Back when George Bush was President (George H.W. Bush, that is), Topps produced a baseball card specifically for the Commander in Chief. The rarity generated a lot of buzz at the time. As the years have passed, the 1990 Topps George Bush baseball card has become a piece of hobby history that most collectors can only dream of owning.
1990 Topps George Bush Baseball Card History
According to the debut issue of Topps Magazine, the card came about when one of the President's grandsons pondered why his grandpa never had a baseball card. President Bush played baseball growing up and was the captain of the Yale team that reached the College World Series in 1948. Topps proceeded to make a special card featuring a young Bush in his Yale uniform. It carries the same design as the regular 1990 Topps Baseball set.
The back includes available stats from Bush's time with the Yale team in 1947 and 1948.
In December 1989, Arthur Shorin, the company's chairman, presented a binder of the 1990 Topps George Bush baseball cards to the President at the White House.
Questions about the Rarity
An article in the second issue of Topps Magazine said the 1990 Topps George Bush (#USA1) had a print run of 100 cards. It is not known if Topps held onto any copies other than one Shorin had autographed during his meeting with the President. It was also reported that at least one copy made its way into packs. A People Magazine piece from 1990 cites how a collector claims to have pulled one from a pack they bought at an Illinois card shop.
PSA has unraveled a bit more of the mystery behind the card, discovering there is an easy way to tell if the card was presented to President Bush. White House copies have a layer of coating, making it appear glossy. Those that came from elsewhere do not. That's not to say versions without the coating are necessarily fake, but they weren't among those given to the President. PSA says that this also points to more than the 100 stated 1990 Topps Baseball George Bush cards being in existence. PSA estimates one former Topps employee brought about 70 copies onto the secondary market and there are bound to be others. Nevertheless, the card is still exceptionally rare.
In the years since, several of the cards have entered the market. Most of these have been professionally graded. Already ultra-rare, versions in top condition are even rarer. A BGS 9 sold for $8,655 in February 2018 and lower grades can approach $1,000 or more.
Other George Bush Cards
A year after the 1990 card was issued, regular collectors got their chance at George Bush cards when Topps made 1991 Operation Desert Storm. Since then, the President has appeared in lots of sets, including autograph and memorabilia version in a couple of Topps and Donruss/Panini products.
Collectors finally got a more realistic shot at pulling a "1990" Topps George Bush baseball card from a pack in 2013 Topps Archives Baseball, or at least a reprint. Topps included it in the 2013 Topps Archives New Errors insert. The only thing is it's not the same card. This new version uses the same 1990 design but pictures the other President Bush, his son, George W. Bush.