Top 20 Frank Thomas Cards

Top 20 Frank Thomas Cards

Frank Thomas cards were some of the most popular during the 1990s. One of baseball's top hitters at the time, he could hit for average and power. Thomas could be counted on to do just about anything at the plate.

Hitting his peak at a time when the hobby was big into experimenting, there are a lot of flashy Frank Thomas cards out there. Actually, there are a lot of different Frank Thomas cards, period. These range from cheap base cards in overproduced sets to modern hits that come with autographs and memorabilia pieces. Collectors have literally thousands to choose from.

Below is a list of 20 (and change) of some of  the best and most iconic Frank Thomas cards of all-time. While value certainly comes into play, it's definitely not the sole criteria.

Top Frank Thomas Cards

1987-88 Auburn Tigers Frank Thomas

The first Frank Thomas card is extremely rare. Produced for Auburn University, the set focuses on greats who attended the school. It has a very plain design, but its notoriety for being the legend's cardboard debut is impossible to overlook.

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1987 BDK Pan-Am Team USA Blue Frank Thomas #36

Honoring the slugger's time with Team USA, this bright card comes with a black and white photo. It's not nearly as rare (or as pricey) as the Auburn card. A similarly designed card with a red border was released in 1990.

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1988 Ballpark Cape Cod Prospects Frank Thomas #14

Tough to find, but not impossible, Frank Thomas leads the 20-card set Ballpark Cape Cod Prospects set. Also on the checklist is another of the era's top first basemen, Jeff Bagwell. The overall layout of the card is very plain and not very flattering, but it does have a solid posed photo. The back looks like a stick of gum.

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1988 P and L Promotions Cape Cod Prospects Frank Thomas #126

Frank Thomas doesn't have a lot of minor league cards that came out before his official MLB rookie cards in 1990. The 1988 P and L Promotions Cape Code Prospects is the most common. Reasonably priced and dreadfully designed, it's an affordable card for those looking for something early and different.

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1990 Bowman Tiffany Frank Thomas #320

Regular 1990 Bowman Frank Thomas rookie cards are about as hard to find as a cigarette butt on a downtown street corner. But if you're looking for some rarity, go for the more premium Tiffany version. Available only in a special factory set, 1990 Bowman Tiffany cards come with a glossy finish. More importantly, the set has a print run of just 10,000.

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1990 Leaf Frank Thomas RC #300

Frank Thomas rookie cards don't get any more iconic than 1990 Leaf. When the Big Hurt was in his prime, this was the card almost everyone wanted. Once upon a time, you could expect to pay $100 or more for this card. Today? Not even close. Even high-grade PSA and BGS versions can be found for around that price. So if you always dreamed of owning a 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas but couldn't afford it, now's a great time to give it a second look.

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1990 O-Pee-Chee Frank Thomas RC #414

Long the overlooked stepchild of the main Topps line, O-Pee-Chee baseball cards offer the same overall look. And much lower print runs. 1990 O-Pee-Chee Baseball looks even more like Topps than most years as the Canadian cards kept the main name. However, backs have a different copyright line and the bilingual text. When it comes to picking Frank Thomas rookie cards, none are wildly valuable anymore. However, the 1990 O-Pee-Chee Frank Thomas offers more of a challenge than Topps or Score, particularly if you're looking for ultra high-grade copies.

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1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name on Front #414

Normally, printing defects are treated as such and don't carry much widespread appeal. The 1990 Topps No Name on Front Frank Thomas is a big exception. While the card does have some black on it, Thomas' name got left off for some reason. The rarity often sells for more than $1,000 still today.

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1990 Topps Tiffany Frank Thomas #414

This is the same situation as Bowman Tiffany. Rarer card + better quality = more valuable  card. It's believed the 1990 Topps Tiffany set has a print run of 15,000. The design is much the same as the regular 1990 Topps Frank Thomas. The biggest differences are the slick glossy finish and light card stock on the back.

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1991 Arena Holograms Autographs Frank Thomas

The significance here is not Frank Thomas in a bow tie. And while holograms are always cool (it's on the front), the key here is that it's the first certified Frank Thomas autograph card. Hand numbered to 1250, there are actually 2,500 total cards. The print run is split evenly between silver holograms and gold ones. Gold cards also have his jersey number inscribed with the signature. Despite its early release, this is one of the most affordable Frank Thomas autograph cards. The lack of license, signature on the back and said bow tie are some of the biggest reasons for this.

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1991 Topps Desert Shield Frank Thomas #79

1991 Topps Baseball is a beautiful set in its own right. But that's not the card that's on the list (though it is $1 well spent). This is the 1991 Topps Desert Shield version. Noted for its special logo on the top, these cards were made specifically for troops in the original Gulf War. History and rarity combine to make it one of the most desired sets of the 1990s, especially when it comes to superstars like Frank Thomas.

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1992 Donruss Elite Frank Thomas #18 #/10000

"Limited edition" is in the eye of the beholder. Today, a print run of 10,000 would get branded as a travesty. In 1992, it really was rare. Although not as iconic as the 1991 Donruss Elite inserts, the cards are widely recognized for kicking off the serial number craze. The follow-ups have a lot of flash along with a young Frank Thomas on the checklist. A fun photo only adds to its odd appeal.

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1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations Frank Thomas #1

Remember when this was the hottest card in the hobby? I remember watching a lot of Perfect Strangers around then too. Times change. And so do card values. This isn't the juggernaut that it once was, but to a lot of long-time collectors, the 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations Frank Thomas still ranks among his most iconic cards. A big part of its appeal is the fact that the inserts were only found in jumbo packs.

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1993 Leaf Update Autographs Frank Thomas #FT #/3500

Leaf did lots of things with Frank Thomas when he signed on as a company spokesman in 1993. From a collecting perspective, none were more important than this card -- the first pack-inserted Frank Thomas autograph. Simple but impressive, the card comes numbered to 3500. It was inserted in 1993 Leaf Update Baseball packs.

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1993 Topps Finest Refractors Frank Thomas #102

Not many parallel sets can make the claim of being iconic in the hobby. 1993 Topps Finest Refractors are a huge exception. They marked new territory that is still a major force in sports card collecting today. With a print run that's believed to be 241, 1993 Topps Finest Frank Thomas Refractors still bring big prices.

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1996 Leaf Signature Series Autographs Frank Thomas

1996 Leaf Signature Series broke new ground for a MLB set, delivering an autograph in every pack. With Frank Thomas as their spokesman, the White Sox great played a big part in the release including signed promo cards. He has Bronze, Silver and Gold Autographs in the first release, each differentiated by the medallion on the front. Not only that, but completists may also want to track down black and blue ink variations. Thomas can also be  found in the Extended Series, which comes with a different design.

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1996 Select Certified Frank Thomas Mirror Parallels #1

1996 Select Certified took rarity to a new level with their Mirror parallels. Although not serial numbered Mirror Red cards are limited to 90. Mirror Blue cards have half that. Mirror Gold parallels are even tougher, limited to just 30 copies each. Although print runs were shrinking across the board at this point, these were still extremely hard to find and still command a lot of attention today.

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1997 Leaf Thomas Collection Frank Thomas #/100, 6 different

There was a big change in baseball cards in 1997. That's when the first MLB game-used memorabilia cards came out. While Upper Deck beat Leaf to the punch as far as being first, the 1997 Leaf Thomas Collection is still very impressive. Inserted in 1997 Leaf Series 2 packs, the set has six different cards, each numbered to 100. Memorabilia swatches include a game-used hat, bat, batting glove, sweatband, a home jersey, and an away jersey.

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1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Frank Thomas #175 #/50

Precious Metal Gems don't have the same history and love in baseball as they do in basketball where Michael Jordan, Kobe and other top stars can pull in thousands of dollars. However, it is starting to rub off on their diamond cousins. Prices on 1998 Metal Universe Baseball PMGs have been creeping up in recent years. Limited to 50 copies each, most have made their way into permanent collections so be prepared to pay should one pop up.

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2012 Leaf Memories 1990 Leaf Buyback Autograph #300 #/35

When the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas first came out, the hobby landscape was very different. When it came to autographs, we only had a faint hope of finding the Reggie in 1990 Upper Deck High Number packs. Today, autographs are king. With 2012 Leaf Memories paying tribute to 1990 Leaf, a signed Frank Thomas rookie was a perfect piece of nostalgia. Numbered to 35, the card is an original rookie card that has been autographed. A foil stamp was also added to the card showing that it's from the release.

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2013 Topps Triple Threads Auto Relic Combo Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr, Bo Jackson #TTARC-JGT #/36

Seeing as how this is a redemption, let's call this a bonus. But when this card finally goes live, how cool will it be? It's tough to argue against having autographs and memorabilia from three of the biggest names from their era on the same card. The basic version has 36 copies but there are also several parallels.

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Ryan Cracknell

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Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.   His 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.

User Comments

  1. I remember my brother and I searching for those rookie sensation. My brother got Thomas and Bagwell. I unfortunately have never had any luck with cards. I got Chuck Knoblock and Pat Listach

  2. Alan I got my Thomas about 6 months ago for less than $5. Well worth the wait.

  3. You’ll find that there is a strong push in the Big Frank Community to find the elusive “Gem” version of the ’92 Fleer Rookie Sensations.

  4. Hi, I have a variation of the oversized, ‘1996 Leaf Signature Series Autographs’ Frank Thomas card, the one on the right of the two pictured above. It is numbered #1112 of 1500 with a silver ‘LEAF’ medallion on the upper left side of the front of the card. It appears to be hand-signed in Black Ink, but the primary difference with this card is it does NOT have the Horizontal Scripting above the black autograph that says: ‘authentic signature’ in lower case. My question is, is this a hand-signed card or a facsimile signature? Thanks in advance for your help – I am a volunteer for White Sox Charities and truly appreciate your assistance. My best, -Bob

  5. Wondering if anyone can help me. I have an unopened box of Frank Thomas cards which if memory serves was produced by “Big Hurt Industry ” … I have them stored for 25 years and was curious of the value. I will attempt to find a picture and post but again if memory serves, these were a limited production run by Frank Thomas.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated

  6. I have a Frank Thomas card not sure of mfg. but I believe it would be a rookie card. It could be an insert but he is on the front in a Sox uniform and on the back the card #13004 of 15000 and the stats sre for 1989 gulf coast, sarasota and 1990 birmingham and white sox.

    Can anyone help as to the value?


  7. I have five 1983 Frank Thomas Collection baseball cards printed by Leaf Inc. in black and white print in mint condition. Trying to get a value of cards, can someone assist me?
    patiently waiting


  8. @Bobby – What you have is the Jumbo version. Pinnacle (remember, at the time Leaf was a product of the Pinnacle Brands company), offered dealers a jumbo autograph for every case of product they ordered. Each series, both 1 and 2, have corresponding jumbos. It’s notable that if dealers order 10 cases or more – they received a fancy framed version of the jumbo which came with a brass nameplate/COA.

    @Todd – A picture is a must. If you find it – you can send it to me at:

    @Murray – That’s an unlicensed card commonly called a “Broder” after the name of a popular unlicensed company. While Broder didn’t produce that particular card, all such cards are now lumped in with that title. It’s fairly common and most collectors add them as novelties. A value of between .25 – .50 is fair market. You can confirm that by checking on eBay.

    @Minnie – That’s a subset issued within 1993 Studio called the Thomas Collection. They’re generally sold as a complete set for between $2-$3. However, there is a special autograph version that was given away by Big Frank thru his Big Hurt Fan Club from 1995-97. Knowing the difference between authentic and fake is important because bogus versions exist.

  9. I have 1992 autographed frank thomas sports stars usa card with a baseball stat error. Instead of 138 baseball walks it has 118 for 1991 year

  10. @Jose – Same as Murray’s card, that’s an unlicensed so-called Broder card. It’s mostly collected as a novelty by Big Frank Collectors. Whether it was signed by Frank can add some value – but it has to be an authentic signature. Trust me, most hardcore collectors can spot fakes. And there are a stunning amount of bogus sigs littered across eBay and ton of other sites.

    Generally, and you can (and should) check with eBay, a genuine Thomas signature adds about $25-30 to a common card. And good reason to be very selective of which cards you put in front of Frank to sign if reselling is your goal since he generally charges about $100 per signature nowadays; less if you order in bulk. To borrow a quote from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”

    You’ll get more if it’s certified by PSA/DNA or James Spence. But remember this: I’ve collected a ton of images showing that PSA and Spence have authenticated obvious fakes. And, again, most hardcore Thomas Collectors can spot them irrespective of the slabs they’re resting in.

  11. I have a Frank Thomas Chicago White Sox card. I have not found one with all the images I have seen. He is standing at bat with his black shirt on and white pants. In the upper left hand corner, it says 50 years and the bottom says First Base & Frank Thomas underneath. I have looked at more than 500 images and have not found this card. It looks like it is in a package of maybe three other cards and the last card in the package says postopia. I have searched and cannot find anything. Could you please tell me where I need to look to find this card. I have seen some similar, with him wearing long sleeves under his uniform, but the card I have, he is not wearing long sleeves under his uniform.

  12. I have a 22kt gold performance frank thomas and walter johnson card. Looking to see how much they would be worth

  13. @LisaL – First you should identify the year of manufacture and the manufacturer itself. In this case: 1996 Danbury Mint. Next step: Go to eBay and enter that information and the player’s name. You’ll notice that while prices swing wildly – even the lower priced items don’t sell very often. Typically this issue sells best when it’s offered the way it was originally packaged – as part of a 50-card set with a faux-leather binder. Even then, that’s not very often. Good luck!

  14. I have a frank thomas card that has no name on the front and no name on the back. Is it worth anything?

  15. @Shellie – Depends greatly on the issue. Your question is missing: The manufacturer, year of production, and other pertinent information.

    More information required.

    However, that said, there’s been a slowly growing movement among a small group within the community of Big Frank Collectors who will pay good money for certain types of errors.

  16. I have a 93 Fleer team leaders Frank Thomas card with no name on front. It is #5of10. I have the same card that does have his name on the front of the card. Have you ever seen or heard of this error? Any value?

  17. @Jon – Short answer: Yes.

    Long answer: Throughout the 90’s, baseball cards which had some foil treatment (that is to say pretty much every card made during those years) suffered some degree of missing foil. Best bet to gauge value is the put up on an auction site like eBay. Start the auction at .99 and wherever it ends is the market price.

    I’m not being glib here. What I’m saying is that the market for missing foil errors depends on a bunch of factors that change on a whim. Some days cards like that go for decent change – other days and you won’t get a single nibble. Card issue plays some role in this – and your ’93 Fleer TL is middle ground as far as that goes.

    Regardless, good luck! I hope you find the right buyer! :-)

    p.s. If you – or anyone reading this – wants to hit decent money, don’t waste your time with missing foil. Instead, look for Variants.

    Talking with long-time collectors often reveals such things. Example: The 1997 Fleer Team Leaders insert.

    A vast majority of these cards, which feature a die-cut edge on one side, are trimmed to the shape of the face of the featured player. However, very early in the process, Fleer attempted to add the brim of the player’s cap into the design. But because that part was so easily damaged, the printers opted to remove it for the remainder of the production run.

    So, if you have a version of these cards with the “Cap” or “Tab” attached – you’ve hit a small fortune.

    These variants are buried inside commons boxes across the baseball card collecting world. And that’s *one* variant. There are many, many more; cards which will reward the lucky searcher with decent money.

  18. Lance- any idea of the 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations production run? I pulled a Frank Thomas insert of this set from a pack back then and still have it to this day. Still may favorite card. Great article–thanks!

  19. @James – This is one of those “full circle” stories of the hobby.

    Back in the day, to score a Rookie Sensations insert, you had to purchase a particular kind of Retail Product. Those inserts were highly prized – and the cost to get them reflected that demand. Smart sellers saw the angle and made a killing off collectors who didn’t have access to the product or weren’t fast enough at the retail counter.

    However, as the years went on, and hobbyists became more sophisticated and demanded higher end premium products, cards like these were left behind to collect dust in dealers boxes and collectors binders.

    Full circle time.

    20 years passed.

    It was the creation of the encapsulated/graded card “Registry” – that once again brought life back to this issue.

    While a vast majority of Rookie Sensations are still relegated to the nickel/dime/quarter-box. A small number – a *very small* number – remain in gem quality condition. Graded that way by one of the established grading companies and that card will bring in huge money!

    The reason: 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations is what’s called a “Condition Sensitive” issue.

    The inserts were printed “full-bleed” – color that goes to the edge of a card’s borders. Cards like that are very prone to chipping; both the edges and corners. Additionally, many of the inserts were printed off-center.

    To find a completely undamaged and perfectly centered 1992 Fleer RS – is something of a minor miracle. And the hobby responds to that kind of miraculous event by way of big time bucks. :-D

    Caution: Pre-grading one’s cards is a highly specialized skill. It’s take a seasoned eye to gauge whether a card has a chance of reaching that lofty plateau. Do not take it upon yourself to just start submitting your cards and losing money.

    Reach out to your fellow hobbyists. Especially those who do a lot of grading. They’ll require very high resolution scans, but most are usually willing to give you their opinion free of charge.

    Good luck! :-)

  20. I have some Frank Thomas baseball card stock posters that are 24″ x 36″.

    6 are signed individually in blue Sharpie and 10 are signed in the plate.

    They were published by Geo Graphics in 1991 and they have the MLB logo on them.

    Do you know anyone who might be interested in them?

    I also have 5 unsigned David Justice posters – same cardboard stock – same size – same publisher same year published.

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