code, Jeter’s rookie cards are very popular among collectors. Most of Jeter’s rookie cards can fetch a significant amount of cash even in today’s tough economy.
But Jeter’s most popular rookie card is the 1993 Upper Deck SP (No. 279). This foil baseball card watches a consistent flow of buyers on eBay. A few months before Jeter’s 3,000th hit, this card was valued at $80. Value rose to $120 after Jeter achieved this feat.
As of June 2012, this baseball card is valued at $150 in mint condition, but I get the impression this card is nowhere done climbing.
As Jeter continues to climb the all-time hits chart—perhaps even flirting with 4,000 hits—this card will skyrocket. It will also climb once Jeter retires.
With that said, purchasing this card can be a tricky experience. Knowing the potential of this card, there are sellers out there who lack integrity.
Thus, it is wise to do careful research on this card before you purchase it.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has some very rare rookie cards that can cost a large amount of money to purchase.
For example, Rodriguez's 1994 Score Rookie/Traded call-up card (HC1) is $300 and his 1994 SP Holoviews Die Cuts card (No. 33) is $500 in mint condition.
But for practicality, Rodriguez’s 1994 SP Die Cuts (No. 15 Foil) rookie card is a great card to purchase. Valued at $100 in mint condition, this card is also very popular with collectors. As with Jeter’s 1993 SP, however, this card can be subject to unscrupulous sellers.
While Rodriguez’s career has been controversial, it has nonetheless been successful.
A career .301 hitter, Rodriguez is creeping closer to 3,000 hits. Rodriguez’s rookie card should see an uptick once he joins Jeter as the only Yankees to achieve this feat.
And should Rodriguez stay and break Barry Bonds’ home run record, watch out—for this rookie card may climb significantly.
Pitcher CC Sabathia is arguably one of this generation’s greatest pitchers. Still just 31 years old, Sabathia has a career record of 183-98.
Hard to imagine Sabathia has already been in the major leagues 11 years; he is well on his way to earning 300 career wins.
While Sabathia is still a few years away from achieving this feat, collectors would be smart to get hold of this five-time All-Star’s 1999 Bowman Chrome Traded (T33) rookie card. Currently, this card is worth $10 in mint condition.
But rest assured, as Sabathia starts to make milestone after milestone, this card will near value similar to Mariano Rivera’s rookie card.
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