Spring 2017 Major League Baseball "Set Registry Masters" Premium Auction
It's difficult to depict online just how beautiful this Derek Jeter 1996 Finest Sterling Refractor rookie card is in person, but once you hold it in your hands and admire its prismatic Refractor finish, you will understand why the first few PSA 10 examples that surfaced over the last several years commanded such hefty price tags in excess of $1,000. Years later, it remains a mere Pop 10 on record in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition. This is unquestionably one of "The Captain's" most appealing and memorable cards from his unforgettable Rookie of the Year campaign of 1996, and it is a card with legitimate long-term investment potential. Although Jeter's cards are hot now, his better rookies like this will be impossible to locate once he enters the Hall of Fame as the most productive and accomplished and admired shortstop since Honus Wagner was inducted in Cooperstown's inaugural class of 1936.
This card was issued during Derek's 1996 Rookie of the Year campaign, and at Small Traditions we think that qualifies for rookie card status. For various reasons, some traditional collectors hold tight to the idea that Derek's rookie cards are from 1993, and 1993 only, but what did DJ do in '93 to distinguish his cards as such? Perhaps the older-school thinking is that 1993 was the first year that Derek saw widespread inclusion in standard baseball card issues--from Topps, Bowman, Score, Pinnacle, Upper Deck, SP, etc.--or perhaps it is because printed price guide pages, which haven't changed much since 1993, put the "RC" designation next to his 1993 cards. Whatever the reason, the MLBPA tried to clarify the issue in 2006, requiring all card manufacturers to place the "RC" logo on players' actual rookie cards. According to the MLBPA, official rookie cards are those cards produced during players' official rookie seasons. It makes sense, but unfortunately the new requirement only confused matters more.
The issue is not a new one to the hobby--what, for example, is a Ty Cobb or a Joe DiMaggio RC?--and opinions will probably always remain divided. A compelling number of Jeter collectors, however, have fully embraced the idea that all of Derek's 317 cards produced between his draft year of 1992 and his ROY season of 1996 can and should be counted as rookie cards. Their reasons? First and foremost, because it's fun. From a collector's perspective, it is more enjoyable to pursue over 300 different rookie cards from Derek's "master rookie card checklist" rather than just a couple of dozen from 1993. Of course, there is also money at stake, as collectors are almost always willing to pay extra dollars for items perceived as rookie cards or as rookie year memorabilia. Exactly how much extra? And what, in your opinion, makes a rookie card? These are questions only you can answer. If it's simply a matter of "rookie-ness" to you, however, then we suggest you inspect and admire the details of his various cards from '94 to '96, so many of which make creative references to his minor league career and/or rookie status, including the offered 1996 Finest Sterling Uncommon Refractor.
Significant 1996 Finest Sterling Uncommon Refractor w/ Coating #350 Derek Jeter RC Rookie Card PSA 10 Gem Mint Pop 10 Desirable ROY Season Refractor
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