The Greg Maddux Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards
Greg Maddux Rookie Cards
By 1987 we were in the heart of the “wax junk” era of sports cards where manufacturers were capitalizing on the popularity of the hobby by making mass quantities of mostly worthless cards. That means Greg Maddux has a lot of rookie cards, but not a lot of them are extremely valuable. Readers of this blog will come to learn that I’m a big fan of Topps Tiffany cards, but for Greg Maddux, I consider the Canadian version of one of his common rookie cards to be his best. In this article I’ll walk through all the 1987 Greg Maddux cards and a minor league card as well.
1987 Leaf Greg Maddux #36
The 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux (card #36) is sneakily one of the most expensive cards of the 1980s. I call it sneaky because collectors weren’t favoring this over the Donruss card until relatively recently. But as time has passed and more info has surfaced about populations, it became clear that this was the Greg Maddux rookie to have.
In the late 1980s Greg Maddux started to stand out among his peers and by the early 1990s he had established himself as one of baseball’s best. From 1992 to1995 he won four straight Cy Young Awards which is a feat that had never before been done. Throughout the 1990s he was a fixture in All-Star games and on league leader boards. Even after his best years had passed, his intellect and control allowed him to remain a very effective Major League pitcher for more than two decades. By the time his 23-year career was over he had 355 wins and a low lifetime ERA of 3.16.
Any rookie card of a player with Maddux’s accomplishments would be valuable, but some additional factors make this card one of the most sought-after of the 1980s by collectors.
- Leaf Scarcity and Quality: The 1987 Leaf set was relatively low quality and was not produced in high numbers because it is the Canadian version. That means there are relatively few of these cards and they are hard to come by in high-grade condition. That is what puts this card’s value above the Topps, Donruss, and Fleer Maddux rookies from 1987, and even above the Topps Tiffany card.
- 18 Gold Glove Awards: At the end of Greg Maddux’s career he had accumulated 18 Gold Glove awards, which is more than Ozzie Smith, Brooks Robinson, and well…everyone else who had ever played. This cements Maddux’s status as one of the greatest fielders of all time, which is an amazing achievement even for a pitcher who isn’t on the field every game. Setting records like this makes it very likely players will be remembered, talked about, and collected long after retirement.
- Number Retired by 2 Teams: The highest honor a franchise bestows on its players is to retire their jersey number — and an overwhelming majority of players never get honored in this way. Greg Maddux made a significant enough impact to warrant number retirement by not just one franchise, but two. Both the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves retired the number #31. For the record, when the Cubs retired #31 they did it to honor Greg Maddux and fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Both of them wore #31 while earning franchise legend status pitching for the Cubs. Only about 10 other MLB players have had a number retired by multiple franchises.
1987 Leaf Baseball Set Details
The 1987 Leaf Baseball set is the Canadian version of the Donruss set, but it has a much smaller checklist and a few design differences. Instead of being a full 660 card set like Donruss, the Leaf set consists of only 264 cards. In the top left corner of the face of cards you’ll find the Leaf logo instead of the Donruss logo, but all other graphic elements are the same. The back of the card also has the same design as the Donruss set, but the career highlight on the Leaf card is in both English and French. In addition to the Greg Maddux rookie card (#36), the set also has rookie cards for Rafael Palmeiro (#43), Mark McGwire (#46), and Barry Bonds (#219).
- Manufacturer: Leaf
- Number of Cards: 264
- Card size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)
- Diamond Kings (#1-27)
- Rated Rookies (#28-47)
- Canadian Great (#65 & #173)
- Roberto Clemente Puzzle Card (#163)
- Insert Sets
- Roberto Clemente Puzzle
- Roberto Clemente Puzzle
1987 Leaf Greg Maddux card #36 Details
- Card no: #36 of 264
- Names on front: Greg Maddux
- Name on Back: Gregory Allen Maddux
- Uncorrected Misprint: Middle name should be spelled “Alan”
- Born: April, 14, 1966 – San Angelo, TX
- Home: Las Vegas, NV
- Height: 6′ 0″
- Weight: 150 lb
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1987 Topps Traded Tiffany Greg Maddux (#70T) has the same design as the base 1987 Topps baseball set with the classic wood grain border. The Cubs logo appears in the upper left corner and the Topps logo appears in the bottom left next to Greg Maddux’s name in a red box. The photo of Maddux takes up about 80% of the card and shows him just after delivering a pitch.
The Tiffany version of the card looks almost identical to the regular Traded version of the card with the obvious difference being a high-gloss finish on the Tiffany card. It’s hard to show this in photos, a fact that some sellers try to take advantage of by selling the regular cards at Tiffany prices. In the next section I’ll show you how to tell the difference between the two versions by looking at the back of the card.
Shop for a 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux Rookie card #36 on eBay (affiliate link) because it’s rare in high-grade condition.
Back of the card
Design: The back of the 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux (#36) card has a horizontal layout and is primarily yellow. The back of this card is notable due to the misspelling of Maddux’s middle name. It shows it as “Allen”, but the correct spelling is “Alan.” This is an uncorrected error, which means it’s the only version of the card and there is not a version in existence with the correct spelling. Below Maddux’s misspelled name is his biographical information and stats from his rookie season. Just below that is a short career highlight blurb in both English and French.
Had standout season at Iowa last year (10-1, 3.02 ERA), earning late-season call-up to Cubs and figures to win a spot in their ’87 starting rotation…in ’85 at Peoria was 13-9 with 3.19 ERA, striking out 125 in 186 innings…Spend the ’84 season at Pikesville where he was 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA.1987 Leaf Greg Maddux #36
1987 Leaf Greg Maddux Rookie Card Value
The Greg Maddux Leaf rookie card is one of the more valuable baseball cards made in the 1980s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 01/21/2022. It shows prices for the Greg Maddux rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux Rookie card #36.
Other Relevant Greg Maddux Rookie Cards
The 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux #36 is my pick for the best Greg Maddux rookie card, but there are other Greg Maddux rookie cards that at least warrant consideration. Two Maddux rookie cards nearly match the 1987 Leaf Maddux card in value, which I’ll cover first. And then there are some less valuable, but still great standard Topps, Donruss, and Fleer cards as well as a few oddball Maddux rookies.
1986 ProCards Pittsfield Cubs Greg Maddux #14
Unless you are a big Cubs fan or lived near Pittsfield, Massachusetts in the 1980s you’ve probably never heard of the Pittsfield Cubs; I hadn’t. This AA affiliate for the Chicago Cubs only operated from 1985 to 1988, but that was long enough to give us one of the coolest Greg Maddux collectibles in existence. The 1986 Pittsfield Cubs Greg Maddux #14 card is part of a 25-card set that also included slugger Rafael Palmeiro. This Maddux card is rare and one of the most valuable Maddux baseball cards.
Shop for a 1998 Pittsfield Cubs Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link)
1987 Topps Traded Tiffany Greg Maddux #70T
I considered picking the 1987 Topps Tiffany Greg Maddux #70T as the best Maddux rookie. Readers of this blog will learn that I’m a big fan of the Tiffany sets, but Topps made more of them in 1987 than in previous years — so it exists in similar numbers to the 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux rookie card. However, the 1987 Topps Tiffany is a relatively high-quality set for the era and the 1987 Leaf set is not, so the Leaf rookie card is harder to find and, thus more valuable, in high-grade condition.
The Tiffany version of the card looks almost identical to the regular Traded version of the card with the obvious difference being a high-gloss finish on the Tiffany card. It’s hard to show this in photos, a fact that some sellers try to take advantage of by selling the regular cards at Tiffany prices. A little further down on this page I’ll show you how to tell the difference between the two versions by looking at the back of the card.
Shop for a 1987 Topps Traded Tiffany Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link) because it’s just as rare as his Leaf rookie.
1987 Topps Traded Greg Maddux #70T
The 1987 Topps Traded Greg Maddux #70T card exists in much higher numbers than the Tiffany version. For this reason, it is a much more affordable option. And it’s still a great-looking Maddux rookie from a classic 1980s Topps set.
Shop for a 1987 Topps Traded Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link) because it’s more affordable than the Tiffany.
1987 Fleer Update Greg Maddux #U-68 (Regular and Glossy)
Similar to Topps, Fleer made two versions of its 1987 update set that are nearly identical except one of them is glossy. However, the glossy Fleer glossy set isn’t nearly as rare or valuable as the Topps Tiffany set, so I’m going to cover these two versions of the cards at once. The design of this update set looks exactly like the 1987 Fleer base set with the exception of the “U” added to the front of the numbering sequence.
The glossy version of this card is a little rarer than the regular version. It typically sells for between 50%-100% more. This isn’t a terribly expensive Maddux rookie because this is a wax junk set that was produced in big numbers.
Shop for a 1987 Fleer Update Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link)
1987 Donruss Greg Maddux #36
The 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux #36 card is another great Greg Maddux rookie. Unlike the Topps and Fleer cards I’ve talked about, this card was part of the 1987 Donruss base set and isn’t an update or traded card. For some collectors, that makes this (and the Leaf) his true rookie and the others extended rookie cards (XRC). I don’t personally like to draw that distinction, but it’s worth mentioning.
This card was made in much larger numbers than the Leaf card, so it isn’t nearly as valuable. That makes it a great and affordable Greg Maddox rookie card. Both the 1987 Donruss and Leaf cards misspell Maddux’s middle name on the back of the 1987 card. The correct spelling of his middle name is “Alan” not “Allen.” That is an uncorrected error in both sets, meaning there isn’t a version of the cards in existence with the correct spelling.
Shop for the 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link)
1987 Donruss The Rookies Greg Maddux #52
During the “wax junk” era of card collecting, box sets became very popular. This Greg Maddux card is from a 55-card set that contained rookie players, although some of the players had cards in 1986 or earlier. This is a cool Greg Maddux rookie that mirrors the design of the 1987 Donruss base set. It isn’t too expensive and I’m a much bigger fan of Maddux without the mustache. Also worth noting, Donruss got the spelling of Maddux’s middle name correct on this card
Shop for the 1987 Donruss The Rookies Greg Maddux on eBay (affiliate link)
1987 David Berg Greg Maddux (no number)
The 1987 David Berg Greg Maddux card is from a set of Cubs players distributed at Wrigley field on a baseball card giveaway night. They are sponsored by hotdog maker David Berg, which is no longer in business even though Vienna bought and uses the David Berg name. These cards were a little larger than standard cards as they measure 2 7/8″ x 4 1/4″. This is a pretty rare set, but only moderately valuable because it’s an obscure regional set a lot of collectors are unaware of.
Shop for the 1987 David Berg Greg Maddux card on eBay (affiliate link)
1987 Sportflics Chicago Cubs Team Preview #22
With this one I’m starting to stretch the bounds of what is considered a rookie because I don’t normally count team cards as rookies. However, this card is a little different because it only features 12 players and it includes a solo photo of Maddux and mentions him on the back. As with all Sportflics cards, tilting it will make three different panels visible. It’s one of the expensive Maddux rookie cards, but from the price it brings in high-grade condition it’s clear other collectors also consider it to be a Greg Maddux rookie. This card also has Rafael Palmeiro on it and is considered to be his rookie as well.
Shop for the 1987 Sportflics Chicago Cubs Team Preview card on eBay (affiliate link)
Greg Maddux’s Legacy
Greg Maddux is regarded as one of the best pitchers of his era along with the likes of Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson. He was not overpowering but was more known for his control and intelligence. Maddux was not a strikeout artist but regularly led the National League in strikeouts-to-walks ratio instead. Maddux won the Cy Young award in four consecutive seasons, which is a feat that had never been previously accomplished. Only a few other players have won four or more Cy Young awards during a career.
It’s easy to focus on Maddux as a pitcher, but he is one of the most well-rounded players in history. It was very common for him to maintain a batting average of around .200, which is excellent for a pitcher. He is regarded as one of the greatest fielding pitchers of all time and has 18 Gold Glove awards to prove his excellence. Maddux’s uniform number 31 has been retired by both the Braves and the Cubs and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Here’s a list of some of Greg Maddux’s accomplishments:
- 4 time Cy Young Award Winner (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- 8 time All-Star
- 18 time Gold Glove Winner
- 4 time National League Earned Run Average leader (1993, 1994, 1995, 1998)
- 3 time National League Wins leader (1992, 1993, 1995)
- 2 time Win-Loss Percentage leader (1995, 1997)
- 3 time Complete Games leader (1993, 1994, 1995)
- 5 time Shutouts leader (1994, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001)
- 22 time Assists as Pitcher leader
- 31 retired by Chicago Cubs to honor Greg Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins
- 31 retired by Atlanta Braves to honor Greg Maddux
- Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014
Get Your Greg Maddux Rookie
Do you want to own a 1987 Leaf Greg Maddux Rookie (#36)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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