Jeff’s grass-roots are from Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up a Red Sox fan which suited him well when he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1989. However, it was short-lived when the Red Sox traded him to Houston in 1990.
In Houston, a couple of factors took him by surprise. Jeff was a third baseman, that was his most natural and primary position, being that the Astros already had a solid third baseman he was under the assumption that he was being sent to AAA ball. Instead he was asked to play first base. He never played it before but knew this was his chance so he put the work in and made the transition. He was the Astros first baseman on Opening Day 1991.
His rookie season he batted .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI’s. He was named 1991 NL Rookie of the Year. This laid the foundation to what became a consistent, productive career. The next three seasons Jeff put up really good numbers but they were shortened by injuries caused by getting hit on the same hand breaking the same bone.
1994 was his most impressive year, on pace to possibly edge out Tony Gwynn for the Triple Crown Award when the season ended early due to a strike by the Players Union. Jeff played in 110 games that year and received MVP honors batting .368 with 39 home runs and 116 RBI’s. For the next six seasons Bagwell’s career hit a stride of continued success. Twice he was in the elite 40/30 club – this is when a player hits 40+ home runs and 30+ stolen bases in a regular season. And if that’s not impressive enough for six years straight he hit 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s.
What I’ll remember most of Jeff Bagwell was his batting stance. It was the most unusual I’ve ever seen. Legs wide open, they seem to stretch from the top of the batters box to the bottom. Knees were bent drastically and when he swung, he swung violently. It was actually quite impressive to watch.
He played for the Houston Astros his entire 15 year career and his stats line reads: Batting Avg .297 | Homeruns 449 | Hits 2,314 | RBI’s 1,529
ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER JEFF BAGWELL:
1991 Bowman, Card #183 (shop eBay)
From the brand that is king of the rookie cards. This set has 166 total rookie cards in it with RC’s of many notable HOF. Is it me or has anybody else notice that big creepy hand air brushed into this card?
1991 Donruss Rookies, Card #30 (shop eBay)
This is a 56 card, hobby exclusive set, offered to collectors by Donruss. I love these bright borders, lots of eye appeal.
1991 Fleer Update, Card #87 (shop eBay)
This 132 card set is an extension of its parent brand Fleer, which is also known as the “Yellow Monster” because of its enormous 720 cards and bright yellow borders. However, this Fleer Update set gives collectors many notable rookie cards, which is where its parent failed to deliver.
1991 Leaf Gold Rookies, Card #BC14 (shop eBay)
Riding on the coat tails of its 1990 premier issue the 1991 Leaf set fell way short of expectations mainly because of its weak rookie card offering. But it did offer collectors a 20 card chase set titled, “Leaf Gold Rookies” which included this offering of HOF Jeff Bagwell, technically not a RC but embraced by collectors as a must have.
1991 Score Rookie Traded, Card #96T (shop eBay)
This 110 card set is identical to its parent 1991 Score set, with the only difference being the maroon colored border.
1991 Stadium Club, Card #388 (shop eBay)
This 600 card set is tagged as Topps first, premium product release. Amazing photography, borderless photos and glossy card stock make this a hobby grand slam. But is that the same creepy hand from the Bowman card?
1991 Stadium Club Members Only, Card #11 (shop eBay)
My personal favorite. But this is technically not considered an actual rookie card. Back in the early 90’s if you were a member of Topps Stadium Club you received perks. One of those was this 20 card limited edition set. Same design, high quality card stock as the 91 Stadium Club but “limited,” indicating shorter print runs and desirability among collectors.
1991 Studio, Card #172 (shop eBay)
This 264 card set produced by Donruss/Leaf was a premier issue that gave collectors something different. Card fronts were studio portraits and for the first time in 40 years black and white photos were used. The card backs did not give your traditional player stats instead it gave you an “Up Close & Personal” which gave collectors a more personal connection with the player.
1991 Topps Traded, Card #4T (shop eBay)
This 132 card set was distributed in factory set form and pack form. The factory sets were printed on white card stock. The cards in pack form were printed on gray card stock and is most noticeable in the back of the card. Gray backs are harder to find however, that is not reflected in the card values. But the Topps Traded TIFFANY set is a parallel and has a more limited supply and because of that are highly desired by collectors.
1991 Ultra Update, Card #79 (shop eBay)
This 120 card set was produced in shorter print runs than other subsets in 1991. It has held its value over the years indicating it is a collectors must have. I have much respect for this premier issue of Fleer’s Ultra brand. This set offered a quality product, with quality photography, for a decent price, giving collectors the best of everything
1991 Upper Deck, Card #755 (shop eBay)
This 100 card update set was offered to collectors very late into the season in an effort to highlight the 1991 Post Season. Not much eye appeal but still an affordable rookie card of a Hall of Famer.