Steroids have tainted baseball's modern day records. What's a collector/investor to do? Behold our list of Vintage Rookie Cards of Guys You Can Believe in.
There's little proof but plenty of circumstantial evidence and a lot of skepticism.
Performance enhancing drugs have tentacles that reach back to the rookie card market of the 1980s, destroying values of power hitting record holders and at least one strikeout king.
Even with the quantity of cards produced, the game's records are typically popular enough to fuel some speculative buying on the part of modern era speculators.
Not like it once was.
Add to it the confusion over which rookie card to buy and collectors feel even better about returning to their roots. Vintage baseball cards are unaffected by the headlines, unless you're talking about a consistent increase in value. Where should you put your money, though, if you're a fan of the game looking for blue chip buys? We've got some suggestions.
Behold our list of ten safe long-term bets. Rookie cards of guys you can believe in--all for under $1000 each.
1) 1948-49 Leaf Jackie Robinson: An historic figure, a Hall of Fame player. A set that's not easy to find. Buy one of these and you'll feel like you're starting a museum. You should be able to find a nice EX condition Jackie for around $1000.
2) 1948 Bowman Yogi Berra: 61 years after his rookie card came out of packs, Yogi is still with us. A true baseball icon and a heckuva clutch hitter. Being a Yankee means you'll never hunt hard to find a buyer.
3) 1954 Topps Ernie Banks: Baseball's Mr. Cub hit over 500 homers and represents the spirit of a franchise like no other player. Just holding this card will make you feel good. Almost a religious artifact for Cub fans.
4) 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax: This one will stretch your wallet, but it's worth it. It's pure bliss that Koufax shows up as a rookie card in the year the Dodgers snatched a championship from the Yankees. A superstar on both coasts during his brief but brilliant time in the spotlight.
5) 1955 Topps Harmon Killebrew: His 573 home runs look even more impressive knowing what we know now. Take away Bonds, McGwire and Sosa and the Killer stands sixth all-time. Pure power and a great guy to boot. What are the odds of two rookie cards of Hall of Famers back-to-back in the same set? Koufax #123. Killebrew #124.
6) 1957 Topps Frank Robinson: 21 years of excellence. Only player to win MVP awards in both leagues. Never tainted. Just a great player who had an impact on the game in some way his entire adult life.
7) 1958 Topps Roger Maris: Not a Hall of Famer, just a shooting star who faced down his own demons and emerged with an unforgettable stamp on the game. Maris' story is unique and captivating in a way we can't imagine today. Watch the movie 61*...then go buy this card.
8) 1963 Topps Pete Rose: Pete had troubles of his own, but they didn't have anything to do with substances. The all-time hits leader may never reach Cooperstown but won't be forgotten by fans who recall his amazing longevity and love for the game. Sympathetic fans have made him a positive figure again in the midst of the steroid talk.
9) 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan: More popular than Pete in some quarters--and without the baggage. Ryan was among baseball's last true heroes who was really worthy of the label. Seven no-hitters, most K's. Rarely said no to autographs. To anyone over 30, he's still larger than life.
10) 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt: A big home run bat in an era when 'big home runs' meant 40, not 70. He didn't look like a football player, but the ball still jumped off his bat. A feared slugger who didn't forget there was a defensive side to the game. It's a high number card and they're not making any more.