10 Must-Have Mariano Rivera Cards

10 Must-Have Mariano Rivera Cards

For the most part, pitchers don't get a lot of love in the hobby. And when it comes to relievers, it's even worse. But one exception has emerged. As he winds down his playing career, Mariano Rivera cards are finally recognized as being among the hobby's elite.

The are several factors that make him the exception. The first is his dominance as a closer, a roster spot that is known for guys having a couple of strong seasons before dropping. Rivera is the all-time saves leader for a reason. He's managed to hold his spot for nearly two decades. That's dominance.

Shop for Mariano Rivera cards on eBay.

Rivera has also spent his entire career with one team, a rarity in modern sports. Not only has it been one team, but that team is the New York Yankees, the most storied franchise in baseball history.

A throwback to times when autographs were not only legible but a work of art, Mariano Rivera's signature is a thing of beauty. Each letter is formed carefully and with a neat flow. But good luck finding one in a pack. Although there are a couple of hundred different signed Mariano Rivera cards, most are in extremely short supply. The number of actual products that have Mariano Rivera autographs is extremely small. That could change, but for the time being, expect to pay more than you might expect. If you're looking for Mariano Rivera autographed memorabilia, he has a deal with Steiner.

While it's somewhat subjective, we've compiled a list of ten of the best Mariano Rivera cards. We tried to limited it to cards that are somewhat available, so there aren't any one-of-ones. Value isn't the only factor either, although it comes it plays a significant role. More information about his rookie and minor league cards, as well as autographed memorabilia, can be found here.

Top 10 Mariano Rivera Cards

1990 Diamond Cards Tampa Yankees Mariano Rivera #17

The 1990 Diamond Cards Mariano Rivera may not be flashiest card, but it is significant for being the first of the Yankees legend. Predating his official rookie card by two years, it's relatively tough to find but not impossible.

1990 Diamond Cards Tampa Yankees Mariano Rivera 211x300 Image

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera RC #302

Mariano Rivera is something of a modern hobby anomaly. He has just one rookie card. It comes from 1992 Bowman Baseball, a set that's notable for its deep rookie checklist. Another thing the set is known for is the casual (and decidedly dated) attire many of these youngsters are wearing. Rivera looks like he's ready to hit the golf course and not the pitching mound.

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera RC 215x300 Image

1996 Leaf Signature Series Autographs Mariano Rivera

If you're looking for an autographed Mariano Rivera card, 1996 Leaf Signature Series is the most popular. Not only is it his first autograph card, but it's also one of the most attractive. It comes with three different versions that are discernible by the medallion on the front of the card. Bronze is the most common followed by Silver then Gold. All rank among the most valuable Mariano Rivera cards with the Gold version understandably commanding the most.

1996 Leaf Signature Series Bronze Autographs Mariano Rivera1 211x300 Image 1996 Leaf Signature Series Silver Autographs Mariano Rivera 208x300 Image 1996 Leaf Signature Series Gold Autographs Mariano Rivera 213x300 Image

1998 Donruss Signature Series Autographs Mariano Rivera

If the 1996 Leaf Signature Series Mariano Rivera is too expensive, 1998 Donruss Signature Series represents a slightly more affordable choice. The base version, which has a red background, is limited to 900 copies. Numbered to 1000, the green Millennium Marks card is actually more common. The rarest version of the card is blue Century Marks parallel that is limited to 100 copies.

1998 Donruss Signature Series Millennium Marks Mariano Rivera Autograph 213x300 Image

1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Mariano Rivera #53 #/50

Precious Metal Gems don't carry quite the same history and swagger in baseball as they do in basketball. But that doesn't mean they're not valuable. As player collectors look to fill in gaps, many of these wild and rare parallels are seeing strong numbers. The 1998 Metal Universe PMG Mariano Rivera doesn't show up very often now as most have made their way into personal collections. There are other parallels from this era that offer similar loud designs and rarity. 1997 Pinnacle Totally Certified Platinum Gold is another card that nearly made the cut but given its age and print run of 30, it seemed a little too obscure.

1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Mariano Rivera 50 214x300 Image

2004 E-X Clearly Authentics Signature Mariano Rivera Autographs Jersey #/50

Just as Mariano Rivera doesn't have a lot of autograph cards, options for autographed memorabilia cards -- at least ones that are available with reasonable quantities -- are even tougher. And while a card with a print run of 50 is hardly common, the 2004 E-X Clear Authentics Signature Mariano Rivera is one of the first that you might be able to find. Most of the other autographed memorabilia cards released around the same time frame are numbered to 10 or less.

2004 E X Clearly Authentics Mariano Rivera Autographed Jersey 50 213x300 Image

2005 Topps Turkey Red Autographs Mariano Rivera #MR

Inserted in packs as a redemption, the 2005 Topps Turkey Red Mariano Rivera autograph has a stated print run of 192. It carries the distinct Turkey Red look and texture as well as a nice spot for an on-card signature. The card has four parallels, all of which are extremely rare. The Red version has 15 copies, Black has five, two for Gold and the Suede parallel is a one-of-one.

2005 Topps Turkey Red Mariano Rivera Autograph 210x300 Image

2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Patch Mariano Rivera #MR #/35

2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Patch cards are some of the most attractive memorabilia cards. They balance a massive swatch area with enough room for a decent-sized player photo. Numbered to 35, the patches themselves are also amazing.

2009 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Patch Mariano Rivera 35 Image

2010 Topps Triple Threads Autograph Relic Combos Mariano Rivera #ARC5 #/36 with Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra

For many, this card won't win many awards for design. But it does standout for including autographs (albeit stickers) and memorabilia from three Yankees legends. The pairing may be a little curious, but it's doubtful many would complain if one popped out of their box. The base version is limited to 36 copies, although there are a bunch of different parallels.

2010 Topps Triple Threads Autographed Triple Patch Whitey Ford Mariano Rivera Yogi Berra Image

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Autographs Mariano Rivera #60AMR #/60

This card is interesting on a few different levels. The first, and most important (at least from an aesthetic perspective) is the silver signature. It's also got a short inscription wishing Topps a "Happy 60th" that shows that Rivera's printing is as neat as his handwriting. Numbered to 60, it's part of a set that was released across several Topps sets in 2011 as it celebrated its 60th year of making baseball cards.

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Autographs Mariano Rivera Image

Okay, that's ten, but there's one additional set that deserves a special mention, so we'll cheat a little.

2012 Panini National Treasures Mariano Rivera - any

Rivera has a dozen different cards in 2012 Panini National Treasures, all of which are great. The ultra high-end release is all hits. But what makes it really stand out are the more unique autograph and memorabilia options. These include button cards and over-sized autographed memorabilia cards. Other than his base memorabilia card, all are tough to find on their own. But with so many different cards to choose from, a few should be available at ay given time.

2012 Panini National Treasures Autographed Memorabilia Mariano Rivera 260x183 Image

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2002 UD Vintage Timeless Team Game Bat Quads #NYY M.Riv Bernie O'Neill Posa
$36.40
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2002 UD WS Heroes Classic Match-Ups Memorabilia #MUd Alfonzo Rivera
$6.10
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2002 UD WS Heroes Classic Match-Ups Memorabilia #MU99c C.Jones Rivera
$13.65
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2007 FLEER ULTRA #121 MARIANO RIVERA GOLD NEW YORK YANKEES
$5.35
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2013 topps heritage chrome HC42 Mariano Rivera 613 999
$6.99
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2014 Finest Greatest Moments Mariano Rivera Auto Refractor #14 99 NY Yankees
$133.15
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1992 Procards Mariano Rivera RC Complete Yankee Team Set NM-MINT
$9.99
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1997 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED MARIANO RIVERA EXTRA EDITION PARALLEL 500 YANKEES
$14.95
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2009 Topps Heritage Chrome #C24 Mariano Rivera #'d 959 1960
$5.98
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1993 Bowman #327 Mariano Rivera New York Yankees
$7.99
3608871142224040 1 Image
2013 Topps Silver Slate Blue Sparkle Wrapper Redemption #600 Mariano Rivera BOX6
$7.99
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2013 Topps Chasing the Dream Jersey Card Mariano Rivera New York Yankees #18700
$12.99
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BGS 10 PRISTINE MARIANO RIVERA 1994 CLASSIC TAMPA YANKEES # 20 ROOKIE RC
$249.99
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MARIANO RIVERA 2004 THROWBACK THREADS SILVER 100
$20.00
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2009 TOPPS STERLING MARIANO RIVERA PARALLEL #D 32 250
$15.00
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2007 Exquisite Rookie Signatures Mariano Rivera Base #87 (69 75)
$49.99
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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

User Comments

  1. I would have to add:
    card # 61 from 2007 Topps Heritage
    Yellow Letters a true Cardboard Connection!!

    Your site is called:
    Cardboard Connection:
    not
    Autograph Connection or
    Relic Connection!

    I appreciate your efforts
    JOHNNY HERITAGE

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