Top Choice: Five Clayton Kershaw cards to own
By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary
Baseball’s awards season began this week with the Players Choice Awards — a player vote that should help predict what’s coming with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards later this month.
This month’s Beckett Baseball cover star, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, picked up a record three awards this week, winning the NL’s Outstanding Pitcher, the Player of the Year award and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award as well. No player has ever won three awards in a single year.
Here are my picks for five Kershaw cards to own …
2005-06 USA Baseball Junior National Team Signature Black #CK /495, $120
Kershaw’s autograph has never been that graceful-looking and this card from his first signing ever shows that. Sure, it’s changed some over time, but it’s very similar to it was at the start. All but seven of his 24 USA Baseball certified autographs were released in 2005-06, and this one is the most-available of them all with 495 copies. For context, the seven cards he’s signed in the years since featuring a USA Baseball logo carry a print run of just 77 total copies. These aren’t that cheap, but they are still early bargains in my mind.
A CHEAP RETRO MLB DEBUT
2006 Bowman Heritage Mini Draft Pick Variations #85, $12
Bowman Heritage won’t ever capture the imagination of the prospecting crowd like Chrome does, but it did cater to the retro collector with some nice touches through the years that were a nod to earlier Bowman Brands. This year’s release is colorful but perhaps too simple for some — but that isn’t why this card is here. He’s one of 25 draft picks whose mini cards can only be found in box-topper packs in the brand. Not as easy to find as you might think. One other notable in that set is Evan Longoria.
A HOLY GRAIL CARD
2012 Topps Five Star Six Autograph Books #4 with Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Roy Halladay, Sandy Koufax and Justin Verlander /5, $N/A
Only five copies of this card exist but there could be 5,000 and it would still be amazing. One could go on and on about the stats compiled by this six-pack of success, but one number might sum it up best — 17 no-hitters. Tack on wins, strikeouts, Cy Youngs … it seems this might be a combination that can’t be topped. The only question might be who might not make Cooperstown — if there are any — and then a second question might be will this type of card ever be made again? It’s also the only baseball card in the Beckett database to ever group Kershaw, Koufax, Seaver and Ryan — regardless of ink.
A DODGER TRIBUTE
2014 Panini Prizm Prizms Blue 42 #99 /42, $20
This one is a subtle but interesting way to offer a nod to a past Dodgers great. The Blue 42 Prizms in 2014 Panini Prizm have Jackie Robinson’s retired number as part of the design — in this case framing a current Dodger great in an enhanced Dodger Blue frame. Logos or not, it’s a simple — and thoughtful — design touch.
2007 Great Lakes Loons Grandstand #16, $N/A
Kershaw played in just 48 minor-league games in four seasons before arriving in Los Angeles so he doesn’t have a ton of MiLB cardboard to go around. And plenty of that shows him in a GCL Dodgers uniform that looks just like the one any other Dodgers great wore. Kershaw suited up for the Great Lakes Loons for 20 games in 2007 — his longest stop — and he recorded a 7-5 record with a 2.77 ERA. Minor League team-issued sets can be some of the rarest cardboard out there if there’s not a serial-number around, so this is one I’d nab sooner than later.
Want to see even more key Kershaw cards? Find the latest issue of Beckett Baseball in hobby shops and on newsstands today.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.