One BGS 10 (Pristine) Leaf Frank Thomas Rookie Card snatched $706 in August of 2017. As one of the more popular Hall of Famers in recent years, it's not surprising that this card fetched a high price. But, it's not a price that you'd expect for a 1990 baseball card that is simply a base card! But, the pose is great and the overall card design is clean and simple. It's very attractive to collectors.
That auction just shows how highly sought after 10's are from collected. Another 9.5 also graded by Beckett only fetched about $110 by PWCC auctions on eBay. It was still well worth getting the card graded. That's no number to sneeze at, but it's no $700! Likewise, a PSA 10 of the same card fetched only $77 by PWCC. In 2018, $70 to $80 was the going price for PSA 10 copies of this card, with plenty of eBay sales at that price point.
But in late 2018 and early 2019, PSA 10 Frank Thomas rookie cards started eclipsing the $100 mark in auctions on a regular basis. Considering there are a ton of PSA 10 copies out there (3035 PSA 10 examples as of 2/9/2019), that's quite a jump in price. Of course, his demand makes sense, as he hit over 500 home runs and hit over a .300 batting average in his career (.301) - both milestones that card collectors appreciate.
In PSA 9 graded condition, however, there are over 9200 (!) PSA 9 copies out there. Because of the sheer volume available on the market you're lucky to get $25 for a PSA 9 copy. At about $10 to $20 a card, depending on how many cards you submit at once, grading isn't cheap. But, grading IS worth it for this particular 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas card if you can get it in a PSA 10. Due to essentially breaking even (or worse) on getting a PSA 9 back instead of a PSA 10, collectors are willing to pay a substantial premium for an already slabbed PSA 10 example.
So, what if you don't want to put the time and money into grading? Well, the great news is you can find this card raw under $5 in mint condition! Even better, you can find the entire 1990 Leaf set for $20 or less. The set also has a Sammy Sosa rookie card that collectors are still buying today. If you do decide to grade the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas, since there's a discount on grading more cards at once, there are other cards to consider submitting:
- #12 Roger Clemens
- #21 Nolan Ryan (HOF)
- #25 Greg Maddux (HOF)
- #63 Mark McGwire
- #91 Barry Bonds
- #98 Ryne Sandburg (HOF)
- #125 Bo Jackson
- #154 Tony Gwynn (HOF)
- #160 Rickey Henderson (HOF)
- #178 George Brett (HOF)
- #180 Joey (Albert) Belle RC
- #197 Cal Ripken Jr. (HOF)
- #237 John Olerud RC
- #245 Ken Griffey Jr.
- #265 Nolan Ryan (No Hit King) HOF
- #297 David Justice RC
Many of these cards can fetch $10 or more as graded PSA 10 examples. There are a few other Hall of Famers in the set, such as Eddie Murray, as well.
Frank Thomas continues to be a beloved, charismatic former ballplayer long after his Hall of Fame induction in 2014. While you may not be able to build a retirement fund around his most popular rookie card, it definitely is looking like a strong investment in any baseball card collection. So, thanks, Frank Thomas, for making the 1990 Leaf baseball set worth collecting!