Rookie Card Year: 1999
Investment Rating: 6.0
Once a highly touted prospect, Josh Hamilton was pegged in the late-90s as a can't-miss future star. Josh Hamilton cards were among the hottest in the hobby. With high hopes and great expectations, the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Hamilton as the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft. However, a well-documented drug addiction brought an abrupt end to Hamilton's MLB aspirations.
Out of baseball for several years, Hamilton's comeback has been nothing short of miraculous. A self-professed, born-again Christian, Hamilton credits his faith for his dramatic turnaround. In 2007, Hamilton landed with the Cincinnati Reds and hasn't looked back.
Hamilton showed scouts enough that the Texas Rangers, looking for a power bat, were willing to trade for him in the off-season. He hit the ground running right out of the box in 2008. He was selected to the All-Star team and participated in the Home Run Derby, where he set the opening round record with 28 home runs. His amazing display put him back in the national spotlight and he has been an important part of the Rangers success ever since.
Hamilton won the American League MVP award in 2010 after hitting a league-leading .359 to go along with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs. He also helped lead the Texas Rangers to their first World Series appearance.
Following the 2012 season, Hamilton signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels, joining Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Hamilton has just four rookie cards, all from 1999. None are terribly expensive, although high-end collectors can chase after a handful of much tougher parallels.
Over the past couple of years Hamilton has emerged as one of the most collected players in baseball. The combination of his on-field success and comeback story has made him an inspiration to many. Panini immediately signed him as one of their company spokesmen when the added a MLBPA license in 2011. Hamilton's not shy about signing for sets, appearing in many each year. However, because of his popularity, his cards hold solid value. Hamilton signed balls and jerseys are also popular with collectors.
Josh Hamilton Rookie Card Checklist
Hamilton's first pack-inserted rookie card pictures the young star smiling as he leans against a batting cage. It's in stark contrast to the striking tattoos his cards show today. Hamilton also has an International parallel in the set. Not tough to come by, the foil card generally sells for just a little more than the base card.
A chromium version of his regular Bowman card, this is the most desirable Hamilton rookie cards. It is also available in several parallels: International, Refractors, International Refractors (#/100), Gold and Gold Refractors (#/25).
After a few years away from the hobby, Topps Traded returned in 1999 as a boxed set. The picture of Hamilton is very similar to his Bowman cards with Hamilton posing in a batting stance with the shot coming from below. Each 1999 Topps Traded set came with a rookie autograph. Hamilton was included and it's his only major league autograph from 1999.
A chromium version of the basic Topps Traded card, this set was also distributed only in box sets. 1999 Topps Chrome Traded has no parallels or inserts.