30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Keep It Simple

I love my life, but it's not perfect.  I love my job, but it's not perfect.  I love this hobby, but it's not perfect.

When I was building my Sports Card Trifecta of Jose Altuve, I struggled to determine his rookie card.  Should I have bought his 2011 Topps Update, because it has the official rookie card logo?  Or should I have purchased his 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects card, because it's his earliest card featuring him in an Astros jersey?

2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP137

I decided to go with the latter, because when I was a kid I was taught that a player's first pack pulled, nationally distributed card produced by one of the major card manufacturers was his rookie card.

I realize that based on the current eBay sales between the two cards, I'm in the minority.  At least he doesn't have any Team USA cards featuring him as a 15 year old.  Or worse... he could have had four different rookie card logo cards in Update like Cody Bellinger has in this year's set.

Don't worry.  I'm not going to be a disgruntled collector or blogger who goes on an epic rant.  I just wish card companies would go back to the days when collectors could open a pack of cards and easily identify an athlete's rookie card.

For example... if someone gave you a pack of 1980 Topps baseball cards and you pulled this:

1980 Topps #482

You'd instantly know that you hit the jackpot and pulled Rickey Henderson's lone rookie card.

If you tore into a pack of 1983 Fleer baseball and discovered this:

1983 Fleer #360

You'd know that you pulled a Tony Gwynn rookie card.

And if you tore into a pack of 1989 Upper Deck baseball and saw this:

1989 Upper Deck #1

You'd know immediately that you were holding a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

1981 Topps #302
1981 Topps Traded #850

Even when Donruss Rookies, Fleer Update, and Topps Traded box sets added a layer of confusion to the mix, collectors were still able to decipher a player's true rookie card from his really cool Traded set card.

C'mon COMC... don't collectors already have enough on their plate with current rookie cards?  Stop the shenanigans and drop the RC tag.  80's rookie cards are suppose to be simpler to define.  Back then it felt like most of us were at least on the same page when it came to defining what a rookie card was.

These days... I'm not so sure.  Maybe you can help me.  

Do you have a simple way to define a rookie card?

I feel like things would be so much better if we (collectors, card manufactures, grading companies, card shop owners, price guide websites, and everyone else involved in our hobby) could stand on common ground.

At the very least... it'd be less annoying.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!


  1. I use beckett honestly. If they say rookie. It's a rookie. If not, it's not

  2. I’m with you by saying it’s the earliest pack pulled card.

  3. I get so confused-then there is the cards issued when they are in high school, drafted, signed, etc. yuck. I am done with it all

  4. These days it’s whatever sells for the most lol

  5. I've always gone with earliest card too but cover my bases by having that and the 'official' rc.

  6. I'll take a FC over a RC any day.It shows the players at a young age which Is cool when he ages and you get to compare the two.I don't get why RC's are now more expensive than FC's?Is It simply because Beckett says so?

  7. I will accept both 1st Bowman and RCs in my rookie binders, but nothing in between. I also prefer the latter, when possible, if only because I just don't care about prospect products that much & don't usually buy them unless they're discounted.

  8. I prefer a first-year autograph / first-year autograph parallel but prospectors put a lot of money into hoarding those, so if I won't be able spend X amount of money for a card of an unproven prospect, I just hope to get one MLB rookie card of that player if he reaches the big leagues.

    It might have started with Mike Trout, where people started to chase his MLB rookie card [2011 Topps Update] since they were priced out of his 2009 first-year autograph / autograph parallels.

    I can see it now where any prospect can have a five-year run of prospect cards in various products before he gets to the big leagues - I think for the most part those cards are ignored.

  9. I am with you where I always accepted the player's first major card as their rookie card but someone on a forum decided to "school" me and made sure I understood that players who appear in Bowman, it may be their first card but it is not their RC because they are still considered prospects in Bowman releases. I don't get it, a prospect can't be a RC because they are a prospect?

  10. Prospect = hasn't busted a grape in the majors.
    Rookie = participated in a significant number of major league games during a season and made some impact to be worthy of a card.
    Therefore, the rookie card is the first card of that player in a major league uniform who has played in some MLB games. The card should be from a basic flagship type set that has veterans etc.

  11. It feels like it is way harder than it should be. I get around this issue by not playing collecting. Sometimes I'll just go back and look at some cards and be pleasantly surprised when I do have a nice RC.

    1. I used to do this sometimes.I used to look through alot of my FC's a few years after and see If I recognize any of the names or If any of them have broken into the league.I also remember when RC's didn't even have RC plastered all over them.We'd have to turn the cards over and check the stats.If It showed one year of major league service,It was often his RC.Occasionally that player would also have a card that released before his actual RC.In this case you'd refer to It as his XRC.Good times!

  12. I don't know the answer. In some ways I think it's an artificial designation like magazines that say "special collector's edition".

  13. It is confusing these days and I can't make heads or tails of any of it. Which is frustrating. This comment is of NO help, sorry

  14. sport card collectors - that's simple enough

    jeremya1um, julie owens, tony, and corky - looks like we're all on the same page

    b man - lol. i feel your pain brother

    jayp - that's keeping it simple

    julie & twitch - if money wasn't an issue... i'd buy one of each too.

    laurens - the trout rookie card was the first card i though of when this rc trend started... but it's slowly making it's way back in time. a good example is kershaw's update rookie. that thing is going crazy too

    corky - some people feel better about themselves when they "school" others. i just smile and nod my head.

    gca - nice run down. now the question is... what about all of the judge cards in update. he had a card in the 1st series which would be considered his first card. do update cards count too?

    matthew - it's totally more confusing than it should be. i usually don't go out of my way to pick up rookie cards, but altuve was one of the guys i collect.

    hackenbush & peter k. steinberg - glad i'm not the only confused collector out there.