Rickey Henderson Rookie Card and the Man of Steal

A Rickey Henderson rookie card in excellent condition can make for a great investment. Over the last few decades, the card has certainly skyrocketed in value. Rickey was an electric baseball player.

He was an MLB record holder in dozens of categories, and arguably the greatest leadoff man in baseball history.

If you’re looking for a high-value rookie card, you should consider Rickey Henderson’s 1980 Topps rookie card as one to acquire and hold onto for the long term.

Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie Card

Starting in the 1950s, Topps was the only baseball card producer in the U.S., and their monopoly over the baseball card industry allowed the market to boom.

However, new baseball card manufacturers came in 1981, ending Topps’ monopoly and eventually flooding the market with low-valued cards.

Many 1980s baseball cards aren’t worth as much as older cards from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. But several, including the Rickey Henderson rookie cards, are incredibly rare and sought after.

Despite this change in the baseball card market, the 1980 Topps set is highly valued. It is the last issue from the Topps monopoly before new brands began to flood the market.

1980 Topps cards feature many great rookies and eventual Hall of Famers, as their baseball careers exploded in the late 80s to early 90s. 

Rickey Henderson Rookie Card – 1980 Topps

1980 topps rickey henderson rookie card psa 10

Rickey Henderson Rookie Card Value

One of the most notable baseball cards from the 1980s is the Topps Rickey Henderson rookie card. The PSA 10 graded Topps card has sold at Heritage Auctions and an eBay partner network for over $100,000.

Some of you might forget why a Ricky Rookie is so valuable. Keep reading for a refresher on why the Hall of Famer was one of baseball’s best lead-off hitters and base stealers ever to play the game. 

There were Wayne Gretzky cards, Nolan Ryan cards, and even Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas cards, but the Topps Rickey Henderson rookies are right up there with the best of the best.

There’s more to Rickey than just stolen bases. He’s an all-time classic.

Rickey’s Early Years

Rickey Henderson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in the back seat of an Oldsmobile heading to the hospital in 1958. His parents separated when he was two years old. His mother and siblings moved to Oakland, California when he was seven. 

Henderson was a natural athlete in high school, playing baseball, basketball, football, and track. It seemed like his athletic career would have been in football: he was a star running back and linebacker and received over a dozen scholarship offers.

However, he turned down the scholarships, which was influenced mainly by his mother, as she explained in 1982, 

“I was kind of scared of him getting hurt playing football. It was all right when he was playing tag football, but when he started playing tackle, I didn’t like it, … I thought he wouldn’t last as long-playing football.”

Despite being a great football player, Henderson was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1976. Henderson made an instant impression in the minor leagues and quickly joined the major league team in only three seasons.

Rickey Henderson Rookie Card

1979 rickey henderson ogden A's triple-a card

Rickey Henderson’s MLB Career

In 1980, Henderson would become the third modern-day player to steal 100 bases in a season. In the next few years with the A’s, he would eventually finish with three 100-plus steal seasons in 1980, 1982, and 1983.

In 1982, Henderson broke the single-season record by stealing 130 bases. 84 of those steals coming before the All-Star break. No one had ever stolen 84 bases in an entire season, let alone by the All-Star break. Rickey was quickly becoming the greatest baserunner of all time.

rickey henderson career stats

In 1985, he was traded to the New York Yankees. He would become the first player in major league history to reach 80 stolen bases and 20 home runs.

Rickey didn’t only have speed, he had power too. In 1985, he won the Silver Slugger Award.

However, Henderson entered a slump in 1987 and would have a problematic relationship with the New York media and Yankee fans.

Read more about Topps Baseball Cards –

1987 Topps Sports Cards Worth Collecting

1986 Topps Baseball Cards and the Start of an Era

Rickey Henderson Breaking Records

Rickey bounced back in 1989 after a mid-season trade to Oakland, where he became MVP of the American League Championship Series. He led the Oakland A’s to win the World Series, which has not happened for the franchise since 1974.  

During Henderson’s second stint with the Oakland A’s, he stole the 939th base of his career in 1991, breaking the previous record set by Lou Brock.

As it stands, Henderson has 468 more stolen bases than Brock and has 50% more stolen bases than the sport’s all-time runner-up. The proportional margin between the two men’s totals is one of the greatest in any professional sport to date.

Henderson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993. While he had a disappointing performance, most likely due to a bone fracture in his hand, he helped Toronto win the World Series. 

1981 donruss rickey henderson rookie card

Rickey’s Retirement

From 1994 to the end of his formal MLB career in 2003, he would move from team to team.

The Oakland A’s, the San Diego Padres, the Anaheim Angels, the New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Newark Bears, and LA Dodgers. He played for nine different teams over his 25-year career.

After leaving the Dodgers in 2003, Henderson would not accept the end of his major league career. In 2005, he insisted he could play in the major leagues.

NBC and ESPN reported Henderson announced his official retirement at the end of the year. He would concede his official retirement in 2007, stating –

“I haven’t submitted retirement papers to MLB, but I think MLB already had their papers that I was retired.” 

Henderson continued to stay involved in the baseball community in retirement. In 2006, he was hired by the New York Mets as a special instructor to teach base stealing and work with hitters.

In 2007, he was promoted to be a full-time first base coach. He coached in the minor league, independent league and held assistant manager roles in the major leagues.

Read about perhaps the greatest rookie card of the last 40 years, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card –

The Legend of the Ken Griffey Jr Rookie Card

Rickey Henderson’s Amazing Career Stats

Throughout his 25-year major league career, Henderson accumulated several awards and records still held to this day. His nickname was the “Man of Steal,” having stolen 1,406 bases during his career.

He holds the single-season all-time record for 130 stolen bases in 1982. Additionally, he holds Major League records with 2,295 career runs scored and 81 career leadoff home runs.

Henderson will go down in history as one of baseball’s greatest lead-off hitters, bringing the Oakland A’s and the Toronto Blue Jays to the World Series.

In addition to winning two World Series, he has several accomplishments as a 10-time All-Star, an American League MVP, a Gold Glove winner, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and a Hall of Famer.

Rickey Henderson Legacy

Rickey Henderson’s legacy as one of the game’s best lead-off hitters and base stealers will continue to inspire new players and fans for generations to come.

His rookie card remains one of the most sought-after sportscards in the hobby. 

If you’re a card collector looking to hold valuable rookie cards for a long-term investment, you would want to consider the 1980 Rickey Henderson Topps rookie card.

Rickey Henderson was electric. Anytime he was leading off the game, everyone wanted to see what he was going to do. Once he reached first base, it was almost a sure thing that he would soon be standing on second.
For pitchers, walking Rickey Henderson was just the same as giving up a double. He terrified opponents at the plate and on the basepaths.

Want to read about more amazing rookie cards from the 1980s? Here are three more incredible athletes and their valuable rookie cards –

The Case for Bo Jackson Rookie Cards

Beyond the Walter Payton Rookie Card

The Greatness of the Barry Sanders Rookie Card

Mr. November, the Ultimate Derek Jeter Rookie Card Guide

Respect for the A-Rod Rookie Card

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