By Tom Hultman
This baseball season promises to be one of the greatest of all time in terms of milestones.
Two players are closing in on 3,000 hits, another two are approaching 300 wins, five more are looking to reach 500 home runs, another is chasing 600 home runs and, of course, Barry Bonds is in pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.
There is a chance that four players could join the esteemed 500 Home Run Club this season, which would be a first. Frank Thomas is only 11 away from the mark through April 19. Jim Thome has 477, Manny Ramirez sits at 471, and Alex Rodriguez has tallied 474.
Thomas should have no problem reaching 500 as the full-time DH for the Toronto Blue Jays. His top rookie card is 1990 Leaf No. 300, priced at $20. Thome’s best rookie card is 1991 Bowman No. 68, valued at $3. Ramirez’s most desirable rookie card is his 1992 Bowman No. 532, which books for $20.
Already the youngest to reach 400 home runs, A-Rod could also become the youngest to reach 500. His 1994 SP No. 15 is his top rookie, priced at $85.
Also, don’t forget about Sammy Sosa’s comeback with the Texas Rangers. If Sosa hits eight more homers, he’ll become just the fifth player to reach 600 homers. Check out his 1990 Leaf No. 220, which is priced at $20.
“I would say the two guys that could benefit the most from reaching their historic milestones this season are Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds,” Tuff Stuff baseball pricing analyst Joe Clemens said. “Although both have been stirring up controversy in the past year, their milestones will probably have the biggest impact on the hobby.
“For A-Rod, it’s mostly due to the fact that he’ll be the youngest to reach 500 home runs and depending on how long he decides to play, he could certainly end up being the all-time home run king when he retires,” Clemens continued. “It could be a big year for A-Rod’s cards if he could also lead the Yankees to a World Series title. His 1994 SP rookie No. 15 stands to benefit the most and is currently priced at $85.”
Bonds needs just 18 home runs to pass Aaron and, despite the cloud of scrutiny surrounding him, his top cards and memorabilia will surely generate activity. His 1986 Fleer Update rookie #14 is priced at $30.
“Bonds is widely hated, but the fact remains he’ll probably pass the most cherished record in all of sports,” Clemens said. “The publicity alone will, at least in the short term, increase demand for his key memorabilia and rookie cards.”
The 300-Win Club could get two new members, as Tom Glavine only needs seven wins and Randy Johnson needs 20 victories.
Glavine’s 1988 Fleer No. 539 is priced at $2, while Johnson’s 1989 Upper Deck No. 25 carries a $15 price tag.
This story originally ran in the May 11 issue of our sister publication Sports Collectors Digest. Please post a comment about this topic or anything else you’ve seen while visiting www.tuffstuff.com, as we want your feedback.