Rickey Henderson Rookie Cards
The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 card is the one most collectors consider to be his rookie card, and for a good reason. Unless you consider minor league cards to be a form of rookies, there are no other Rickey Henderson rookie cards. So this should be a short article, right? Not so fast. Rickey Henderson has an extremely cool collection of minor league cards for a player from this era. He also has a Mexican sticker that predates his Topps rookie as well as a very valuable oddball second-year card. In this article I’ll walk through all of these early Rickey Henderson cards.
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482
The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson (card #482) is the key baseball card of the 1980s. The 1980 Topps set isn’t as overproduced as a lot of the other 1980s sets because it was produced early in the decade. Henderson was one of the greatest players of all time and was also extremely popular. Fans gravitated to his incredible speed, elite athleticism, and aggressive playing style.
Rickey Henderson took the league by storm in his second season when he scored 111 runs and stole 100 bases. This established him as one of baseball’s biggest superstars and continued to put up mindboggling numbers throughout his career that spanned a quarter of a century. When his career was over he was the all-time leader in both runs scored and stolen bases. He also ended his career with 297 home runs, which is phenomenal for a leadoff hitting speed demon.
Any rookie card of a player with Henderson’s accomplishments would be valuable, but some additional factors make this card one of the most sought-after of the 1980s by collectors.
- Advanced Analytics: Rickey Henderson is the greatest base stealer in MLB history. He holds the record for most career steals and because the game of baseball has shifted emphasis away from stealing as a strategy it’s unlikely his record will ever be seriously challenged. Modern baseball analytics suggest that stealing bases isn’t worth the risk, but that doesn’t diminish Henderson’s accomplishments. The most well-known advanced analytic is WAR (wins over replacement) and Rickey Henderson’s career WAR of 111.2 establishes him as one of the most productive players in history.
- Greatest Leadoff Man: In previous posts I’ve mentioned players who are considered the best player in history at their position. Rickey Henderson puts a new spin on this. He isn’t considered the greatest outfielder of all time, but he is considered the greatest leadoff hitter of all time. Henderson had a blend of hitting discipline, power, and speed that only Hall of Famer Tim Raines comes even remotely close to matching.
- Unbreakable Record: Cards of retired players who make their mark on history are the ones that maintain and grow in value after their careers are over. One way for a player to stay relevant to collectors is to accomplish something unlikely to ever be done again. Rickey Henderson has almost certainly done that by stealing 1,406 bases during his career. No other play has reached 1,000.
1980 Topps Baseball Set Details
The 1980 Topps set is a classic early ’80s set that is loaded with Hall of Famers and star players, but short on key rookie cards. The only Hall of Fame rookie in the set is Rickey Henderson (#482), but it does have rookie cards for 7-time All-Star pitcher Dave Stieb (#77) and Cy Young Award winners Rick Sutcliffe (#544) and Mike Scott (#681). The set is comprised of 726 cards that are single-player cards. The only subsets are league leaders, team checklists, and Future Stars. For this set, none of the Future Star cards included breakout superstars. Mike Scott probably had the best career of the “future stars.”
This set did mark the return of facsimile signatures on the front and cartoons on the back. Topps chose to go with no signature on the front and games, instead of cartoons, on the back for its 1978 and 1979 sets.
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Number of Cards: 726
- Card size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)
- Leaders (201-207)
- Future Stars (661-686)
- Team Checklists (non-sequential numbers)
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson card #482 Details
- Card no: #482 of 726
- Names on card: Rickey Henderson
- Height: 5′ 10″
- Weight: 178
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Left
- Drafted: A’s #4 – June 1976
- Acquired: Via Draft
- Born: 12-25-58 Chicago, Illinois
- Home: Oakland, California
- Position: Outfield
- Team: Oakland A’s
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson card has a simple and classic vertical design. The border is white and most of the card is taken up by a full-body photo of Rickey Henderson in his batting stance. His name is across the top of the card in a simple black font and a yellow banner in the upper left corner has his position as “outfield.” A green banner in the bottom right corner has the team name “A’s” and just above it is a facsimile signature.
Shop for a 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie card #482 on eBay (affiliate link)
Back of the card
Design: The back of the 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson (#482) card has a horizontal layout. A black bar across the top of the card has the card number, position, player name, and team name. The left side of the card has a cartoon that reads “Rickey had 7 stolen bases in one game at Modesto, May 26, 1977.” This cartoon is an uncorrected error because the game mentioned was an away game against the Fresno Giants. To the right of the cartoon are Henderson’s minor league and rookie year stats along with a couple of first-year highlights. The bottom of the card has his biographical information.
* His Sacrifice Fly capped a 3-run, 8th inning rally as A’s came from behind to defeat Orioles, 7-10-79.1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482
* His 4th inning single accounted for A’s lone safety of contest in 2-0 loss to Yankees, July 8, 1979.
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie Card Value
The Rickey Henderson Topps 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 02/01/2022. It shows prices for the Rickey Henderson 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 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie card #482.
Other Relevant Rickey Henderson Rookie Cards
The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson #482 is my pick for the best Rickey Henderson rookie card and that’s an easy choice considering it’s the only card commonly considered to be a rookie. That said, he also has some great minor league cards and one very valuable oddball second-year card. Let’s take a look at those.
1977 Chong Modesto A’s Rickey Henderson #5
The quality of this card is not great, but a card that predates Rickey Henderson’s Topps rookie by 3 years is about as cool as it gets. This card was made for the A’s single-A affiliate team from the California League. This card is rare and you will find reprints on eBay, so if you try to chase this one be careful to make sure you’re getting an authentic original copy.
Shop for a 1977 Modesto A’s Rickey Henderson on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)
1978-79 Mexican Pacific League Sticker Rickey Henderson #142
I almost didn’t include the 1978-79 Mexican Pacific League Sticker Rickey Henderson #142 because it’s so rare I was initially skeptical that it is even authentic. This was produced along with a sticker album by Liga Mexican del Pacifico when Henderson was playing winter baseball with the Navojoa Mayos. There were 242 stickers in this set and they are extremely rare. If you’re a Rickey Henderson collector, this is the holy grail.
1979 TCMA Ogden A’s Rickey Henderson #9
The 1979 TCMA Ogden A’s Rickey Henderson #9 card is a valuable Rickey Henderson pre-rookie card, but unlike the two cards above there were a lot of them made and it can be found relatively easily. This card was part of a set made by the Oakland A’s triple-A affiliate the Ogden A’s. This was Rickey Henderson’s final stop before taking his talents to the MLB.
Shop for a 1979 TCMA Ogden A’s Rickey Henderson on eBay (affiliate link)
1981 Granny Goose Rickey Henderson #35
The 1981 Granny Goose Rickey Henderson #35 isn’t a rookie card, but it is rare and valuable. That’s the reason I decided to feature this one out of all his 1981 oddball cards. Granny Goose was a potato chip company that was headquartered in Oakland at this time that produced A’s sets from 1981-1983. This card is much rarer than Henderson’s 1980 Topps rookie card but isn’t as valuable. It still sells for thousands of dollars in gem-mint condition.
Shop for a 1980 Fleer Update Rickey Henderson on eBay (affiliate link)
Rickey Henderson’s Legacy
Rickey Henderson is regarded as the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. He began his Major League career in 1980 and he established himself as an offensive force in his second year when he scored 111 RBIs and stole 100 bases — a feat that had only been done by a few players including Lou Brock and Maury Wills. By 1985 Henderson had developed into a legitimate MVP candidate when he started to demonstrate unusual power for a leadoff man by hitting 25 home runs. In his 11th season he scored 119 runs and batted .325, which was enough for him to win the American League MVP award.
Rickey Henderson retired after 25 years in the MLB as the all-time leader in stolen bases and runs. The Oakland Athletics retried his jersey number 24 in 2009, which is the same year he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here’s a list of some of Rickey Henderson’s accomplishments:
- 1 time American League On-Base Percentage leader (1990)
- 1 time American League Hits leader (1981)
- 4 time American League Bases on Balls leader (1982, 1983, 1989, 1998)
- 1 time American League Times on Base leader (1980)
- 1 time American League Runs Created leader (1990)
- 5 time American League Runs Scored leader (1981, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990)
- 12 time American League Stolen Bases leader
- 1 time Gold Glove winner – outfield (1981)
- 10 time All-Star
- American League Championship Series MVP (1989)
- 2 time World Series champion (1989, 1993)
- 1 time American League MVP winner (1990)
- Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009
Get Your Rickey Henderson Rookie
Do you want to own a 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie (#482)? 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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