When Upper Deck arrived in 1989 and set changed the world of baseball cards forever, a young slugger from Auburn University was getting ready to make his big league debut. Frank Thomas quickly became a star and shops sprang up on every corner to satisfy the growing demand of a public convinced cards were a great investment.
Of course, we know the end result. Card companies got greedy and kept printing cards. The market shriveled up by the mid-1990s. Baseball was still baseball, though and Thomas went on to have a great career; a Hall of Fame career actually after the results of last week’s balloting were announced.
He’s the first player from the ‘era of excess’ to reach the Hall of Fame. Guys like Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. will follow but Thomas is in.
Like the 1989 Upper Deck Griffey, there is still a lot of interest in the 1990 Leaf Thomas rookie card. It may not be worth any more than it was more than 20 years ago (unless it’s graded a ‘10’) but the kids who grew up with cards back then still have a desire for it.
In this piece for SB Nation, Larry Granillo looks back on what is sort of a landmark moment in card collecting history.