Rookie Card of Edgar Martinez, Plus the RC Everyone Forgets About
I remember the peak of the sports card boom of the 1990s. It was the birth of chase cards, also known as insert cards. Then along came game-used jersey cards and in the background, very subtly, there was a powerhouse coming to light, on-card autograph’s! Likewise, in that same decade, was the Seattle Mariners. They gave us All-Stars like Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez. But in the background, very subtly, there was a powerhouse coming to light…
Edgar Martinez. Also known as “El Papa” or “Papi” meaning the Father or Daddy, was known as a quiet, hard-working man, and the heart of the Mariners team. He debuted in the MLB in September of 1987 as a third baseman and in 1992 won the AL Batting Title. He suffered a torn hamstring in spring training just prior to the 1993 season and some claim he never fully recovered. This may have been the case defensively but not with the bat, Martinez was then utilized as a DH where he went on to win his second batting title hitting .356 in 1995.
To accompany those two batting titles is 5 Silver Slugger Awards and 7 All-Star appearances. But his most memorable moment would be in the 1995 AL Division Series against the Yankees. It was tied at two games apiece in the best of 5 series. Mariners were losing 5-4 in the 11th inning when Martinez stepped up with two men on; he hit a double, allowing the Mariners to proceed in the postseason. It was a magical moment in baseball especially to Seattle fans who termed the moment “The Double!”
Retired Yankee great Mariano Rivera was asked once if there was anyone that he didn’t want to face? He said,
“I will put it like this: the only guy that I didn’t want to face, when a tough situation comes was, Edgar Martinez. The reason is because I couldn’t get him out. It didn’t matter how I threw the ball, I couldn’t get him out.”
David Niehaus, play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners between 1977-2010 said this about Edgar Martinez
“I’ve never heard anybody in any walk of life say anything ever halfway bad about Edgar Martinez. I’ve never heard a cross word from him. He has always had nice things to say about everyone, even in trying circumstances. He’s a great human being.”
Today, Edgar Martinez is the greatest DH hitter to ever play the game. Former Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig renamed the annual Outstanding Designated Hitter Award to the Edgar Martinez Award in 1995 in honor of him winning the award 5 times. His career stat line is Batting Average .312 | Hits 2,247 | Home Runs 309 | RBI’s 1,261.
OFFICIAL ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER
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1988 Donruss Rookies, Card No. 36 (shop eBay)
Everything about this card is Edgar Martinez, except for the photo, which was the Mariners reliever, Edwin Nunez. Two rookies with strong Latino profiles and exact mustaches must have confused photographers and/or card designers when putting this one together, Lol! Miscues like these do occur occasionally and oftentimes go un-corrected as was the case with this one. It’s still an official rookie card but within the hobby, it’s been branded as a rookie with an Uncorrected Error or UE.
This was the third year Donruss released “The Rookies” subset. It was created with the motive of competing with Topps & Fleer’s update sets. This update set mimics the 660 card set Donruss released earlier that year, which is typical of update sets. Because of its boxed set distribution, this is considered an extended rookie card or XRC of our featured HOF. However, because of this method of distribution and the error most collectors don’t even know of this Martinez rookie card.
On the card front, Donruss gives us product emblem in the lower right corner and brand emblem in the upper left. It’s on a greenish border with red and black plaid which look really nice on the cards with proper centering. The spearmint green background is traditional Donruss giving us a player bio, minor league stats, career highlights and in typical Donruss fashion their current contract info.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $2.00-$4.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $9.00-$18.00 and mint copies (10’s) sell in the $40.00-$60.00 range.
1988 Fleer, Card No. 378 (shop eBay)
Due to the uncorrected error on the Donruss Rookies some collectors choose to not recognize that card as a legitimate card of Edgar. Personally, I do but I understand if some feel this way, having the wrong photo is a significant foul. Collectors do view the 88 Fleer the best and only other rookie card of our featured Hall of Famer.
The overall card design is unique with white cardboard stock with red and blue diagonal lines throughout the front and back. Kind of a let down with photo, Edgar doesn’t really seem into it. The card backs lack in eye appeal too but notice towards the bottom 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. Overall, with either one of these Edgar rookie cards, there isn’t much value due to cards being massed produced during this era. For me, as a collector I still have much respect for any rookie card of a Hall of Famer regardless of secondary market values.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $2.00-$5.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $9.00-$18.00 and mint copies (10’s) sell in the $60.00-$100.00 range.
Happy Collecting, Collectors
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