The Baseball Hall of Fame’s roster expanded by six on Sunday night as two committees voted in six former players.
Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva were elected by the Golden Days Era Committee, which considered a 10-person ballot comprised of candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950-69.
ud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were elected by the Early Baseball Era Committee, which considered a 10-person ballot of candidates whose primary contribution the game came prior to 1950.
Former players and a mix of MLB executives formed the committees who cast ballots.
For collectors, it means a few more living players can add “HOF” behind their names when signing autographs and the prices for all of their baseball cards are seeing a bump in interest, too. Here’s a roundup of rookie cards for the new Hall of Fame members.
Hodges played 18 seasons with the Dodgers and the Mets from 1943-63, earning eight All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards at first base. He topped the 20-homer mark in 11 straight seasons from 1949-59, drove in 100-or-more runs each year from 1949-55 and played on seven pennant winners and two World Series champions, ending his career with 370 home runs – the third-most by a right-handed hitter at the time of his retirement. Hodges went on to manage the Senators and Mets for nine seasons, leading New York to a memorable World Series title in 1969.
His first appearance on a mainstream card set is in the 1949 Bowman set. After he was elected to the Hall Sunday night, collectors pounced on some of them. Higher grade copies bring $1,000 and up but lower end examples are still available for quite a bit less.
Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso starred in the Negro National League with the New York Cubans from 1946-48 before debuting with the Cleveland Indians in 1949. He played 17 seasons with the Indians, White Sox, Cardinals and Senators, becoming the first dark-skinned Latin American player to appear in an AL or NL game.
Miñoso finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1951 and earned the first of nine All-Star Game selections in the AL/NL Midsummer Classic that year. A three-time Gold Glove Award winner in left field, Miñoso led the AL in triples and stolen bases three times apiece and finished his career with 2,110 hits and a .299 batting average.
Minoso first appeared in the 1952 Topps and Bowman sets. Fewer than 65 ’52 Topps Minoso cards have been graded 8 or better by PSA. One of the five 8.5s sold last month for $7,500. Mid-grade examples have been bringing $1,000 and up in the last few days.
Only 77 ’52 Bowman Minoso cards rate 8 or better. Nice mid-grade examples can still be found in the $400 neighborhood.
The durable Kaat pitched for 25 seasons with the Senators, Twins, White Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Cardinals, winning 283 games. A three-time 20-game winner and 16-time Gold Glove Award winner, Kaat’s 625 career games started ranks 17th all-time and his 4,530.1 innings pitched ranks 25th. He helped the Twins win the 1965 American League pennant and the Phillies win National League East titles from 1976-78 before transitioning to a relief role, when he was a key member of manager Whitey Herzog’s bullpen as the Cardinals won the World Series.
“Kitty” has a rookie card in the 1960 Topps “Rookie Stars” subset. It barely carried a premium for years and is easy to find, but print marks and the typical vintage wear have made it a challenge to find at the highest levels. Only eight rate mint 9 at PSA with no 10s. While his HOF induction pushed prices and sales up into Monday, respectable ungraded examples should be easy to snare at under $50, especially after the hubbub dies down a bit.
Oliva spent his entire 15-year big league career with the Twins, winning three AL batting titles while leading the league in hits five times. The 1964 American League Rookie of the Year, Oliva was named to the All-Star Game in eight straight seasons from 1964-71 before knee injuries took their toll. A Gold Glove Award winner for his play in right field in 1966, Oliva became the first player in AL/NL history to win batting titles in each of his first two seasons. He finished his career with a .304 batting average.]
While Oliva won the ’64 Rookie of the Year, he actually has a rookie card in the 1963 Topps set, one he shares with Ed Kranepool, Max Alvis and Bob Bailey. The card refers to him by his given name of Pedro. He also appeared on a second multi-player rookie card the next year.
While the ’63 rookie is plentiful, centering and typical vintage wear has kept the high-end populations down (only six 9s show up on PSA’s pop report with no 10s). It’s be hard to touch nice looking copies of this one now for under $100 with graded copies running higher.
O’Neil played, managed, coached and scouted for nearly eight decades, becoming a beloved oral historian for the Negro Leagues at the end of the 20th century. He broke into the Negro American League with the Memphis Red Sox in 1937 then latched on at first base for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1938. He would remain with the club for nearly two decades. In 1948, O’Neil was named player-manager of the Monarchs – a role he would hold until 1955. He became the first Black coach in AL or NL history in 1962 with the Chicago Cubs.
O’Neil doesn’t have a traditional rookie card, which is unfortunate, but he does have some autographed Topps cards. We really like the 2004 Topps Fan Favorites issue that’s done in the 1962 Topps style considering that’s when he made history as a Cubs coach. There are autographed versions, too.
Fowler, often acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player, pitched and played second base for teams throughout the late 1800s after growing up in and around Cooperstown, N.Y. In 1894, Fowler helped form the Page Fence Giants, who would go on to become one of the all-time great Black barnstorming teams.
There aren’t any Fowler cards from his playing days but he does appear on a few modern era issues that are can be had for just a few bucks.