Rookie Card Year: Baseball 1986, Football 1988
Investment Rating: 7.0
Bo Jackson is one of the greatest multi-sport athletes in the history of professional sports. A serious injury kept him from achieving his full potential, but collectors still respect his contributions as a football and baseball player, as well as his relevance to both sports. Bo Jackson cards and autographed memorabilia remain strong sellers and there has been a resurgence in values for his collectibles in recent years.
Despite being drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft, Bo Jackson decided to attend the Auburn University to play baseball and football. He also competed in track and field. Jackson excelled at both baseball and football and twice reached Nationals in the 100-meter dash. Even with his blazing speed, he chose to concentrate on the main two sports. During his final year of football, Jackson produced a impressive season for the Tigers and won the Heisman Trophy.
Although he hoped to build upon that success in his final season of college baseball, an apparent miscommunication resulted in him taking a non-sanctioned trip to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team who drafted him first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft. The NCAA declared that this trip voided his college eligibility and he was unable to complete the baseball season with the team. Jackson decided to not sign with the Bucs and elected to sign with the Kansas City Royals instead. The Royals had drafted Jackson in the 1986 MLB Draft.
Bo Jackson would start his professional baseball career in the minor leagues, but was called up to the Majors late in the 1986 season. After he made the Royals' major league roster in 1987 and played out the season, Jackson surprised nearly everyone by joining the Los Angeles Raiders halfway through the NFL season. The Raiders had selected Bo Jackson with a 7th round pick. He slipped that far because many doubted he would ever play football again. From there he would juggle the two sports, showing glimpses of brilliance in both. An All-Star appearance and All-Star MVP award in 1989 put him on the national stage in baseball. And despite playing a truncated season and backing-up Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson wowed NFL audiences with his speed and abilities on the football field.
Who knows what Jackson could have done if he continued progressing in both sports? Unfortunately, that question will never be answered because of a hip injury sustained in a NFL playoff game in early-1991. The injury eventually resulted in Jackson needing a hip replacement, ending his football career. He would spend a few more seasons in the MLB, first with the Chicago White Sox and then with the California Angles, but he was never the same player.
Outside of his sporting endeavors, Bo Jackson was fairly prominent in popular culture thanks to his "Bo Know" Nike ad campaign, and his inclusion in several video games.
View a detailed listing of all Bo Jackson rookie cards on the next tab. The list includes his baseball and football rookie cards, and notable minor league cards and college-themed cards.
Bo Jackson Football Rookie Cards
The sole Bo rookie card from his football career, 1988 Topps shows a young Bo Jackson in a non-action shot, looking off into the distance. The mass-produced product keeps most card values low, although high grades sell for solid amounts.
Bo Jackson Baseball Rookie Cards
It is important to note that although Bo Jackson made his major league debut in 1986 and several cards were issued to reflect that, some view his 1987 cards as his rookie offerings. This is because his Donruss The Rookies and Topps Traded cards came as part of a factory sealed sets, with limited availability, and not all collectors considered Sportflics a true baseball card product, despite being licensed by the MLB.
Wrapped in late-80's goodness, the diagonal cutout image includes a posed profile photo of Bo Jackson and a striped green border. Like his football rookies, values remain low. There is also another 1986 Donruss card for Jackson which came in Donruss Highlights. The 56-card set commemorates events from the season and recognized Bo Jackson for the "Longest HR in Royals Stadium." A rare error includes white text for "Highlights" instead of yellow and commands a significant premium.
Utilizing a 3-D technology called lenticular printing, 1986 Sportflics did not enjoy much initial popularity. Despite being MLB-licensed, it was generally overlooked by the masses and is less available than other Bo Jackson rookie cards. By rotating the card, three different images can be viewed. This includes a pre-swing image, post-swing image and close-up shot of Bo Jackson.
The 1986 Topps Traded rookie card uses a very similar image of Bo Jackson as the 1986 Donruss The Rookies card. Again, values are on the low side, but higher prices can be found with the Tiffany parallels. The limited cards had a print run of 5,000, a minuscule amount at the time.
Bo Jackson Minor League & College Cards
Bo Jackson was not in the minor leagues for long, but a few cards were produced that are still easily found and popular.
With a more intricate look than the typical minor league design from this period, Donn Jennings Southern League All-Stars card pays homage to the successful campaign put forth by Jackson while playing for Memphis. The 25-card checklist also includes Tom Glavine, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.
With a simple design and smiling image of Bo Jackson, the Memphis Chicks team set from Time-Out Sports features one of the very first baseball cards for Bo Jackson. The gold base version is limited to 10,000 sets and the silver version is half that, with 5,000 sets. There is also an unauthorized card that features a similar design but a another image of Jackson. The main difference is that the unauthorized card includes an image of Jackson wearing the gray Memphis jersey seen in the Donn Jennings cards above.
Painting a perfect picture of his love of two sports, the Auburn grad gestures with a baseball bat while dressed in his football uniform. Gem mint copies sell for as much as $560.
Also, while they are not baseball or minor league cards, Tiger Great cards issued by Auburn University as part of a 16-card set, include Bo Jackson. Jackson is featured on both a baseball card and a less common football variation. They have proven to be some of the most valuable Bo Jackson cards and gem mint copies sell for as much as $1,500. Frank Thomas is also included, but is part of the base set.
Bo Jackson Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Bo Jackson's authentic signature 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, Schwartz Sports and Tristar.
Bo Jackson Cut Signature Exemplar
Bo Jackson Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Bo Jackson signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on what point in his career it was signed.
- The signature beings with a large, swooping "B," which can resemble a trash bag with a drawstring or a drawing of an apple or tomato.
- Next, a "J" overlaps the "B" and gives the appearance of "Bo." The "J" is reminiscent of a "9."
- The pen lifts and a tiny "a" goes directly to a large "k," bypassing the "c" in Jackson.
- The signature finishes with a standalone "s" and cursive "o-n." The "n" generally ends with a downward flush.
Bo Jackson Signed Baseball
Bo Jackson Signed Football
Bo Jackson Signed Bat
Bo Jackson Signed Football Helmet
Bo Jackson Signed Batting Helmet
Bo Jackson Signed Baseball Jersey
Bo Jackson Signed Football Jersey
Bo Jackson Signed Photograph
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