1990s Baseball Cards Worth Money: Highest Value
Note: While it’s certainly hard to include ALL of the most valuable baseball cards of the 80’s and 90’s, here we’ll list our favorites of the bunch (these make for excellent alternative investments as well). Sure, you may be able to find some that are more valuable, but what about sentimental value? There’s a reason Biggio’s name comes up later and clearly, it’s not the $$$!
Baseball was a much different game in the 1980s and 1990s. For instance, most of this time period was the pre-Steroid era. Perhaps uncoincidentally, some of the game’s greatest pitchers (Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez) and greatest dynasties (ATL, NYY) were born during those years. And let’s not forget about the hitters, base runners, and defensive stars (Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Bonds, Ricky Henderson, Frank Thomas). These are just a few Hall of Fame-caliber guys who suited up during these great decades.
It was also a time during baseball cards where manufacturers were getting more creative and cards were starting to truly come into their own. Despite the overproduction. In this post, we will give you an inside look at some of the most valuable baseball cards that exist from that time period and who the players were that appeared on them. But first, let’s find out what the top baseball cards worth money are RIGHT NOW.
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Most Valuable Baseball Cards of the 80’s and 90’s: Our Favorites
Derek Jeter 1993 Upper Deck
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The Gold Hologram Derek Jeter rookie card shown above is THE CARD to own in 1993 Upper Deck collection. There aren’t many of these in existence and you can get a pretty penny if you’re one of the lucky collectors to own one. The card features Derek Jeter in spring training wearing his pinstriped New York Yankees uniform casually fielding a pop fly. If you do happen to have one it should have no problem making you a couple of grand richer if it’s in good condition.
Jeter spent his entire career with the Yankees and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was a 14-time All-Star, five-time World Series Champion, World Series MVP, and AL Rookie of the Year. Derek Jeter was the captain of the Yankees and one of the most beloved members in baseball history. Plenty of reasons with this is certainly one of the most valuable baseball cards of the 80’s and 90’s.
Rare Baseball Card Worth Money: 1987 Donruss Barry Bonds Error
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There is nothing quite like an error card. This 1987 card proudly displayed the name of the Home Run King Barry Bonds but it pictured his teammate Johnny Ray, aged 30. There aren’t many of these cards in existence and the last 10 grade sold at auction for well over $3,000. Card #162 was a photo of Ray and so it seems the quality control people at Donruss weren’t able to catch it in time. Because only a few of these cards actually went out, you may not have it on the mantle, but it is a historic card nevertheless.
Bonds is the current leader in MLB Home Runs with 762 home runs. He also owns the single-season home run record with 73. He won seven MVP awards, went to 14 All-Star games, eight Gold Glove Awards and 12 Silver Sluggers. Johnny Ray, not so much.
1993 Finest Refractor Ken Griffey
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This is an amazing Ken Griffey Jr. card that has been valued at a monster price. It’s been on a tear in the auction houses as of late. The card shows Griffey Jr. trotting down the baseline with the ultimate 90’s look. It has the old school lettering at the top and the colors burst off the card. This is one of the better-looking cards that the 90’s have to offer and was sold at auction for more than $7,000.
Ken Griffey Jr. was a man who changed baseball, in a way. He played differently, acted differently, and even struck out differently than the players who came before him. He represented a new era of Major League Baseball players and will forever be one of the most popular players of all time. Griffey went to 13 All-Star games and won an AL MVP award. He also won 10 Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger awards. He was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee with over 99 percent of the committee voting for him (who were the geniuses that made up the 1 percent who didn’t vote for him??).
1991 Topps Desert Shield Chipper Jones
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Chipper Jones is one of the greatest Braves to ever play the game. Jones played his entire career with the Braves (something that has been lost in the modern age of free agency). He was an eight-time All-Star and a World Series Champion. He won seven Silver Slugger Awards and was the AL home run leader in four different seasons. All of which makes his cards some of the most valuable of the 80’s and 90’s. There are only a handful of these particular cards in circulation and even less in mint condition. The card features Chipper posing with the baseball bat on his shoulders. Simple. What’s not as simple is the price tag that can exceed $10,000! Needless to say one of the top baseball cards worth money of the entire decade.
1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name
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For whatever reason, collectors LOVE a good error card. Probably because there are way less in stock, making them a rare find. Either way, folks love em’. While not as cool as the wrong photo Barry Bonds card we talked about earlier, this 1990 Topps Frank Thomas is a nice find. When Topps peeled the cards from the printing press, apparently Frank Thomas’ name was nowhere to be found on it on some of them. That’s right, it is a picture of the gigantic Frank Thomas without his name on it. This card has been known to exceed $20,000 when the auction-goers get nutty. Yes, you read that correctly. Over $20k. Thomas was a two-time AL MVP and won a batting title, he is thought of as one of the greatest designated hitters ever.
1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck
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How could we leave one of the most iconic cards of all time off the list? The flagship rookie card of one of the most dominate players to ever take the field is certainly worth some decent cash. Especially in mint condition. Even more so if it includes Griffey’s autograph. How much so? Let’s just say some of the most valuable have sold for well over $10,000 recently. Enough said?
1988 Craig Biggio Scored Traded
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While this card won’t make many objective lists of the most valuable baseball cards of the 80’s and 90’s, it makes this subjective one, HANDS DOWN (huge Biggio fans). Craig Biggio was the little guy who just flat out got the job done for the Houston Astros. His rookie card is also a nice little price that gets the job done for anyone looking for a great trading card. With only 87 in circulation, this card made by Score that features Biggio at-bat in his old school Astros rags went for around $300 at auction. Biggio is a Hall of Famer who went to seven All-Star Games and won the Roberto Clemente Award.
1985 Topps Tiffany Mark McGwire
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Anyone who collected baseball cards in the 80’s is surely familiar with this one. The card features a young McGwire staring into the camera with somewhat of a goofy grin on his face. Additionally, he’s got the bat slung over his should and is wearing his red, white, and blue Team USA uniform. It may not be as valuable as the Jeter shown above, but it can fetch nearly $3,000 at auction in the right condition.
1993 SP FOIL Derek Jeter
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With only 21 Grade 10’s in circulation, this Derek Jeter rookie card is the most valuable baseball card of the 80’s and 90’s. As you read before, Jeter is one of the greatest to ever live and this card fetched a price that showed it. In a recent last auction, this card was able to be sold for well over $100,000.
1989 Topps Big Baseball Randy Johnson
When it comes to rare baseball cards featuring Randy Johnson, this one is one of the rarest. And also the most valuable. If you’re looking to add a Randy Johnson rookie card to your collection this should be your FIRST consideration.
Looking for something more modern? A Fernando Tatis Jr. rookie card may be in order.
Top Baseball Cards Worth Money 2023
Here we’ll focus on cards from sets made in only 2022. While these cards featuring the following red hot prospects and proven rookies are certainly worth plenty of money right now, just imagine what kind of prices you’ll see if they continue to perform in the big leagues. Here are 3 players we have our eye that could make a HUGE impact in the months and years to come.
Julio Rodriguez Bowman Chrome RC
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The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year has done it all in his debut. He’s already in the 20/20 club and has proven that power and speed aren’t his only assets. Just take a look at his .277 average and .340 OBP. Safe to say he’s got a batting eye that will play in this league for a LONG time to come. He’s one of the most electrifying rookies we’ve seen and is showing the potential to be one of the game’s best players. It’s hard to describe how bullish we are on Julio Rodriguez rookie cards. Green light all the way.
Bobby Witt Jr. Topps Series 2 RC
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While Rodriguez get’s all the love for being the Rookie of the Year, Witt Jr. should NOT go unnoticed. Sure Julio is the better player right now, but Bobby isn’t far off. He’s but up worthy numbers as a rookie and should only get better with age. When it comes to the 2022 rookie batch there’s no doubt Bobby Witt Jr. is our second choice.
Elly De La Cruz Bowman Chrome RC
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Now we go from rookies to top prospects. The 20 year old phenom from the Dominican Republic burst onto the scene in 2022 in a BIG WAY. How big? How does a .300/.355/.588 triple slash line between A and AA sound? That’s what we though. In addition to the impression slash, De La Cruz also smacked 28 home runs and stole 43 bags. Safe to say the power speed combo makes this a VERY intriguing investment opportunity.
Are Other 1980s Baseball Cards Worth Money?
While we’ve listed the MOST valuable cards of the 80s here, there a some we haven’t included that are worth quite a bit of money. HOWEVER, you’ll need to keep in mind that cards from the Junk Wax Era don’t hold as much value as those from earlier and later periods of the hobby. As always, condition plays a big role so if you have a good conditioned rookie card of one of the elite players of this era you still stand to make a few bucks if you’re looking to sell.
How do I know how much money my baseball cards are worth?
The first thing you’ll want to consider when trying to find out how valuable your baseball cards are is the condition they’re in. For instance, a 1993 Derek Jeter SP Foil with 3 of its four corners torn off isn’t going to be worth much. If anything at all. Meanwhile, a grade 10 is worth truckloads of cash as we talked about early. To find out the true condition of your card you’ll want to send it over to PSA or BGS for grading.
Once you have a good idea of your card’s condition you can use tools such as Card Hedge or eBay to get a better idea of what kind of money it’s worth.
How Do the Most Valuable Baseball Card’s of the 80s and 90s stack up to today’s cards?
Interesting question! As you can see above, these cards hold PLENTY of value. And much of that is to thank for how truly iconic they are.
As we discussed the 80s and 90s were infamous for the amount of mass produced cards that were churned out by the manufacturers. Therefore, you can’t expect these to have as much value as some of the modern ultra-rare cards you see out there. Heck, many of today’s card have print runs of 100 or less. Compare that to the thousands upon thousands of cards each of the previous listings have and you’ll see why the values are a bit skewed.
That as it may be, in terms of sentimental value, modern cards don’t hold a candle to any of these beauties. Just our opinion but if you disagree please let us know!
Now that you know what the most valuable baseball cards of the 80’s and 90’s are, find out what the most valuable football cards of the 1980s are!
80s and 90s Baseball Cards Worth Money: Investment Strategies
As with pretty much anything else in life, only YOU can make this decision. Your financial situation, amount of attachment to your cards, and how much space the cards are taking up in you’re house are all personal factors you’ll want to consider. That said, here are few options to mull over.
Sell Now – The sports card market has been up considerably over the course of the past decade so you certainly won’t be selling at the bottom. Sure, it can always climb higher, but if you need a little extra cash nobody would blame you for selling high.
Hedge – Hoping the market climbs higher? Can’t seem to get rid of a highly sentimental card? Relax, there’s always a middle ground! Consider selling some of your collection while prices are high and stash away the rest to (hopefully) profit off the future growth of the market.
Hold Long Term – See the section below.
Things To Avoid with Your Baseball Cards that are Worth Lots of Money
Buying on Impulse – This is the number one mistake many investors make when considering an investment in baseball cards that are worth a lot money. Always do your due diligence and never let emotions drive your decision on whether or not to invest.
Use the Cards To Make a Cool Noise In Your Bicycle Spokes – While strangely satisfying, we definitely do NOT recommend this move. Unless you’re someone who doesn’t care about extra money and really loves the sound of cardboard clacking as you cruise around on you’re Dyno VFR.
Play Flip – We know some of our baby boomer readers used to play this game as kids and we have no doubt that it was a lot of fun. However, for the same reasons as the option above PLEASE REFRAIN.
Most Valuable Baseball Cards of the 80’s and 90’s: Investment Strategy
Short Term (Less than 1 year)
None of the players from this list are active players so there isn’t much that’s gonna move the needle in the short term. On top of that, they’re already all in the Hall of Fame so you can’t even count on that value-boosting event. If you’re going short you’re hoping the overall market increases. While this certainly can happen, bigger gains are likely farther ahead. 5/10.
Again, with these cards, you’re banking on the strength of the overall market. Which has a great thing to bank on in recent years! We prefer the latter end of this investment range. 7/10
Long Term (5 years plus)
Whether you’re new to the game or a life long collector, tracking down the most valuable baseball cards of the 80’s and ’90s is an exciting trip down memory lane. Especially for those who started collecting in that era. Sure, the era had its overproduction issues, but there’s still plenty of cards that will fetch some BIG dollars at auction. You just need to find the right ones. For all of those reasons (not to mention the iconic players featured on the cards), the above cards should be a positive addition to your portfolio well into the future. 9.5/10
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