The 15 Most Valuable Baseball Cards of the 1990's

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

So you're wondering what the most valuable baseball cards of the 1990's are? Let's get in to it!

Chances are you have 1990s baseball cards in Mom and Dad’s attic or a forgotten Air Jordan shoebox. After checking out this list, you may want to track them down and see if any of these pop-up. Much of the 90's fell into the “Junk Wax Era,” where overproduction and poor card quality made many sets lose their value. However, there are still several not-so-hidden gems from this period that are worth some real cash.

Related: The Most Expensive Mark McGwire Cards of All-Time

Since their heyday, players like Jeter, Griffey, Bonds, Rodriguez, Thomas and Gwynn have maintained a strong level of popularity. The kids who collected these GOATs grew up and went searching for their grails.

Today, we will be counting down the most valuable baseball cards of the 1990s. If you’re an avid collector, you’ll recognize some of these iconic designs from Skybox Metal Universe and Upper Deck SP. If you’re just getting started in "the hobby", you’ll get to see some of the most aesthetically pleasing cards ever produced. A win-win by all accounts.

Here you have it - check out the 15 most valuable baseball cards from the 1990's!

15. Derek Jeter 1998 EX2001 Credentials Now /7 - $34,010

Derek Jeter 1998 EX2001 Credentials Now

To start this list off, we have a fabled set from the late 90s, the EX-2001 Credentials. The acetate finish and bright neon colors were unheard of for cards when this set came out. It was fresh and innovative, becoming an immediate hit for sports card collectors.

This is the only raw card you will find on our list. Yet, this Credentials Now parallel is limited to just seven copies, so its rarity speaks for itself. With a sale price of over $34,000 in 2019, it would be interesting to see a graded copy go up for grabs in today’s market. We are sure that many high-end Jeter collectors are waiting for that moment to arrive.

14. Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 E-X Century Credentials Now /17 BGS 9.5 - $35,130

Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 E X Century Credentials Now

Many of these late 90s inserts are surfacing publicly for the first time in years, which gives collectors a new chance to acquire a grail. Case in point: this Credentials Now Griffey is numbered /17, and a Beckett 9.5 grade is nearly impossible for a card like this. Consequently, it became a highly sought-after auction piece in June 2023, ending at just over $35,000. And we’d be remiss to not point out that trademarked follow-through pose that you see on this card.

13. Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 Upper Deck Game Jersey Patch Autograph /24 BGS 8.5 - $42,000

Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 Upper Deck Game Jersey Patch Auto

One of #24’s first pack-issued autograph, this set features a clean game-worn patch and signature of the Swingman. A card like this reminds collectors of Griffey’s flawless penmanship, which may contribute to his consistent autographed market. Everyone wants to add a Griffey auto to their PC, but ones like these almost never pop up. This BGS 8.5 copy last sold for $42,000, so it will be intriguing to see if any higher-graded versions appear at auction anytime soon.

12. Derek Jeter 1999 Metal Universe Gem Masters 1/1 PSA 9 - $43,200

Derek Jeter 1999 Metal Universe Gem Masters

In many newer products, it seems like there are multiple 1/1 variations for every player. That’s not the case here or for any Metal Universe 1/1s. The cartoonish “Caught on the Fly” graphic is an extremely unique addition to the card and one that we don’t see on the modern baseball sets today. The card sold for $43,200 in April 2021, which was just a few months before The Captain’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

T-10. Derek Jeter 1999 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems /50 PSA 9 - $57,600

Derek Jeter 1999 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems

No card screams New York more than this one. We’ve spoken extensively about the Precious Metal Gems market in basketball cards, but they are still highly collectible in other major sports as well. For example, this card reached a whopping price of $57,600 for a POP 1 PSA 9 copy. It features an action shot of The Captain at shortstop, which is paired with a picturesque glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. They just don’t make them like these anymore.  

T-10. Ken Griffey Jr. / Mickey Mantle 1994 Upper Deck Dual Signed BGS 9.5 - $57,600

Ken Griffey Jr. Mickey Mantle 1994 Upper Deck Dual Signed

For us, this is one of the coolest baseball cards to ever exist. Two titans of America’s pastime. Two of the hobby’s most heralded players. Two on-card signatures. Both Little Leaguers and old timers will recognize the iconic portraits on this card. This is the highest-graded copy to ever sell at auction, reaching a sale price of $57,600.  We will never see a card like this produced again, so this will remain a grail for many Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey Jr. collectors. 

9. Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24KT Gold /24 PSA 10 - $59,000

Ken Griffey Jr. 1999 Fleer Brilliants 24KT Gold

This card checks all the boxes. It’s gold, it’s numbered, it’s a PSA 10 and it features an action shot of one of the best to ever do it. A photo scan can only do so much, but holding one of these cards in person feels like you have a bar of solid gold in your hands. With only one Gem Mint 10 in the world, this stunner may have found its forever home during an August 2023 eBay auction. This marks the biggest sale for a PSA-graded Griffey Jr. card, ending at just under $60,000.

8. Derek Jeter 1992 Little Sun Prospects Autograph PSA 10 - $61,200

Derek Jeter 1992 Little Sun Prospects Auto

The #8 spot features the 1992 Little Sun autograph, Derek Jeter’s first trading card. We have noticed the rise of alternative rookie cards in all major sports, and this is a prime example. Some may chase the ‘93 SP or ‘93 Topps Gold, but this card is much rarer. There were only 250 autographed copies produced, so to see one achieve PSA 10 status is remarkable. 

7. Barry Bonds 1999 Fleer Ultra Masterpiece 1 of 1 PSA 7 - $63,000

Barry Bonds 1999 Fleer Ultra Masterpiece

Barry Bonds’s name has evoked intense debate from sports fanatics in the last few decades. However, there’s one point that cannot be argued: Bonds is one of the most impactful players to ever step up to home plate. He single-handedly increased the game’s ratings, and there’s a millennial generation who grew up wanting to be like #25.

After a recent sale of $63,000, this became the slugger’s all-time most expensive card. As always, it’s hard to argue the price of a 1/1, especially when it comes from a heralded set like Fleer Ultra.

6. Ken Griffey Jr. 1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems /50 BGS 9 - $66,000

Ken Griffey Jr. 1998 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems

Just like the Jeter from earlier, a PMG with one of the most influential players in sports on it will result in an iconic card. Given their design, these parallels are susceptible to wear and tear over time. Nevertheless, this 1998 copy still managed a BGS 9 grade and a sale price of $66,000, making it the biggest Griffey PMG sale of all time. With many high-end sales in 2023, rare Griffey inserts are becoming harder and harder to find.

5. Ken Griffey Jr. 1998 Upper Deck “A Piece of the Action” Patch Autograph /24 BGS 8.5 - $84,000

Ken Griffey Jr. 1998 Upper Deck A Piece of the Action Patch Auto

Here we have one of The Kid’s first-ever patch autographs. Pack-issued inserts were not commonplace in the late 90s, and pulling one was no easy feat. Seeing this card maintained well with a BGS 8.5 grade and a perfect autograph grade is impressive in its own right. But this is a Griffey card that rarely appears at a Goldin or PWCC auction, so it’s no surprise that it stands in the top five of our list with a final sale price of $84,000 in October 2022. 

4. Alex Rodriguez 1994 SP Foil Die-Cut Rookie PSA 10 - $115,000

Alex Rodriguez 1994 SP Foil Die Cut

Alex Rodriguez is one of the most talented players to ever grace the diamond, but he often isn’t as collected as players like Griffey or Jeter. The exception comes with this 1994 SP Die-Cut rookie, which has one of the lowest gem rates of any baseball card. With just three PSA 10s in existence, you can see why this one sold for $115,000 in 2021, making it the most valuable A-Rod card of all time.

3. Frank Thomas 1990 Topps “No Name on Front” Error Rookie PSA 10 - $170,400

Frank Thomas 1990 Topps No Name on Front Error

Error cards were a staple of the Junk Wax Era. The notorious Fleer Billy Ripken, ‘90 Donruss Nolan Ryan, and ‘89 Upper Deck Dale Murphy all became very desired pieces. However, no error card has held as much value as the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas rookie which famously forgot to put his name on the card. Thankfully, when you’re as talented as The Big Hurt, people can put two and two together.

This is the only PSA 10 Frank Thomas error card, so it has become a unicorn within the hobby. There is nothing to really compare it to, and this is a rare case where the misprinting and quality issues made a widely desired trading card. It last sold at auction for just over $170,000.

2. Derek Jeter 1996 Select Mirror Gold Rookie /30 PSA 10 - $287,000

Derek Jeter 1996 Select Mirror Gold Rookie

The 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold is likely the second most coveted Derek Jeter card. This PSA 10 copy is a beautiful rendition of a card that is notoriously hard to grade, and it shines bright in any vault or collection. It is only printed around 30 copies, making it much rarer than the aforementioned ‘93 SP Foil. At a time when The Captain is getting heavily involved in the Hobby, this stunner recently sold for $287,000.

1. Derek Jeter 1993 SP Foil Rookie PSA 10 - $600,000

Derek Jeter 1993 SP Foil Rookie PSA 10

Undoubtedly the holy grail of Jeter cards, this 1993 SP Foil card is nearly impossible to gem. The card itself is not rare; in fact, the print run is rumored to be well over 50,000. However, there have only been 21 PSA 10 graded copies in this card’s 30-year existence. It almost goes without saying: this is the quintessential baseball card of the 1990s.

Around the time of Jeter’s Hall of Fame induction, this card traded for as high as $600,000. This number puts the card up there with other great Yankee items, such as the ‘52 Topps Mantle, ‘38 Goudey Dimaggio and ‘33 Goudey Babe Ruth. If you’ve grown up a fan of those navy pinstripes, we’re willing to wager that this one is on your bucket list. 

Which of these legends did you collect growing up? Let us know @CardTalkPod on Instagram and Twitter!

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