Top 10 Ichiro Suzuki Rookie Cards
For those who collected back in 2001, they'll remember the excitement of baseball card products that year. Ichiro Suzuki rookie cards played a huge part in that. Along with Albert Pujols, the pair had their first cards released throughout the year. Neither had prospect cards years in advance like we see today — at least MLB cards printed for North American audiences. Ichiro did have several Japanese cards ahead of his arrival in Seattle, but they're not considered by most to be mainstream cards. Ichiro and Pujols weren't completely exclusive to one brand. It was a rare occurrence, indeed.
By the time the final 2001 baseball card sets were released, Ichiro Suzuki had more than 40 rookies and plenty of inserts. Although the Japanese legend's career is winding down, Ichiro Suzuki rookie cards are still tremendously popular and things are picking up as he pushes for 3,000 MLB hits.
Below are our picks of the top Ichiro rookies. While value played a role in the selections, it's not the lone criteria. Rankings can be subjective, but we feel all of these cards are worthy additions to any collection.
Top 10 Ichiro Suzuki Rookie Cards
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The art-focused 2001 Topps Gallery Ichiro Suzuki has a painted image that makes it stand out from all of his other cards. Inserted in packs as a redemption, it comes with two different versions: English and Japanese. Both were printed in equal quantities.
For those who can't afford the high-end Ichiro Suzuki rookie cards, 2001 Topps Chrome Traded represents a perfectly affordable alternative. It's a quality chromium card that doesn't rely on bells and whistles. The Refractor parallel is also very popular.
This UD card is just one of two Ichiro rookies to have a jersey swatch. Further fueling the card's appeal is the low print run of 500 copies. The Pros & Prospects brand never really caught on for Upper Deck, though. So while this is still a desirable card, it doesn't command the attention it might if it were from a different set.
Since its inception, the E-X brand (or whichever name it took on) could be counted on for unique looking cards done with different materials. The 2001 E-X Ichiro Suzuki has a layered look. His image is on top using a piece of acetate. Between him and the Mariners logo underneath are some sparkles. It may sound strange, but it works. The card remains relatively affordable too.
A card that makes the list more because of its rarity than visual appeal, the 2001 Leaf Certified Materials Ichiro Suzuki has just 200 copies. Out of numbered cards, that makes it the second rarest. The design has a lot going on with swirls, horizontal text, vertical text, waves, and an oval base piece in the middle of the card.
It's not the rarest Ichiro Suzuki rookie, but it's one of the most popular. It just goes to prove how powerful branding can be in the hobby. With a print run of 1,250 coppies, it appeals to set builders, rookie collectors and Ichiro fans. That said, supply for the 2001 SP Authentic Ichiro Suzuki has long since dried u,p making it a tough card to find now.
The 2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro Suzuki has a few things going on. First, all 2001 Bowman Chrome rookies are done as Refractors, helping them stand out a little more. They're also short prints, making any given card somewhat tough to pull. Like the 2001 Topps Gallery Ichiro rookie, there are also two versions. The variation features Japanese text on the back. Despite not being numbered, this ranks among the most valuable Ichiro Suzuki rookie cards.
The 2001 Leaf Limited Ichiro Suzuki lives up to its name. Numbered to 100, it is by far his rarest rookie card. It also has a small piece of a game-used base. The extreme rarity might actually work against the card a little as so few people actually have a chance to get it. But that's still somewhat relative and it generates a lot of attention on the rare occasions that one does surface.
If you're looking for the most valuable Ichiro Suzuki rookie card, look no further. The 2001 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ichiro Suzuki is one of just two signed rookies of the Japanese superstar. With a print run of just 250, it's also extremely scarce.
When it comes to Ichiro Suzuki rookie cards, 2001 SPx is his most iconic. It's his only rookie to deliver both an autograph and a jersey swatch, something that was still quite rare at the time. Although it's not as valuable as his Ultimate Collection card, it's still extremely popular. The SPx rookie card is not numbered but it's definitely more readily available than the Ultimate Collection autograph. It's this availability that actually helps the card's standing. It was perceived as more attainable so it caught the attention of the hobby. It was also his first autograph card, arriving to a very hot market.