Rookie Card Year: 1994
Investment Rating: 7.0
When Alex Rodriguez finally decides to call it a career, he could very well do so with his name atop several key offensive records. And while the shortstop turned third baseman is one of the more recognizable names in the hobby, many collectors look at Alex Rodriguez cards and memorabilia with a cold stare. As a result, prices haven't reached as high as many would've expected.
Breaking into the league with the Seattle Mariners, the baseball world loved Alex Rodriguez. He was the second-coming of teammate Ken Griffey Jr. Within a couple years, the Mariners were one of the game's top draws and most competitive teams. Alex Rodriguez cards were on a tear and everyone was happy.
It didn't take long for the hero to become one of the game's most vilified players when he took his bat to Texas as a free agent following the 2000 season. That's what happens when you sign a contract good for more than $25 million per year. While Rodriguez put up record-breaking numbers with the Rangers, the team struggled. Many always argued that the massive contract stretched team resources too thin so they weren't able to build a deeper team.
Rodriguez lasted just three years in Texas. He was sent to the New York Yankees where he moved to third base to team with Derek Jeter. Now with a high-profile team, Rodriguez's controversial persona was matched with the polarizing Yankees. He remained one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, but Alex Rodriguez cards didn't see the same significant bump other players often get when they move to a big-market team.
After years of rumors, Rodriguez came forward in 2009 and admitted to using steroids. He was also suspended in 2013, leading to a very public battle with Bud Selig and MLB. Although he is hardly the only player to use steroids, his fat contract makes him a big target, even in New York. However, over time, this may present an opportunity for collectors. While any records Rodriguez breaks will be met with skeptics, history may be a little more forgiving and could eventually push Alex Rodriguez cards back up.
No matter how someone looks at Rodriguez, the numbers already have him as one of baseball's all-time greats. A three-time American League MVP, he has the potential of breaking Barry Bonds' all-time home run record. Should that happen, Alex Rodriguez cards will certainly get a bump. It will also be a telling time to see if fans are willing to looking his perceived greed and past transgressions.
There are six Alex Rodriguez rookie cards to chase down. They range from reasonably priced entry-level cards to rookies in premium products. The most popular Alex Rodriguez rookie card is from 1994 SP Baseball. It's interesting to note that none of the first-year Alex Rodriguez cards were produced by Topps. He did not sign a contract with the card maker until 1998.
Alex Rodriguez Rookie Card Guide
Population reports current as of 10/13.
The 1994 Collector's Choice Alex Rodriguez is an affordable but attractive rookie card. Collector's Choice was Upper Deck's entry level product. It was aimed largely at young collectors. However, the classy design and youthful portrait make it a visually appealing choice for anyone. 1994 Collector's Choice Baseball has two parallels that feature foil facsimile autographs: Silver Signature and Gold Signature.
1994 Flair was a new super-premium brand. The thick glossy finish and thick card stock weren't common in the hobby at the time. Combine those with the gold-foil nameplate and gorgeous dual-photo card fronts and you have a very memorable set that still stands out today. The 1994 Alex Rodriguez rookie card is from Series 2. He is also featured in the 1994 Flair Wave of the Future insert set.
Distributed as a box set, the 1994 Fleer Update Alex Rodriguez rookie card shows the youngster flexing a little muscle. The simple white-border design remains popular with collectors today. Although the price has dropped in recent years, due in large part to ample supply, it is an excellent choice.
The grand-daddy of all first-year Alex Rodriguez cards, not to mention one of the most iconic cards of the 1990s, 1994 SP features a simple portrait of the future Hall of Famer. Notoriously condition sensitive, professionally graded mint and gem mint copies command high prices. This, despite the shortstop's drop in overall popularity in recent years. When purchasing online, it's wise to request full-sized scans of both sides of the card to check against edge wear. The 1994 SP Alex Rodriguez has a Die-Cut parallel. The set also featured him in the popular Holoviews and Holoviews Die-Cut insert sets.
For those looking for an Alex Rodriguez rookie card that's a little different, 1994 Sportflics Rookie/Traded might be the answer. Produced with lenticular technology, it attempts to capture Rodriguez attempting a double play at second base. Although readily available, it doesn't appear to be quite as plentiful as many other 1994 Alex Rodriguez cards. For those looking for a greater challenge, the set has an Artist's Proof parallel. There's also a 1994 Sportflics Rookie/Traded Rookie Starflics insert.
The 1994 Upper Deck Alex Rodriguez is one of his most memorable rookies. As a part of the Upper Deck base set, it's one of the most widely collected. The foil finish, inclusion in the long-running Star Rookies subset and a fun photo all add to its appeal. There's also an Electric Diamond parallel and a holographic Next Generation insert (that also has an Electric Diamond version).
Alex Rodriguez Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find examples of what an authentic Alex Rodriguez autograph looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Some of the trusted sources within the sports memorabilia market include the following companies: PSA, JSA, Steiner, Tristar and Mounted Memories. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.
Cut Signature Exemplar #1
Alex Rodriguez signature, circa 1994-2000
Alex Rodriguez Key Signature Attributes #1: An authentic Alex Rodriguez signature will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Rodriguez's signature has changed drastically since his early days with the Mariners. Items signed from that time period will exhibit at least some of the following signature features:
- Over-sized letter "A" fully closed that flow into a legible letter "l"
- Very small but distinguishable letter "e" and the letter "x" crossed at the same signature angle
- Over-sized letter "R" usually with an open loop
- When he takes the time, all letters in his last name are identifiable
- The letter "d" is looped like a cursive "l"
- The letter "g" is discernable and flows into the letter "u"
- The letter "e" is much larger than the same letter in "Alex"
- The letter "z" features a closed loop on the bottom of the letter that finishes the signature
- Often, but not always, accompanied by his jersey number "3" (Mariners, Rangers) or "13" (Yankees)
Cut Signature Exemplar #2
Alex Rodriguez signature, circa 2005 - Present
Alex Rodriguez Key Signature Attributes #2: Due to increased demand, Alex Rodriguez's once flawless signature, gave way to a more athlete inspired scribble. More recent samples of Alex Rodriguez autographs will display the following signature features:
- Over-sized letter "A"
- A scribble connecting to the letter "R" which is over-sized with a closed loop
- A distinguishable letter "g"
- A letter "u-e" combination that resembles more of either an "i" or "u"
- A lazy letter "z" with a very round loop
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