Monday, November 05, 2018

Five Affordable Rookie Cards Every Die Hard Dodger Fan Should Have

Who doesn't love rookie cards?

They are a main driver in the card collecting hobby, and oftentimes the most desirable card available for any player.

So, with the winter doldrums in full swing I thought it would be fun to explore some rookie cards that I think every Dodger fan should have. I also thought it would be best to focus on cards that are most affordable -- for $10.00 or less. After all, not everyone can afford a Jackie Robinson or Sandy Koufax rookie card.

So without further ado, here is the first card on my list, and it is of Dodger legend Fernando Valenzuela. Best yet, his 1981 Topps card (#302) also includes the rookie card for popular catcher and former Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Check out the reverse of the card on the right.

Not surprisingly, Valenzuela cards can be purchased in great condition for next to nothing -- like a couple of bucks. As most collectors know, the 80's and for much of the 90's cards were overproduced -- flooding the market with more cardboard then collectors knew what to do with. Pair that with a collecting base that has admittedly shrunk since the hobby's heyday, and you've got a recipe for bargain prices for some of the games greatest players.

In 1981 Valenzuela had two other cards available of him; including a 1981 Topps Traded card and a Fleer card, featuring him all by himself. Check out both of those below. These two can also be had for next to nothing.

The very next player on my list is Clayton Kershaw, and yes it is possible to get an affordable rookie card of him in your collection. In fact, there are several affordable cards available, but I think the 2005 Upper Deck Team USA Junior National Team card (#86) is the best one. Furthermore, it's probably best to classify this card as a pre-rookie card since this was issued prior to being drafted by the Dodgers in 2006.

As you can see above, Kershaw is sporting Team USA colors. As for value, you should easily find mint copies for about $5 to $10 a piece (ungraded). BTW, there are five different autographed cards of Kershaw available in this set. Go here to check out a detail listing of early Clayton Kershaw cards that I cataloged.

The third must-have Dodger rookie card is of the 'Bulldog' -- Orel Hershiser. No Dodger collection is complete without a 1985 Topps card (#493) of our World Series hero and MVP. You can usually find copies of this card in just about any dime-box found at local card shows. If buying on eBay is your poison then you should figure on finding a mint example for about a dollar or two. BTW, Donruss and Fleer also have Hershiser rookies in them. See them below.

Fortunately for Dodger collectors 1992 was a year of overproduction. Otherwise, this 1992 Bowman rookie (#461) of Mike Piazza might cost an arm and a leg. In fact, at one time this card sold for several times more than what you can get it for today. As it is, you can go shopping on eBay and find mint copies for $5 to $10 each. BTW, there are a whole bunch of other Piazza cards issued this year, but there too many to count here, so I won't bother. Just know that the Bowman card is typically considered his best one.

This last card features the ballplayer who got away. Adrian Beltre signed as a Dodger, illegally, as a 15-year old, and immediately impressed everybody. Per Earl Bloom at
"I saw Adrian before he signed [with the Dodgers], in the Dominican Republic," said Scioscia, who had finished his playing career with the Dodgers, and was the club's minor-league catching coordinator. "You could see, even then, he was so far ahead of everybody with his abilities, his bat speed, the way he grew into and used his body.
He eventually came to Los Angeles as a 19-year old and quickly solidified his standing as one of the more exciting rookies in the league. Six years later, he would come in second place in MVP voting as a Dodger and leave town for financial riches in Seattle. Boo! I will always consider him a Dodger and hate that our GM at the time, Paul DePodesta, passed on him.

As for his rookie card, you should grab his 1997 Bowman card (#194) for anywhere between $5 to $10 each.

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  1. Earlier in the year, I was able to pick up a pair of Hershiser rookie cards in a guy's dime box. Bulldog deserves more respect than that.


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