Roger Clemens Rookie Card Guide and Other Key Early Releases

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If you were collecting baseball cards in the 1980s or ’90s, there was a strong chance you had a Roger Clemens Rookie Card or two tucked away. One of the most intimidating pitchers of all-time. His 4,672 career Ks are the third highest ever. Clemens has an astounding seven Cy Young Awards spread over three different decades and playing for four different teams.

By every numerical standard, Clemens is one of the greatest to ever step on the mound. However, his connection to the Mitchell Report and performance enhancing drugs has brought much controversy and debate as to whether he will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This hasn’t kept Roger Clemens Rookie Cards from disappearing in the hobby. Sure, some have turned their backs on the pitcher but he still has a large following, particularly when it comes to his earliest baseball cards.

Clemens has four RCs in 1985 products. He also has a handful of other cards from 1984 and 1985 that might not be Rookie Cards but still carry tremendous significance.

Roger Clemens Rookie Card Guide

The following breaks down every Roger Clemens Rookie Card as well as other cards from his earliest years in the majors. A full Roger Clemens baseball cards checklist is available in the Beckett database.

1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens XRC #U27

The most important Roger Clemens baseball card is found in the landmark 1984 Fleer Update release. By traditional definitions, it’s an XRC instead of a Rookie Card due to the limited scope of the set’s distribution at the time.

For its first “traded” set, 1984 Fleer Update Baseball stumbled onto a bit of a coup by being the only company to release MLB cards of Clemens and Kirby Puckett. Factor in the relatively limited print run and you’ve got the makings of a classic set. Not surprisingly, this is considered to be one of the most iconic baseball cards of the 1980s.

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1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens

1984 Pawtucket Red Sox TCMA Roger Clemens #22

The lone Roger Clemens minor league card is part of the Pawtucket Red Sox team set put out by TCMA. The green borders might grab your attention but that throwback jacket will keep it.

Although not as plentiful as his Rookie Cards, it’s not a particularly scarce card. The greater challenge is in finding one in top condition. High-grade copies are tough and command significantly higher prices.

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1985 Donruss Roger Clemens Rookie Card #273

The first Roger Clemens RC is part of the black-bordered 1985 Donruss Baseball set. Although it’s hardly dynamic in the way of action photography, it’s as good as it gets compared to his other Rookies.

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1985 Donruss Roger Clemens Rookie Card

1985 Fleer Roger Clemens Rookie Card #155

Roger Clemens was known for his intimidating intensity. The close-up stare of his 1985 Fleer RC perfectly captures that. It’s not as famous as its Topps counterpart, but this might be the most visually attractive of the rookie bunch.

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1985 Fleer Roger Clemens Rookie Card

1985 Fleer Star Stickers Roger Clemens #123

If you’re looking for something early of Roger Clemens outside of his regular baseball cards, 1985 Fleer Star Stickers fit the criteria. For starters, it’s not technically a card. The name of the set gives that away. Measuring 1 15/16″ by 2 1/2″, it’s also noticeably smaller than a traditional card. The big challenge with this sticker is finding one that’s got good centering.

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1985 Leaf/Donruss Roger Clemens Rookie Card #99

This is the Canadian counterpart to Clemens’ Donruss RC. Boasting a nearly identical design, the Leaf version is noticeable on the front with the addition to the logo. On the back, text is in both English and French. Although the 1985 Leaf Roger Clemens RC can command a premium over the Donruss card, it’s not a huge one especially when you consider how much less readily available it is.

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1985 Topps Roger Clemens Rookie Card #181

Although there isn’t a huge discrepancy in value, the 1985 Topps Roger Clemens Rookie Card is arguably the most iconic when placed alongside his Donruss and Fleer cards. Part of that is history. Topps continually capitalizes on that, offering a steady flow of reprints for this card along with regular resurrections of the 1985 design. It also helps that Clemens shares the checklist with Kirby Puckett and Mark McGwire, making for a memorable set.

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1985 Topps Roger Clemens Rookie Card

1985 Topps Tiffany Roger Clemens #181

Think of this as an upgrade of Clemens’ Topps RC. Not available in packs, 1985 Topps Tiffany Baseball came in its own special edition box set. The front of the card is glossy. Telling a Tiffany version from the much more common regular card is easier on the back. Standard 1985 Topps Baseball cards have dark stock. For 1985 Topps Tiffany, it’s a much brighter white. The gloss on a lot of these cards is starting to yellow. It’s believed that the print run for 1985 Topps Tiffany Baseball is 5,000 sets, a tiny number for the era.

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1985 Topps Tiffany Roger Clemens

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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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