Deion Sanders Rookie Cards – Both Sports
When speaking of modern-day Hall of Famers I believe the rookie cards of Deion Sanders are some of the most underrated in the hobby. I say that because I believe when we sit down and truly consider what Deion Sanders has accomplished, in both the NFL and the MLB, it’s truly quite phenomenal and highly unlikely to see it duplicated.
Sanders is the one athlete who has played in both a Super Bowl and a World Series. He is the one athlete to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week! Born and raised in Fort Myers, FL he naturally attended Florida State University between 1985-1988 where he was a multi-sport athlete playing in football, baseball, and track. He excelled in all three as well qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the Men’s 100 Meters. He earned All-American two seasons in a row playing center field for the Double-A Eastern League which led to the Yankees picking him up in the 30th Round of the 1988 MLB Draft.
His talent was most explosive on the football field. In college, he set records in punt returns, yards and interception yards. He was so good the Atlanta Falcons picked him as their 5th overall pick of the 1st Round in the 1989 NFL Draft. What a dilemma, what to do, baseball or football? How about both!? With some coordination, it is possible as we were seeing Bo Jackson, between 1987-1990, playing for the Kansas City Royals in the summer than playing for the Oakland Raiders in the winter until an injury cut his career short. So Deion Sanders decided to play both sports.
His NFL Career
Deion played for 14 years: 5 yrs. Atlanta Falcons, 5 yrs. Dallas Cowboys, 2 yrs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 yr. San Francisco 49ers, and 1 year with the Washington Redskins. He played in the NFL between 1989-2005 however, he did retire between 2001-2003 so he missed three seasons. He came out of retirement and played his final two seasons 2004-2005 with the Ravens.
Defensively he has 53 Interceptions, 1331 Yards Returned from those Interceptions, and 9 Touchdowns Returned from Interceptions. Primarily a cornerback but occasionally played as a kick returner, punt returner and/or wide receiver too. He is an 8x Pro-Bowler, 6x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion and the 1994 All-Pro Defensive Player of the Year.
His MLB Career
Deion played for 9 years: 2 yrs. Yankees, 4 yrs. Atlanta Braves, 4 yrs. Cincinnati Reds, and 1 yr. with the San Francisco Giants. He played in the MLB between 1989-2001 but did not play in 1996, 1998-1999.
Career Stats he has 558 Hits | 39 Home Runs | 308 Runs | 168 RBI’s | 186 Stolen Bases. He has no MLB Awards or milestones to speak of. His best year in the MLB was perhaps 1992 where he had a batting average of .302 and a .841 On Base Slugging Percentage.
The most unique thing about Deion Sanders can be found in his personality. This larger than life athlete always had a huge smile on his face, he bubbled over with confidence. His nicknames were “Prime Time” and/or “Neon Deion.” He became known for the do-rag or bandana and the high stepping into the end zone followed by his exaggerated, well-choreographed touchdown dances. The ESPN highlights ate them up. He was good, he was going to beat you and he knew it.
The story of Deion Sanders career in both the NFL and the MLB is a very unique one and it won’t be duplicated too many times. It’s a story for the record books and I am happy to have witnessed it. Today, Prime Time still has his larger than life personality and smile on camera working for NFL Network as an analyst on a number of network shows.
FOOTBALL ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER
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1989 Pro Set, Card No. 486 shop ebay
This premier Pro Set release was offered to collectors in three series. The Deion Sanders RC (above) can be found in Series 2 packs. The bright red border with white stripes goes nicely with the action photo of Prime Time. The diagonal green “No. 1 Pick” designation represents Pro Sets’ number one pick, not the NFL’s. Sanders was drafted 5th in the 1st Round of the 89 NFL Draft. The No. 1 Draft Pick that year was none other than Troy Aikman. The card back highlights Deion’s bright smile and lots of good commentaries. There are no parallels for this set.
1989 Score, Card No. 246 shop ebay
Another premier set in 1989 was the forever popular Score Football. The chase for this set was pretty intense as collectors were drawn to it mainly for its great rookie class, high-quality card stock, and great design. This fantastic portrait of Deion is framed out in green borders along with “rookie” designation and team helmet. Ditto on the card back except much bigger, player bio and commentary are also given. Overall a solid card and among his three rookie cards this one is the most sought after among collectors. There are no parallels in this set.
1989 Topps Traded, Card No. 30T shop ebay
Topps Traded is an extension of the regular Topps flagship release. They mimic the flagship in every way and its sole purpose is to show players who have been traded and showcase them in their new uniforms -or- to include any rookies they may have been left out. I really like the design of the card front. Clean, simple white border with orange and red stripes highlight it well. A great action photo of Deion, seemingly receiving a punt, makes this a great card. Card back has me scratching my head a bit, no photo, odd design, and awful colors. There are no parallels for this set either.
BASEBALL ROOKIE CARDS OF NFL HALL OF FAMER
1989 Donruss Rookies, Card No. 6 shop ebay
At the peak of the junk wax era was this very small 56 card set highlighting The Rookies. Although the entire set features the rookie class of 1989 only 17 are considered “true” rookie cards. All others were already issued in the Donruss flagship released earlier in the year. Very similar in design to the flagship brand is this great action photo of our two-sport Hall of Famer. The main difference is in The Rookies logo on the top left of the card front. The card back gives us Deion’s very interesting middle name and some lime green cardboard. There are no parallels in this set.
1989 Fleer Update, Card No. 53 shop ebay
This 132 card set features a rookie card of Deion too. This is an extension of the basic 89 Fleer set and it mimics it in every way as it should. There is a lot of nostalgia with this design due to the Griffey Jr. rookie card and the famous Billy Ripken card. Now nostalgia is one thing, the overall design is a completely different topic we must contend with. So the dull gray seems depressing and the vertical stripes make it seem like their in prison. The look on Deion’s face seems to confirm this assumption. The card back is hard on the eyes, it gives us player bio and stats and that’s about it, no photo nor commentary even though there’s plenty of room for it. There are no parallels in this set.
1989 Topps Traded, Card No. 110T shop ebay
Another 132 card update set that features Deion Sanders. This one is perhaps the most sought after of his baseball rookie cards because of the popularity in the Topps Traded brand and the overall design of this fantastic card. The extremely popular design of the 1989 Topps baseball brand is a collector favorite. A very nice portrait photo of Deion outlined in red placed on white borders. The card back is a stunner, bold black borders with red and pink cardboard is a well thought out design and all information given is well balanced. A Classic for sure! There is one parallel set distributed separately, Topps Traded Tiffany.
Happy Collecting, Collectors
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