Behind the Randy Johnson Rookie Card


You might not have a Randy Johnson rookie card in your collection yet, but as time passes, you’ll most likely realize two things. First, Randy Johnson was one of the most dominating pitchers in MLB history. And secondly, you need a Randy Johnson rookie card.

Randy Johnson, also known as “The Big Unit,” was a 10-time All-Star, and won 5 Cy Young Awards. He was also a Triple Crown winner in 2002, and a 2001 World Series Champion. As a pitcher, he defeated every major-league team at least once—a stunning accomplishment of skill and longevity.

The Young Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson was born in Walnut Creek, California, on September 10, 1963, and was a star baseball and basketball athlete in high school. While the Atlanta Braves selected him in the 4th round of the 1982 Major League Baseball draft, Johnson took a full athletic scholarship to play baseball at USC.

The following year Johnson was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the second round of the 1985 MLB draft and reported to the minor league Jamestown Expos single-A team.

Randy Johnson’s Professional Career

Johnson had a rough start to his pro career with the Montreal Expos and was soon traded to the Seattle Mariners. He showed a lack of control at the beginning of his career. But soon would begin to show his talents in 1990, when he became the first left-hander to strike out Wade Boggs three times in one game. 

In 1993, he broke out, posting a 19-8 record, 3.24 Earned Running Average (ERA), getting his first of six 300 plus strikeout seasons, and was the first Seattle Mariners pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. Additionally, he recorded his 1,000th career strikeout against the Minnesota Twins. 

Old-time baseball fans might remember this highlight from the 1993 MLB All-Star Game. When John Kruk dug in to face Randy Johnson, the first pitch sailed over Kruk’s head. The next few pitches showed fans why Randy Johnson was one of the most dominant pitchers of his day. Kruk never had a chance at touching the ball.

In the later part of the 90s, Johnson would be traded to the Houston Astros for a brief stint and then to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a four-year contract. He won the Cy Young Award and Warren Spahn Award in 1999 and 2000 consecutively. 

A Dominating Career

In 2001, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling carried the Diamondbacks to victory in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Johnson and Schilling shared the World Series MVP award, the Babe Ruth Award. The duo was named Sports Illustrated magazine’s 2001 Sportsmen of the Year. He would also win his third consecutive Warren Spahn Award and Cy Young Award.

In 2002, Johnson won the Triple Crown – where he led the National League in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. That year, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to post a 24-5 record. He would also win his fourth consecutive Cy Young and Warren Spahn Awards.

Later in his career, he played for the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants, solidifying his status as one of the best strikeout pitchers in big league history. 

Retirement from Major League Baseball

In 2010, Johnson announced his retirement. Johnson was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in 2012 and elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Today, Johnson is a successful photographer, a hobby he picked up when he was a child. Additionally, he maintains a bond with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has worked as an assistant coach.

Randy Johnson Rookie Cards

1986 ProCards West Palm Beach Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1986 ProCards West Palm Beach Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Classic Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Classic Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Upper Deck Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Upper Deck Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Fleer Update Randy Johnson Baseball Card

1989 Fleer Update Randy Johnson Baseball Card

1989 Score Young Superstars Series Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score Young Superstars Series Randy Johnson Rookie Card

Topps

The 1989 Topps Tiffany Randy Johnson rookie card is one of The Big Unit’s most valuable due to the limited print run and higher quality card material. These cards in pristine PSA 10 condition will be around $550 while the base PSA 10 value is closer to $30. 

Because Johnson’s career got off to a slow start, the Expos traded him to the Seattle Mariners. The Topps Traded set features rookies who changed teams during the season.

1989 Topps Traded #57T Randy Johnson Baseball Card

The Tiffany Topps Traded #57T Randy Johnson cards in mint condition have a high PSA 10 value of $250, while the base version lands around $15. 

1989 Topps #647 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Topps #647 Randy Johnson

Donruss

Despite the Junk Wax Era in the late 80s to early 90s, where the baseball card industry flooded the market with different sets of rookie baseball cards, Randy Johnson Donruss’s rookie cards have appreciated over the years. 

The 1989 Donruss baseball #42 rookie card has a unique purple and black border and showcases Johnson’s somewhat confusing profile. Interestingly, there are versions of the card that have the wrong birthdate. These cards can be worth closer to $700 in certified and graded mint condition. However, a top-grade PSA 10 value of the base card will land you close to $25.

1989 Donruss Randy Johnson Rated Rookie Baseball Card

1989 Donruss Randy Johnson Rated Rookie Baseball Card

In the same year, Donruss released their 1989 Baseball’s Best 336 card set, which features Randy Johnson (#80) with a green and yellow border. A PSA 10 mint condition card is valued at somewhere around $100.

1989 Donruss Baseballs Best Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Donruss Baseballs Best Randy Johnson Rookie Card

The 1989 Donruss Rookies #43 Randy Johnson rookie card features an excellent photo of Johnson in motion. A card in pristine condition will fetch close to $100.

1989 Donruss Rookies Randy Johnson

1989 Donruss Rookies Randy Johnson

1989 Woolworth Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Woolworth Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 O-Pee-Chee Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 O-Pee-Chee Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johnson Rookie Card With Marlboro Ad

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johnson With Marlboro Ad

The 1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie Card is controversial due to the Marlboro ad in the background. Later prints increased the exposure in the photo, blocking out the Marlboro ad partially or entirely. Rookie cards showing the ad in top condition are valued at nearly $300, while the base card is valued at around $15.

Other rookie cards from the 1989 Fleer set include Ken Griffey Jr., Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, and Gary Sheffield. There’s also a 1989 Fleer Update Deion Sanders rookie card that I love.

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johson Rookie Card With Marlboro Ad

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johson Rookie Card With Marlboro Ad

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johson With Marlboro Ad Completely Blocked

1989 Fleer #381 Randy Johson Rookie Card With Marlboro Ad Completely Blocked

1989 Score Rookies Traded #77T Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score Rookies Traded #77T Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score Rising Stars #63 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score Rising Stars #63 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score #645 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Score #645 Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Panini Stickers Randy Johnson Card

1989 Panini Stickers Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Topps Big Baseball Randy Johnson Card

1989 Topps Big Baseball Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Sportflics Randy Johnson Rookie Card

1989 Sportflics Randy Johnson
1989 Sportflics Randy Johnson

Other Great Randy Johnson Baseball Cards

1990 Randy Johnson Bowman Tiffany

1990 Randy Johnson Bowman Tiffany

The 1990 Randy Johnson Bowman Tiffany is a low pop card with less than 6,000 cards produced. A Gem Mint PSA 10 version can land you around $225 and features Johnson about to throw a pitch. 

1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended Autograph Randy Johnson

1996-Leaf-Signature-Series-Extended-Autograph-Randy-Johnson

1993 FInest Refractor Randy Johnson

1993-FInest-Refractor-Randy-Johnson

1999 Topps Opening Day Randy Johnson

1999-Topps-Opening-Day-Randy-Johnson

Randy Johnson Rookie Card Summary

Randy Johnson is one of the MLB’s iconic pitchers. His performance on the field will keep his rookie cards appreciating over time. Johnson’s cards are an excellent addition to any card collection.

Hold them, buy more of them, and keep your eyes out for great deals on Randy Johnson cards; you never know when a great deal might present itself.


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