Don Mattingly was the face of the Yankees organization for the better part of a decade, earning the prestigious honor of being one of only a select few players to be called "Captain" in the history of the famed New York franchise. Beyond his notoriety on the field, "Donnie Ballgame" has long held a special place in the baseball card hobby as one of the most beloved players of his generation. The Don Mattingly cards identified below represent some of the best options available to collectors.
Mattingly took baseball by storm during the early years of his career. The first baseman could do it all. He won batting titles, hit for power, drove in runs, won Gold Gloves, and was named the 1985 American League MVP. While the 1980s represented one of the longest World Series droughts in the storied history of the Bronx Bombers, Mattingly’s exceptional play made him a fan-favorite in spite of the team's absence from the postseason. It also earned him a place in Monument Park, where his number 23 jersey is retired.
The Don Mattingly rookie cards are found in each of the three big baseball card sets from 1984: Donruss, Fleer, and Topps. All three rookie cards have long been considered amongst the better rookie cards of the era. Mattingly's rookie cards have become more affordable since the latter years of his career, and into his retirement, but high-grade copies can still cost a hefty sum.
As a player who was popular across the game, Don Mattingly has continued to appear in more recent baseball card sets. Some of the newer cards are connected to his time as a manager, but the majority still show him as a Yankee during his playing days.
The following guide looks at several of the most notable Don Mattingly cards. There is something for every type of collector in this list, which features his great rookie cards, pre-rookie cards, relics, certified autographs, and inserts.
Top 10 Don Mattingly Baseball Cards
Bolded sets go directly to detailed product profiles and checklists when available.
10. 1981 Arby's Nashville Sounds Don Mattingly
This is Mattingly’s most popular pre-rookie card. In fact, the 1981 release has slowly become one of the key minor league cards from the 1980s. The team-issued set is not overly difficult to find, which also features pre-rookie cards of Buck Showalter and Willie McGee, nor are single copies of the early Mattingly card. It is definitely worth the small price if you are building a collection of Don Mattingly cards.
9. 1982 TCMA Columbus Clippers Don Mattingly #21
Although the TCMA Columbus Clippers card is not as aesthetically pleasing as Mattingly’s Nashville Sounds card, it is a little more difficult to find. It can also cost more. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, check out his 1982 Columbus Clippers Police card.
8. 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game Yankee Clippings Don Mattingly
Most collectors know Greats of the Game for the impressive autograph checklist, but the 2000 Fleer set also had the Yankee Clippings insert, which is hailed as one of the best memorabilia releases of all-time. There are a total of 15 different cards including Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield. The Don Mattingly jersey card is widely considered the top relic available of the long-time first baseman.
Obviously, there are many other relics available for Mattingly.
7. 2001 Topps Archives Don Mattingly #8 Autograph
Mattingly has been a generous signer since his retirement at the end of the 1995 season. While there are many choices out there for collectors, his 2001 Archives autograph has always held a special place. The card is a reprint of his rookie card with a certified signature added. Although it is not a short print, more and more copies of this card have found homes in collections, leaving less for those still trying to find this gem.
If you can't manage to find one, he also has a similar signed card in 2018 Archives as part of the Topps Rookie History reprint insert.
6. 1993 Topps Finest Refractor Don Mattingly #98
Mattingly’s Finest Refractor is one of the more pursued cards in this classic 1990s parallel set. Raw copies of his card can frequently sell for more than graded copies of other star players. However, there is a bit of a twist with the Mattingly cards in 1993 Finest. He was also one of the players that Topps used in the promotional set for hobby shops. Like the regular base cards, the sample cards came with both regular base copies and Refractors. These cards are noted as "Promotional Sample" on the back and the image of Mattingly is cropped differently. The promo version of Mattingly's Refractor is one of his toughest and most expensive cards ever.
5. 1993 Donruss The Elite Series Don Mattingly #24 #/10,000
Mattingly appeared in the third edition of Donruss' The Elite Series. These inserts were numbered as a continuation across the years that they were made, starting with the first eight cards in 1991. Donnie Baseball’s card came in packs of 1993 Donruss Series 1. The odds to pull a card from The Elite Series were never confirmed, but they were steep in spite of the fact that each card was numbered to 10,000 copies. This is by far one of the most popular Mattingly inserts.
4. 1993 Donruss Elite Dominator Don Mattingly #6 Autograph
Shop at Home included one of the Elite Dominator cards when fans purchased a box of 1993 Donruss Series 1 or 2 for the low price of $99. Elite Dominator cards played upon the popularity of the early-'90s Elite inserts. However, the total print was cut from 10,000 to 5,000 copies. In the Elite Dominator set, Mattingly, Nolan Ryan, Juan Gonzalez, and Paul Molitor all signed 2,500 copies of their cards, leaving the other half of the 5,000-card print run unsigned. For Mattingly, the autographed version of his Elite Dominator card is one of his most top certified signatures, while the unsigned edition is still a notable insert card.
3. 1984 Fleer Don Mattingly RC #131
The 1984 Fleer Don Mattingly rookie is the most affordable of his RC trio both in terms of raw and graded copies. The simple white borders of this card make centering and condition easy to judge. While it is not as popular as his Topps and Donruss rookie cards, it is still easily the best rookie card from this set.
2. 1984 Topps Don Mattingly RC #8
1984 Topps is one of the top sets of the 1980s. And the Don Mattingly rookie card is one of the best that the baseball card giant produced during the decade. At the time of its release, and for several years after, this was one of the most coveted rookie cards on the market. The more limited Tiffany parallel is particularly valuable.
1. 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly RC #248
This 1984 Donruss card is not only considered the best Don Mattingly rookie card, but is also regarded as one of the preferred rookie options of the 1980s. It may fall short of cards like Cal Ripken’s 1982 Topps Traded, or the Kirby Puckett and Roger Clemens rookie cards in 1984 Fleer Update, but it is every bit as iconic to baseball card collectors. The simple portrait photo and the clean design of '84 Donruss have long made this a hobby standout.