They didn’t really become a big deal in the hobby until the early 1980s when a boom in baseball card collecting led to an influx of new collectors and an increase in new products. Since that time, collectors have placed a big premium on not only the hottest baseball rookie cards of up and coming players but also those from the distant past.
Whether you’re more about the incredible Topps rookie class of 1954 (Aaron, Banks, Kaline, etc.) or the equally impressive 2011 Topps Update class (Trout, Altuve, Goldschmidt, etc.), rookie cards are the focus of countless collections.
Not every rookie card is a player’s most popular. While Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card is considered a collecting icon, his rookie card is actually in the 1951 Bowman set–and probably undervalued.
Plenty of pre-rookie cards are issued now, too, and many autographed Bowman cards are valuable but a player’s official rookie cards are those that carry the red, white and blue “RC” designation on the front.
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