Roger Clemens Rookie Card Market Guide
Posted on 1/3/2023
Do you have a Roger Clemens rookie card? Or are you looking to buy one? His cards have consistently been solid investments, and the value of some of his cards has been climbing. Whether you're looking to make money or collect cards from one of your favorite players, read on to learn more about why Roger Clemens rookie cards are a great buy.
Who Is Roger Clemens?
Roger "Rocket" Clemens is a retired pitcher who played for 24 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He was among the most successful pitchers in baseball history, winning a record seven Cy Young Awards, a regular season and All-Star MVP Award and two World Series titles. Clemens also won back-to-back Triple Crowns in pitching (most wins, strikeouts and lowest ERA) in 1997 and 1998. Clemens is third on the all-time strikeout list with 4,672 and ninth on the all-time wins list with 354 wins.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1962, Clemens moved to Texas and played baseball throughout his childhood. He was drafted by the New York Mets in 1981 but did not sign with them. He made his MLB debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1983 and finished sixth in the 1984 Rookie of the Year voting.
Clemens spent the first 13 years of his career in Boston before leaving for Toronto in free agency in 1997. Two years later, Clemens was traded to the New York Yankees for pitcher David Wells and two other players. Clemens left the Yankees for the Houston Astros, where he played for three seasons, making the All-Star team twice. He then returned to New York, and retired as a Yankee after the 2007 season.
With a handful of league-average years mixed in, Clemens was dominant for over two decades in Boston, Toronto, New York and Houston. However, Clemens was also plagued by steroid rumors after being named in the Mitchell Report. He's now missed the Hall of Fame vote twice, including the second time in early 2022. His future as a Hall of Fame candidate remains uncertain, but baseball fans aren't optimistic about his future inclusion.
What Makes a Roger Clemens Rookie Card So Valuable?
Roger Clemens rookie cards are some of the most valuable baseball cards available when they are on the market. Given that Clemens is widely considered one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, it's no surprise that his cards command a high price. There are plenty of MLB greats that aren't as collectible as the Rocket, so has Clemens' cards stood the test of time?
A few factors make Roger Clemens rookie cards more valuable than those of other all-time greats. First, he debuted in the majors at a younger age than most other players, which means his rookie cards were released early. Baseball was extremely popular in the 1980s, and card collecting was peaking.
His MLB career stretched from the 1980s into the 2000s, which also meant that he gained fandom from multiple generations of card-collecting fans. Clemens also played for the two highest-profile markets in Boston and New York, creating big-time demand for his cards. Additionally, Clemens has been associated with several controversies throughout his career (remember the Mike Piazza bat-throwing incident?), which has only added to his collectability.
And as with all older cards, his have grown scarce over the years. Perhaps they've been lost, thrown out or otherwise damaged. Hall of Famer or not, he's a high-profile player with a loyal following, and fans continue to see his card values on the rise.
Investment Potential for a Roger Clemens Rookie Card
Roger Clemens rookie cards are highly sought-after by baseball card collectors. Card collecting hit its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, which was during the middle of Clemens' career. LAter, the COVID-19 pandemic breathed new life into the card-collecting hobby. During the lockdown, people needed something to do and had time to go back through their collections or to start new ones.
One thing that caught their attention was sports cards. Primary markets were big, and secondary markets were even more significant. So, while Roger Clemens rookie cards had always traded well, interest in his cards has exploded over the last three years.
Given that he's one of the greatest baseball players of all-time and has spent his career in high-profile markets, Roger Clemens rookie cards are precious commodities. The value of the cards, of course, depends on how they're graded.
Clemens is still retired and alive but keeps a relatively low profile. If he makes the Hall of Fame, he may see an additional boost in collectability, but his cards have seen a steady demand for years. Near Mint cards can typically be found in the $20-$30 range, with Gem Mint 10 cards commanding prices in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. Yet, there is one BIG exception that fethces well over $10,000.
Top Roger Clemens Rookie Cards
1985 Topps Tiffany #181 Roger Clemens ($3,239)
Tiffany was a parallel premium card sold in complete sets from 1984 to 1991. These cards were manufactured on glossy, high-quality cardstock and had a much brighter color than the regular Topps set. Through 2019, this card consistently sold for around $3,500. Over the last year, some Gem Mint 10s have gone for over $13,000! Pricing for the Tiffany is in the $600 range for grade 9s.
1984 Fleer Update #U-27 Roger Clemens ($1,550)
The Fleer Update is one of the most important baseball cards of all-time. The card was released as part of a set of 132 cards featuring players who had been traded during the 1984 season, and very few of them went into circulation. It's noteworthy for its clean design and sharp corners.
It's tough to find this card without tearing it because of how the manufacturer packed the cards. Grade 8s of the card have sold for just over $200, with Gem Mint 10s going for $1,550. The Fleer Update is a good choice if you're looking for a Roger Clemens rookie card with staying power.
1985 Topps #181 Roger Clemens ($1,300)
Probably the most recognizable Roger Clemens rookie card is the 1985 Topps card. This one gets a LOT of action online. While there is some supply for it, there remains a lot of demand. The traction on the Topps won't be going away anytime soon. Gem Mint 10s sell for up to $1,300, while grade 8s are a steal at $13. 1985 Topps is a solid investment.
1985 Fleer Star Stickers #123 Roger Clemens ($950)
These smaller, often off-center, 1 15/16" by 2 1/2" stickers were sold throughout the 1980s only. They're not quite "rookie cards" per se, but they're still a cool investment for Clemens fans. Star Sticker is a great option if you're looking for a unique collectible, though they're very hard to find. Gem Mint 10 goes for around $950. Grade 9 sells for around $62 and Grade 8 has consistently been less than $20. This is a fun collectible if you can find it.
1985 Fleer #155 Roger Clemens ($900)
If you're looking for Roger Clemens' game face, this is the card for you. In his 1985 Fleer card, you get a mid-game shot of the Rocket intimidating an unlucky batter. The price is in the high-mid range for a Clemens rookie card, selling at $900 for a Gem Mint 10 and around $80 for a grade 9. The other positive about this one is that the price has been very steady for years.
1985 Donruss #273 Roger Clemens ($430)
You can catch the Rocket winding up in his signature delivery in one of the most popular Donruss cards of all-time. This card is a great value play with grade 8s selling for around $20 or less and Gem Mint 10 selling for around $430.
1984 TCMA Pawtucket Red Sox #22 Roger Clemens ($69)
Technically, not a Roger Clemens rookie card, but a minor league card from his short stint with the Pawtucket Red Sox. A rare card indeed. TCMA was a niche minor league card manufacturer in the '70s and '80s, whose popular cards include other future stars like Mark McGwire, Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs. We've seen this baby-faced Clemens card selling in Near Mint condition for upwards of $70. There are very few sales of the card, which makes sense given that there was a tiny print run.
Where Are the Best Places for Collectors to Find Roger Clemens Rookie Cards?
You can find Roger Clemens rookie cards on a wide variety of online auction websites, including:
- SCP Auctions
- Memory Lane
- Pristine Auction
- Robert Edward Auctions
- Heritage Auctions
By searching Google, you’ll find listings of the many sports card shows held regularly across the country. Also, you can check collecting sites, community forums and social media sports pages to find information about upcoming shows in your area.
How Are Roger Clemens Rookie Cards Graded?
The sports card industry follows a universal grading system that's based on a numeric scale, with a top grade being 10, or Gem Mint. Here’s how the system works:
Perfect 10:This card is graded Gem Mint across all four grading criteria: corners, surface, edges and centering. It's the absolute best a card can be and is flawless even under 10x magnification.
Gem Mint: Gem Mint cards are perfect, with sharp corners, vibrant coloring and no damage or stains.
Grade 9.5: Near Mint condition, typically with just one minor flaw.
Grade 9: Excellent condition, with just a couple of minor flaws.
Grades 8 and below: These have condition damage or flaws, and are priced lower.
Raw or Ungraded: Raw cards have just been pulled from their packages and are new to the market. Ungraded cards haven't been through the grading process, and may or may not be new to the market.
When it comes to sports card values, three factors determine the price: condition, demand and rarity. Demand and rarity go hand-in-hand, because rarity can create demand and fuel prices. Ultimately, the market is dictated by consumer demand. If fans want the card, they’ll pay to get it.
Roger Clemens isn't just one of the most dominant pitchers of all-time, he's also one of the most popular players. He played the game in two of the hottest baseball markets in Boston and New York. Clemens' popularity also benefited from playing when the MLB and card collecting were at their peaks.
If you're looking to invest in baseball cards, a Roger Clemens rookie card is a wise choice. Rookie cards have always had a premium on them in the card-collecting hobby world, which gives them massive staying power. They routinely sell for thousands of dollars, according to the card, and there's potential for them to go even higher than that.
If you're looking for a sure thing, look no further than Roger Clemens' rookie cards. If Clemens is ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame, you can expect a surge in demand and, thus, the value of your cards. Even if he isn't, the market for his cards has been so stable that you can expect a reliable return should you ever decide to sell.
If you're looking to sell a Roger Clemens rookie card, getting it graded is best to ensure you get the highest value out of your cards. Whether you're looking to enter the market for $20 or go big for $3,000 or more, there are several options for Clemens' rookie cards.
By investing in grading, you may be able to enhance the value, marketability and authenticity of your cards. In turn, this can protect your investment, and help ensure that you will have a collection that can be cherished for generations to come. Professional bodies like Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG) carry out grading and provide a certificate of authentication for each submitted card. Sellers should always have cards graded, and buyers should always check for proof of the condition before purchasing.
*Any mention of "investment potential" is for entertainment only and should not be construed as investment advice. The Certified Collectibles Group does not provide investment advice and is not liable for any buy, sell or trade decisions made by any parties.
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