His name has been on collectors’ minds since he was a high school player on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Notoriety in this day and age is sometimes hard to live up to but after a sizzling start, finding the best Bryce Harper baseball cards has become a priority for those who like to buy and hold modern era cardboard.
While some may place Mike Trout on a higher pedestal (including Harper himself), it appears Harper will not be the ‘bust’ some had proclaimed after a thumb injury curtailed his 2014 season. Few have been hotter since early in the 2015 season.
Harper’s best rookie cards and his earliest issues are seeing a strong uptick online.
If you want his first cardboard images, a this card from the Team USA issue from 2008 will be your best bet. He’s featured on a few of them from Upper Deck’s national team set when he was still in high school including this 1/5 “In His Own Words” inscription that remarks upon winning the gold medal.
Harper also appears on 2009 Bowman AFLAC All-American cards and other Upper Deck Team USA cards that year along with some 2010 Bowman Chrome Team USA issues. Those 2010 BoChro Team USA autographs can be pricey but it is his first Bowman Chrome auto. Non-autograph cards from the set can be had for a far more reasonable outlay.
Searching Harper baseball cards on eBay will inevitably lead to his most popular prospect cards: the 2011 Bowman Chrome autographs. The various numbered parallels decrease in price as the serial numbers go up—or no longer exist.
Harper’s first Bowman Chrome autographs can be found on:
Base Prospects: The cheapest way to land one of the more sought after Harper signed cards.
Refractors (# to 500). A numbered refractor, but the quantity ensures there are usually a few available.
Blue Refractor Parallel (# to 150). Not quite limited enough to send prices to extreme levels but still rare enough to ensure there’s always demand.
Gold Refractor Parallel (# to 50): The Gold parallels are always popular and with only 50, demand will always be greater than supply. A few thousand dollars might get you in the door but as always, higher graded cards are more.
Orange Refractor Parallel (# to 25): This is where prices tend to get into the ‘serious investment’ arena.
Red Refractor Parallel (# to 5) and Superfractor (1/1): The odds are obviously very long—deep into the thousands—but the Red and Superfractor versions of Harper’s Chrome debut are holy grail type cards.
Of course, there is a massive supply of other Harper cards in the market already but some, because of scarcity, early pro career issue date and the popularity of the sets they’re part of, will be best including:
…and a few non-autographed examples:
2012 Topps #661 Series II Short Print (two variations)
Bat knob and barrel cards (most are 1/1 and popular with collectors)
If you’re on a strict budget, buying the best Bryce Harper baseball cards you can afford might mean finding your best deal on any of his ‘official’ 2012 Topps branded rookie cards.
Get used to seeing his number 34 in the MVP race for a long time to come.
You can see the 25 hottest Bryce Harper rookie cards being offered on eBay now via the up-to-the-minute list below.