Craig Biggio Rookie Cards
With their pick in the 1st Round of the 1987 MLB June Amateur Draft, the Houston Astros selected Craig Biggio from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. Craig Biggio has 7 official rookie cards and 3 rookie parallels.
Craig Biggio the Ultimate Lead-Off Man
The Astros were established in 1962 and have never won the championship title until 2017, that’s 56 years!
Looking into things a bit further I was equally impressed with the career of the first Astro ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Craig Alan Biggio.
He played for 20 years all with the Houston Astros, this fact, in and of itself carries a lot of weight with me.
I love when there’s loyalty between players and the organization and vice versa, it’s a virtue that’s seen less and less these days but was fairly common in the days of old.
Craig started his career as a catcher but because of his on-base percentage and speed at the bases, he was convinced to transition over to second base in 1992.
As his career progressed he became known as a reliable lead-off hitter, to this day he holds the National League record for home runs by a lead-off man with 53.
He’s also been accused of being the “King of Hit Batsmen” his career 285 hit by pitch puts him second all-time.
His trademark was his batting helmet, it was filthy, full of dirt and pine tar but was a reflection of the owner who year after year put in the work and wasn’t afraid to get dirty.
Biggio was considered the core of the “Killer B’s” which was a trio of Houston ball players composed of Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Lance Berkman which led Houston to 6 playoff appearances between 1997-2005.
Career Stats & Accomplishments
Career Summary: 3,060 Hits | 668 Doubles | 291 Home Runs | 1,175 RBI | 414 Stolen Bases | .281 Batting Average | 2,850 Games. His career stat line is one that every leadoff man should strive for.
- 7x All-Star
- 5x Silver Slugger
- 4x Gold Glover
- Hall of Fame Induction 2015
- Branch Rickey Award 1997
- Hutch Award 2005
- Roberto Clemente Award 2007
True Rookie Cards of Hall of Famer
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The first Craig Biggio rookie card we’ll look at is this Fleer Update. For its fifth straight year, Fleer released its annual Update set.
These sets typically are released later in the season and are an extension of that year’s base set.
They also look very similar with their only distinction being the numbering found on the back of the card, U-89.
The purpose of these update sets was to show collectors who were traded to other teams and usually depicted that player in their new team uniform.
They also included rookies that were called up during the season, which is why Mr. Biggio was included.
He was called up mid-June in 1988 and Fleer took a great photo of the young catcher and offered it to collectors in this update set which could only be purchased through hobby dealers.
The overall card design is unique with red, white, and blue diagonal lines.
The card backs lack eye appeal but notice how statistically they show players “At Their Best” which would compare stats on player performance during the day, night, home, or road games – that’s different.
Unfortunately, like most of Biggio’s rookie cards, they fall into the mass-produced era which means, easy to find for collectors and not much value.
Seeing the success of the Topps Traded and Fleer Update through the years Score opted to join the party and declared the “me-too clause.” Offering collectors its debut “Rookie & Traded” set.
It was highly anticipated and Score delivered a huge hit with collectors. Quality is the word that comes to mind with this set as you get top-notch card stock, photography, and design.
It’s unique from all other traded sets in that cards are grouped as follows: Cards 1T – 64T is all the players that were traded to other teams. Cards 65T – 110T is all of the rookies.
1988 Score was a brand ahead of its time and for these reasons, card 103T of Craig Biggio is considered the best rookie card of our featured Hall of Famer.
This 660 card set is one of my favorite sets printed in 1989. What impressed me most was the card design, they really did something special with the borders on the front.
The border sides are a gun-metal black, the top and bottom borders are a dual-colored gradient fill.
Stamped on the front is the “Rated Rookie” logo the hobby has grown to love.
A couple of things that hurt this set:
1) is print runs. Decisions made by Donruss caused many cards to be DP meaning Double Printed. Trends of the day already produced high print runs and to double print is borderline irresponsible.
2) 1989 Donruss also suffers from miss-cut cards, which is a common characteristic of cards that were mass-produced. All that aside, great action photo of Mr. Biggio and a legitimate rookie card.
This is my least favorite of all his rookie cards. The depressing gray / pin-stripe design reminds me of the card design for the State Penitentiary.
The light gray design didn’t really work for the 1970 Topps design nor does it work for this one.
Nonetheless, it is an official rookie card of a Hall of Fame ballplayer.
Fleer used the same photo they used for the Fleer Update card but they did zoom in giving us a very nice portrait shot.
A couple of things I did notice about the card back; the “Did You Know” text box was included apparently to fill in the huge void in the center.
Also, the cartoon on the bottom gives us statistics prior to and after the All-Star break.
The second year of Score Baseball was not as big a success as its 1988 release.
Collectors complained of bad card design, bad photography with many photos being dark and out of focus.
However, I can not agree with any of those allegations for the offering of Craig Biggio. A clear, bright, portrait defines this one.
The card back, however, was a tell-tale sign of things to come in the hobby.
The color action photo, color team emblem, great biographical commentary, even gives us his jersey number.
Topps kept it simple, not too much razzle-dazzle here just a clean card design which allows us to see more of the photo.
White borders with a couple of rounded edges on the photo give it a nice touch and that all impressive team/player name swoosh is classic!
The card back gives us a lot of good biographical info and can be challenging to find gem mint copies due to the black, reddish/pink card stock.
The final Craig Biggio rookie card is this Upper Deck which was the new kid on the block in 1989 and promoted quality photos, quality paper stock, quality printing, and man did they deliver.
This product was second to none and lit the hobby on fire. Many notable Hall of Fame rookies in this set including one of our featured headliners Craig Biggio.
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.