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The most valuable baseball cards of the 1990s

While the early 90s saw baseball card skyrocket during the junk wax era, it also saw some really great sports card innovations that led to some really valuable cards being produce due to their rarity, collectibility, condition and the fame of certain players.

The most valuable baseball cards from the 1990s can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the valuable cards (but still valuable and very coveted) in this list can be had for a few hundred. I could have filled this list using just cards of Ken Griffey Jr and Derek Jeter, but for the heck of it, I stretched the meaning of the “most valuable” so I could include some really nice non Griffey, non Jeter cards, including the Michael Jordan SP card, the Frank Thomas No Name Error and others!

Here’s a selection of some of the most valuable baseball cards of the 1990s, in no any particular order:

1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter Foil Rookie Card #279

The 1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter foil rookie card is arguably the holy grail of modern baseball cards for baseball card collectors. PSA 10 examples of this Derek Jeter rookie card can fetch as much as $600,000, though the most recent sale from December 2022 was for $200,000. What makes this card so highly sought after is that its really hard if not impossible nowadays to find raw versions of this foil card in perfect condition.

1991 Topps Desert Shield Chipper Jones Rookie Card #333

The 1991 Topps Desert Shield baseball cards were a special set manufactured by Topps to commemorate the Persian Gulf War and, rather than being sold in stores, these cards were sent to and distributed amongst US military members serving in the Middle East.

Already special due to the rarity of the set, the Chipper Jones rookie card is especially so with PSA 10 graded cards fetching more than $13,000 in July 2018.

1994 Upper Deck SP Alex Rodriguez Foil Rookie Card #15

Like the Derek Jeter Upper Deck SP rookie card, Alex Rodriguez’s foil rookie card from the SP set is also hard to find in top condition. PSA 10 graded cards of this A-Rod rookie card are currently going for around $10,000, though back in May 2021, a PSA 10 version of this card sold at Heritage Auctions for $30,000.

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera Rookie Card #302

Mariano Rivera is arguably the best closer in baseball history. Given that he also played his career for a huge market team that also happens to be the most storied team in baseball, It should surprise no one then that his 1992 Bowman rookie card is feverishly collected.

A PSA 10 graded Mariano Rivera rookie card from the 1992 Bowman set goes for about $800.

1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name on Front #414

A printing error while manufacturing the 1990 Topps baseball set resulted in a batch of these baseball cards missing the name on the front. The rarity of these error cards have made it one of the most sought-after baseball cards from the 1990s.

This baseball card error features Frank Thomas, but without his name on the front and these cards have become a valuable baseball card commodity, with PSA 10 graded cards worth about $20,000 while the PSA 10 copies without the error (ie. with his name on the front) selling for only $100.

1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold Derek Jeter Rookie Card /30 #100

The 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold set is one of the rarest parallel sets of 1996. With only 30 copies of each card, they can be extremely hard to find, let alone in mint condition.

Derek Jeter’s card in the 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold set is one of the more valuable baseball cards from the set and can fetch more than $200,000 for PSA 10 graded cards. In October 2019, a PSA 10 graded card sold for $202,000 at PWCC Auctions.

1991 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #SP1

Although Michael Jordan is primarily known for his basketball achievements, his short baseball career has made this 1991 Upper Deck SP1 baseball card a novelty and highly collectible item.

While much less valuable than some of the other 1990s baseball cards on this list, it’s still highly coveted by both baseball and basketball card collectors. A PSA 10 graded card will still cost you around $450.

1997 Bowman Chrome Adrian Beltre Rookie Card Refractor #182

This year, Adrian Beltre was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot, appearing on over 95% of ballots (exceeding the needed 75% by a fair margin). This refractor parallel of Adrian Beltre’s rookie card from the 1997 Bowman Chrome Baseball set is one of the most valuable baseball cards from 1997, with PSA 10 graded examples selling for around $2,000.


1998 Skybox Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Ken Griffey Jr. #161

Skybox introduced the Precious Metal Gems cards in 1998, which brought the idea of high-end, limited-edition parallels to the baseball card hobby. Combine high-end, limited-edition cards with one of the hottest players ever to swing at a baseball and you’ve got all the makings of an iconic card.

In 1998, a BGS 9 graded copy of the 1998 $66,000 in 2023 making it the biggest Griffey PMG sale of all time.

1993 Topps Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Refractor #110

1993 Topps Finest represented Topps’ first entry into the premium card market. Other premium brands on the market at the time included Upper Deck SP and Fleer Flair. Most importantly, Topps introduced the “refractor” parallel in this set, which were cards that displayed a shiny, rainbow-like finish.

About 200 refractors were produced for each card in the set, which went on to become highly sought after by baseball card collectors.

The 1993 Topps Finest Ken Griffey Jr. refractor is the most valuable card in the set, with a PSA 10 graded example selling for over $18,000 in April 2023.

1994 Upper Deck UDA Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr. Dual Autograph

The 1994 Upper Deck USA Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr. features autographs from two of baseball’s G.O.A.T.’s, Mickey Mantle and Ken Griffey Jr, each representing a different era of the sport.

For many sports card collectors, this 1994 Upper Deck Mantle / Griffey Jr autographed card represents more than just a baseball card; it’s a piece of baseball history.

In August 2022, a BGS 9.5 Auto 10 sold for over $57,000.

Baseball card values can vary and fluctuate based on rarity, condition, grading, and market conditions. Cards in high quality condition (as determined by card grading companies like PSA and Beckett) can increase a baseball card’s value significantly. And while the early 1990s were dominated by junk wax baseball cards, starting from 1993 onward, we started to see more rare and higher end cards get introduced, paving the way for valuable 1990s baseball cards to hit the market.

Rory Hansen

Rory Hansen is a San Diego-based sports card collector and social media influencer. Considered an expert in the process of grading sports cards, he regularly advises other collectors on how to assess, prepare and submit cards for grading. Originally from Canada and now living in the US, Rory collects both hockey cards and baseball cards. His personal collection focuses on Shohei Ohtani, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, Pavel Bure, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo.