MLBPA Enforces Rules on Yordan Alvarez Rookie Cards

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Congratulations are in order for the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year! He debuted on June 9, 2019, in a game versus the Baltimore Orioles. Yordan had a late start in the MLB but an immediate impact and card manufacturers were warming up the printers. But wait! MLBPA says no-no to Yordan Alvarez rookie cards.

Yordan Makes Immediate Impact

Anybody who knows me knows how passionate I am about rookie cards. In fact, this entire website deals with collecting rookie cards of cherished Hall of Famers. However, there are a few things that currently concern me about our beloved RC. Primarily, the blatant misuse of the RC logo in today’s product.

I’ve written about this very topic in the past. Inside the ‘Keeping It Real’ category you’ll see articles like Understanding the Complexities of the Rookie Card where I get into the history of the RC starting with the rookie card boom of the 1980s.

Also, The 10 Commandments of the Rookie Card which entails industry changes that were made in 2005. And to conclude this three-part series, The Future of the Beloved Rookie Card where I propose some possible solutions for some of today’s issues regarding the RC.

I consider this post to be an ‘Update’ of current events that have occurred over the rookie cards of the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year winner, Yordan Alvarez and his rookie cards. The 22-year-old Cuban born ballplayer had a fantastic first year in the league batting .313 with 27 home runs, 78 RBI’s and 98 Hits.

If those numbers don’t really impress you consider this, he got those numbers by only playing in 87 regular-season games! A big-time congratulations are due to this young man for an amazing rookie campaign.


One Little Problem

Yordan Alvarez made his Major League debut on June 9, 2019, which made him eligible for ROY Honors but this debut date was too late for card manufacturers to include him into sets with the MLB RC logo.

He was signed by the Dodgers and quickly traded to the Astros so he came into the league in June 2019 as Pre-Arbitration Eligible and his Service Time didn’t officially begin until January 2020. Because of this, his official rookie cards could not be printed until the 2020 product season.

MLB Rules says a “rookie” must have at least 130 at-bats in regular-season play and must have at least 45 active days on an MLB roster before Sept 1st. Yordan does qualify as an MLB rookie and that’s why he was eligible for ROY honors.

A Bigger Problem

For several years now I’ve noticed the decadence of our sacred rookie card. From stamping of the RC logo on a product that is not licensed to stamping RC on insert cards, mail order cards, and if a player has four cards in a set, guess what, all four are considered rookie cards!

Heck, even cards that are second or third-year cards are being considered as rookie cards. Hobby publications have recently claimed this about the beloved RC,

“Collector preference is a big thing though, and the RC tag’s importance is different than it used to be.”

Collector preference is a big thing, but it shouldn’t be when it comes to this. The RC tag is different, but who is the authority on this? Is it the collector? The Hobby Publications? The card manufacturer? The Local Card Shop Owner?

No! The authority on the topic of rookie card tag usage belongs to the League and the Players Association! When my kids were much younger they didn’t feel that brushing their teeth before going to bed wasn’t that important anymore either.

So as the father do I let them do what they want or am I good dad and reiterate to them the importance of brushing before bed and encourage them to follow suit?

Why This Is Happening

The sportscard hobby industry, at times, can appear to lack leadership. We have endless auction listings titled with the wrong descriptions. The auction titles are proudly displaying the RC in the title and collectors are being deceived.

But why is this happening? Could it be that the older collectors are not teaching the younger collectors? We’re getting close to Thanksgiving and with this comes tradition. Tradition has to be passed down from generation to generation.

Without tradition anything goes, whatever you want an RC to be is what it is. And sadly that is what is happening today.

Listen to the consumer, yes. Design what they like and want, absolutely. But some things should be non-negotiable. That’s what good parents do. That’s what good leadership does.

It says, here are the rules, here is where we are flexible, here are the boundaries oh and by the way here are the non-negotiables. Instead, it seems that we want to appease whatever direction the wind is blowing.

We just want the path of least resistance and this makes for poor leadership! Hundreds of thousands of collectors worldwide, possibly millions of collectors, and there is a wide variety of what a rookie card is. The RC is sacred. It’s an important part of the hobby we love. But we need clarity and all I can find is confusion.

My Proposal for a Resolve

If we want to re-define the definition of a rookie card lets do it! Let’s make it better by all means. But let’s all get in agreement, let’s make it official. Let’s get together with all the Leagues and let’s bring in the Players Associations and lets come up with a new definition of what a rookie card is. Like we did back in 2005!

But please let us not toss that agreement aside and ignore its existence or relevance for today’s hobby. Again, the claim is the RC tag’s importance is different than what it used to be. Says whom?

Not to my circle of collectors. Everyone I talk to doesn’t agree with that statement. The RC tag is of the utmost importance!

I want to personally thank the MLBPA for stepping in and enforcing the rules when it comes to Yordan Alvarez rookie cards. My comments are directed more towards the manufacturers than it is anyone publication.

We are in the era of the set registry, sportscards are being viewed as legitimate investments and collections are becoming a part of people’s estates. For the sake of the hobby let us hold fast to our tradition, the tradition of the rookie card.


Victor Roman Sr.

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.Picture | Subscribe Invite June 2020

Yordan Alvarez Stats | (accessed November 23, 2019).
Cracknell, Ryan. Cody Bellinger RC And Early Card Gallery. Beckett Baseball #161, August 2019.
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