In a previous visit, we reviewed the history of uniform numbers in baseball and listed the best players to wear a single digit on their back. Needless to say, the rookie cards of some of those legends (including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Stan Musial) would put a huge dent in your wallet, but as we move into double digit numbers, you’ll find that a home equity loan may still be necessary.
Today, we’ll look at numbers 10-25 and, as before, the value of the cards is based on Near Mint (NM 7) condition.
> #10 Lefty Grove, Athletics & Red Sox Pitcher – This Hall of Famer won 300 games and led the American League in ERA Nine (9) times in the 1920’s & 30’s. His rookie card is from 1933 Goudey (#220) and is valued at $900. Other candidates include Phil Rizzuto and Andre Dawson.
> #11 Carl Hubbell, Giants Pitcher – “King Carl” had a lifetime ERA under 3 and won two National League MVP Awards in the 1930’s. He will always be remembered for the greatest pitching performance in All-Star Game history when in 1934, he struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons & Joe Cronin in succession. All five were future Hall of Famers. Hubbell has two cards in the ’33 Goudey set (#’s 230 & 234) and they are each worth over $600. Luis Aparicio and Paul Waner also wore #11.
> #12 Roberto Alomar, Indians & Blue Jays 2B – Arguably, the best fielding 2B of the modern era, he won ten (10) Gold Gloves and accumulated over 2,700 Hits on his way to Cooperstown. His best rookie card is from 1988 Score (#105T) and can be had for less than $10, which is a reflection of the over-production during that time.
#13 Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 3B – His reputation has gone into the porcelain commode and there’s no doubt that he’s a polarizing figure, but we’re reluctantly putting him on the list. There are numerous rookie cards of him from 1994, ranging in price from $10 to $50. If this choice causes you to slightly throw up in your mouth, go with the 1971 Topps card of Dave Concepcion (#14), which books for about $25.
> #14 Ernie Banks, Cubs SS & Pete Rose, Reds 2B/OF – Can you really choose between these two iconic ballplayers? “Mr. Cub” has his rookie card in the 1954 Topps set (#94) and it will set you back $2,500. “Charlie Hustle” can be found as a rookie in the 1963 edition of Topps (#537) and the card books for about $1,400. If you’re a Rose fan, opt for his 1964 card (#125), which is much nicer visually and is only valued at $350.
#15 Thurman Munson, Yankees C – The Yankees Captain shared his rookie card in the 1970 Topps set (#189) with Dave McDonald and it books for $80. A better option is Munson’s 1971 Topps card (#5), which books even higher at $220 due to the condition-sensitive black borders. Another #15 of note was Dick Allen.
#16 Whitey Ford, Yankees Pitcher – One of the great post-season hurlers in history, he won ten (10) World series games with a 2.71 ERA and had a .690 lifetime winning percentage. His rookie card from the 1951 Bowman set (#1) is worth $1,850 in near mint condition. The price is reflective not only of his career but because the first (and last) card in vintage sets is always difficult to find in good condition. Why, you ask? Because kids would put rubber bands around their cards, significantly damaging the top and bottom card. One other notable Pitcher to wear this number was Hal Newhouser.
#17 Dizzy Dean, Cardinals Pitcher – This great right-hander had a record of 30-7 in 1934 and won two more games in the World Series. That performance won him the National League MVP and he followed up with a 28-12 mark in 1935. One of the colorful characters of the game, he later became a well-known broadcaster. His rookie card from 1933 Goudey (#223) books for $1,400.
#18 Ted Kluszewski, Reds 1B – “Big Klu” was a great slugger and hit 40+ Home Runs for three consecutive seasons in the mid-50’s. His rookie card can be found in the 1948 Leaf set (#38) and is valued at $275. Other #18’s of note include Moises Alou and Mel Harder.
#19 Bob Feller, Indians Pitcher – “Rapid Robert” had one of the great fastballs ever and won 266 games while missing 3+ years serving in World War II. There are two cards of his in the 1938 Goudey “Heads-Up” set (#’s 264 & 288) and they’ll set you back about $3,300 in total. In the modern era, both Tony Gwynn and Robin Yount wore #19.
#20 Frank Robinson, Reds & Orioles OF – A very tough call, but this marvelous player won MVP Awards in both leagues, had over 2,900 Hits and slugged 586 Home Runs. In addition, he became the first major league Black Manager in 1975 and ended up managing for 16 seasons. 1957 Topps is where you’ll find his rookie card (#35) and it books for $325. You could certainly make a case for Mike Schmidt, Lou Brock or Pie Traynor.
#21 Roberto Clemente, Pirates OF – An amazing player and still idolized by millions in his native Puerto Rico. A .317 lifetime batting average, 3,000 hits and 11 Gold Gloves only scratch the surface of his talent. A near mint 1955 Topps card of his (#164) is worth $7,500 and has increased in value dramatically over the last few years. Other 21’s include Warren Spahn, Sammy Sosa & Roger Clemens.
#22 Jim Palmer, Orioles Pitcher – Three (3) Cy Young Awards and eight (8) 20-win seasons cement his Hall of Fame credentials. The 1966 Topps set has the rookie card (#126) and it books for $95.
#23 Ryne Sandberg, Cubs 2B – This ten-time All-Star also won eight (8) consecutive Gold Gloves on his way to the Hall of Fame. There are three rookie cards from 1983, but look for the Topps issue (#83) at about $10. Don Mattingly also wore this number.
#24 Willie Mays, Giants OF – Maybe the best all-around player of all time, the “Say Hey Kid” was a joy to watch with his unique flair for the game. A 1951 Bowman rookie card (#305) from the scarcer high-number series will set you back about $12,000. Ken Griffey Jr. & Rickey Henderson share the uniform number.
#25 Barry Bonds, Pirates & Giants OF – No matter what you think of him, he was the most dominant player of his era. Due to the proliferation of cards in the 80’s, there are numerous rookie cards in both 1986 & ’87. The ’86 Topps Traded card (#11T) books for less than $10.
Hope some of your favorites were included…best of luck with that loan application.