Fab 4: Early cards of a new Hall of Fame class

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

Three pitchers and a member of baseball’s 3,000-hit club were voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday and each of them has readily attainable and affordable early cardboard that collectors can chase.

Here’s a top early card to consider for each of them.

1988 Fleer Update #74 John Smoltz XRC, $4 (above)
This long-time Atlanta Braves pitcher had his Rookie Cards arrive in 1989, but Fleer was the only company to include him in a 1988 update set. This one’s tougher to find than any of his RCs, so it would get my attention first. A rarer Glossy version sells for about $10 or less.


1988 Score Rookie/Traded #103T Craig Biggio XRC, $12
Unlike with Smoltz, Biggio has a pair of 1988 XRCs issued before his Rookie Cards arrived en masse. He appears in the Score update set as well as Fleer’s season-capper. The appropriately colored borders make this one here a priority in my book.


1991 Upper Deck Final Edition #2F Pedro Martinez RC, $8
In 1991, Upper Deck added a Final Edition boxed set to its lineup that had already included two series for its flagship brand. This one was never put into packs, but it is Martinez’s lone Rookie Card.


1989 Upper Deck #25 Randy Johnson RC, $8
The Big Unit is all over 1989 products with his trade to Seattle also reflected in update sets from a few brands. Upper Deck’s Star Rookie Class had quite the debut crop with Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and the then-highly-touted Gregg Jefferies in the mix.

What are your most-memorable cards for Cooperstown’s new quartet? Tell us in the comments below.

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 colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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  1. Mike 6 January, 2015 at 21:54

    A couple of interesting card facts….

    From the 1980s, only ’81 doesn’t have a RC (any form of) from any licensed mlb company featuring a hall of famer.

    The 1990s are just getting started, but 90 and now 91 each have a RC of a hall of famer.

  2. David D 6 January, 2015 at 23:48

    I am always amazed each season as to who gets into the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t.
    Now, you have Pedro Martinez- known for throwing down an 80 year old coach, joining the ranks of Robby Alamar ( spitting into an umpire’s face), Ty Cobb (inciting riots with teammates, opposing players and fans, Reggie Jackson( fighting with managers, teammates, media etc.)and I am sure many others that I am failing to mention…..yet you have ignorant Pete Rose-betting on his own team- banned from baseball.
    I spent 10 years of my younger days delivering party trays to ballplayers in the 1970’s and 1980’s and I saw it all- yet many of these guys still get in and others don’t………… interesting!

  3. Josh Olsen 7 January, 2015 at 06:35

    I’ve always had a sweet spot for Biggio and Johnson’s 1989 Topps cards, as well as Biggio’s 1989 Donruss.

  4. David B 7 January, 2015 at 12:03

    The 1988 Score Rookie Traded Biggio is not so easy to find, and the Glossy version is even more difficult (and very expensive at $60 – How did it get there when Alomar is only $25?). The best thing about buying the 1991 UD Final Edition Set is that along with Pedro, you will also get a Jim Thome rookie. Thome should get into the hall as well.

  5. kevin 7 January, 2015 at 19:17

    Mike, who are the HOFers in 1984 and 1986?

    Kirby has a Fleer update in 1984, but he is also the lone HOFer in 1985. You can’t count him in two years, right?

    I can’t think of anyone in the HOF with a rookie in 1986, regular or traded.

  6. David B 8 January, 2015 at 10:28

    Completely forgot about the 1989 Topps Tiffany set. I’ve owned this several times but now might be the best time to sell. With Johnson, Smoltz and Biggio rookie cards in it, that set should explode.

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