Larry Walker once famously tagged up and ran from first to third on a fly ball when he was a minor leaguer. As a major leaguer, he handed a baseball to a young fan, believing his catch was the third out of an inning during a 1994 game. It wasn’t.
Those mistakes were few and far between. On Tuesday, Walker became the second native-born Canadian to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of pitcher Ferguson Jenkins.
Walker was elected after compiling a lifetime .313 average and won the 1997 National League MVP award with the Colorado Rockies.
Walker’s rookie cards are not hard to find, since his cards were printed during an era when millions of cards were printed and Topps (including Bowman), Upper Deck, Donruss, Fleer and Score were competing for the collector’s dollar.
While some may not consider them “official” rookie cards, the five below have been seeing most of the dollars spent on high grade cards featuring a young Canadian getting his start with the Montreal Expos.
1990 Bowman Tiffany No. 117
Fewer than 10,000 sets of these cards were printed by Bowman, making the cards a highly desirable set in an era marked by trading card glut. But for a junk wax set, the Bowman Tiffany card was nice looking. The white card stock and the glossy finish gives the card some nicer appeal than the standard Bowman set that year. Walker is one of the more notable rookie names in the set, along with Frank Thomas, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Baerga, Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom and Moises Alou.
1990 Topps Tiffany No. 757
Nine of the top ten 1990 Walker cards sold on eBay in the last two months were either Bowman Tiffany or this one. The 1990 Tiffany set mirrored Topps’ flagship in design and numbering. There were approximately 15,000 Topps Tiffany sets printed. The Topps card is a little tougher to find in higher grade than its Bowman counterpart, especially because of the darker borders. The Tiffany set has a high gloss finish on the front and is made from white cardboard stock. The set was sold through hobby channels and not retail.
1990 Leaf No. 325
The 1990 Leaf set has a lot going for it. For starters, it was printed on heavier card stock, and both sides of the card contain color photographs of the player. The 528-card set was divided into two 264-series, and Walker is firmly tucked into the second set. Walker is shown hustling out of the batter’s box on the card front. It is one of the more valuable cards in the set, and also one of Walker’s nicest looking rookie cards. Prices have been rising since speculation over Walker’s possible election began, then took a jump after the announcement.
1990 Fleer Canadian No. 363
A nice novelty for collectors seeking sets north of the border, the 1990 Fleer Canadian set bears only a few slight differences from the set issued in the United States. Walker is shown leaning against the batting cage in a posed shot. The differences can be found in the fine print on the card back. At the bottom of the card can be found the notation in capital letters, “Fleer Ltd/LTEE Made in Canada.” That’s as obscure as you can get.
1990 Score Young Superstars Set 2 No. 9
Score put out two 42-card sets of Young Superstars in 1990, and Walker was part of set No. 2. The cards have action shots on the front and a glossy finish. The card backs contain a color portrait, major league statistics and a scouting report.
Collectors were speculating on Larry Walker last year. eBay says sales for Walker memorabilia increased by 53% from 2018 to 2019.