During his 14 years with the Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz became the face of the franchise, leading the team to three World Series championships while becoming just the 27th member of baseball’s exclusive 500 home run club. As one of baseball’s top sluggers, Ortiz became quite popular with baseball card and memorabilia collectors as well. A wide-range of Ortiz variation, rookie, game-used-memorabilia, and autographed baseball cards remain popular even with Ortiz six months into retirement.
Some of the most memorable and coveted baseball cards are the ones that capture a unique moment in baseball or a city’s history. The rare variation of Ortiz’s 2013 second series Topps card captures one of the more emotional moments in Boston sports history. A defiant Ortiz took the field just five days after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, making an impassioned, heartfelt speech declaring the city’s resolve.
Known in collectible circles as the “Boston Strong” card, Ortiz is pictured with a microphone in one hand and a clenched fist raised to the heavens with the other. In the background is a giant American flag draped over Fenway’s left field wall, creating a uniquely patriotic scene. Upon release, the short-printed “Boston Strong” card sold in the $50-$75 range. Following the Red Sox third World Series title in 10 years in October of the 2013 season, the card was selling in excess of $150. During the height of the Big Papi Farewell Tour last summer , the card sold for as much as $199. Today the card value has settled in the $35-$65 range.
Ortiz played a huge role in the Red Sox six-game 2013 World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .688 with two homers and six RBI en route to being named World Series MVP. The popular Topps World Champion autograph insert set features top postseason sluggers. The 2014 edition captures Ortiz’s famed home run stroke along with his certified signature. Limited to a production run of 50, the Ortiz World Series autographed card sells for $59.
When Ortiz joined the Red Sox in 2003, there was considerable confusion surrounding his rookie baseball cards. Prior to signing with the Red Sox, Ortiz played several seasons in the Seattle and Minnesota systems. Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mariners in 1994 just days after his 17th birthday, Ortiz, who gradually established himself as a power-hitting prospect, was traded to the Twins as the player to be named later for Dave Hollins prior to the 1997 season.
After joining the Twins system, Ortiz decided to change his baseball name. His legal name had always been David Americo Ortiz Arias. While playing with the Mariners, he went by his maternal family name (Arias) rather than his paternal family name (Ortiz). As a result, his earliest baseball cards are listed as David Arias. With the Twins, he requested to be called Ortiz, which has stuck ever since.
Ortiz joined the Red Sox as a platoon player in 2003, so many collectors didn’t connect the dots between David Arias and David Ortiz, meaning the Arias rookie cards were readily available for under $1 during the first half of the season. With more playing time came more home runs and a knack for late-inning heroics. By season’s end Ortiz slugged 30 homers in just 128 games, boasting the David Arias cards to $10-$15.
One of only two Ortiz rookie cards, the 1997 Fleer “David Arias” card could be found in 1997 Fleer Series 2 packs. The base version of the card, sporting a throwback matte finish during an era of high-gloss cards, currently sells for $30. The far more limited “Tiffany” parallel version — one of the more valuable Oriz cards in the market — features a high-gloss look and feel while selling for $400 .
The other Ortiz (Arias) rookie is from the 1997 Fleer Ultra series, a slightly more upscale version of the Fleer set, sells for $35. The full-bleed, glossy look was a popular alternative to the high-priced Tiffany parallel set. Gold Medallion parallel versions display a different picture and gold-foil lettering. Limited to just 200 copies, the popular parallel version sells for $49.
The Topps Bowman brand, known as the “Home of the Rookie Card”, somehow bypassed Ortiz in its 1997 set. Sometimes wrongly advertised as a rookie, the 1998 Bowman Ortiz is readily available for under $4. Far more limited chrome and International refractor parallel versions sell for $18 and $15 respectively.
For oddball baseball card collectors, there is a handful of Ortiz pre-rookie cards that have become quite popular in the slugger’s final season. The Ortiz (Arias) 1996 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Midwest League All-Star card,is an overlooked gem selling for $48. His 1998 New Britain Red Cats Best minor league card is selling for $15. Both cards feature a relatively elementary design with simple white borders — a far cry from the the glitzy, full-bleed photos popular with major league sets in the late ‘90s. The more mainstream Upper Deck 1998 SP minor league Ortiz card — featuring a portrait of a svelte, smiling Ortiz inside a silver foil border — sells for $5.
Ortiz made his Topps debut in the 1998 edition where he was featured in a prospect card with future All-Star slugger Richie Sexson. Ortiz made his first appearance in a Red Sox jersey in the more obscure 2003 Fleer Update Series and the 2003 Upper Deck 40-Man set. All three cards can be had for $3.
The hobby’s most sought after and costly cards are serial numbered autographs of baseball’s top players. Ortiz autographs have been extremely active in the secondary market since the start of the season. His 1997 Donruss Signature Series Autograph is his first card to carry the name “David Ortiz” instead of “David Arias”. The base version (red background) has 3,900 copies and is selling for $122, while the Millennium parallel Version (green background) is limited to 1,000 copies and is selling for $225. Perhaps the most valuable Ortiz autographed card is the Signature Series Century Autograph (blue background) is numbered to just 100 and is selling for $600.
A common gripe among autograph collectors is Ortiz’s failure to sign within the designated area of the Donruss Signature Series. Most signatures in all three versions appear towards the side of the card rather than the bottom. Ortiz’s signing gaffe may have held down the card values before he established himself as one of the game’s top sluggers. There is no such issue today. The 2005 SkyBox Autographics signature card is available for under $60, providing a nice alternative to the high priced Signature Series autographs.
As the Red Sox prepare to retire Ortiz’s number, expect his baseball cards to sell at elevated prices. No. 34 placed among Red Sox immortals along Fenway Parks right field roof facade means increased attention for their charismatic slugger, which means inflated values for his cards. You can anticipate card values to decline and level off later this summer. The next boost for Ortiz cards will come in five years when one of the Red Sox all-time sluggers is Hall of Fame eligible.
The Hall of Fame electorate and many old school baseball fans have shunned the DH position since its inception in 1973. Edgar Martinez, one of the best pure hitters of his time, has yet to receive more than 36.5 percent of the HOF vote in six tries. Quality hitters such as Don Baylor and Harold Baines have barely registered a blip on the HOF ballot.
However, the anti-DH faction has been weakening in recent years. Enshrined in 2004, Paul Molitor served as his team’s DH for nearly half of the games he started. Last year, Frank Thomas became the first HOFer to DH in the majority of his games played.
Ortiz is looking to become the first full-time DH to receive baseball’s highest honor. He has established the standard for designated hitters, collecting more hits, home runs, and RBI than any other DH. His endless late-inning production — including 11 walk-off homers — have made Ortiz one of baseball’s most feared hitters throughout his Red Sox career.
Ortiz’s Mantle-esque playoff production (a slash line of .295/.409/.553 with 17 homers and 60 RBI) have made him one of the game’s most recognized players. His postseason success and affable persona has made Big Papi the ultimate fan favorite among Red Sox fans, which reflected by his many memorabilia cards. His 2013 Topps Tier One Game Used Jersey and 2014 Panini Classics Game Used bat cards, each selling for $15, are great additions to any Red Sox baseball card collections.
On this day 44 years ago, the world lost a Hall of Fame baseball player and a great humanitarian. Thirty-eight-year-old Roberto Clemente, revered as a national hero in Puerto Rico, was leading a relief aid team flying supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua when the small aircraft exploded and crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff.
Clemente’s untimely death occurred just a few months after he recorded his 3,000th career hit and prompted a special election that made the Pittsburgh Pirates great baseball’s first Hispanic Hall of Famer. At the time, Clemente was just the 11th man in baseball history to achieve 3,000 hits and his lifetime batting average of .317 was the highest among active players.
Clemente used a unique inside-out swing to produce four batting titles, a 1966 National League MVP, and 15 All-Star invitations. Quick, powerful — almost Hank Aaron-like — wrists allowed Clemente to stand away from the plate and drive the ball with ferocity to all fields. He also lead t
he Pirates to World Series Championships in 1960 and 1971, when he was named the Series MVP.
He got the most from his 5’-11”, 180-pound frame offensively and defensively. Most baseball experts and historians still regard Clemente as the best right fielder in baseball history. He patrolled Pittsburgh’s spacious Forbes Field for most of his career with speed and grace, earning 12 Gold Gloves and comparisons to Willie Mays as a defensive player. A strong and remarkably accurate arm kept base runners at bay.
Known for his charitable tireless charitable work, Clemente was recruited by relief organizations to organize relief efforts from Puerto Rico. He not only organized the efforts, but played a large role in gathering the goods and loading the plane. He was on aboard the plane because many people thought the relief supplies were falling in the hands of profiteers. Clemente wanted to ensure that people in need were receiving the goods. The plane carrying a crew of three and Clemente crashed in heavy seas just under two miles from shore.
Clemente’s professional career started on the West Coast and if the Brooklyn Dodgers weren’t so careless, history may have been different. The Dodgers originally signed Clemente out of high school with a deal that included a $10,000 bonus. In 1954, his first season as a professional baseball player, Clemente played for the Dodgers’ minor league affiliate in Montreal.
Per rule of professional baseball at the time, all players signed for more than $4,000 had to be placed on the major league roster after one year of minor league service. Any player not added to the roster could be signed by any other club for $4,000. Instead of adding him to the roster, the Dodgers tried to hide Clemente in Montreal by not playing him. Obviously, a player of Clemente’s talent could not be hidden. He was scooped up by the Pirates for $4,000, making him one of the best bargains in baseball history.
In 1955, Topps issued the first Roberto Clemente baseball card. The colorful horizontal cards featuring portrait and action photos along with the team logo in the upper right-hand corner are considered one of the best-looking sets ever produced. Kudos to Topps for producing a card of a top prospect with no major league experience — a rarity in those days. The final card featuring Clemente as a player, was featured in the colorful 1972 Topps set.
Future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter turns 42 years old today.
A modern-day baseball card collection is not complete without a wide assortment of Derek Jeter rookie and insert cards. As the Yankee captain’s brilliant 20-year career comes to an end, his 23 years in the hobby are being widely celebrated.
One of the more highly touted players in baseball history, Jeter is featured on more than 325 different baseball cards issued from the year he was drafted (1992) to the year he earned AL Rookie of the Year honors and lead the Yankees to their first World Series Championship in nearly two decades (1996). Jeter’s four-year development in the Yankees farm system overlaps the the hobby’s growth of insert cards — limited edition cards randomly inserted into packs. Many of these cards are short-printed, parallel variations of the base card.
Most price guides and memorabilia dealers consider 23 or so of the Jeter cards issued in 1993 as rookies. Most leading manufacturers of the time — including Topps and its Bowman brand, Score and it’s Pinnacle brand and Upper Deck with it’s high-end SP brand — featured highly-coveted cards of the future Yankees great. You can also find an additional 17 or so minor league or pre-rookie Jeter cards released in 1992, including various cards from the Classic 4-Sport Collection and Front Row picturing the future Hall of Famer in his high school uniform.
Jeter’s 1993 Upper Deck “Top Prospect” rookie card features the Gulf Coast League Yankees 18-year-old shortstop tracking down a fly ball in the sun. The bland, somewhat blurry full-bleed photo displays the low-budget printing technology manufacturers used on base brands at the time. The card back highlights Jeter’s career at Kalamazoo Central High School (New Jersey), including a .557 batting average and seven home runs during his junior year. The Upper Deck rookie is good buy for under $10
Upper Deck’s 1993 SP Jeter rookie features the high-gloss foil technology reserved baseball’s high-end card sets. The ‘93 SP series is one of the most condition-sensitive sets ever released. Chipping around the foil corners is fairly common. Finding a sample free of smudges, fingerprints or scuff marks on the foil front is almost impossible. Twenty-one years ago, Jeter SP rookies went from packs to hobby store shelves carrying a $25 price tag. Today, a sample in decent condition goes for $85, while rare BGS-9 Mint versions sell for as much as $700. Buyback autograph versions issued in the 2009 SP Authentic series sell for more than $1,400.
The 1993 Topps Jeter rookie will never measure up to the iconic 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie in hobby significance, but it remains one of the most sought-after cards of the ‘90s. The card front sports the lanky future prospect in a navy blue Yankees practice jersey and pinstripe pants against a green-diamond-design backdrop reserved for the “Draft Picks” subset. The card back highlights the 1992 Gatorade and USA High School player of the year who also carried an impressive 3.82 grade point average.
The Topps rookie currently sells for $$8-$10. Printing defects within the green background leave many of these cards in less-than-mint condition. Graded Mint versions are selling for $70. The more limited “Gold” parallel versions displaying gold foil over the nameplate and Topps logo are hot items selling for $22. The Jeter 1992 Topps Gold rookie is not considered rare by today’s standards nor is it highly condition sensitive, but the demand for the card increased during Jeter’s farewell season and will again when he’s Hall of Fame eligible. Highly-graded versions are selling for over $30.
With more post-season records than any player in baseball history, the most career hits for a shortstop, five World Series wins and 12 All-Star appearances on his resume, the face of the Yankees for the past two decades has secured a high standing in the hobby for many years to come.
Since joining the Red Sox 13 years ago, David Ortiz has become the face of the franchise, leading the team to three World Series championships while becoming just the 27th member of baseball’s exclusive 500 home run club. On the verge of retirement, Ortiz has become increasingly popular among baseball card collectors. A wide-range of Ortiz variation, rookie, game-used-memorabilia, and autographed baseball cards have been heating up the hobby since the start of the 2016 season, but for the people of Boston there is one card that stands out from the others.
Some of the most memorable and coveted baseball cards are the ones that capture a unique moment in baseball or a city’s history. The extremely limited variation of Ortiz’s 2013 second series Topps card captures one of the more emotional moments in the Boston sports history. A defiant Ortiz took the field just five days after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing, making an impassioned, heartfelt speech declaring the city’s resolve.
Known in collectible circles as the “Boston Strong” card, Ortiz is pictured with a microphone in one hand and a clenched fist raised to the heavens with the other in front of giant American flag draped over Fenway’s left field wall, creating a uniquely patriotic background. Upon release, the short-printed “Boston Strong” card sold in the $50-$75 range. Following the Red Sox third World Series title in 10 years later that season, the card was selling in excess of $150. With the Big Papi Farewell Tour in full swing, the card is currently selling for as much as $200.
Ortiz played a huge role in the Red Sox six-game 2013 World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .688 with two homers and six RBI en route to being named World Series MVP. The popular Topps World Champion autograph insert set features top postseason sluggers. The 2014 edition captures Ortiz’s famed home run stroke along with his certified signature. Limited to a production run of 50, the Ortiz autographed card sells for $59.
Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, two of the most popular players in Red Sox history, were rightfully inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame last night. The two Red Sox icons announced their retirement and simultaneously tossed out the ceremonial first pitches in the home opener four years ago.
Although Red Sox fans were well aware of Varitek’s significance since his 1998 debut, his rookie baseball card — the 1992 Topps Traded (#123T) — did not receive national acclaim until the Captain’s infamous tussle with Alex Rodriguez that sparked the team’s World Series drive. At the time, this true rookie card sporting the former Georgia Tech star in his Olympic Baseball uniform was selling for $15. Today the same card is a great addition to any Red Sox collection for $5.
On July 31, 1997, the foundation for the the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox World Series teams was put in place. That was the day the Red Sox GM Dan Duquette flee
ced the Seattle Mariners, Heathcliff Slocumb for Varitek and pitching prospect Derek Lowe. Managers, coaches and teammates all confirm that Varitek set the tone for those championship teams.
A catcher with questionable skills in the minor leagues, Varitek became an expert handler of pitchers over his 15-year-career with the Red Sox. He quickly became a fan favorite for his determination and unselfish commitment to winning. As much as anyone, Varitek was responsible for the Red Sox World Series drought ending at 86 years.
So where does Jason Varitek stand in Red Sox history? He caught a major league record four no-hitters, steering Hideo Nomo (2001), Lowe (2002), Clay Buchholz (2007), and Jon Lester (2008) into history. He is the only player in history to have played in the Little League World Series, College World Series, Olympics, Major League World Series and the World Baseball Classic.
The 2007 Upper Deck Goudey “Big League” throwback card (#54) captures one of Varitek’s many unique accomplishments. The card back highlights Varitek becoming the fourth consecutive Red Sox player to hit a home run in an April 2007 game against the Yankees as the Red Sox became just the fifth major league team to smack four straight homers.
The Red Sox Captain has two World Series rings, hit 11 home runs in 63 career postseason games and made three All-Star appearances. His career does not scream Hall of Fame, but he was one of the most significant players to ever wear a Red Sox uniform.
Wakefield also made his mark in Red Sox history. The knuckleballer had 200 career victories, including 186 with the Red Sox, just six shy of the team record shared by Cy Young and Roger Clemens. Wake’s 17 years of service with the Sox is exceeded only by Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Dwight Evans. He’s featured prominently on the team’s all-time list: first in appearances (590), starts (430) and innings pitched (3,006); second in strikeouts (2,046).
Not bad for a minor league first baseman turned knuckleballer claimed off the scrap heap nearly two decades ago. Wakefield’s limited 1988 Watertown Pirates minor league card is a great buy for $10.