The Baseball Hall of Fame has inducted its most recent class, and the two men elected for 2009 (along with Veterans' selection Joe Gordon) took very different paths. All-time basestealing king and feared leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson made it in on his first try, while Red Sox power hitter Jim Rice had to wait until his last shot to finally get voted in.
As with most players who get the call to Cooperstown, interest is definitely up in both men's baseball cards and collectibles. Though neither ever created a frenzy in the hobby during their careers, they did provide a bit of a contrast between the consummate showman Henderson and the more low-key Rice.
Rickey Henderson Collectibles
Henderson's rookie card is well known to collectors, hailing from the 1980 Topps set and picturing him during his first stint with the Oakland A's. It had a high book value of $60 in the April issue of Beckett Baseball and had recently been trading for about half that price online, though Henderson's induction has lifted it higher for the time being. Plenty of graded examples can be found on the auction sites, though true mint cards are rare and a PSA 10 is currently on eBay with an asking price of $10,000.
Autographed Henderson memorabilia is also in fairly ample supply. Steiner Sports has a regular autographed baseball for just under $150 and is already offering one with a "HOF 09" inscription for the same price. Since Henderson bounced around so much during his lengthy career, it's possible to find his signature on pieces from a number of different teams, and Grandstand Sports has autographed 8x10 photos of him as an Athletic, a Yankee, a Mariner and a Met.
Henderson also didn't mind being included with other record breakers, so there are also items he autographed along with other 3,000 hit club members or legends like Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan. And naturally, it isn't hard to find memorabilia focused on his most notable achievement - and he'll tell you all about it - when he broke the MLB career record for stolen bases. It's said that Rickey will no longer sign jerseys or bases, so those items may continue to rise in value going forward.
Jim Rice Collectibles
Cards and collectibles for Rice are a little harder to find but also cost less than Henderson's on average. He actually has two identical rookie cards (Topps and O-Pee-Chee) from 1975 that show him with three other first year players. Both the book values and the realized prices on his RCs have consistently been slightly lower than Rickey's cards.
It's possible to find autographed Rice baseballs authenticated by reputable companies for less than $100. TRISTAR had been offering a signed bat with the stats from his 1978 AL MVP season for just $119, but that item is now sold out through the company's online store.
Another fun way to get Rice's autograph into your collection is with his fellow outfielders from the 70's Red Sox teams, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans. Steiner Sports has 8x10 photos signed by the trio for $160 and 16x20 pictures for $260, while MVP Relics offers a MLB Authenticated baseball with all three signatures for $149.