Among the best hitters of the 1990s and 2000s, Gary Sheffield was the 25th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 500 career home runs. "Sheff" made his MLB card debut during the summer of 1989, including an appearance in the premiere edition of Upper Deck Baseball. This list looks at some of the top Gary Sheffield cards.
Sheffield began his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1988, but also spent time with the Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, and Mets over the course of 22 years. The peak came in 1997 when he anchored a Marlins team that won the franchise's first World Series title. With so many different stops, Sheffield was frequently paired with Hall of Fame players, including Tony Gwynn, Adrian Beltre, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Cabrera.
Issued in 1989, there are many Gary Sheffield rookie cards available. Given the era, they are all inexpensive and easy to find since they were produced huge numbers. Although Sheffield was a popular All-Star-caliber player throughout most of his career, he is still more of a niche name in the baseball card hobby. While some of his contemporaries have expensive, high-end inserts and parallels, Sheffield has always been a star player with a very reasonable secondary market.
As for recent cards, Gary Sheffield appears in some of the newer baseball card sets and has become active with certified autographs. While hardly a lock for the Hall of Fame due to his PED links, he does warrant consideration and his cards would get a nice boost if he ever entered Cooperstown.
The list below highlights many of the best Gary Sheffield baseball cards, including his key rookie cards and most popular autographs.
Top 10 Gary Sheffield Baseball Cards
Bolded sets go directly to detailed product profiles and checklists when available.
10. 1998 Topps TEK Gary Sheffield #29
1998 Topps TEK is one of the ultimate challenges for player collectors. Each of the 90 players in the set had a total of 90 different patterned backgrounds, plus there were Diffractor parallel cards for each of the 90 patterns. The Diffractor cards came one per box, so they are a tough find and much more pricey than the regular base cards. There are many copies of the base cards still on the secondary market, and they are generally not expensive. If you are looking to find all 90 Gary Sheffield cards from this classic 1990s set, all it takes is just a little bit of patience.
9. 1988 CMC AAA All-Stars Gary Sheffield #14
Prior to the creation of the Colorado Rockies, Denver was a host city for Minor League Baseball. The Zephyrs were the last farm team to entertain fans in the "Mile High City." Gary Sheffield only played 7 games in Triple-A during the 1989 season, but he still ended up in the 1988 CMC set. While there are several different Gary Sheffield pre-rookie cards, this one is helped by the other players included in the checklist. Collectors can find pre-rookie cards of Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, and John Smoltz.
Another popular minor league choice is his 1988 Best card (#1) with the El Paso Diablos.
Going back further, Sheffield has a 1987 Procards release (#239) from his time with the Stockton Ports. This set also has a card for Jim Morris. He is the basis for Disney's The Rookie film where Morris was played by Dennis Quaid.
8. 2010 Upper Deck A Piece of History 500 Club Gary Sheffield #500HR-GS
Upper Deck's 500 Club insert is one of the most popular relic card lines of all-time. Starting in 1999 with a batch of cards that included Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays, the set continued for a decade until 2010, where Gary Sheffield was the final card. Along the way, Upper Deck added every member of the 500 home run club except for Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. Upper Deck kept the same design throughout the entire run of cards, with Sheffield's card holding one difference from the rest of the set. UD lost its license to produce MLB cards, meaning the team logos on the Sheffield cards were not visible, or at least they were not supposed to be.
7. 1993 Donruss The Elite Series Gary Sheffield #28 #/10,000
There have been plenty of great Gary Sheffield inserts over the years, and the best thing about them is that they are often some of the most affordable cards in some of the top sets. The original run of 1991 Donruss Elite attained legendary status with collectors, but the subsequent years are also very popular. Sheffield appeared in the third edition of Elite alongside Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, and several other Hall of Famers.
6. 1993 Topps Finest Refractor Gary Sheffield #31
The initial Finest Baseball set was first released in 1993, and with it, the baseball card world was introduced to the term Refractor. Things have not quite been the same since, but the popularity of these cards has remained steady. Outside of his rookies, this Finest Refractor is the standout card from Sheffield's early baseball cards. Gary Sheffield was well thought of with rookie collectors when he first started appearing on Major League Baseball cards in 1989, but his performance on the field in 1992 led to more exposure in the hobby. Finest is a prime example of this.
5. 1996 Select Certified Mirror Parallels Gary Sheffield #3
Modern collectors are well versed with the term "rainbow" from collecting different colored parallels of their favorite players. The concept of the rainbow started with this Pinnacle brand back in the mid-1990s. There are a total of six different parallels for collectors to find, all with different odds. The Mirror parallels, which came in red (90 copies), blue (45 copies), and gold (30 copies), are the most highly desired. All three of these Mirror parallels have less than 100 copies made.
There are plenty of Gary Sheffield cards with lower print runs, but collectors will find few as popular or valuable as these three cards. The Certified and Artist's Proof parallels are more affordable options featuring higher print runs and a similar design.
4. 1997 Donruss Signature Series Gary Sheffield Autograph
The first certified Gary Sheffield autograph in an MLB uniform showed up in 1997 Donruss Signature Series. The majority of players in this product have three different cards: a base autograph, a Millennium Marks card numbered to 1,000 copies, and a Century Marks version with 100 copies. Most of the combined totals for any given player fall somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 autographed cards. However, Sheffield was one of the few who did not sign their full allotment of cards. Overall, he autographed only 400 cards. That means there are the full 100 copies of his Century Marks cards, but only 300 copies of his Millennium Marks card.
3. 1989 Topps Gary Sheffield RC #343
The number of players with more than 500 home runs is small, and collecting their rookie cards can be quite expensive. Sheffield is one of the exceptions. Gary Sheffield rookie cards are all mass produced releases from the "junk wax era" that will only cost collectors a small sum. The "Future Star" stamp at the top of this Sheffield card was a hallmark of Topps rookie cards during the late-'80s. He shared this classic 1989 Topps design element with other hot prospects of the day, including Randy Johnson and Gregg Jefferies. Collectors willing to spend a little more can opt for the limited Tiffany version.
2. 1989 Bowman Gary Sheffield RC #142
The Bowman brand went dormant in the 1950s, but was brought back by Topps in 1989. Bowman would eventually evolve into a prospect-oriented line, but the 1989 edition focused heavily on veteran players. Still, Topps managed to squeeze in a few draft pick and prospect cards throughout the set, most notably Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Sheffield. The simple design of this Gary Sheffield rookie has made it a popular choice amongst graded card collectors. The white borders, card stock, and extra quarter-inch height all offer challenges to finding this modern Bowman classic in mint condition. Like flagship Topps, there is a Tiffany version of this card.
1. 1989 Upper Deck Gary Sheffield RC #13
1989 Upper Deck is one of the greatest modern baseball card sets. The innovative product brought us foil packaging, tamper-proof holograms, and also introduced many collectors to young Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Gary Sheffield. Sheffield's Upper Deck rookie is also an affordable card, with the high-grade copies being comparatively inexpensive to other members of the 500 home run club. It is worth pointing out that there are several Hall of Fame rookie cards in the 1989 UD Baseball set, including Ken Griffey Jr., John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Craig Biggio.
One interesting twist on the Gary Sheffield rookie card is a printing error with the "SS" position label on the top right of the card. There are a fair number of cards with the letters upside down that do carry a slight premium.