Jeff Bagwell (True) Rookie Cards

With their pick in the 4th Round of the 1989 MLB Amateur Draft, the Boston Red Sox selected Jeff Bagwell from the University of Hartford. Jeff Bagwell has 9 true rookie cards, 1 rookie parallel, and 2 rookie year chase cards.

Jeff Bagwell Has to Start His Career by Being Flexible

Jeff’s grass-roots is 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 the 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 Astro’s first baseman on Opening Day 1991.

In 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 for 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.

That Special Year When Jeff Challenged Tony

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 batter’s box to the bottom.

His 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 Stats & Accomplishments:

According to Baseball-Reference.com Jeff Bagwell career stats are:

Batting Avg .297 | Homeruns 449 | Hits 2,314 | RBI’s 1,529

Accomplishments:

  • 1991 Rookie of the Year
  • 4x All-Star
  • 3x Silver Slugger
  • MVP (1994)
  • Gold Glove (1994)
  • ML Player of the Year (1994)

Jeff Bagwell True Rookie Cards:

Before We Begin

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True Rookie Card

Identifier (RC) Defined

A rookie card is a trading card that is the first to feature an athlete AFTER that athlete has participated in the highest level of competition within his or her respected sport. It must be licensed by both the League and the Players Association. An RC identifier is only given to cards that fit this criteria. Below is an exhaustive list of the featured players true rookie cards.

1991 Bowman, #183 (RC)

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From the brand that was the king of the rookie cards in the early 90s. This 704 card set features 166 total rookie cards. One of them rookies was this Jeff Bagwell’s.

Card front appears to be painted but I’m not entirely sure. Is it me or has anybody else notice that big creepy hand airbrushed into this card?

The card back is the last year Bowman used cardboard stock as they switched over to white paper stock the following year. There are no parallels for this one.


1991 Donruss Rookies, #30 (RC)

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This is a 56 card set distributed in factory set form exclusively to hobby shops.

The photo shows Bagwell in a full sprint. The design mimics the 1991 Donruss except it has red borders instead of blue.

Speaking of the red borders, let’s talk about it. I love em, lots of eye appeal! Add the green and yellow banner and you have one colorful baseball card.

The card back gives us that classic Donruss design but these are given a minty green background. There are no parallels for this card.

Technically speaking oddball sets like this would not qualify for an RC designation but there is an exception. If the brands main base product does not include the player the traded set can be considered the true RC.

Jeff Bagwell was not included into the checklist of 1991 Donruss set but he was added in this Donruss Rookies set. Therefore, this one qualifies for the RC designation.


1991 Fleer Update, #87 (RC)

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This 132 card set is an update of its parent brand Fleer, which is also known as the “Yellow Monster” because of its enormous 720 cards and bright yellow borders.

The reason card manufacturers released these update sets was to give them an opportunity to capture players who were traded to other teams or to capture the rookies they may have missed.

So the Jeff Bagwell rookie card was not inserted into the regular checklist of 720 cards Fleer issued earlier in the year but they included him here in the Update set.

Now, where are my sunglasses? There are no parallels for this card.


1991 Score Rookie Traded, #96T (RC)

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This 110 card set is identical to its parent 1991 Score set, with the only difference being the maroon-colored border instead of blue.

This one falls under the same rule of thumb I previously mentioned. Because he wasn’t included into the 1991 Score set it qualifies this Rookie Traded card to earn the RC designation.

Rule #9 of The 10 Commandments of the Rookie Card states, “A player’s rookie card that is part of an Update or Traded set must not have any other cards issued within that same product line.”

This card features Jeff Bagwell in a fantastic, perfectly centered action photo of Bagwell in full swing. There are no parallels for this card.


1991 Stadium Club, #388 (RC)

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This 600 card set is considered as Topps first, premium product release. It was released in two series. This Jeff Bagwell rookie card can be found in Series 2  packs.

The Stadium Club’s claim to fame is found in photography. Amazing, borderless, creative photography is what you’ll get dressed up with a glossy card stock front.

The card back features itself as the player’s rookie cards were inserted on some. Lot’s going on with this card back but nicely done if I must say so myself.

Now the main question is which photo came first the Stadium Club or the Bowman? Also, is that the same creepy hand from the Bowman card? There are no parallels.


1991 Studio, #172 (RC)

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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. There are no parallels for this card.

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.

Interesting to note, Jeff Bagwell is a Chicago Bulls fan but I mean who wasn’t in the 90s? He likes to watch The Cosby Show, Cheers, and his hero is Carl Yastrzemski.


1991 Topps Traded, #4T (RC)

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This 132 card set was distributed in factory set form and pack form.

The factory sets were printed on white card stock. Cards distributed in pack form were printed on gray card stock and it’s most noticeable on the back of the card.

However, the gray backs are harder to find but that is not reflected in the card values, perhaps because of its mass production.

The card front features a Jeff Bagwell portrait photo in a very retro Astros jersey. The card back featured here is the factory set white card stock.

This set also features Bagwell’s only rookie parallel card, Topps Traded Tiffany a collector favorite for its glossy card stock and slightly lower print runs.


1991 Ultra Update, #79 (RC)

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This 120 card set was produced in shorter print runs than other updates in 1991. Also, worthy of mention here is this is Bagwell’s fifth rookie card included in an Update/Traded set.

I guess card manufacturers didn’t have much expectation for someone drafted in the fourth round.

A great action photo was captured here, appearing to be at Wrigley Field to me. The card back is very bright and offers a player bio, and 1990 Minor League stats only.

This card has held its value over the years indicating it is a collector must-have. There are no parallels for this card.

I appreciate 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, #755 (RC)

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This 100 cards extended set was offered to collectors very late into the season in an effort to highlight the 1991 Post Season.

It’s the only Jeff Bagwell rookie card that features him in a defensive mode. There’s not much eye appeal but still an affordable rookie card of a Hall of Famer.

There are no parallels for this card.


Rookie-Year Card

Identifier (RYC) Defined

An RYC identifier is given to the cards of a rookie player that: are not the first card featured in the base set, subset cards, insert cards, print on-demand cards, food and beverage issues, or cards that are not properly licensed by the League and the Players Association.

1991 Leaf Gold Rookies (RYC)

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Riding on the coattails 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 Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.

However, this is not a rookie card! Well, why isn’t it considered a rookie card? That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it.

Historically, the hobby and hobby publications always had a set of criteria that would define the guidelines of what constituted a rookie card.

One of these long-time hobby standards is, “a rookie card must be a part of the base set.” This card is an insert card (aka “chase” card) and is numbered as such.

So technically not a rookie card but embraced by collectors as a must-have early edition card of Jeff Bagwell.


1991 Stadium Club Members Only, #11 (RYC)

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My personal favorite! But this is technically not considered an actual rookie card either.

Back in the early ’90s if you were a member of Topps Stadium Club you received perks. One of those was this 20 cards limited edition set.

Same design, high-quality card stock as the 91 Stadium Club but “limited,” indicating shorter print runs and desirability among collectors.

The biggest reason why this is not considered a Jeff Bagwell rookie card is that this 50 card Members Only set was a Multi-Sport set and none of the cards were given card numbers!

It also violated another rookie card expectation that states, “Mail in order sets or cards are not considered rookie cards.” And perhaps the biggest foul, “fair and equal distribution for all collectors.” Not just for the privileged few.

Still, a fantastic Rookie Year Card of Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. There are no parallels for this card.

For more information on the rookie cards of long-time teammate click here: Craig Biggio True Rookie Cards.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

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