Last month the Veteran’s Committee had their say, electing a trio of managers to baseball’s coveted Hall of Fame. This Wednesday, members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America have their say when the results of their yearly voting are announced. Last year, they famously elected no one, but this year brings a quality selection of newcomers including Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tom Glavine. For Hall of Fame collectors, none of these players are expected to particularly damage their wallet if elected.
Greg Maddux, arguably the best candidate on the ballot, boasts an impressive resume that includes 355 wins, 3071 strikeouts, 4 Cy Young awards, 8 All-Star game appearances, and 1 World Series championship (1995). Maddux has been described by some – arguably those unaware that professional baseball was played before WW2 – as the greatest pitcher in the history of the game. However, Maddux’ rookie card, 1987 Donruss #36, has recently sold for under $100 even in the elusive PSA 10 slab. His ’87 Topps Tiffany and Fleer Glossy are ‘higher end’ rookie cards to look at and he does have some very popular minor league and regional cards that often bring eye-popping dollars.
Frank Thomas is a two time MVP and a 5 time All-Star with 521 home runs. Unfortunately for Thomas, despite never testing positive for steroids and passionately denying ever using performance enhancing drugs, the cloud of those around him has diminished the legacy of sluggers of the era. In fact, a 500 home run club member has not been elected since Eddie Murray in 2003 with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro all being omitted. Thomas is well known to collectors, as his 1990 rookie cards surged in popularity in value during their initial release. His 1990 no name on front (NNOF) error is still one of the most coveted cards of the era. His most popular rookie card, 1990 Leaf #300, can now be had in PSA 10 for under $60 – no longer the big hurt on a collector’s wallet.
Most of Tom Glavine’s career was over shadowed by that of his Braves teammate Maddux. Unfortunately for Glavine, the two are once again paired on the ballot and it is sure to result in a lower vote total for the number two starter. Glavine quietly strung together 305 wins to go along with 2 Cy Young Awards and 10 All-Star Game appearances. Any other year, Glavine would be the top candidate on the ballot, but in 2014 he will once again be behind Maddux in the rotation. His 1988 rookie cards include Donruss #644, Fleer #539, Score #638, and Topps #779. Sadly, Glavine’s Topps rookie card in PSA 10 has recently sold for under $20. His Topps Tiffany and Fleer Glossy issues sell for more since fewer were made.
An interesting candidate on this year’s ballot will be Mike Mussina. Moose walked away with only 270 wins, just shy of the 300 win threshold that has resulted in automatic induction for those before him – aside from his infamous Yankees teammate, Roger Clemens, of course. His 2813 strikeouts if close to the attractive 3000 number that voters like, but not close enough. Mussina never won a World Series, arriving just after the great Yankees dynasty of the late 90s, and has no Cy Young award upon his mantle. Although a 5 time All-Star, the lack of milestone numbers and hardware will delay his entry to Cooperstown’s hallowed halls. Mussina is a strong candidate for later induction as the realization that 300 game winners are a species on the verge of extinction. Those collectors wanting to speculate on his induction can treat themselves to downright cheap examples of his rookie cards such as 1991 Bowman #97, 1991 Score #383, 1991 Ultra #4, and 1991 Upper Deck #65.
Returning to the ballot this year will be Craig Biggio. It was thought that Biggio’s 3060 hits would have made him a surefire Hall of Famer last year, but voters viewed the 7 time All-Star as nothing more than an accumulator and left him off their ballot. With so many new ‘locks’ on the 2014 ballot, it remains to be seen whether this is Biggio’s year. The delay will give Hall of Fame collectors another year to argue whether his 1988 extended rookie cards or 1989 ‘true’ rookie cards are the ones most deserving of a place in their collection.
Jack Morris gets his final shot at being voted in by the writers and other candidates this year include Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and, of course, the likes of Barry Bonds.
Finally – in the never too early to look ahead department – the 2015 ballot will include legends such as Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, along with Maddux/Glavine teammate John Smoltz, and another tainted 500 home run club member – Gary Sheffield.
Fortunately for collectors, it will still be quite sometime before new members of the Hall arrive with limited production, autographed rookie cards that rival the prices of legendary vintage stars in pricing.