Retired left fielder Rickey Henderson spent 24 seasons in MLB for nine teams from 1979 to 2003, including four stints with the Oakland Athletics. Henderson won two World Series during his career, in 1989 with Oakland and in 1993 with Toronto.
He used the ultimate combination of power and speed to break numerous major league baseball records during his career. An obvious lock, Henderson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Here’s what you need to know about the best Rickey Henderson rookie cards to collect.
The Best Rickey Henderson Rookie Cards
There’s only one true Rickey Henderson rookie card, found in 1980 Topps. We’ve also included a duo of XRCs to round out the list.
3. 1979 TCMA Minor League Rickey Henderson #808 (eBay)
The 1979 TCMA pre-rookie card is his first color option. It lists Henderson as a simple outfielder, while you can often find cards that were signed by the player after the fact. (An example is seen in the image above.) It features Henderson during his time playing with the Ogden A’s, the franchise’s AAA affiliate.
The TCMA release might not be an official RC, but it’s still exceptionally valuable. PSA 10 graded copies will easily sell for four figures.
2. 1977 Chong Modesto A’s Rickey Henderson #5 (eBay)
The 1977 Chong Modesto A’s XRC is Henderson’s first ever professional release. The black and white card focuses on his time spent with the Modesto A’s minor league team. One of 22 cards in the set, Henderson’s card features a typo in his first name as it was spelled “Ricky.”
It can be tough to locate, with only 34 PSA graded copies in total. However, it has been reprinted many times, so we’d advise to be wary if you’re planning to add an ungraded copy to your personal collection.
1. 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson RC #482 (eBay)
The key to 1980 Topps Baseball, the true Rickey Henderson RC features a facsimile copy of his autograph at the bottom of the card, and an action shot of the player in a batting pose.
The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson RC has to be seen as the one to collect, and it’s eye-wateringly expensive if you’re looking at higher grades. For example, a PSA 9 copy recently sold for just over $2,200.
Values rise to over $100,000 for PSA 10 copies.
Rickey Henderson Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
What does the market look like for the best Rickey Henderson rookie cards? We give our opinions in this buyer’s guide.
Any of the trio of cards seen above can be snagged for less than you might have expected. The same can’t be said for pristine versions, but there is an option to suit every budget. (For example, a PSA 5 copy of the 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson RC recently sold for $51.)
The 1980 Topps RC has the benefit of being included as part of a flagship collection, and there’s no competition to speak of. It’s got to be the best Rickey Henderson card from an investment perspective. This is evidenced by the meteoric rise in values over the past decade.
Rickey Henderson Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Henderson is a living legend, who broke Lou Brock’s 1974 record of 118 stolen bases in a season in the Athletics’ 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980. He led the American League in steals 12 times and went on to be the all-time record holder with 1,406, earning him the nickname “Man of Steal”.
It’s not tough to pick up any of the best Rickey Henderson rookie cards, unless you’re looking at PSA 9s and above. The Topps RC was released over 40 years ago, while over 27,000 copies have been slabbed by PSA. Supply probably exceeds demand, unless you’re looking at the upper end.