Searching For Dead Prospects

When I left the Hobby in 1997 it was out of sheer frustration. I had found a young player to get behind and root for and wanted every card of his I could get my hands on.

While I did manage to pick up a few low-end Jose Cruz Jr. baseball cards, his most-wanted issues came from 1997 Bowman Chrome and were way beyond what I could afford at 17.

In 2008, after my return to collecting, one of my first goals was to pick up those Cruz Jr. Bowman releases. In the end, I picked up almost every single one until all that was left were those hard to find copies.

A few days ago I featured the iconic 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson which once sold for over $100 dollars regularly. Today, you can find a well-worn, non-graded copy for less than a five-spot.

Back in the early-90’s, copies of Jose Canseco’s 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie sold for close to $200 dollars. I wasn’t able to pick one up until the late-90’s and by that time you could get them for around $15.

Today, that very same card can be yours for less than one dollar.

So, what forgotten treasure is top on your most-wanted list?

Kerry "Nolan" Wood



  1. Like you Mario, the 2006 Canseco Rated Rookie was my most desired card in 1989. I bought one from a neighbor with a dinged corner and it was the highlight of my collection until I sold it.
    Since they are so cheap these days, I may go on ebay and pick on up.
    Ahhh…. nostalgia

  2. I left the hobby around 94-95 and recently got back into it. I primarily focus on my Joe Carter collection so I am not all over the place. SInce I returned I have nailed won several “white whales” I procured a 1993 Topps Finest Refractor of Carter (a 16 year odyssey) a 1990 Donruss “aqueous test” card of Carter. Now up to bat are 1982 Fleer John Littlefield Error card and I have a connection to get one, just have to work out the details, and still on the list a 1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett. Back in 84 when these sets came out my friend and I scoffed at the price they wanted for this se. Robber barons, how could they ask for $15 for this set and to ask $12 for the Topps 84 traded set OUTRAGEOUS!! These things sold for $7 the year before…I’ll wait until the price drops!!….nuff said.

  3. Call me crazy, but the 1985 Topps Mark McGwire Olympic card. That damn thing has eluded me for almost 25 years. I even passed it over twice, once in ’85 when I chose a rack pack with Oddibe McDowell showing on the front in stead of grabbing the one with McGwire. Then again, in the early ’90s when he was hitting about .215 with the A’s. I could have gotten it for under $10 just a few years before it hit $150. His stock has fallen so far now, I bet I could find one in a dollar box if I searched long enough.

  4. Bo Jackson, David Robinson Hoops SP RC, and all of the 1980’s RCs I can handle. Even though on e-bay you’re basically paying what the card is worth. It still warms me to know that I’m getting what used to be a $40 card pre e-bay for a dollar.

  5. The card I coveted most when I was a kid was the black and white Score Bo Jackson card where he’s wearing his football pads and holding a bat over the back of his neck. I still don’t have it, but I’m happy with having Bo’s 1987 Topps rookie card.

  6. the Nomar Garciaparra topps traded rookie card was selling for quite a lot during the 90s. Now you can pick one up for maybe $10 on ebay.

  7. I went back and got Don Mattingly Donruss and Fleer rookies when i started collecting again in 2004. Cheap ($4-$10 verse the $40 back in 1987), but I had to have it.

  8. A 1980 Topps Football Paul Hofer rookie. He was having an incredible year until he blew out his knee. He never caught onto the 49ers express that began the next year. 1981 Fleer Fernando Valenzuela this car was super hot in the spring of 1981. I can’t believe how little the 1983 Topps Wade Boggs can be had for now. More recently I think of Jake Plummer (a lot of football rookie prices fall off the cliff).

  9. *Canseco Collector* I was at a card show back in 91-92 and my dad and I would ask around for Canseco cards… Well This guy pulls out a a little metal case and had a 91 Elite card in an “ice block” case – He wanted $225 for it! My dad had to escort me away from the guys table. A few years later he surprised me with one out of the blue! That is one of my favs for that reason. (now can be had for $20 or less most of the time) There is a small handful of Canseco cards l still desire so patience and timing are going to be my best friends. Oh and a surplus in my fun money once the 2010 upper deck hit 🙂

  10. I was glad to pick up my final Kevin Garnett rookie card from 1995-96 which was the Topps Finest version. I was 10 during KG’s rookie season and had every single KG rookie card, except for Finest, back then.

    When I came back to collecting last year, that was one of the first cards I purchased. I just remember when I was a kid, my best friend had the Finest Rookie and would not trade it to me for anything. I was excited once I purchased the card on ebay.

  11. Early 90s Thomas. Specifically the Leaf Rookie and the Score Rookie Sensations; those were the “gets” when I collected back then. Also, the entire Pinnacle Dream Team sets, just because those were beautiful.

  12. 2nd prize on my list had to be the 1989 Score Mark Rypien RC. I can actually remember going to card shows when I was 8 years old and thinking to myself “really?!? all he did was win one superbowl”

  13. I got a couple of 1981 Topps Traded Fernando Valenzuela XRCs last month for about $4 including shipping.

    I never liked the 1981 Topps regular issue Dodger Rookie Stars rookie card of Fernando, and the Fleer regular issue could have been iconic, but hosed the opportunity with a lame photo and cutting his name off at “Fernand”. I swear, that was probably the only plain-face error that Fleer didn’t try to fix that year.

    My first MLB game evar was watching Fernando-mania in full swing, and losing to the Giants (I even got a foul ball off Enos Cabell).

    For ages, I never got the “right” rookie card for Fernando–the 1981 Topps Traded: decent photo, by himself, name spelled right.

    I was a happy old kid a few weeks ago.

  14. I’m a big Fred McGriff collector, so…1985 Syracuse Chiefs TCMA #2. Runs for $45 on beckett…so it might be a while before I get it.

    Second place is the #25 McGriff/Dale Holman from that same set. Only $5…a little more affordable.

  15. maybe a Bret Boone auto. as a kid I was amazed at his 2001 season.. he kept decent steam for a few years but now is super duper mcpooper cheap

  16. I recently added the Kerry Wood Bowman to my collection, so I can’t say him… so I’ll say the Travis Lee RC from the same ’97 sets. Those cards were going for WAY out of my price range at the time!

  17. It has to be a 2007 Topps Update Joba reverse negative. I had a blast pack chasing this card.

    Bring back the gimmick card!!!!

  18. Kevin Maas… or should I call him the next Mickey Mantle. Jeff Bagwell too. His rookie card prices were well out of reach of my $5 a week allowance.

  19. I traded a 2000 Topps Traded Miguel Cabrera Auto (BV at time $100) for a 1999 Topps Traded Corey Patterson Auto (BV at time $60) and a Sweet Spot Joe Morgan Auto ($40). I bought the Cabrera Auto for $2.00 at a show. He looks 26 years old on the picture, so I figured he was lying about his age. Corey Patterson is my favorite failed prospect.

  20. I just got around to doing this a couple months ago. I have been out of the hobby since about 93 and wanted to complete a lot of my loose sets and chase cards for my kid’s to enjoy later on. I’m still hunting around for the ’86 Jerry Rice, ’82 Topps Ripken (both) and ’76 Payton. A lot of the smaller cards I have found on ebay (I guess that is where to go since there aren’t a lot of shops around anymore.) I’m close to being done, but it’s a lot of fun to search around for great memories.

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