When it comes to legendary Baseball fans, everyone has their star player that they grew up knowing about. Every new generation of America’s national sports fans and players has that name that made them aware of baseball, and who got them into it.
And for many people in the 1990s, that name was John Smoltz.
John Smoltz, Ace Pitcher
Affectionately nicknamed Smoltzie. John Smoltz has to rank as one of the most elite pitchers in Baseball history and quite possibly might be one of THE best pitchers in Major League Baseball history, certainly in the last 30 to 35 years.
When you are the ONLY pitcher in Major League to have both 200 wins under your belt, and 150 saves in your name, you must be doing something right.
And so, for a world-class baseball pitcher, there will also be a plethora of baseball cards accompanying them, from all points in their career.
However, one of the most coveted baseball cards is those from before they were national icons when they were still rising stars and were getting their first rookie cards.
This list will show off 7 classic John Smoltz rookie baseball cards for our pitcher. With what we think are some of the best out there. Stick around until the end as the Tiffany version of the final card in our list has some real potential in the long term.
#U-74 1988 Fleer Update John Smoltz
Starting this list with one of the oldest cards on this list, this ProCard comes right from the start of Smoltz’s Major League career, in this Fleer update set that was released after John Smoltz joined MLB in the middle of the season that year.
The fact that this young and upcoming player joined the league around the halfway point might also explain why this card is considered a potential steal to find and get for yourself.
While many of the other first or early rookie cards for Smoltz are released for the season next year, this card pre-dates many of them.
The fact that this card is the first makes it a comparative steal amongst rookie cards, especially when compared to many first rookie cards. The fact that there was an insanely high print run of this card probably helps in that respect, so make sure you grab one of these while they are still plentiful!
RC #642 1989 Donruss John Smoltz
Now, moving on to when most of the main rookie cards were finally released, we get this particular card from the major seller and manufacturer of baseball cards of the late 80s and 90s, by Donruss.
While this isn’t the first rookie card that John Smoltz had, this was the first MLB rookie card where he played for the entire season, which has its value.
Add to the fact that the print runs for this card were also exceedingly high, and you have a recipe for a card that still maintains a relatively low price right now.
However, keep in mind that that price tag will only continue to inflate with time.
RC #382 1989 Topps John Smoltz
Donruss isn’t the only place where you can find good baseball rookie cards for John Smoltz of course. Topps is also a very popular source of rookie cards from this time, and the same goes for their own 1989 John Smoltz card.
The first thing that noticeably sets this card apart from some of the previous cards is the deliberate styling of the card and the picture frame, which is designed to harken back to baseball cards and styling of the 1960s and 1970s, making it an easy card to pick out for yourself.
If you’re looking for a simple card that stands out from many of the others from around this time, you can’t go wrong with a Topps card for your top pitcher.
There’s a reason they are most people’s favorite cards to collect, after all!
RC #17 1989 Upper Deck Star Rookie John Smoltz
When it comes to another reliable baseball card provider, Upper Deck is often another name that is often on the tip of people’s tongues.
Like many of the other rookie cards for John Smoltz in the 1989 season, this is one of the earliest cards that we get of this rising star before he starts becoming a household name in the early 90s.
One of the main things that will stick out when taking a good look at this line of cards is that the photo of the player takes up most of the car, rather than being confined to a smaller box like in most other baseball cards.
If you like your baseball cards to have a distinctive style, then Upper Deck is probably a good shout out for you, especially while the card’s value hasn’t skyrocketed. Expect to pay around $100 for a PSA 10.
RC #602 1989 Fleer Rookie Card John Smoltz
This is the second time that Fleer has appeared on our list for John Smoltz.
Fleer, alongside many of the other named sports card companies on this list, was one of the mainstays of trading cards around the 80s and 90s.
As the new season started, it would make sense to include a fresh new card to mark Smoltzie’s first full season as a Major League Baseball player.
You can pick up a nice PSA 9 mint copy for not much money. $20 seems to be the going rate at the moment.
So, if you are looking for a second Fleer rookie card for John Smoltzie that you want to go with your ‘88 series card, this one will give you a great pair for this pitcher at the start of his major league career.
RC #616 1989 Score John Smoltz
This next card is for those card collectors who prefer cards where the picture of the card is the main focus.
Many also prefer the styling of Score’s trading card itself from this era, with the orange logo against a deep blue/indigo frame that pops from the surface.
Also fortunately for collectors was the fact that this card was also printed in massive quantities, meaning that you can still pick up this stylish rookie card for cheaply. Expect to pay $25 for a nice PSA 9 Mint. At least for now, anyway.
How long will that cheaper price tag last? Who knows?
RC #266 1989 Bowman John Smoltz
Finally, we have this last rookie card of Smoltz from Bowman. Another major trading card company from this period.
Like with many of these other cards that we have covered, these were printed in large qualities, meaning finding one is (for now at least) not going to break the bank!
The Tiffany versions of this card are getting far harder to find now though. In PSA 9 they only have a population of 241 so expect to pay about $150 if you are lucky enough to find one.
In PSA 10 then the POP of the Tiffany is only 107 so you are most likely going to struggle to find one. I can’t find any sale recorded in 2022. I would expect a price tag of $350 and it is only likely to keep increasing.
So, there you have it!
All you need to do now is get these cards for yourself. Especially a PSA 10 #266 1989 Bowman Tiffany – if you can find one!