David Ortiz Rookie Card Guide

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He might be synonymous with the Boston Red Sox, but if you’re looking for a David Ortiz Rookie Card you’re going to have to look to the Minnesota Twins. Not only that, but there’s a name change involved for the man formerly known as David Arias.

When it comes to David Ortiz Rookie Cards, the lineup is refreshingly simple. Big Papi has just two base RCs, both from Fleer. He has a couple of additional inserts. Because of the small number of options, prices may be higher than normal for the brands they come from. Still, unless you’re looking at rare parallels or top-level graded cards, prices aren’t completely out of reach.

David Ortiz Rookie Card Lineup

The following highlights the base set David Ortiz Rookie Cards noted with the RC tag in the Beckett database. Highlights from his first minor league cards and other early releases follow. A full checklist of David Ortiz baseball cards can be found in the Beckett database.

1997 Fleer David Ortiz Rookie Card #512

Typically, Fleer Baseball RCs don’t command big values. But when you ‘re only one of two choices for one of the biggest names of a generation, exceptions are made. For the second year in a row, Fleer bucked the trend of modern gloss for their flagship base set. The result is refreshing still today.

For those who do like glossy cards, there’s a tough Tiffany parallel. These combined to land 1:20 packs.

Should you come across packs today and want to go hunting for a fresh copy, Ortiz is in Series 2.

Parallels: Tiffany

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1997 Fleer David Ortiz Rookie Card

1997 Ultra David Ortiz Rookie Card #518

This is the more premium David Ortiz Rookie Card. It’s not by a lot, especially by today’s standards, but between the card stock and foil highlights, there’s definitely more pop here.

Like his Fleer RC, Ortiz is part of Series 2. Furthermore, like all cards over #451, he’s only in hobby packs.

It’s worth noting that Fleer tried something a little different with the Gold and Platinum Medallion parallels. Of course, they’re tougher to find, but the sets also use different photos than their base counterparts making them significantly more different beyond the color of the nameplate.

Parallels: Gold Medallion, Platinum Medallion (200 copies)

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1997 Ultra David Ortiz Rookie Card

Other Early David Ortiz Cards of Note

1996 Midwest League All-Stars Best David Ortiz #2

Before his first MLB cards, David Ortiz appeared on a couple of minor league cards in 1996, both from Best. Part of a checklist honoring more than 50 of the Midwest League’s top prospects at the time, Ortiz is the major standout. From there it drops down to Matt Clement.

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1996 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Best David Ortiz #6

The photo on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers team set card is the same, but there are a couple of quick ways to differentiate it from the All-Star card. First, there’s the card number. Here, it’s #6 versus #2 in the Midwest League set. On the front, there’s the Timber Ratters logo instead of the All-Star Game.

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1997 Donruss Signature Autographs David Ortiz

This card is significant for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s the first David Ortiz autograph card. His signature placement isn’t the best but it’s early on-card ink. The base version has a stated print run of 3,900 copies with 1,000 additional Millennium Marks and 100 Century Marks parallels. They don’t say what they’re out of, but the parallels do have serial numbering on the back.

This is also the first MLB card to have his name switched to David ‘Ortiz’ instead of ‘Arias,’ which is on all of his other 1997 MLB cards.

Parallels: Millennium Mark (/1000), Century Marks (/100)

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1997 Donruss Signature Series David Ortiz Autograph

1997 Flair Showcase Wave of the Future David Ortiz #11

If Fleer included Ortiz in the 1997 Flair Showcase base set, it would have resulted in some major cards. Alas, they didn’t. Fleer did, however, include the future Fenway favorite on the product’s Wave of the Future checklist. One of Flair Showcase’s easier inserts, cards from the 27-card set appear 1:4 packs and use embossing for the player and crashing wave in the background. Most cards in the set are very affordable. However, as one of the few 1997 David Ortiz cards, this one’s a strong seller.

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1997 Flair Showcase Wave of the Future David Ortiz

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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