Rookie Cards of the “BIG HURT” Frank Thomas

The home run era started in the late eighties. But the decade of the 1990’s gave baseball fans the most offensive, run scoring era the game had ever seen. Records were broken and highlight reels filled sports performance networks. At it’s peak two players always stood out. Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas.

Growing up in Northwest, Indiana a mere 20 minute drive to Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field), I was able to follow closely this man they call the Big Hurt. Like a locomotive he was Big and powerful, listed at 6′ 5″ 240lbs. and he definitely put a Hurt on the ball. It was a great time to live in the Chicagoland area in those days. We had the Chicago Bulls, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas and a Card Shop every other mile. Those were the days!

His best years were 1991-1997 where he finished in the Top 10 in MVP votes each of those years and actually winning MVP honors back to back years in 1993 and 1994. He is also a 5x All-Star; 4x Silver Slugger and the 1997 Batting Title Champion. His career stats are:

Hits 2,468 | Home Runs 521 | RBI 1704 | Batting Avg .301 | On Base Slugging Percent .974

In 2005, when the White Sox won the World Series, Frank was on the injured list and only played in 34 games. He did earn a ring but was traded the following year to the Oakland A’s and had a very successful 2006 by hitting 39 home runs and 114 RBI’s. He spent a couple of years with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007-08 before being traded back to the A’s only 16 games into the season.

Today Frank is a studio analyst for MLB on Fox and I must say he is a pretty good commentator. He is very active in the game still and has always been an advocate for drug testing.



ROOKIE CARDS OF ALL-TIME GREAT

FRANK THOMAS

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1990 Bowman, Card #320   shop ebay

 

Bowman’s second year release stood by their promise to give collectors lots of rookies. Card design is clean and simple. Great photo of the Big Hurt here which I can only assume the camera person had him go down to one knee so he can get at eye level.

This great photo is outlined by multiple colors and encased inside big white borders. For a product with so many rookies the card backs don’t make much sense to me. It shows a graph of how they’ve done against other teams, except they have no MLB experience so there are no stats to show.

There is one parallel, Bowman Tiffany. But it has not been recognized as a true rookie card buy the hobby because they’re an exact parallel of the regular Bowman issue and because of their distribution method. As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded Mint copies (9’s) sell between $8.00-$13.00 and Gem Mint copies (10’s) sell in the $50.00-$63.00 range.


1990 Fleer Update, Card #8   shop ebay

 

Fleer Update is an extension of the 1990 Fleer set. It was sold at Hobby Shops only. The purpose of update sets is to give manufactures a chance to “update” players who have been traded to new teams and to include any rookies they may have left out in their parent brand. Great photo and card design, easily one of my favorite Thomas RC’s. Look at that old “C” on his hat! Card back doesn’t give us much but it does show minor league stats.

As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded Mint copies (9’s) sell between $5.00-$15.00 and Gem Mint copies (10’s) sell in the $18.00-$38.00 range.


1990 Leaf, Card #300   shop ebay

 

For the majority of collectors this is their favorite RC of the Big Hurt. Leaf was brought back to life by Donruss in 1985 but this was the first premium set released by Donruss. It gave collectors high quality photos, paper stock and design. This is a very handsome card design and what made it stand out as the best product of 1990, in my opinion, was quality. Nobody produced anything this good in 1990. They really set a new standard for themselves and this release was a hit among collectors!

As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $10.00-$15.00; graded Mint copies (9’s) sell between $25.00-$35.00 and Gem Mint copies sell in the $130.00-$150.00 range.


1990 O-Pee-Chee, Card #41   shop ebay

 

Today the O-Pee-Chee brand is owned by Upper Deck but back in 1990 it was owned by Topps. It was the Canadian version of Topps and it mimic’d the Topps brand in every way except for a few distinct details. Looking at the back of card the player commentary is written in english and below it, is the french translation. The O-Pee-Chee copyright at lower right side of card back is another characteristic and finally a much brighter background yellow gives us context clues that help us know which one is which.

As of the date of this post cost of raw copies is unknown due to no recent sales activity. Graded Mint copies (9’s) sell for $18.00-$27.00 and Gem Mint copies (10’s) sell in the $130.00-$180.00 range.


1990 Score, Card #663  shop ebay

 

A fantastic portrait photo of our featured HOF. All the extras given to us by card design works really well too. Green border wrapped around the team logo at lower right side of card is really nice and that 1st Round Pick emblem gives it perfect balance. Card back is really solid too but lacks in player bio.

As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded Mint copies (9’s) sell between $7.00-$19.00 and Gem Mint copies (10’s) sell in the $26.00-$32.00 range.


1990 Topps, Card #414   shop ebay

 

Typically I’m a fan of rookie cards made by the Topps brand, especially those of Hall of Famers. But not this one. This one is a fail. Gradient border colors are brutal. It shows Frank Thomas in his Aurora University uniform! Also, it looks like he’s tagging out a runner that is no more than 15 years old. Brown mustard card back is not very appealing either. The cherry on top is the absolute mass production of this product and its off centered borders due to mis-cuts during production.

There is a Topps Tiffany parallel as well but not considered a true RC because of its limited print run and distribution method.

As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $1.00-$3.00; graded Mint copies (9’s) sell between $11.00-$18.00 and Gem Mint copies (10’s) sell in the $50.00- $100.00 range.


The Historic RC Error of Frank Thomas   shop ebay

ft 90 topps NNOF frt

Very early on in the production and distribution of 1990 Topps a printing error occurred. One suspicion is that a strip of card stock intersected with the printing dyes so the black ink struck the strip of card stock instead of the actual card. That is only one of many theories but one that I believe is a viable one.

It’s also believed that Topps caught this right away but some were distributed to the east coast, more specifically the New England region of the country and they were inside of wax packs. So what you see here is one of the most desirable cards in the hobby today, The Infamous 1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF ( No Name On Front).

Professional Sports Authenticators Population Reports shows, to date, they have graded only 208 of these. They are rare and they are wanted. Because of that this one has been counterfeited multiple times. In fact I would not even consider purchasing a raw copy.

As of the date of this post mid-grade copies (4-7) sell between $3,000.00-$5,000.00. On March 21, 2019 a PSA 9 sold for $20,479.60 and on May 20, 2012 a PSA 10 sold for $24,243.60 respectively.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy



Sources:
Frank Thomas Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/thomafr04.shtml (accessed July 23, 2019).
PSA Population Report | Frank Thomas 1990 Topps NNOF  https://www.psacard.com/pop/#0%7C1990%20topps%20frank%20thomas%20 (accessed July 23, 2019).
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