Michael Jordan basketball cards are among the hottest collectibles in the market right now. But Jordan also has several baseball cards thanks mostly to a brief professional stint in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox.
Jordan played in 127 games for the 1994 Birmingham Barons, stealing 30 bases in 48 attempts and driving in 51 runs but with slugging and on-base percentages below .300, his promise at age 31 was pretty much non-existent. Still, it was pretty interesting to see the world’s greatest basketball player trying his hand at another sport and the trading card manufacturers were happy to put him in their products.
While some of the Here’s a look at some of the more popular early Michael Jordan baseball cards.
1991 Upper Deck SP
Jordan’s most famous baseball card of them all is probably his 1991 Upper Deck SP insert card.
It’s not technically a rookie card since Jordan was not even a baseball player at the time. However, most collectors are familiar with it and it’s always been a very popular issue. Frankly, it’s too popular a card to not be listed here.
Rather than being a full-fledged member of the team, Jordan participated in pre-game activities with the White Sox before they played the Cleveland Indians on July 25, 1990. Per the back of the card, Jordan hit two home runs, including one that landed in the upper deck — a fitting note for this ‘Upper Deck’ card.
Raw cards could be had for as little as a few dollars only a year ago. Today, those are closer to $10-$15 on eBay with gem mint 10 examples command $300-$400.
1994 Upper Deck Star Rookies
Truer versions of Jordan’s true rookie cards are found in 1994. One of the more popular ones is the 1994 Upper Deck Star Rookie card.
This card showed Jordan in action as a fielder in a White Sox uniform.
A tougher variation of it is the Electric Diamond parallel. Regular Star Rookies cards start around $5 each raw while the Electric Diamond parallel is in the $15-$20 range.
1994 Fleer ProCards Minor League
While Jordan appears in many sets featuring major league players, he also surfaced in the 1994 Fleer ProCards minor league set, along with other Birmingham Barons and minor league players.
Despite it being produced by a major brand in Fleer, the cards are not quite as popular as many of his other cards. But the ProCards series’ are well-known enough that these cards are still pursued by a lot of collectors. This thick white-bordered card features an up close shot of Jordan in his Barons uniform.
Today in raw condition, you can find it for around $10.
1994 Action Packed Minor League
Another one of Jordan’s cheaper cards is found in the 1994 Action Packed set.
Action Packed football cards were quite popular in the early 1990s but the baseball sets never gained quite the amount of traction that the company probably hoped for. In 1994, they created a set of minor league players.
These embossed cards pictured Jordan as a batter in practice. Despite it being a legitimate Jordan issue from his first year of professional baseball, it can be bought for as little as $5 or even less.
1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Baseball
One of Jordan’s more unique cards is his 1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice card and it’s also considered one of his baseball rookie cards.
Jordan’s card is in the ‘Rookie Class’ subset. This card is a bit distinctive because it features Jordan actually shooting a baseball as if it were a basketball.
The Rookie Class subset card isn’t Jordan’s only issue in this set. He is also found in the Up Close and Personal subset, though that card is a bit less valuable.
While those cards are in the $5-$10 range, more expensive silver signature and gold signature parallels exist as well.
1994 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Basketball (Er, Baseball)
Jordan has two cards in Upper Deck’s Collector’s Choice baseball set. But he actually has another Collector’s Choice baseball card with a twist.
While Jordan is in the Collector’s Choice basketball set, he is pictured as a baseball player. That makes this one of his more interesting cards as its sandwiched into a basketball-only (okay, mostly) set.
Upper Deck really went all out here, even putting a baseball player icon in the corner on the front while that spot was reserved for a basketball player on the other cards.
Additional points of interest are found on the back. As Jordan did not have any baseball statistics, his basketball statistics are printed. And the picture on the back doesn’t show Jordan as a baseball or a basketball player. Instead, Jordan is shown as a golfer.
This card is also under $10, though, like the Collector’s Choice baseball issues, silver and gold parallels are more costly.
1994 Classic Minor League
While many other baseball card manufacturers included Jordan in their sets, Classic made a shrewd move by putting Jordan front and center as Card No. 1 in their 1994 minor league release.
It’s a nice looking card (pictured right), too, with Jordan in a pretty relaxed pose.
In addition to that card in their main base set, Jordan was also included in the Classic Birmingham Barons team set, a completely separate release.
Both cards are typically pretty affordable, starting around $5 each.
1994 SP Holoview
Two of Jordan’s more desirable 1994 cards are his SP Holoviews.
Two SP Holoview cards of Jordan exist — one is a blue insert and the other is a red die-cut version. Both are somewhat rare but the red die-cut is harder to find.
The Holoview inserts are among the more popular baseball inserts of the 1990s and Jordan’s appearance enhances the set even more.
1995 Upper Deck #200 (with Harry Caray)
You want 1980s and 90s Chicago sports in a nutshell? Here you go.
It was a genius move by Upper Deck to pair Jordan with the Cubs’ beloved announcer on one of the cards in its 1995 baseball set. Look at that smile on Harry’s face as he quizzes MJ about who knows what while Mike sports the White Sox gear (Harry was the Sox radio guy long before his Cubs days).
We’re cheating a bit here, since it’s not really among his earliest baseball issues but it’s another card that can be had for a buck or two since it’s so common, but for pure coolness, it’s hard to beat.
1995 SP Top Prospects Autograph
If you’re wondering which is the most valuable Michael Jordan baseball card, it’s this one. the 1995 Upper Deck SP Top Prospects set focused on the top minor leaguers of the day and the company managed to get a small number of Jordan autographed cards into the product. How many is a bit of a mystery but 23 seems to be a popular guess.
So, yes, along with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra, Jordan had a presence as a prospect, although he had quit baseball during the ongoing MLB strike that lingered into mid-March. There’s actually one listed on eBay right now for a little under $50,000. SP Top Prospects also included a four-card “Michael Jordan Time Capsule” insert set you can grab for much less.