Jim Thome Baseball Cards: Rookie Cards Checklist and Buying Guide
Well respected among his peers and baseball fans, Jim Thome is one of modern sports' good guys. He's also one of the game's all-time great power hitters. Despite this, Thome has also avoided much of the baseball spotlight, smashing long balls under the radar for nearly two decades. Thome joined the 500 Home Run Club in 2007. Despite this fact, Thome cards and collectibles have remained relatively affordable.
Drafted in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians, Thome made his Major League debut two years later at the end of 1991. He emerged as a star in 1994, breaking the 20-home run plateau for the first time. From there Thome's numbers continued to rise, going up to 25 homers in 1995 and 38 in 1996. For his career, the slugger has hit 30 or more long balls in a season 12 times including a career high of 52 in 2002, his last year with the Indians.
Thome's power numbers followed him to Philadelphia, where he signed on as a free agent. With the emergence of Ryan Howard, Philadelphia traded Thome to the White Sox before the 2006 season. He was then sent to the Dodgers in a late-season trade in 2009. Thome played just 17 games for Los Angeles, opting to sign with the Minnesota Twins when the season ended.
Thome has just two rookie cards, both of which hail from the peak period of over production. As a result, they won't send your kids to college. However, they are a bargain when you consider just how good Thome has been over his career. Although not a rookie, many collectors also like the draw of his 1992 Bowman Baseball card, largely due to the popularity of the set.
Jim Thome Rookie Cards
It's too bad that every baseball card set from 1991 was so grossly overproduced because 1991 Bowman has a tremendous rookie crop. Among them is Thome, standing somewhat awkwardly, smirking at the photographer. The posed portrait has a bat on the budding star's shoulder and some heavily outdated red Franklin batting gloves on. Not only printed by the cubic ton, 1991 Bowman Baseball has one of the most boring designs committed to cardboard. This is Thome's only pack-inserted rookie card.
Thome's other rookie card, from 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition, features a strikingly similar photo to its Bowman counterpart. The biggest difference is the fact that Thome's in a full batting stance and his still slightly awkward smile shows some teeth. Judging from the building in the background, the photo looks like it was taken at the same shoot. Upper Deck's design, although similar to 1989 and 1990, was still very strong. 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition was sold only as a set. Today they can be found for just a few dollars, a bargain considering it includes both Thome and the only rookie card of Pedro Martinez.