I used to love looking through he Beckett magazines checking out prices and then reading all the articles about new sets, error cards, and super collectors. A few years ago, Julie from A Cracked Bat and a Hot Dog sent me a bunch of old Becketts. I look through them every now and then. I used them for this post, so thanks Julie!
Growing up in the late 80's and early 90's there were a couple of players that always seemed to be battling it out for #1 on Beckett's Hot List. My favorite player of all-time; Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas. Both were amazing, but I am biased towards Griffey. For a time I even somewhat despised Thomas because he would occasionally take over that number one spot.
Griffey had the iconic 1989 Upper Deck rookie card and Frank Thomas would make his rookie card appearance just one year later in 1990. Aside from the mythical NNOF Topps rookie card, Thomas's most iconic rookie card was his 1990 Leaf card.
First off 1990 Leaf was one of the first premium sets out there and the price of the card just seemed to skyrocket. I don't know when it made it's first appearance in a Beckett magazine, but I remember that by the time it was on my radar, it was already out of my price range as a 9 or 10 year old.
Over the past several years I've had my eye out for a nicely centered copy at a reasonable price. During the pandemic, the card seemed to skyrocket in price again and for a time I thought I would probably never own a copy. But about a month or so ago, I came across a copy of the card that seemed to be in nice shape and nicely centered for $23 shipped in a magnetic from someone on Twitter and I jumped at it.
With the card in hand, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the price of this iconic card over the years.
The oldest Beckett I have is from June 1991, so we'll start there. When I reference the prices I will be looking at the high column. So in June 1991 the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas Leaf card booked at $18. Again, this was way out of my price range as a 10 year old kid.
Next up is November 1992. In just under a year and a half, the card had tripled and was now at $60. This was just an insane amount to my 11 year old brain.
Pretty big gap between Beckett magazines. The next one is from December 1995. The card had climbed to $85.
In September 1996 the card remained strong at $85. This was $10 higher than the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card.
February 1998 and still at $85 although by this time the 1989 Upper Deck Griffey card was now at $100.
In November 1998 we see a decline as the card comes in at $60. Notice that the 1990 Leaf Sammy Sosa rookie card was listed at an astronomical $120.
In October 1999 we see that the Thomas was still at $60, but the Sosa had dropped to $75. The 1989 Upper Deck Griffey booked at $160 this month.
June 2000 brings another drop in the price of the Thomas rookie card. It checks in at $40. The Sammy Sosa is up just a bit at $80.
We check in next in October 2001. The Thomas continues to decrease and is at just $30. Sammy took a big drop as well and is at $50.
July 2002 sees the Thomas card check in at $20. Not sure why I didn't grab this for a $20 bill in this timeframe. Sosa went back up to $80 this month which is the same price as the 1989 Upper Deck Griffey rookie card this month.
The Thomas rookie card continued to decline as we see a high of $15 for the card in January of 2003. Sosa remained at $80 while the Griffey dropped to $60.
We are going to skip a couple years as we pick back up in September 2006 and we see that the Thomas card is still at $15. Sosa is still almost double at $25 and the Griffey although it continued to decline as well, was significantly more than the other two at a high of $50.
The most recent copy of Beckett that I own is one that I bought myself. It is from February 2010. We see that the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas rookie card had dropped even further with a high of just $12.
Over the next 10 years I would periodically look for the card at shops and shows. I browsed eBay during the pandemic, but prices were just too high. If my memory serves me correctly, which is probably doesn't, I think it was selling in the $50 range. I saw an off-centered copy at a card show for around $35, but just wasn't willing to pay that price for that particular version of the card.
Looks like the price has come down once again. Like I said, I was happy to pay $23 shipped for the card I got. How about you? Do you have the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas card in your collection? When did you get it and how much did you pay for it?